Wait-out period waived for 220 private home owners to buy HDB resale flats: Desmond Lee

HDB has received around 650 appeals since the 15-month wait-out period rule kicked in on Sept 30. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE – Some 220 private property downgraders have been successful in their appeals against the 15-month wait-out period to buy a Housing Board resale flat, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

HDB has waived the wait-out period for this group, all of whom had obtained an option to purchase for an HDB resale flat before the cooling measure took effect on Sept 30, he told Parliament on Thursday. An option to purchase is a legal agreement for the sale of a residential property.

HDB has received about 650 appeals to date, he said, adding that the remaining appeals include those who have not obtained an option to purchase an HDB resale flat but may have already committed to sell or have recently sold their private property.

These 430 appeals will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, Mr Lee said.

Under the latest round of cooling measures, private home owners must wait 15 months after the sale of their current home before they can buy an HDB resale flat without housing grants.

In the past three years, one in 10 HDB resale flat buyers has been a private property owner who sold his existing home to buy an HDB resale flat, said Mr Lee. This group of buyers generally have more financial means to pay more for an HDB resale flat, as compared with first-time flat buyers or HDB upgraders, he added.

There were around 31,000 HDB resale transactions in 2021, around 24,700 transactions in 2020, and around 23,700 transactions in 2019, HDB data showed.

Mr Lee noted that some private property downgraders may be seniors aged 55 and above, who are looking to move to a smaller HDB resale flat as part of their retirement plan.

This group is exempted from the 15-month wait-out period if they buy a four-room or smaller resale flat. They make up about three in 10 of the private property owners who bought HDB resale flats in the past three years, he said, adding that fewer than one in five of them paid cash over valuation when buying an HDB resale flat.

Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) asked if the measure may inadvertently drive up demand and prices for four-room HDB resale flats.

In response, Mr Lee said the Government will continue to monitor the property market and the impact of the cooling measures.

Replying to Workers’ Party MP Dennis Tan (Hougang) on giving exemptions to those with genuine financial difficulties, Mr Lee said people with extenuating circumstances can approach HDB for help.

Separately, Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) wanted to know about the Government’s plans to shorten the waiting time for new Build-To-Order (BTO) projects, while Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) asked if HDB would consider a “build-then-order” model instead.

Ms Phua said: “I know that building in advance creates stock inventory and might be costly, but if we could ring-fence this for marriage and parenthood, for which the nation is already spending quite a bit of money, it might be well worth it.”

Mr Lee said HDB has been pushing out some BTO flats with shorter waiting times of around three years or less since 2018, by bringing forward construction works for sites that are ready for development.

To date, close to 11,000 BTO flats with shorter waiting times have been launched, of which around 7,200 were offered between 2020 and 2022, he added.

Ms Phua also asked if the income ceiling criteria for the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) could be revised to include those who earn between $7,000 and $14,000, which is the income ceiling to apply for a BTO flat.

The PPHS provides interim housing to households awaiting the completion of their BTO flats, with units allocated by ballot. The criteria were tightened in August 2021 so that only households with a combined monthly income of less than $7,000 can apply for a unit.

Mr Lee said the $7,000 ceiling will not be raised as demand for PPHS flats has been high due to construction delays caused by Covid-19, while supply remains limited.

Replying to Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), he said 1,930 eligible households have applied for the scheme since August 2021, and 580 were invited to select a flat. Of these, about 330 selected flats while the remaining 250 did not, he added.

On average, about 47 per cent of applicants decide not to select a flat after they are invited to do so, he said. “That means others further down the queue will then be invited and that ensures that the flats are occupied.”

“Source:[Wait-out period waived for 220 private home owners to buy HDB resale flats: Desmond Lee] © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction”

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