(image: HDB/The Straits Times)

The highly anticipated Bidadari development will be part of a mega Housing Board flat launch in November, when around 12,000 new flats will be put on the market.

Of these, about 7,000 will be Build-to-Order (BTO) flats located in six towns, including Punggol Northshore, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Sengkang. The other 5,000 are balance flats not sold in previous BTO exercises.

The bumper crop is the result of merging this year's remaining two BTO flat launches, including one scheduled this month, in a bid to include the implementation of three major housing policies – two of which were announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month.

These were increasing the household income ceiling for new HDB flats from $10,000 to $12,000, and enhancing the Special CPF Housing Grant. This grant will be extended to households earning up to $8,500, up from $6,500 now.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan posted on his blog yesterday that combining this month's BTO exercise with November's was a practical solution. He wrote: "As implementation of any new policy does require some time, we therefore decided to delay the September BTO launch by a few weeks, so that these initiatives can benefit as many Singaporeans as possible."

The fresh initiatives also include a new Two-Room Flexi scheme that allows elderly buyers to choose shorter leases.

The highlight of the mega launch will be the 2,130 Bidadari flats, said property analysts, who expect them to cost more owing to their central location on the city fringe.

The estate, near the Woodleigh and Potong Pasir MRT stations, will also feature a park and lake.

PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor predicts that the flats will be oversubscribed by more than five times and will cost 20 per cent more, which means buyers can expect to pay "well above $400,000" for a four-room flat.

"It has the potential to be the Bishan of the future," he said.

Flats in the mature estate of Bishan, which enjoys a central location and also once hosted a cemetery, typically fetch some of the higher prices in the resale market.

But Bidadari's history might put off some buyers, suggested Mr Chris Koh, director of estate agency Chris International. The estate will be built on the former Bidadari cemetery, which was fully exhumed by 2006. Mr Koh also pointed out that more flats are slated for Bidadari so, unlike BTO launches in mature estates that are rare, there is "no rush" for buyers.

Still, SLP International Property Consultants research head Nicholas Mak believes competition will be stiff at November's launch, as more people are now eligible to buy flats, given the new housing policies. He said: "There may be more supply for this launch but it also pools together more buyers."

(First published in The Straits Times)

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