BTO Applications to Fall in August 2023, Tampines BTO Residents Concerned Over “Spooky” Blocks, and More

28th February to 6th March 2023

Property analysts expect applications for BTO flats to drop in August 2023 when tighter rules on the non-selection of flats take effect. Meanwhile, residents at the new Tampines BTO project GreenVines were shocked by the bold colour scheme in common areas of their neighbourhood, some describing the aesthetic as “spooky”, “creepy” and “very unpleasant”.


1. BTO applications to fall in August 2023 amid new HDB rules on flat selection


Applications for BTO flats are expected to drop in August 2023 when tighter rules on non-selection of flats take effect, property analysts told TODAY.

Under the new rules, first-time applicants who do not select a flat when invited to do so will be considered second-timers during subsequent flat applications for a year, said TODAY.

Currently, first-time applicants will only be considered second-timers for a year if they fail to book a unit twice.

With the changes, Huttons Asia Senior Research Director Lee Sze Teck expects the number of applicants for the August 2023 BTO exercise to decline by as much as 20%.

OrangeTee & Tie Senior Vice-president of Research and Analytics Christine Sun said genuine applicants will have higher chances of securing a flat when the new rules kick in as those with no urgent housing needs hold back with their applications.

“Buyers will be more selective and take time to select and apply for the most suitable projects since they may risk not securing a unit on the second attempt,” she said.

Meanwhile, one prospective buyer said the new rules may pressure her into choosing a less-than-ideal flat than turning it down once it is offered to her.


2. Tampines BTO residents raise concern over “spooky” colour schemes at their blocks

Newly arrived residents at the new Tampines BTO project GreenVines were shocked upon seeing the bold colour scheme in the common areas of their homes, with some describing the aesthetic as “spooky”, “creepy” and “very unpleasant”, reported TODAY.

Launched in 2018, the Tampines GreenVines BTO development features 11 housing blocks in three coloured themes: three yellow, four purplish-blue, and four red blocks. Notably, pictures and videos of block 640B have gone viral on social media for its vivid red lift lobby.

Minister of Parliament (MP) Mr Baey Yam Keng said he is aware of the residents’ sentiment and that he has discussed with HDB a possible change to the estate’s appearance.

With this, HDB has arranged for the ceilings of the lift lobbies at Block 640B to be repainted white, with some of the walls also set to receive the same treatment “to tone it down”.

The housing agency revealed that the other blocks within the development will also be repainted progressively.


3. The Botany at Dairy Farm sells nearly half of its units at launch Sim Lian Group

The Botany at Dairy Farm received robust interest, with 187 units or nearly half of its 386 units sold during its launch on 4 March 2023 at an average price of $2,070 per sq ft (PSF), reported The Business Times.

Buyers snapped all 36 one-bedroom units at the development as well as 93% of the 104 2-bedders. Singaporeans accounted for 85% of the total buyers, with the rest made up of Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) and foreign buyers.

Ismail Gafoor, Chief Executive at PropNex, said the 48% take-up rate surpassed their expectations, noting that the project’s strong performance reflects the genuine demand for mass-market homes.

“The larger proportion of smaller units sold suggests that there is still investment demand in the market,” he added.

Located at Dairy Farm Walk, the 99-year leasehold project comprises five residential blocks and is expected to obtain its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) by 2027.

Related article: Freehold Vs Leasehold Condos in Singapore: Which is Better?


4. HDB launches 4,428 BTO flats, including prime location units at two projects

For the February 2023 BTO exercise, HDB launched 4,428 BTO flats across five projects within four housing estates: Queenstown, Kallang Whampoa, Tengah and Jurong West, reported CNA.

Two of the projects – Ulu Pandan Glades in Queenstown and Farrer Park Fields in Kallang Whampoa – are designated as Prime Location Housing (PLH) model projects.

HDB noted that those who want to move into their new homes sooner can apply for flats at Jurong West Crystal and Brickland Weave in Tengah as these projects have shorter waiting times of 3.9 years and four years, respectively.

“Additionally, with at least 95% of the 4-room and bigger flats set aside for first-timer families, applicants can look forward to a higher chance of securing flats in these projects,” it added.

Meanwhile, OrangeTee sees strong demand for the BTO flats in Kallang Whampoa, particularly those in the Farrer Park Field project, said Singapore Business Review.

It also predicts a healthy take-up for the Jurong West flats due to their high accessibility.

“We expect healthy take-up given the site’s good location and connectivity. As few units (271 units) are offered for this site, the application rate may be high due to the lower base,” said OrangeTee’s Senior Vice-president of Research and Analytics Christine Sun.


5. Measures to help first-time HDB flat buyers to kick in from August 2023

Home Buyers Can Now Apply For PR1MA Housing Loan Even Without A Payslip, REHDA Calls For Review Of Some Proposals In Residential Tenancy Act And More

The recently announced measures aimed at helping first-timer families to secure a new flat will take effect starting from the August 2023 BTO sales exercise, said National Development Minister Mr Desmond Lee.

