HDB Reduces Four Yearly BTO Launches to Three, Government Says Housing Prices Will Not Rise Indefinitely, and More

8 Jan 2024

3 to 8 January 2024

HDB will reduce the number of BTO sales exercises it conducts per year, from four to three. Meanwhile, National Development Minister Desmond Lee does not expect home prices to rise indefinitely given the signs of moderation in the public and private home markets.


1. HDB reduces BTO sales exercises from four to three

HDB will reduce the number of BTO sales exercises it conducts per year, from four to three, reported CNA.

In 2024, HDB will offer 19,600 BTO flats in three batches – in February, June and October.

“With three BTO launches instead of four, home buyers can look forward to a bigger housing supply at each launch. This will enable them to select from a wider range of flats and locations,” explained HDB.

It also attributed the reduction in BTO launches to the moderating application rates from first-time buyers.

HDB shared that over 2,800 flats, or around 14% of the new flats set for launch this year will be Shorter Waiting Time (SWT) flats, which come with a waiting time of less than three years.

Moreover, the HDB BTO Oct 2024 BTO sales exercise will see the launch of flats under the new classifications – Standard, Plus, and Prime. This will replace the current housing estate classification as mature or non-mature.

HDB also revealed that about 80% of the pandemic-delayed projects have been completed in 2023, with the rest still under construction and that it is closely working with industry partners and agencies to deliver such projects as soon as possible.

On how this may affect BTO application chances, Dr Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager – Singapore, PropertyGuru said, “Overall, BTO application rates for 2023 were lower than in recent years. For example, in 2023, the median number of applicants for each available BTO flat was 1.9, a huge dip from 3.7 in 2019. Also, given that approximately 14% of BTO flats will be in SWTs, prospective BTO flat applicants can decide which batch and/or location to apply for to improve their chances of securing a BTO flat based on the immediacy of their property.

Besides, the government has also put in place measures to dissuade applicants who did not proceed to select a flat when invited to do so, as they will lose their priority status. That said, the August 2023 BTO exercise introduced a new priority category, the First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples). As such, the chances of BTO applicants securing a flat are unlikely to be compromised with the change from four BTO exercises to three.

Related article: National Day Rally 2023 Summary: Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories, More Single Housing Options, and More


2. Housing prices not to increase indefinitely, said

National Development Minister Desmond Lee does not expect home prices to rise indefinitely given the signs of moderation in the public and private home markets.

He underscored the impact of high mortgage rates as well as the cautious approach taken by Singaporeans amidst the uncertain global economic environment.

In an interview with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao and The Straits Times, the minister noted that housing demand surged during the pandemic, which led to construction delays. This forced some buyers to turn to the resale market, pushing up prices.

To address the supply-demand imbalance, the government pledged to introduce 100,000 BTO flats between 2021 and 2025. With around 63,000 flats rolled out in 2023, application rates had stabilised.

Lee shared that a range of measures have also been implemented to manage supply and demand. These include lower Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits for HDB loans and increased Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates.

“We do not want a bubble to appear. A rising resale market is healthy only if the economic fundamentals and the rate of growth are in tandem, so it remains affordable,” said the minister.


3. New BTO flats are generally built to satisfactory standards, say defect-checkers

While receiving the keys to a BTO flat is an exciting milestone for a homeowner, a recent TikTok video showing a normal process in defect-checking reminds homeowners to manage their expectations.

The video, which was shot at a new Tengah BTO unit and garnered over 100,000 views, showed numerous blue stickers, indicating possible defects or imperfections, reported TODAY.

However, defect-checkers clarified that the scene in the video is the norm for defect-checking. They noted that the blue stickers most likely point to minor cosmetic issues rather than serious defects.

They also underscored that newly completed BTO flats generally meet satisfactory standards.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for HDB said all HDB projects have achieved high Conquas scores.

“The average score increased from 92 over FY2017-2019 to 95 over FY2020-2022…This is comparable with, or higher than, the scores achieved by private residential developments over the same period,” said the spokesperson.

The highest Conquas score is 100 points, while the minimum passing score is 85.


4. Landlord shocked to find condo in disarray after tenants flee

Wang, a 47-year-old landlord in Ang Mo Kio, was happy that a Spanish expatriate family of three had rented her 4-bedroom condominium unit, knowing that the father and mother had stable jobs here and valid employment passes.

The father was working at a reputable multinational firm, the wife was a Spanish teacher at an international school, and the daughter was also enrolled in a school here in Singapore, reported Asia One citing Shin Min Daily News.

They signed a two-year lease contract in August 2023 and moved in the following month.

However, the family left the condominium less than four months after moving in, leaving behind three months of unpaid rent and a trail of destruction. Notably, large patches of mould were growing on the sofa, glitter was scattered on the floor and the washbasin had a large hole.

Wang was shocked to find her well-maintained unit in such a condition.

Meanwhile, Ma – the property agent – shared that she had verified the authenticity of the tenant’s documents before finalising the lease. However, she later discovered that the tenant’s work pass expired in September 2023 less than a month after they moved into the unit.

Wang has revealed plans to lodge a police report, hoping the incident will serve as a warning to other landlords.


5. Investment sales down 31.8% in 2023

Singapore saw real estate investment sales hit $5.4 billion in Q4 2023, bringing sales for 2023 to $21.2 billion, down 31.8% from the $30.9 billion registered in 2022.

