The Housing Board launched 3,970 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats across four projects in Sengkang, Yishun, Toa Payoh and Tampines yesterday, in the second such exercise this year.

Prices without grants range from $76,000 for a two-room flexi flat in non-mature estate Yishun, to more than $422,000 for a five-room flat in mature estate Tampines.

About 17,000 BTO flats are expected this year.

Property experts believe the Toa Payoh project in Kim Keat Avenue will be the most popular owing to its central location.

However, all the projects in this launch are not in good locations within their areas, as they are located in corners of the towns.

This is reflected in the more attractive pricing, compared with earlier BTO launches.

This month’s exercise is the first where measures announced at the debate on the Ministry of National Development’s budget this year will take effect.

The assessment of income for young couples – used for housing loans and grants – will be deferred to just before they collect the keys to their homes instead of at the time of application.

This is meant to help such couples proceed with their application earlier. However, it may be a source of concern for couples like Ms Janice Teo, 22, and her boyfriend, Mr Sng Wei Theng, 28, who have had four unsuccessful attempts in getting a flat through a BTO or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.

Ms Teo is a law undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, while Mr Sng, a research assistant, has been working for three years.

The move could mean more applicants, leading to stiffer competition for a flat, said Ms Teo.

She and Mr Sng intend to apply for a four-room unit in Toa Payoh during this launch as it is near where his parents live.

This latest exercise will also see a revised proximity condition kick in.

Those applying for a flat under the Married Child Priority Scheme and Senior Priority Scheme may do so if their married child or parents are living within 4km of the flat they are applying for. The proximity condition was previously defined as living in the same town, or within 2km.

Also on offer are 3,022 flats under the SBF exercise. About 34 per cent of these are already completed and the rest are under construction.

Eligible first-timer families can enjoy up to $80,000 of housing grants, comprising the Additional Central Provident Fund Housing Grant (up to $40,000) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (up to $40,000).

Applications for the May BTO and SBF exercises can be submitted online on the HDB InfoWeb until next Monday. The next BTO launch, which is in August, will offer about 4,300 flats in Punggol and Yishun.

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 23 May 2018