May 2023 BTO: Something for everyone

By Elizabeth Choong
/ EdgeProp Singapore |
The BTO project in Serangoon is expected to see intense competition because there will be only 330 available flats. (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - The upcoming Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise this month will have five projects with about 5,480 flats spread across four towns, which is more than the previous BTO exercise in February, which had 4,428 flats in five projects across four towns.
The February BTO exercise had an overall subscription rate of 3.8. The four-room flats in Kallang/Whampoa were the most popular, with an overall subscription rate of 4.8, while the three-room flats in Ulu Pandan Glades were the least popular, with a subscription rate of 1.4.
The upcoming BTO exercise is expected to have fewer flats launched under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model compared to the previous BTO exercise. Only 570 flats in Kallang/Whampoa are expected to be PLH flats in the upcoming BTO exercise, significantly fewer than the 1,274 flats in Farrer Park Fields and 732 flats in Ulu Pandan Glades from the previous BTO exercise in February.

Why the upcoming BTO is the one to watch

The upcoming BTO exercise will offer new flats in two mature towns – Bedok and Serangoon – that have not had any BTO launches since 2014 for Serangoon and 2016 for Bedok. Additionally, one of the two projects in Tengah is located beside the future ACS (Primary).
Furthermore, there will be a bumper crop of larger flats, as there will be five-room flats available in four out of the five projects, and one project will have 3Gen flats. In contrast, the February BTO exercise did not offer any 3Gen flats, and only Brickland Weave had five-room flats.

Changes to HDB rules

In March, HDB announced that first-time buyers who refuse to book a BTO flat when invited to do so will be redesignated as second-time buyers for a year during the ballot. Second-time buyers who do not book a flat must wait for a year before they can apply for a BTO flat again. The tightened HDB rules will take effect from the BTO exercise in August, so this month's BTO is the last round when first-time buyers can refuse to book a flat without any penalty. As such, this round of BTO might see more first-time buyers.
Earlier this month, HDB announced some changes to the allocation of housing grants to HDB flat buyers. The grant will now be split equally and disbursed into the CPF accounts of the main applicant and core occupier who form the core family nucleus. Prior to the change, the grant would be disbursed to the main applicant only.
The core occupier cannot use the grant to fund the flat purchase. To use the full grant, the core occupier must be listed as a co-applicant. The core occupier can also choose to leave their portion of the grant in their CPF account, which can be used for the future purchase of HDB flats or executive condos. The core occupier will also be considered a first-time buyer if they purchase a private property after the HDB flat has reached the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), thereby avoiding Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty.
HDB also announced that the period of income assessment will be lengthened to 12 months, up from the previous three or six months, which will benefit buyers whose income fluctuates every month. Additionally, HDB introduced a new HDB flat eligibility letter (HFE) that will replace the HDB loan eligibility letter. The HFE will give buyers a clearer overview of their purchase cost and financing options.
This month's BTO exercise is the first when the changes to grant disbursement and income assessment take effect. This may result in some uncertainties among homebuyers about the amount of grant they can use to fund their purchase.

Largest variety of flat types in Bedok BTO

The upcoming BTO project in Bedok is expected to be popular among buyers because it is a well-established residential town that has not had a BTO launch for many years. Moreover, Bedok is the only project in this BTO exercise that offers 3Gen flats.

Analysis of Bedok BTO

The BTO project in Bedok offers a wide range of flat types, from two-room flex to 3Gen flats. Additionally, the project is conveniently located within a 500m radius of Tanah Merah MRT Station, and there are two primary schools within a 1km radius.
Moreover, the project is only one stop away from Bedok MRT Station, where residents can find additional amenities such as Bedok Mall and Heartbeat @ Bedok. This makes the project particularly suitable for large families and parents with young children. However, applicants should anticipate strong competition as Bedok has not had any BTO launches since November 2016, when 1,655 flats from three projects were launched.
During the BTO exercise for November 2016, the two-room flexi flats were priced from $135,000, while the three-room and four-room flats were available from $276,000 and $407,000 respectively. The five-room flats had starting prices from $503,000. Notably, there were no 3Gen flats, and all prices mentioned excluded government grants. It is expected that the flats in the upcoming Bedok BTO project will be priced higher in line with the general increase in HDB prices.

HDB resale prices in Bedok

The average resale price for five-room HDB flats in Bedok is growing at a faster pace compared to three and four-room flats in the same town. Five-room flats in Bedok have seen a 17% growth since 2013, reaching the current average price of $551 psf On the other hand, three-room flats ($517 psf) and four-room flats ($553 psf) grew 7% and 16% respectively. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)

Should buyers apply?

