Eager home buyers can soon book a Housing Board (HDB) flat by the next working day after applying. A new sales option will soon offer remaining flats from the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) pool at any time of the year.


The first batch of 120 flats offered under the new option will be open for booking around the middle of the year, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in a blog post on Thursday.


Currently, the fastest way for buyers to get a flat is under the ROF exercise, usually conducted twice a year, which offers unsold flats from previous sales exercises.


Applicants have to wait for a week until applications close before they find out if they are successful. The new option means they can find out within a day if their application is successful.


“In other words, flat buyers can apply online anytime on a first-come, first-served basis, and book a flat by the next working day,” said Mr Wong. “This will effectively reduce their waiting time to book a flat to just one day.”


Since the ROF’s launch in August 2017, 2,500 families have booked a home under the exercise. Nearly two-thirds of these households have collected the keys to their flats.


Under the ROF, applicants do not need to indicate the flat type and location, unlike the Build-To-Order or Sales of Balance Flats exercises.


They can book any available unit according to their eligibility, which benefits home buyers who are less particular about flat attributes or location, or have more urgent housing needs.


Said Mr Wong: “With the increased range of options available, I hope that it will be easier and more convenient for potential home buyers to find a flat that meets their different needs, preferences, and budget.”


It was also announced that more HDB flats changed hands in January compared to December – a change in direction for the first time since last July’s cooling measures.


In all, 1,560 HDB resale flats were sold last month, 8.8 per cent more than in December, according to flash estimates from real estate portal SRX on Thursday.


It was also 43 per cent more than the 1,091 units sold in January 2018.


Resale prices inched up by 0.5 per cent, compared to December. But compared to January last year, this was a 1.1 per cent decline, and 13.9 per cent down from its peak in April 2013.


The property market cooling measures introduced in July last year included tightened loan limits.


SRX data also showed that the premium buyers were prepared to pay over market value had increased last month compared to December.


The overall median transaction over X-value (TOX) rose S$1,000 to negative S$1,000.


However, buyers were prepared to fork out more in relation to the valuation for bigger flats.


The TOX for five-room and executive flats was $1,000 and $4,000 respectively, but the TOX for three-room and four-room flats was negative S$4,000 and negative S$1,600.


The estate in which buyers paid the highest median TOX, of S$8,000, was Pasir Ris, followed by Woodlands, with S$4,000.


Meanwhile, the mature estates of Clementi and Toa Payoh posted the lowest median TOX, with negative S$8,500. Serangoon was next at negative S$7,000.


Adapted from: The Business Times, 8 February 2019

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