Median waiting time of BTO projects launched in 2021 shorter than those in 2020: Desmond Lee

Lee also said that the waiting times for newly launched BTO flats will not be significantly affected by Covid-19 delays.

Low Jia Ying | January 13, 2022, 03:55 PM

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Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said that the median waiting time of BTO projects launched in 2021 is shorter than those launched in 2020.

Specifically, the waiting time for BTO projects launched in 2021 was 3.8 years, while those launched in 2020 was 4.5 years.

Lee said this in a written reply on Jan. 12 to some Members of Parliament, who asked about the rising demand and waiting times of BTO flats.

Lee: Waiting time for newly launched BTOs not significantly affected by Covid-19

Lee said that while there were "pandemic-induced delays" of about a year or less for previous BTO launches, newly launched BTO flats will not be significantly affected by Covid-19.

He said that the waiting times were "quite similar to what they were in the past".

He added:

"Barring further disruptions caused by the pandemic, and any specific site or contractor’s issues, HDB is working hard with its consultants and contractors to try and shorten the delays for ongoing projects wherever possible."

Lee said he recognises that homebuyers would want to move into their new homes and to settle down as soon as they can.

Since 2018, HDB has introduced BTO flats will shorter waiting times of around three years or less, he said.

This was done by bringing construction forward for specific sites that "have no existing encumbrances and are ready for development".

Strong demand caused by changing social norms, repeat applications, demographic trends

Lee said that the overall number of applications received per BTO flat has increased from 2.6 times in 2018 to 5.8 times in 2020, before tapering slightly to 5.5 times in 2021.

He explained the total annual BTO applications do include a number of repeat applicants.

They include those who have not been successful in earlier BTO launches in the year, as well as those who have been successful but are waiting for their flat selection appointments.

HDB does allow for these applicants to apply in consecutive BTO launches in case they are unable to select a BTO flat in the earlier launch.

He also said that 40 per cent of successful applicants between 2018 and 2020 who were given a chance to select a flat chose not to do so, "for a variety of reasons".

He said that these applicants are likely to add to the number of repeat applications.

Certain demographic trends behind demand for BTO flats

Lee highlighted certain demographic trends that explain the strong demand for BTO flats.

He said that in the near term, more demand can be expected from the "Echo" Baby Boomer cohorts, referring to those born in the 1980s and 1990s, as they reach marriageable age.

He also said that there is an increasing trend of younger couples and singles opting to have their own flats instead of living together as a larger family unit in the same flat.

Lee said that the higher demand can also be due to the raising of the monthly household income ceiling, most recently in 2019, making more people eligible to apply for BTO flats.

This, together with "the current low interest rate environment", have also contributed to the increased demand, he said.

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Top photos via HDB and Desmond Lee/FB