Buyers who wish to live in the east should definitely consider the Bedok BTO project due to its proximity to an MRT station and numerous amenities.
The Bedok BTO project is especially suitable for large families because it is the only project in this BTO exercise that offers 3Gen flats, which are limited in supply. In the BTO exercise in August, only Choa Chu Kang will have 3Gen flats.
Unsuccessful applicants who are still keen to live in Bedok can consider Fengshan Greenville, located along Bedok North Street 4, which will obtain MOP this year. Fengshan Greenville consists of 546 three-room, 1,710 four-room, and 324 five-room flats. It is situated beside Fengshan Centre and Anglican High School. It is approximately 1km away from the Bedok BTO project. Fengshan Greenville is also farther from the Tanah Merah MRT Station compared to the Bedok BTO project.

Limited number of available flats from Serangoon BTO

Applicants for the flats in Serangoon can expect to face intense competition because it is the smallest project in this BTO exercise, with only 330 flats. Moreover, there have not been any BTO projects in Serangoon in recent years. The last BTO project in Serangoon was in 2014 for Golden Ginger along Serangoon North Avenue 1, which consisted of 150 studio apartments.
The main advantage of the Serangoon BTO project is its location in an established town. Consequently, it is situated within a 1km radius of several schools and the popular Chomp Chomp Food Centre.
Unfortunately, the nearest operational station, Kovan MRT Station, is approximately 1.4km away. The future Serangoon North MRT Station will be closer, at almost 700m away, but it is still not within a comfortable walking distance. The Serangoon North MRT Station is part of Phase 1 of the Cross Island Line (CRL), which is expected to be operational by 2030.

HDB resale prices in Serangoon

The average resale price for four-room HDB flats in Serangoon has grown by 26% since 2013, whereas the average price for their five-room counterparts has grown by only 18%. Currently, four-room HDB flats in Serangoon are fetching an average price of $602 psf in the resale market, while five-room flats are transacting at an average price of $550 psf.

Worth considering?

Buyers who wish to live in Serangoon may be interested in applying for the BTO project, but they are likely to face intense competition due to the limited number of available flats. However, the absence of an MRT station within walking distance may deter some buyers who rely on public transportation.
Hougang Meadow, located along Upper Serangoon Road, might be a viable option for buyers who heavily rely on public transport for their daily commute. Hougang Meadows, which obtained MOP in 2021, is conveniently located within walking distance of Hougang MRT Station and Hougang Central Bus Interchange. It is also situated within a 1km radius of several reputable primary schools, including CHIJ Our Lady of Nativity, Holy Innocents’ Primary School, and Montfort Junior School. Hougang Meadow has 1,128 three-room and 2,364 four-room flats.
Buyers who appreciate being close to nature may wish to consider Hougang Parkedge along Upper Serangoon Crescent, which also attained MOP in 2021. The project is adjacent to Punggol Park; however, there are no MRT stations within walking distance. Hougang Parkedge comprises 408 three-room, 612 four-room, and 714 five-room flats.

Tengah: newest kid on the block

Tengah is the newest town and is planned to have about 42,000 new homes when completed, consisting of 30,000 HDB flats and 12,000 private homes. According to HDB, Tengah is divided into five districts, namely Plantation, Garden, Park, Brickland, and Forest Hill Districts.
Each district will possess its own unique character, but there are plans to incorporate nature into the homes across all five districts. Tengah will also be the first HDB town to feature a car-free town centre. Moreover, Tengah is situated near the up-and-coming Jurong Lake District, and it is anticipated to enjoy some spillover benefits.
To date, approximately 18,000 BTO flats and the 639-unit Copen Grand (an executive condo) have been launched in Tengah. In addition, there is an executive condo government land sales (GLS) site located between Plantation Close and Bukit Batok Road, with its tender set to close on June 27. URA has estimated that the site will yield 495 units. Adjacent to this site is another GLS land parcel that is designated for an executive condo with an estimated 560 units. The site is on the reserve list will be available for tender in June.

Tengah BTO (Tengah Park Avenue)

The primary attraction of the Tengah BTO project along Tengah Park Avenue is its close proximity to ACS (Primary), making the flats in this project very ideal for young couples who intend to enrol their children in the reputable school. However, parents should note that ACS (Primary) will only accept students starting from 2030 and they will start with only the primary one cohort.
The project is also located near a future town centre, providing convenience to future residents. However, the completion date for the town centre has yet to be disclosed. The nearby Kranji Expressway and Pan Island Expressway (PIE) will provide future residents with essential road connectivity, as there is no MRT station within walking distance. Although a future Jurong Region Line (JRL) station will be built near the project, it is unlikely to be within a comfortable walking distance.

