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Full Version: Improving Affordability and Increase Flexibility in Housing Options
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THE Ministry of National Development (MND) has decided to delay the September build-to-order (BTO) launch by a few weeks, so that three housing policies that were recently tweaked can benefit as many Singaporeans as possible, starting from the very next BTO launch.

In his recent National Day Rally speech (Aug 23), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced to effervescent applause that monthly household income ceilings for new HDB flats and ECs will be increased by S$2,000 to S$12,000 and S$14,000, respectively. The existing executive condo includes The Terrace EC and Brownstone EC while upcoming ones include Signature At Yishun EC , Criterion EC , Parc Life EC and Wandervale EC

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan explained in his blog on Wednesday that new policies require time for implementation. Details of the policy changes were announced in late August. MND had originally scheduled two BTO launches for the rest of this year, in September and November.

"Looking at the timing of the November BTO launch, we decided that a practical way is to merge the two launches into one mega launch in November," Mr Khaw said.

"This will mean a bumper crop of about 7,000 BTO flats in six HDB towns across the country: Bidadari, Bukit Batok, Chua Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol Northshore and Sengkang.

"In addition, we are ready to market 5,000 balance flats in a concurrent Sale of Balance Flats exercise. This means a combined launch of 12,000 new flats in one go. I am sure homebuyers will be able to find a flat that will suit their budget and needs."

Sale of Balance Flats consist of balance flats from earlier BTO exercises, surplus replacement flats from the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme, and repurchased flats.

Three major housing policies were recently tweaked to improve affordability and increase flexibility in housing options for Singaporeans.

These include a new Two-Room Flexi Scheme which offers shorter lease options for elderly households, an increase in the income ceiling for new HDB flat buyers, and changes to widen the eligibility criteria as well as double the maximum grant amount for the Special CPF Housing Grant to S$40,000.

PropNex Realty CEO Ismail Gafoor believes that the impact the "bumper crop" of BTO flats will have on resale flats will be marginal, given that the BTO flats in the upcoming launch are located in "outlying towns".

"With competitive prices and no or low cash-over-valuation in the buoyant HDB resale market, some homebuyers may still opt to purchase a resale flat," he said.