(Photo: The Straits Times)

The supply of new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats will dip slightly to 17,000 next year, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in his latest blog post on Wednesday (Dec 14).

"We are gradually tapering supply but still ensuring a healthy pipeline to meet demand," wrote Mr Wong.

It is a drop from the 18,000 BTO units launched this year, and from the peak of 25,000 released annually between 2011 and 2013.

Meanwhile, flats that will be built faster especially for young couples may be ready by 2018.

To help reduce the wait times for new BTO flats, the minister revealed that he has tasked HDB to plan and prepare for several new sites which can be put out faster.

The move looks to benefit younger couples, who have been giving feedback to Mr Wong about the need to shorten the wait times.

He said: "These units will not be ready next year, but I hope we can begin to offer them by 2018."

The 2016 launches, he said, "kept prices stable and offered many choices to homebuyers".

He also said the application rates for BTO launches by first-timer families applying for 3-room or bigger flats in non-mature estates were "stable and manageable".

The application rate for this group was 1.5 times for the most recent November BTO launch, and an average of two times for the whole of 2016.

This means that BTO applicants will be able to get a flat within their first or second try, and "most definitely by the third try", the minister wrote.

"Hence, I always advise young families to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates to increase their chances of success."

Next year's BTO flats will see a similar spread across the mature and non-mature estates, wrote Mr Wong.

"This will give buyers a range of choices, including young couples who wish to live near their parents or the elderly who want to right-size and age in place," he said.

The ministry will continue to monitor the market, adjust its building programmes and review its housing schemes, added Mr Wong.

He also highlighted the Proximity Housing Grant, enhanced Special CPF Housing Grant and Fresh Start Housing Scheme that benefitted thousands of homebuyers this year.

"All of these demonstrate our commitment to keep home ownership within reach of all Singaporean families", he wrote.


Written by Ng Jun Sen for The Straits Times