An artist’s impression of Tampines GreenSpring, which was launched last November.PHOTO: HDB

The sales exercise for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats next month will be deferred until further notice, said the Housing Board last Friday.

Some 3,700 BTO flats in Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Pasir Ris and Tampines and about 160 assisted living flats for seniors in Bukit Batok were supposed to be launched next month. The deferment comes after the extension of circuit breaker measures to June 1. All construction activities have ceased and work sites are now closed.

Said HDB in a statement to The Straits Times yesterday: “We are postponing the May 2020 sales exercise to a later date and will announce more details when the new date is firmed up.”

HDB typically holds four sales exercises for new flats each year, in February, May, August and November. When asked, HDB did not specify whether the subsequent sales launches will be similarly affected.

But property experts told The Straits Times yesterday that it is likely the August and November sales exercises will be deferred to later dates to accommodate the delay of the launch next month.

Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said: “Logically speaking, if the May launch is deferred to June or July, the HDB may consider deferring the August launch to a later date to avoid a sudden influx of supply in the market.”

She added that it is unlikely that HDB will offer a new batch of flats within two month of a launch.

A further 4,100 BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Geylang, Tampines and Woodlands are scheduled to be released in August.

ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said it is likely both August and November sales exercises will be pushed back but that all four launches this year will go ahead as planned.

Chances for a combined mega launch for May and August flats are relatively low, he said, adding that it would not be favourable to home seekers as each applicant can apply for only one unit per exercise.

Mr Mak said: “The most important thing is to satisfy the housing needs of the majority. HDB will likely see what the application rate is at the next launch before deciding on the next steps.”

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced last December that HDB will offer 16,000 to 17,000 new flats this year, up from last year’s 14,600.

A mock-up of an assisted living flat for seniors. About 160 of such flats for seniors in Bukit Batok were supposed to be launched next month, but this has been deferred. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

Ms Sun said many buyers might take a wait-and-see approach. Those in urgent need of a flat might now have to turn to the resale market, she added.

Marine service engineer Gary Ng, 28, who is married and has a newborn son, had plans to apply for a flat in Tengah, but since his income has been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, he is taking a more cautious approach. “Although there’s some uncertainty as to whether the project will be delayed, I believe that when everything is more settled, it will be completed in good time,” he said.

Previously, HDB told The Straits Times that construction of BTO projects will be expedited after circuit breaker measures are lifted.

Software engineer Song Kwong Wee, 27, said the postponement of the launch next month would not affect his plans greatly. He and his girlfriend were looking forward to applying for a four-room flat in Pasir Ris, where they both currently live.

He said: “But even if it’s delayed, I’m not very worried as it gives us more time to increase our income. We might be able to look at resale flats instead.”

This story was first published on The Straits Times.