Young couples quest for dream homes marred by construction delays, rising prices

Cheryl Chiew3 May 2021

Construction of a mall cranes on a background of blue summer sky

Over 40,000 households have to wait for an extended six to nine months, or even a year, for their BTOs to be ready. In turn, rental and resale flat prices are increasing.

Young couples in Singapore saw their carefully laid out plans derailed as the pandemic led to construction delays of their dream flats, reported TODAY.

“I believe our plans to have children would have to be pushed back,” lamented Fang (not her real name), 30, who has been shuttling between living at her parents’ place in Farrer Park and her in-laws’ house in Punggol.

Before the pandemic, Fang and her husband were already living at her in-laws’ place while they waited for their Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Punggol to be completed.

But the work-from-home arrangement resulted in mounting tension between Fang and her in-laws, who were also working via teleconferencing. 

Hence, she decided to divide her time between living at her parents’ home and her in-laws’.

And instead of having her new flat ready by this year, the flat completion date was pushed back by one year.

TODAY noted that over 40,000 households will have to endure longer waiting times for their new flats as the construction sector – which is already struggling to clear their backlog after the easing of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus – continue to grapple with manpower shortages and global supply chain disruptions.

Prospective homeowners usually wait for around three to four years following the launch of a BTO flat. Now, the waiting time has been extended by six and nine months or even a year for some cases.

Aside from the delays, young couples eager to set up their first marital home will also have to contend with the buoyant housing market, which means buying a resale HDB flat is also becoming out of their reach.

Prices of HDB resale flats rose 8.1% after four consecutive quarterly increases over the past year and are just 4.8% below the previous peak in 2013.

Over in the private market, prices also jumped 3.3% in Q1 2021, or the steepest quarterly hike since Q2 2018.

Couples are also finding it increasingly expensive to rent flats.

Analysts believe that this perfect storm within the housing market is driven by the low interest rate environment, BTO construction delays, and growing demand from foreign investors. It is also backed by the prospects of further price hikes and an improving leasing environment.

With these factors expected to persist for some time, some analysts see the private home prices increasing by 4% to 10% this year, while HDB resale prices are forecasted to grow by 5% to 9%.

With this, some homeowners or potential homebuyers believe the time is ripe for the Singapore government to intervene.

“If the costs continue to rise without certain aggressive measures to help first-time homeowners, homeownership will gradually skew towards the privileged, and young couples like us will find it extremely strained to continue to pay off the flat,” said Ho Xiu Xian, who feels that a lot of their housing decision had been “compromised and affected” by the rising costs of flats.

Ho and her fiancé hope to live near either of their parents in Bishan and Tiong Bahru, which are prime areas.

“Should we wish to stay in these locations, we would have to be prepared to compromise and settle for a smaller flat. However, this will not be an ideal solution, especially if we plan to have children,” she said as quoted by TODAY.

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Cheryl Chiew, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this story, email: 


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