During the year, HDB sold a total of 14,914 new flats. Most were 4- and 5-room flats at 37.4 percent and 52.3
Bookings for New Flats
In FY 2003/2004, HDB received 11,004 bookings for 3-room and bigger flats under the various allocation modes such as the Balloting Exercise (BE), Build-To-Order (BTO) system and Walk-In Selection (WIS) exercises. However, with poorer public sentiments brought about by the Iraq war and the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the first half of 2003, the number of bookings was 20.5 percent lower than the 13,846 bookings received in FY 2002/2003.
HDB’s Walk-In Selection (WIS) process continued to provide eligible buyers the option of booking a flat on-the-spot, or collecting the keys to their flats within three months if they had booked completed units. In FY 2003/2004, WIS exercises were launched for about 8,400 4-room and bigger flats in non-mature estates like Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok, Sembawang, Yishun, Woodlands, Punggol, Sengkang, Bukit Panjang and Jurong West.
In January 2004, HDB also launched the sale of some 1,700 balance flats in 17 popular towns comprising mainly balance flats from previous Balloting Exercises. The mature estates included Ang Mo Kio, Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Geylang. This was the first time that flats in mature estates were offered for sale under WIS, since HDB first launched the sale of flats under WIS in April 2002.
In FY 2003/2004, HDB launched a total of 10,124 flats in both mature and non-mature estates for sale through the WIS. As at 31 March 2004, 5,975 flats were booked.
In the year under review, surplus 4- and 5-room Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) flats that were no longer needed for re-housing of affected families were released for sale via two Balloting Exercises.
On 19 June 2003, a Balloting Exercise was launched for the sale of 1,286 units of 4- and 5-room surplus SERS flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah and Queenstown. A total of 4,238 applications, or a subscription rate of 3.3 times was received for this launch. The other Balloting Exercise launched on 20 November 2003, offered 801 units of 4- and 5-room flats in Kallang/Whampoa, Bukit Merah, Bukit Batok and Jurong East. A total of 3,122 applications, or a subscription rate of 3.9 times was received for this launch. As at 31 March 2004, some 1,580 flats were booked.
In FY 2003/2004, HDB launched three Build-To-Order (BTO) exercises in September 2003, December 2003 and March 2004. On 4 September 2003, HDB launched 1,783 units of new 4-room premium flats in four contracts in Punggol, Sengkang and Sembawang, under the BTO system. As subscription for the Spring Lodge BTO site in Sembawang was lower than the supply of flats, it was not offered for booking. Of the three contracts offered for sale, only The Coris in Sengkang, and one contract in The Sundial in Punggol achieved the desired take-up rate for HDB to proceed with tender for construction. An additional 446 surplus SERS 4-room flats in Sengkang and another 175 balance 4-room flats from the December 2002 BTO exercise were also offered for sale under the September 2003 BTO exercise.
Another 862 units of 4-room premium flats at The Aspella in Sengkang were launched for sale in the 20 December 2003 BTO exercise. With a subscription rate of 2.1 times the supply of flats, and 90 percent or 775 units of the flats taken up, HDB proceeded with calling tender for the construction of this contract. This was followed by the 23 March 2004 BTO exercise, which saw 760 units of 4-room premium apartments at The Atrina in Sengkang offered for sale.
In all, a total of 2,677 flats were booked under the three BTO exercises in FY 2003/2004.
Studio Apartment Scheme
Under the pilot phase of the Studio Apartment (SA) scheme, all 936 units of SAs in six developments in Bedok, Tampines, Jurong East, Yishun, Bukit Merah and Toa Payoh were fully taken up as at 31 March 2004.
As part of the review of the SA scheme which took into consideration the results of a survey conducted among SA owners, the Ministry of National Development had announced earlier in January 2003, that SAs would be planned, built and integrated with other HDB flat types within the same block, to achieve a better resident mix, and promote social interaction amongst the elderly and younger residents.
With the reviewed SA scheme in place, HDB announced three pilot integrated SA projects at SERS replacement sites in Tanglin Halt Road, Eunos Crescent and Jalan Membina, in which a total of 303 units of SAs would be built. Balance new SAs that were not taken up by SERS lessees would subsequently be offered to eligible public applicants.
Marketing of Flats
HDB rolled out sales launches on a town basis, through the Walk-In Selection (WIS) exercises conducted during the year for 4-room and bigger flats in non-mature estates. On-site sales offices were set up in towns where flats were put up for sale, and the booking of flats was processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Roadshows were held alongside on-site sales offices to facilitate homebuyers in their flat selection. The public could visit exhibitions that showcased the town and flats available, take free guided bus tours around the towns to see the various amenities and facilities, as well as view the showflats to obtain a clearer perspective of the flats on offer.
HDB also participated in ‘Home Affairs’, a 13-part half-hour television programme on property development. The external living environment, interior of HDB showflats and the Habitat Forum were featured in episodes aired on 21 June and 5 July 2003. These were good publicity opportunities for HDB to highlight the quality of HDB homes.
Staggered Downpayment Scheme
In support of the Government’s pro-family policy, the Staggered Downpayment Scheme (SDS) was implemented on 1 October 2000 to assist young couples to set up home early. With the scheme, first-time applicants could make the 20 percent downpayment in two stages, with 10 percent paid at the time of signing of the Agreement for Lease, and the remaining 10 percent at the time of taking possession of the new flat, about two to three years later. This would give first-time applicants more time to accumulate enough savings, either in cash or CPF for the downpayment of their flats. The scheme was restricted to 4-room flats to encourage young couples to buy within their means. To qualify for the scheme, eligible couples had to be first-time applicants buying a new 4-room flat, with at least one spouse aged 30 years or younger.
As part of the Government’s Second Off-Budget measures in November 2001 to ease the cash flow of new HDB flat buyers, the SDS was enhanced and extended till 31 December 2003, to any first-time applicant who booked any flat-type under construction.
The original SDS condition on age was re-imposed from 1 January 2004, when the Singapore economy showed signs of recovery.
Housing Loans from Banks/Financial Institutions
Since 1 January 2003, HDB ceased providing market rate loans to buyers of HDB flats. Flat buyers who were not eligible for HDB concessionary loans would have to obtain mortgage loans from banks or financial institutions licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. This applied to private property owners, Singapore Permanent Residents, those with household income above $8,000, buyers who had enjoyed two HDB concessionary loans previously, and second-time buyers who had enjoyed one HDB concessionary loan and were buying a similar or smaller HDB flat type.
In FY 2003/2004, HDB received a total of 25,584 applications from new/resale flat owners to finance their purchases with bank loans. Existing HDB flat owners could also refinance their mortgage loans with the banks or financial institutions. In FY 2003/2004, HDB received a total of 6,124 refinancing applications with a total loan value of $1.10 billion.
Since 1 January 2004, HDB flat buyers who obtained mortgage loans from banks to finance their purchase of flat, had to pay a minimum of 2 percent cash downpayment, computed based on the purchase price or current market value of the flat, whichever was lower. The cash downpayment would be gradually phased in over five years, starting with 2 percent from 1 January 2004, and eventually aligned with that of private property purchase, that is 10 percent by 1 January 2008.