Knight Frank attributed the tepid sales to “an inflationary environment where interest rates were constantly on the rise, the increase in ABSD rates from April 2023, as well as geopolitical tensions that erupted with the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza conflict”.

The residential sector dominated investment sales in 2023 as it accounted for 47.7% of overall deals, totalling $10.3 billion. This is 13.3% lower from the previous year’s $11.9 billion. Residential transactions dropped 1% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to $3.4 billion in Q4 2023.

Commercial property deals fell 61.4% to $6.1 billion in 2023 from $15.8 billion in 2022. The collective sales market only saw seven deals amounting to $2.1 billion. This is down 44% from the 16 en bloc sales posted in the previous year, which amounted to $3.8 billion.

Looking ahead, Knight Frank sees a more positive outlook for Singapore’s capital market space, with total investment sales for this year hovering between $23 billion and $25 billion.


6. Strata industrial unit at Amtech Building on sale for $15.4 million

A strata industrial unit spanning an entire floor within Amtech Building has been put up for sale via expression of interest (EOI) with a guide price of $15.4 million, revealed exclusive marketing agent Savills Singapore.

This works out to $1,150 per sq ft (PSF) given the property’s strata area of around 13,423 sq ft.

Located on the highest floor of Amtech Building, the property has direct cargo and passenger lift accesses and is entitled to two carpark lots. The unit also boasts a high ceiling height with a regular floor plate and a column-free layout.

Amtech Building is a seven-storey flatted factory with a two-storey ancillary building. It is zoned for “Business 1” use under the 2019 Master Plan and is highly sought-after due to its freehold tenure.

With this, ownership within the development “is tightly held and the opportunity to purchase an entire floor within the development hardly comes by”, said Dayna Ang, Investment Sales and Capital Markets at Savills Singapore.

The EOI exercise for the unit – which can be acquired by foreigners with no ABSD payable – closes on 8 February 2024.


7. Commercial building at 30 Prinsep Street on the market for $157 million

An 11-storey commercial building at 30 Prinsep Street has been put up for sale via an EOI exercise carrying a guide price of $157 million or about $2,332 PSF based on the gross floor area (GFA) of 67,335 sq ft.

Extensively refurbished in 2013, the building sits on a 999-year leasehold site of about 15,000 sq ft, said exclusive marketing agent CBRE. It is zoned for “Commercial” use under the 2019 Master Plan with a gross plot ratio of 4.2.

The building features an outdoor roof terrace on level six, F&B-approved shop spaces on the first level, an office lobby, and a private parking facility with 52 lots.

CBRE noted that foreigners and corporates can acquire the property with no ABSD and Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) payable.

The EOI exercise for 30 Prinsep Street closes on 7 February 2024.


8. Three adjoining shophouses at Stanley Street are up for sale

Three adjoining conserved shophouses situated at 4, 5 and 6 Stanley Street have been offered for sale for $61.6 million.

Zoned “Commercial” under the 2019 Master Plan, the three-storey shophouses occupy a 374.4 sq m or about 4,030 sq ft site and have a total built-up area of 10,735 sq ft, said exclusive market agent Knight Frank.

The property is located at the boundary of the Downtown Core, within the Telok Ayer Conservation Shophouse enclave. It features spaces for office use as well as a fitness and wellness studio, while the ground floor is tenanted to various F&B outlets.

Mary Sai, Knight Frank Singapore’s Executive Director for Capital Markets, expects the property to attract interest “from different segments purchasing for investment or own use”.

The tender for the shophouses closes on 28 March 2024.


9. Seven conservation shophouses in Chinatown are on sale for $88 million

A standalone block of seven three-storey conservation shophouses located at 20 Trengganu Street has been put up for sale via an EOI exercise, with an indicative price of $88 million.

This works out to about $2,806 PSF based on the property’s existing floor area of 31,364 sq ft, said exclusive marketing agent CBRE.

Occupying an island plot spanning 10,444 sq ft, the property boasts triple frontage of over 100m along Trengganu, Smith, and Temple Streets. In front of the property, seven shopfront units with a combined floor area of about 1,300 sq ft could be leased from the Chinatown Business Association (CBA).

Currently, the ground floor is occupied by multiple retail tenants, the second floor by a Chinese restaurant operator, and the third floor by a boutique hotel operator.

CBRE noted that foreign buyers can acquire the property with no ABSD or SSD payable.

The EOI exercise for the property closes on 7 February 2024.


10. 18 Genting Road sold for $12 million

18 Genting Road, a freehold five-storey industrial development, has been sold for $12 million, revealed Savills.

Centrally situated within the Macpherson industrial estate, the B1 industrial development occupies a 5,700 sq ft site with a GFA of 11,749 sq ft. The property, surrounded by various amenities and food options, enjoys easy access to all parts of Singapore.

“We value the appointment by the seller in representing them and are delighted with the fruitful outcome. The valued partnership has inspired us to achieve the sale of 18 Genting with a win-win outcome for both the seller and buyer. Savills looks forward to continuing to provide valuable services to our clients,” said Sally Tan, Savills’ Managing Director for Commercial, Industrial & Logistics.


Looking for a property in Singapore? Visit PropertyGuru’s ListingsProject Reviews and Guides.

Marcus Lee, Content Executive at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email: marcuslee@propertyguru.com.sg.


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