HDB to increase new flat supply to 22,000 in 2011

HDB flats (file pic)

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) disbursed $502 million in CPF housing grants for the financial year 2009/2010.

This figure is 52 per cent higher than the previous financial year.

The number of resale applications has also increased, hitting nearly 40,000 cases, a 38 per cent increase over the previous year.

Speaking to the media at its Annual Report briefing, HDB’s CEO Mrs Cheong Koon Hean said HDB’s priority is to help first—time home—buyers set up their first homes through both demand and supply measures.

To achieve this, HDB will raise the supply of new flats to 22,000 next year if demand persists.

She added that at this rate, HDB would have launched enough flats in just two years to create another Toa Payoh new town.

HDB added that all these measures have helped to ease the resale market which remains an important option for buyers.

To meet demand, HDB has increased its supply of new flats under the Build—to—order (BTO) programme scheme from 6,000 to 9,000 in 2009 and 16,000 units this year.

Mrs Cheong explained that the Build To Order (BTO) programme is a good gauge of demand and supply for new flats and is committed to launching one new BTO programme each month.

"Well the BTO is a very important initiative because it enables us to gauge the demand, the real demand for flats. So I think using the BTO programme where people have to commit to buying a flat before we build is helpful for us because we know it is real demand.

Sentiments were also buoyant in the resale market with a 38 per cent increase in resale applications to 39,320 cases in the last financial year compared to 28,500 applications in 2008.

And with housing expected to be a keenly discussed issue during the next general election, Mrs Cheong said HDB always does its best in delivering housing to the majority of Singaporeans regardless of the general election.

"We will continue to do this. We look at how the market is doing and already on the 30th of August (2010), and throughout this year, we have already put in many measures.

"It’s not an issue of GE or no GE but really we always monitor the market and we do our best to make housing within the reach of all Singaporeans. Increasing the supply is one strategy in the recent announcement of the demand measures. We continue to do this job and to try to meet our mission and objectives"

The HDB is also closely monitoring the housing needs of the lower income families. HDB said needy families who cannot afford a home have recourse to public rental housing.

To date, HDB has added 3,500 new rental flats through building and conversion, increasing the rental stock to 45,500. It aims to increase this number to 50,000 by 2012.

With the larger number of rental flats available, HDB has been able to shorten the waiting time for a rental flat to about nine months now, down from the average 21 months previously in 2008.

Another scheme which has helped the lower income families is the additional housing grant introduced in March 2006.

HDB said up to September this year, close to 25,700 homes have benefited from it and $442 million have been disbursed.

As for the future needs of the population, HDB said addressing the housing and town planning needs of the elderly is a challenge.

It will also ramp up its community engagement programmes to encourage home owners to take ownership of the estates they live in. — CNA/fa