The measures include an additional ballot chance for first-timer families with children and married couples aged 40 and below.

Mr Lee also revealed that more BTO flats within the mature estates will be offered by HDB this year, reported CNA.

This comes after many young couples have expressed their desire “to live near their parents for mutual care and support and have been trying for BTO flats in mature estates”.

However, the minister noted that these estates are generally more built up with existing facilities, residential blocks and transport infrastructure. As such, it will take more time to prepare such sites, he said.

“More care and planning are needed to ensure that works are carried out safely, in line with regulatory requirements, and with minimal disruption to the community living nearby,” explained Mr Lee.

Related article: BTO Application Rates are High, Here are 6 Ways to Improve Your Chances


6. Buyers of the delayed Punggol BTO project to receive about $5.1 million in compensation

Nearly 900 buyers of the Punggol BTO project, Waterway Sunrise II, will get an estimated reimbursement of $1,000 to $10,500, with households receiving an average of $5,750, reported CNA.

This comes after the project, which was launched in February 2017, exceeded its Delivery Possession Date (DPD) by more than a year.

Set for completion in mid-2021 with a DPD of between March and June 2022, the project’s construction timeline was pushed back due to its original contractor’s failure as well as the supply disruptions and labour shortage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HDB revealed that all seven blocks at Waterway Sunrise II have been completed and that the total reimbursement amount for all 896 buyers is around $5,156,700.


7. Land Betterment Charge (LBC) LBC rates marginally increase for residential use groups, unchanged for commercial and industrial uses

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has unveiled the revised LBC rates for the period 1 March 2023 to 31 Aug 2023, with a marginal increase seen for non-landed and landed residential uses as well as for hotel use.

The LBC rate for landed residential use was raised by an average of 0.4%, while that for non-landed residential use increased by an average of 0.3%.

Edmund Tie, Head of Research and Consulting Lam Chern Woon said the minimal increase came on the back of a “few factors such as the cooling measures of September 2022, fairly limited and moderate land bids (Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme or collective sales), revisions to Gross Floor Area (GFA) definitions, and the recent Buyer’s Stamp Duty increases in Budget 2023”.

The LBC rate for hotel use, on the other hand, was raised by an average of 1%, while the rates for commercial and industrial use groups were left unchanged.

Tricia Song, CBRE’s Head of Research for Southeast Asia, said the chief valuer could have decided to retain the LBC rates for commercial use given the absence of big-ticket transactions.


8. Minister Desmond Lee emphasises the need for caution amid risks to the Singapore property market

Mr Lee has highlighted the need to remain cautious when managing the housing demand and supply in Singapore, despite the cooling measures and subsidies put in place by the government.

This comes as there are still risks to the property market, such as the war in Ukraine and the supply chain disruptions brought about by the pandemic, he told CNA.

“Therefore, even as we tackle the challenges that come with supply and demand imbalance, leading to this heightened property market situation, I think all of us need to be mindful of what’s happening in other parts of the world, where property markets are falling and falling quite rapidly,” explained Mr Lee.

He also noted the importance of homeownership for Singaporeans, who consider their home not just as a place of shelter but also as an asset.


9. Singapore ranked sixth for super-, ultra-prime property transactions

View of the city seen from the Singapore Cable Car

Singapore has been ranked sixth among the top 10 markets for prime, super-prime and ultra-prime residential properties globally, reported Singapore Business Review citing Knight Frank.

The city-state, along with Hong Kong, were the only markets within Asia to make it to the top 10 list – which was led by London.

In 2022, Singapore registered 121 super-prime residential property transactions and 18 ultra-prime transactions.

Knight Frank noted that a US$1 million (S$1.35 million) can purchase a 34 sq m prime property, making it one of the priciest markets for prime residential properties.

The property consultancy expects prime property prices within the city-state to continue on an upward trend this year, likely rising by 4%.

“The rising number of wealthy individuals is fuelling upward pressure on prime property prices,” said Nicholas Keong, Head of Private Office at Knight Frank Singapore.


10. Eco-friendly ‘tiny houses’ at Lazarus Island to open for booking from April

From April 2023, visitors to Lazarus Island can book eco-friendly “tiny houses” for their overnight stay, reported CNA.

Dubbed Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island, the five standalone units – which span between 150 sq ft and 170 sq ft – will be the first of its kind on the island. They will be operated by Big Tiny, a homegrown firm that designs compact homes on wheels and places them in scenic settings.

The units will use sustainable composite materials while utilising solar energy as their main source of power. They will also feature a “high-tech” recycling system which converts food waste to compost on-site in 24 hours.

Other amenities and leisure activities, such as overnight glamping, convenience store and non-motorised water activities will also be launched around June.

“Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) will be making our Lazarus Island a light-touch destination over the next three years, where visitors can experience its rustic charm while minimising (their) impact on biodiversity and the environment,” said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Mr Alvin Tan.

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