August 2022 BTO flats: More locations, more choices

By Elizabeth Choong
/ EdgeProp Singapore |
HDB flats in Bukit Merah town (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp)
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Decisions, decisions, decisions

The upcoming round of Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise later this month features 4,960 flats spread over seven locations, more than the 4,583 flats from five sites in the previous exercise in May.
All BTO flats offered for application in May were oversubscribed. The lowest application rate of 1.5 was for three-room flats in Queenstown which was launched under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model. On the flipside, five-room flats in Jurong West received the highest application rate of 15.4.
Residents from the recent Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 have the option of applying for a new flat during this BTO exercise. However, they are restricted to flats in Ang Mo Kio, Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands and Tampines. Up to 10% of the flats will be set aside for priority allocation to them.

Bukit Merah: anticipated PLH sites

This round of BTO has only two sites in a central location, down from three sites in the previous exercise. The Bukit Merah site along Alexandra View was scheduled to be launched in May but this was delayed till this round of BTO.
The sole Bukit Merah site (Bukit Merah Ridge) launched for application in May had 1.6 applicants per three-room flat and 5.4 applicants per four-room flat. The low applicant rate for three-room flats in Bukit Merah Ridge means that the odds favour those applying for a three-room flat in the Bukit Merah sites.

Analysis of Bukit Merah sites

Both sites are within walking distance of an MRT station along the East-West Line and are about five stops away from the CBD. Additionally, Bukit Merah is an established housing estate with numerous amenities and Orchard Road is a short drive away.
A drawback of the sites is the lack of five-room flats for application. Larger families will find the smaller flats a tight squeeze, especially with more companies adopting flexible working arrangements.
Both sites are expected to be launched under the PLH model because the nearby Bukit Merah Ridge was launched under the PLH model in May. PLH flats have a longer Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 10 years and there is a 6% subsidy clawback when the first owner sells the flat. The stricter restrictions for PLH flats could be a deterrent for home buyers who do not intend to live in the flat beyond five years.
Prices for the BTO flats have not been announced by HDB at the time of writing, but flats at Bukit Merah Ridge were launched during the May BTO exercise at prices (excluding grant) starting from $377,000 for three-room flats and $540,000 for four-room flats. Flats in both Bukit Merah sites are expected to be launched at similar prices during this BTO exercise. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)
Average price for resale four-room flats in Bukit Merah has grown 14% since 2012 – almost double the 8% growth for three-room flats. Current resale prices for three- and four-room flats in Bukit Merah are $598 psf and $710 psf respectively.
According to HDB, median prices in 2Q2022 for three and four-room resale flats in Bukit Merah are $370,400 and $751,000 respectively. Notably, the median resale price for three-room flats in Bukit Merah is lower than the launch price of $377,000 during the BTO exercise in May. Couples or small families can consider the resale market if they are in urgent need of a roof or they intend to live in the flat for less than 10 years. However, Bukit Merah is a mature estate with many old flats, so the lower median price could be due to lease decay.
Buyers can also consider Telok Blangah Parcview along Telok Blangah Street 31 which obtained MOP last July. The estate has 386 three-room flats and 922 four-room flats. The flats are relatively new so there will be minimum impact from lease decay.
Unsuccessful applicants can consider waiting for the Kallang/Whampoa site that will be launched in the next BTO exercise in November. Three- and four-room flats will be offered for application. HDB has yet to announce more details, but the site is widely expected to fall under the PLH model.

Jurong East and Woodlands: potential for price growth

Jurong East and Woodlands are regional hubs for the west and north regions of Singapore so transformative growth can be expected for both towns. Property prices are expected to grow in tandem with the development of the towns.

Analysis of Jurong East and Woodlands sites

The Jurong East site is near two MRT stations along the Jurong Region Line (JRL). When the JRL is completed in 2028, residents will be only one or two stops away from Jurong East MRT Station on the East-West Line where there are numerous amenities, including Westgate, JEM, Jurong Regional Library and Ng Teng Fong Hospital.
Part of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) has been completed which greatly improved connectivity for the north region of Singapore. The Woodlands BTO site is a short walk from the Woodlands South MRT Station (TEL), which is only one stop away from the Woodlands MRT Station on the North-South Line (NSL). Connectivity in the north will be further enhanced when the whole TEL is completed in 2025.
There are no major malls within walking distance for both sites. Future residents of the Jurong East site will have travel to Jurong East town centre. However, there is no MRT connection until the completion of the nearby JRL stations which is expected to take place a couple of years after they move in. As for future residents of the Woodlands site, they will have to travel to Causeway Bay which is an MRT stop away.
No five-room flats will be launched for both sites, so large families who wish to live in the north should look to the Yishun site that will be launched during the November BTO exercise. The Yishun site will have five-room flats.
Alternatively, buyers can consider Admiralty Flora along Woodlands Drive 73 or Marsiling Greenview along Woodlands Street 13 which obtained MOP in May. Admiralty Flora has 181 five-room flats while Marsiling Greenview has 432 five-room flats.
Larger families who prefer the west can consider the Bukit Batok site in the November BTO exercise where there will be five-room flats.
Average resale prices for four-room flats in Jurong East and Jurong West are on a par at $459 psf and $464 psf respectively, but are still trending below those of their counterparts in the west region ($488 psf). This indicates that there is still room for price growth in the two towns.
Flats in Woodlands are the cheapest in the north region. Average price for four-room resale HDB flats in Woodlands is $440 psf, much lower than its northern counterparts’, namely Yishun ($461 psf) and Sembawang ($490 psf). This means that the BTO flats in Woodlands are ideal for those with a tight budget and who are willing to bear with some inconvenience. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)

Ang Mo Kio: a familiar mature estate

Ang Mo Kio is a desirable housing estate despite its age because of the town’s excellent connectivity and numerous amenities. This makes Ang Mo Kio a good alternative to PLH flats for buyers who want a shorter MOP.

