Response to the BTO exercise in October 2023 is underwhelming

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J'Den map

Applications for the Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise be closed at 11.59pm on Oct. 10. The exercise has 6,800 flats to be sold across six developments located in Queenstown and Kallang-Whampoa. Choa Chu Kang and Tengah which includes the two Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) projects.

J’Den map is adjacent to the future Jurong East Integrated Transport Hub, which will house key facilities.

The response to the test has been surprisingly low It is noted by Lee Sze Teck, senior director of data analytics at Huttons Asia. HDB data at 5pm on October 10 shows that 9,848 applicants were received. “In contrast the number of applicants was more than 16,000 applicants in February for the 2023 BTO exercise, and more than 20,000 people applied in the April 2023 BTO exercise,” he points out. Both exercises featured flats with 4,428 and 5,495 units available to be sold, respectively.

Lee believes that the low demand can be attributed to hefty fines for not selecting flats which were imposed by the current process. First-time applicants who refuse their chance of booking the flat they were they are asked to do so will be deemed a second-timer with a lower priority for the next year. Second-time applicants with one non-selection number will have to wait a year before applying for a new flat.

There are buyers who may be anticipating an announcement in December of 2023 for the BTO exercise that will be awaited by many as the long-awaited flats in Sin Ming in Bishan and Alexandra Vale in Bukit Merah offered for auction, Lee adds.

Based on the application submitted by 5pm on October 10th and the Oct. 2023 BTO exercise is expected to have a subscription rate of around 1.4 times. “It could be among the lowest BTO applications rates of recent times,” remarks Ismali Gafoor the director at PropNex Realty. The last time BTO applications fell less than 2 times was November 2017, when the BTO application rate was around 1.7 multiples for flats that were that were launched at the time.

Gafoor mentions his findings that October’s BTO project at Tengah (Plantation Edge I & II) saw the highest number of subscribers, 2.1 times. He attributed this to applicants competing for five-room apartments available in those who live in the Tengah projects’ less crowded wait times of between 3 and 3.3 years. The developments are directly next to the planned Tengah Park MRT Station on the Jurong Region Line which will start operating in 2028.

The flats in Choa Chu Kang Choa Chu Kang project (Rail Green I and II) have the second highest total application rate of around 1.6 per cent for all 1,895 units put up to be sold. But, Gafoor points out that the rate is still less than the previous Choa Chu Kang BTO project which was launched in the month of August 2022. BTO test (Keat Hong Grange) which had an overall ratio at 2.4 times.

The projects in the estates that are mature saw less apathetic response. The Kallang-Whampoa project, including one of the projects, which is 1,143 units Verandah at Kallang PLH Project, received an average application rate of approximately 1.3 per cent for 2,922 apartments which were announced. It is a bit lower than the previous Kallang-Whampoa initiatives, for instance projects like the Farrer Park Arena project in May 2023, which had the rate at 3.6 times, and the Kallang-Whampoa projects that were launched in Feb 2023 (Farrer Park Fields and Rajah Summit) which registered an application rate of 4.7 times.

A 973 unit Tanglin Halt Cascadia PLH project also showed a measured use speed that was 1.1 times.

Due to the lower rate of application, Gafoor notes that most first-timers have a better probability of landing a house. The rate of first-time applicants applying for the majority of flats with four rooms is between 0.8 and 1.0 times. Five-room flats are around 1.6 times the rate of three-room flats, whereas three-room flats are between 0.2 and 0.8 times.