You can now book unsold balance HDB flats at any time

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(Photo: YT screengrab)

IF you’ve been waiting to buy an unsold balance flat from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), your luck’s going to change.

The previous agony of unscheduled waits and biting of the nails at critical balloting moments may soon be a thing of the past. Under a refreshing change of policy, you can soon do so at any time instead of waiting for a twice-yearly sales exercise, says National Development Minister Lawrence Wong,

Introduced in 2017, the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) sales exercise pools together all flats that are unsold after previous Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises.

The ROF is currently offered twice a year. From the middle of this year, home buyers can choose to book the remaining flats from the ROF pool at any time.

OPEN BOOKING

This open booking will start with a batch of around 120 flats, Mr Wong wrote on the Ministry of National Development’s Housing Matters blog.

“Flat buyers can apply online anytime on a first-come, first-served basis, and book a flat by the next working day. This will effectively reduce their waiting time to book a flat to just one day,” he says.

Analysts have given the early thumbs-up. Real estate agency OrangeTee’s head of research and consultancy Wong Xian Yang says: “The ROF is more flexible especially for families that have urgent housing needs but are not particular about location and flat type.

“For example if I’m looking for a flat – maybe my first choice is in Punggol, but I don’t mind Sengkang – because the ROF pools together unsold flats from several estates, there’s a higher chance you’ll be able to find something.

“It’s also for families looking to move in soon, if they’re not willing to wait two-and-a-half to four years for a BTO flat.”

URGENT HOUSING NEEDS

The HDB reiterates that the ROF sales exercise is aimed at helping buyers who have more urgent housing needs, or are less particular about location and other flat attributes. Under ROF, applicants do not have to indicate a flat type and location, and can book any available units according to their eligibility.

Homemaker Jacqueline Tan, 44, of Bedok North, a mother of three teenagers, says: “This is the best news we’ve been waiting for a very long time. I just cannot wait for a few more months before we can choose to book the remaining flats from the ROF pool at any time.”

Mr Wong notes that past ROF sales exercises have been popular with buyers, with about 2,500 households having booked a flat under the scheme. Nearly two-thirds of them have collected the keys to their flats.

“With the increased range of options available, I hope that it will be easier and more convenient for potential homebuyers to find a flat that meets their different needs, preferences, and budget,” he says.