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HDB BTO launch: 3,600 flats available in HDB's first launch exercise of 2018

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(Photo: HDB. Woodlands Glade)

The Housing Board (HDB) yesterday put up 3,664 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats for sale in four towns, in its first exercise of the year.

They are the first tranche of some 17,000 BTO flats expected this year - and are also the inaugural batch to be built with an open-kitchen concept where possible.

There are five projects with units ranging from two-room Flexi to five-room flats, the HDB said.

Two projects are in the non-mature towns of Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands, while the remaining three are in the mature towns of Geylang and Tampines.

Prices without grants range from $71,000 for a two-room Flexi flat in Woodlands to more than $429,000 for a four-room unit in Geylang.

PropNex Realty chief executive officer Ismail Gafoor expects the demand to be strong in the mature estates. He highlighted the wide range of facilities and affordable starting price in Tampines, and the Geylang project's proximity to the city and MRT station.

ERA's key executive officer Eugene Lim believes the Choa Chu Kang project, located beside Bukit Panjang MRT station, will be a hit.

"The combination of affordability and convenience will be the main draw of the flats," he said.

He added that the relatively higher price of the Geylang flats may deter some applicants, but it is still expected to be a popular option.

Starting from this BTO exercise, the HDB will cease to offer the kitchen partition wall under the Optional Component Scheme as the take-up rate has been low.

Mr Zephy Wong, 27, who works for a non-profit organisation, and his fiancee Ho Jinqing, 25, a teacher, are applying for a four-room flat in Choa Chu Kang as their parents live in Bukit Panjang.

"It is unfortunate the kitchen partition wall is no longer offered as an option, and putting up some form of partition will have to be done at our own cost," he said.

However, civil servant Crystal Tan, 26, and her boyfriend Kenneth Tan, 27, a risk analyst, like the open-kitchen concept. It is refreshing and makes the flat feel bigger, Ms Tan said. The couple are keen to get a four-room flat in Ubi Grove due to its convenient location.

Also on offer are 717 flats that were not selected from last May's Sale of Balance Flats and last August's Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises. About 80 per cent of them are completed and are for eligible families who need a flat urgently and are less particular about location and other factors.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a Facebook post that the first ROF exercise in August last year was well-received.

Prices range from $149,000 for a two-room Flexi unit to more than $585,000 for an executive flat in a mature town, excluding grants.

Mr Gafoor said the ROF flats should be in demand as they are priced approximately 20 per cent to 30 per cent lower than resale flats in the same areas.

Applications for new flats in the BTO and ROF exercises can be submitted online on the HDB InfoWeb until next Monday.

The next BTO exercise will take place in May, with 3,900 BTO flats in Sengkang, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun expected to go on sale.

Written by Derek Wong and Ng Huiwen for The Straits Times