Tengah BTO (Plantation Close)

The Tengah BTO project along Plantation Close offers more amenities within walking distance compared to the other BTO project in Tengah. The nearby Pan Island Expressway (PIE) provides road connectivity for future residents but they should avoid units facing the busy expressway to minimise traffic noise.
Buyers who rely on public transportation may find the project less appealing due to the lack of an existing MRT station within walking distance. However, this situation is expected to improve with the completion of a nearby Jurong Region Line (JRL) station. Stage 2 of the JRL, which will connect the areas between Tengah and Pandan Reservoir, is projected to complete by 2028.

HDB prices in Tengah

As Tengah is a new town, there is no available data on resale prices for HDB flats at the time of writing. In the previous BTO exercise in February, there was a project in Tengah named Brickland Weave located along Brickland Road.
Brickland Weave offered 423 two-room flexi flats with prices ranging from $97,000 to $158,000, while 95 three-room flats were available for $190,000 to $248,000. Additionally, 597 four-room flats were priced between $291,000 and $375,000, and 526 five-room flats had prices ranging from $401,000 to $503,000. All prices mentioned exclude government grants. During the BTO exercise, all flat types in Brickland Weave were oversubscribed. The three-room flats were the most demanded with a subscription rate of 4.3, while the four-room flats were the least popular with a subscription rate of 2.2.
It would be reasonable to expect the flats for the two upcoming Tengah BTO projects to be available at the same price level as Brickland Weave especially the project along Tengah Park Avenue because of its proximity to Brickland Weave.

Which to choose?

Parents who are keen to enrol their children in ACS (Primary) will likely make a beeline for the BTO project along Tengah Park Avenue. However, buyers should note that there are limited existing amenities in the area. The situation is expected to improve with the completion of the future town centre, but residents will have to tolerate construction noise and dust as the surrounding empty land plots gradually get developed. Parents will need to weigh the inconvenience of limited amenities and the absence of a nearby MRT station against the advantage of being in close proximity to the school.
On the other hand, couples without young children may want to consider the other Tengah BTO site along Plantation Close, which offers more nearby amenities. Additionally, there is a future JRL station within walking distance.
Buyers who are determined to reside in Tengah will be pleased to know that HDB will be offering more two-room flexi to five-room flats in this new town in the next BTO exercise in August.

Kallang/Whampoa: Potential PLH

The BTO project in Kallang/Whampoa will most probably be a Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) due to its proximity to Farrer Park Fields, which was launched in February as a PLH.
Future residents of the Kallang/Whampoa BTO will enjoy the convenience of being a short walk away from the dual-line Little India MRT Station and just one stop away from the triple-line Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station. The Central Expressway is also easily accessible by a short drive. Other nearby amenities include Tekka Market, Mustafa Centre, City Square Mall, St Joseph’s Institution Junior, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and the upcoming Piccadilly Galleria.
Despite the convenience of living in a bustling neighbourhood, the potential traffic noise, especially from ambulance sirens from the two nearby hospitals, might deter some buyers. Additionally, this BTO project only offers three and four-room flats, which may not meet the needs of larger families who require more spacious homes, resulting in them potentially giving this project a miss.
Since the flats in this BTO project are expected to be launched under the PLH model, they are anticipated to be priced at a higher level and have a MOP of 10 years instead of the usual five years. Buyers with a more modest budget or those planning to upgrade within five years may consider exploring other options instead.

HDB resale prices in Kallang/Whampoa

The average resale price for four-room HDB flats in Kallang/Whampoa has seen a significant growth of 27% since 2013, outperforming their three-room counterparts which experienced a growth of 13%. Currently, three-room flats in Kallang/Whampoa are being transacted at an average price of $602 psf, while four-room flats are fetching an average of $732 psf.
In the case of Farrer Park Fields (a PLH launched in February) prices for the 91 three-room flats ranged from $356,000 to $449,000 (excluding grants), while prices for the 1,005 four-room flats ranged from $484,000 to $631,000. Considering the locational proximity and the short interval between their launch dates, it would be reasonable to expect the upcoming Kallang/Whampoa BTO project to have similar launch prices to Farrer Park Fields if it is also launched as a PLH project.
Unsuccessful applicants will have another opportunity to apply for a flat in Kallang/Whampoa in the upcoming BTO exercise in August. The August BTO exercise will also offer a greater variety of flat types, including two-room flexi flats, in addition to three and four-room flats.
Buyers who prefer a quieter living environment can consider Whampoa Dew along Lorong Limau and Bendemeer Light along Bendemeer Road. Both projects obtained MOP last year. Although these projects are situated further away from the bustling Little India neighbourhood, they are still within walking distance of an MRT station and a wide range of amenities. Whampoa Dew consists of 249 four-room flats, while Bendemeer Light offers 327 three-room and 888 four-room flats.

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