More Built-to-Order (BTO) flats are being constructed because the government is considering allocating some of these units to singles in the future. However, national development minister Khaw Boon Wan maintains that only those singles aged 35 and above would be allow to purchase these new flats.
Current rules state that singles are only allowed to buy resale Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, not new ones.
According to Khaw, the government has “deliberately ramped (the building of Built-to-Order flats) up a little bit higher in order to cater for singles”. This is a move that went against the initial plan to reduce the BTO numbers.
The news was announced in Parliament on October 15.
Should the government go ahead with its plans to allow singles to purchase new flats, other restrictions will also be imposed. They will not be at liberty to sublet the apartments, nor are they able to purchase bigger flats.
HDB revealed that the supply of BTO flats in 2012 is expected to reach a record high of 27,000 in a statement issued in September. However, the exact number distributed to singles is yet to be confirmed.
According to his blog, Khaw mentioned in September 8 that “the additional demand is unlikely to be small and if we misjudge, the interests of married couples, especially those with children, may be adversely affected.” He said that he needs to assess the demand from singles before deciding on the exact numbers.
Another query raised in Parliament by member of parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Liang Eng Hwa, was the ability of supply to meet both anticipated and unanticipated demand. In response, Khaw said that the supply of new flats has continued to meet the demand of 15,000 Singaporean marriages annually.
On top of marriages, demand also comes from downgraders, second-timers and upgraders.
Temporary occupation permits also help to meet demands. 11,300 of these will be issued this year and 16,300 next year. The number will increase to 26,800 in 2014.
Also, singles’ demand for Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats has fallen by 23% in the past 4 years. In a written response from the Ministry of National Development, the ministry stated that numbers have fallen from an average of 5600 units sold annually between 2002 and 2006, to 4300 between 2007 and 2011.
These numbers were revealed to address a query put out by Gan Thiam Poh, member of parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
In addition, the Ministry added that singles generally prefer to purchase 3-room flats, although the demand for 4 and 5-room units has increased since the ministry lifted the restriction of flat sizes sold to singles in 2004.
In 2011, 48% of singles purchased 3-room units as opposed to 60% 6 years ago. In contrast, the demand for 4 and 5-room units increased from 26% and 9%, to 33% and 13% respectively.
Before 2004, singles were only allowed to buy 3-room flats or smaller.