SINGAPORE: Singapore’s housing situation appears to be looking up in 2024.

On Monday (Jan 8), the Housing Development Board (HDB) announced in a statement that it will launch around 19,600 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats this year, while Mr Desmond Tan, the Minister for National Development, has said that housing prices will not rise “indefinitely.”

Rising living costs, particularly housing, have been a concern among Singaporeans over the past few years. In February last year, Parliament held a lengthly debate on motions concerning public housing affordability and availability.

The housing supply was particularly hard-hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic when construction projects ceased temporarily. At the same time, a considerable number of Singaporeans expressed the intent to acquire their own living spaces.

Mr Lee noted in a recent interview with The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao that public and private housing markets have begun to moderate. However, he added that because mortgage rates are believed to stay high, this will affect buyers and homeowners.

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“We expect (interest rates) to remain high for longer, and the rates we see are between 3.7 per cent and 4.4 per cent, so that will have an impact,” the minister is quoted as saying.

FB screengrab/Desmond Lee

Mr Lee added that with rising geopolitical tensions, global economic growth is expected to slow down and that many would-be Singapore homebuyers are proceeding cautiously.

He has also noted that the government has endeavoured to meet the higher demand for homes in Singapore, with first-time BTO flat applicants increasing by a whopping 80 per cent from 2020 to 2022, compared with 2017 to 2019.

“Over the last two years, we have been working hard to ramp up BTO supply and reduce waiting times. We know many Singaporeans are waiting for their keys, and we want to deliver homes to them quickly.

We have made good progress last year and we will press on. This year, we will launch 19,600 BTO flats, including 2,800 Shorter Waiting Time flats (with wait time under three years),” said Mr Lee in a Facebook post on Jan 8.

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Last year had been a banner year in terms of completed flats, with 21,400 units across 23 projects. This is the highest number completed in a year since 2018, said HDB.

It also said that from this year onward, HDB will conduct three BTO exercises and one Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise annually.

“This comes on the back of the stabilisation of BTO application rates,” HDB noted.  /TISG

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