Analysis of Ang Mo Kio site

Ang Mo Kio is the only site in this round of BTO exercise with 3Gen flats that cater to multi-generational families that want to live together. Adding to its appeal is the numerous nearby amenities including two markets and food centres.
The site is walking distance to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station which is only one stop away from dual-line Bishan MRT Station. Ang Mo Kio MRT Station is also slated to be an interchange station along the Cross Island Line that has an expected completion date in 2030. The nearby Central Expressway adds to the connectivity of the site.
However, more competition can be expected because some residents from the recent Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 Sers might use their priority allocation to apply for a flat during this round of BTO. Due their familiarity with Ang Mo Kio, they are most likely to apply for a flat from this site. While more expensive, the Ang Mo Kio BTO site is deemed to be in a better location than the replacement site along Ang Mo Kio Drive.
The average price for resale five-room HDB in Ang Mo Kio ($627 psf) is trending way above that for the north-east region ($510 psf) and the whole of Singapore ($513 psf), because Ang Mo Kio is the most established housing estate in the north-east region.
Average price for the resale five-room flats in the north-east region mirrors the average price for such flats in the whole of Singapore. Buyers who wish to stay in north-east region but at more affordable prices can consider Hougang where resale five-room flats are averaging $467 psf, or the newer towns of Sengkang ($493 psf) and Punggol ($510 psf).
Buyers who want an immediate roof in Ang Mo Kio can consider Kebun Baru Court along Ang Mo Kio Street 21 that achieved MOP in January last year. The project has 180 four-room and 103 five-room flats.

Tampines: popular estate in the east

Tampines is a popular estate outside the central region. It is expected to become even more popular when Paya Lebar gains more traction as a regional hub and the TEL becomes fully operational in 2025.

Analysis of Tampines site

Parents of young children will love to be a short walk away from two primary schools, namely Gongshang Primary School and Tampines North Primary School. Other nearby amenities include Tampines Mall and Century Square. The site is also within walking distance of Tampines and Tampines East MRT stations, which gives residents easy access to two MRT lines.
Nature-lovers will be delighted to have Sungei Tampines nearby. Part of its banks was recently transformed from concrete canal to verdant naturalised water bank, which allows for easier access to the waterway.
Unfortunately, there are only 260 flats available in Tampines during this BTO exercise, so fierce competition can be expected. Unsuccessful applicants with a small family should consider Tampines Greenforest along Tampines Avenue 8 that obtained MOP in January 2021. The project has 160 three-room and 264 four-room flats.
The average price of four-room flats in Tampines ($495 psf) is on a par with their counterparts’ in the east region ($492 psf), but is trending below the islandwide average ($534 psf). The same trend holds true for five-room flats, with Tampines averaging $491 psf and the east region not far behind ($487 psf) but way below the islandwide average ($513 psf). This is a good indication that Tampines is an astute choice offering convenience and connectivity at a reasonable price.

Choa Chu Kang: choices galore

Choa Chu Kang is located at the western end of Singapore. Due to its perceived far-flung location, it is not a popular housing estate. However, Choa Chu Kang has the most available flats and the largest variety during this BTO, which makes the flats in this town a low-hanging fruit especially for first-time buyers.

Analysis of Choa Chu Kang site

The site has few nearby amenities, but Choa Chu Kang Market and Teck Whye Shopping Centre are a short drive away. There are also no nearby MRT station, but residents can use the nearby Teck Whye and Keat Hong LRT Stations to connect with the MRT network.
The nearby land along Brickland Road is still undeveloped. The latest Master Plan indicates that the designated land use is residential and other complementary uses include healthcare and education. Residents will benefit from the future amenities, but they will have to put up with the construction noise and dust when the land is developed.
Choa Chu Kang is likely to have the most affordable flats in this round of BTO exercise. According to HDB, median price for resale five-room flats in Choa Chua Kang was $571,000 in 2Q2022, which makes it one of the cheapest towns in Singapore after Woodlands ($545,000), Sembawang ($545,000) and Jurong West ($550,000). Median prices for resale three and four-room flats in Choa Chu Kang were $400,000 and $485,000 respectively.
Resale prices for HDB flats in Choa Chu Kang have been growing steadily – price growth has been at about 20% since 2012 – making the town an ideal choice for buyers with an eye towards investment as well as those on a tight budget.
Unsuccessful applicants can consider Keat Hong Colours along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 7 which obtained MOP in January last year. The project has 136 three-room, 484 four-room and 348 five-room flats. Alternatively, they can consider Keat Hong Crest along Keat Hong Close, which received MOP last May and has 146 three-room flats, 328 four-room flats and 208 five-room flats. Both projects do have any two-room flats.

Bumper crop in November

The next round of BTO launches will take place in November when 9,500 flats over four sites will be available for application. The sites are in Bukit Batok (two-room flexi/three-/four-/five-room), Kallang Whampoa (three- and four-room), Queenstown (Community Care Apartments/two-room flexi/three- and four-room) and Yishun (two-room flexi/three-/four-/five-room).
Community Care Apartments in Queenstown will be available to the elderly who require some assistance to live independently. About 200 Community Care Apartments, with senior-friendly features, are expected to be launched. Queenstown is also slated to be the first health district in Singapore with senior-friendly designs.
The upcoming Community Care Apartments in Queenstown will be the second such project. The pilot project in Bukit Batok was launched in February 2021 and attracted more than four applicants per available flat.
The main drawback of these Community Care Apartments is the flats cannot be sold in the open market and must be returned to HDB if owner no longer wants to live in the flat. The residual value will be reimbursed.

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