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New two-room flats: Few singles likely to bite

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Singles can apply for two-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flats for the first time starting this month, but property analysts predict that not many will take advantage of the policy change.

This is because the units are small, in non-mature estates and could take three years before they are ready to be occupied.

Analysts point to the fact that singles have been picking up resale units since March, when the policy tweak was announced.

Latest figures from the Housing Board show 22 per cent of resale flat buyers applied under the Singles scheme from March to June, up from 20 per cent in the same period last year.

This indicates that many singles may not be holding out for new two-room units, which reportedly come in just two sizes - 375 sq ft and 485 sq ft. They would also be limited to non-mature estates such as Sengkang in the upcoming launch.

These flats, which may cost $100,000 without grants, would be first made available to singles at the HDB's next launch at the end of the month.

ERA Realty's key executive officer Eugene Lim said singles seem to prefer three-room flats, which are about 700 sq ft.

"This group typically buy three-roomers to fit their lifestyle, if they can afford it. They are also conscious of the location, which needs to be attractive enough," he said.

Singles who want to buy a new HDB flat need to be at least 35 years old, and earn no more than $5,000 a month. Eight in 10 working singles, or 150,000 Singaporeans, are expected to qualify.

Previously, singles could only buy in the resale market, and had to contend with possibly more affluent permanent residents and citizens who had already enjoyed a government housing subsidy.

Typically, two-room flats are reserved for lower-income households. According to the Housing Board, it has launched 4,418 two- roomers since 2006. A spokesman added that the agency would consider building more two-room flats if there is strong demand.

Credit from The Straits Times - 6 July 2013
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