Speaking in Parliament on Sep. 18, 2023, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee elaborated more on the new Housing Development Board (HDB) Build-to-Order (BTO) flat classification of "Standard", "Plus", and "Prime" announced during this year's National Day Rally.
Under the new framework, "Standard" flat owners must observe a Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 5 years, while"Plus" and "Prime" flat owners must observe a longer MOP of 10 years.
When asked whether the MOP period could be shorter, Lee shared that "many supported imposing a longer MOP" during the Forward Singapore Housing Conversations as they felt HDB flats should be primarily for owner occupation.
"We think that an MOP of 10 years seeks to strike a balance between strengthening the intent for owner occupation on the one hand, and giving homeowners the flexibility of moving home for genuine reasons."
Many Singaporeans stay in their HDB for 10 years or more
Lee said the government imposes tighter restrictions on buyers of "Prime" and "Plus" flats as it ensures that it will be fair to those who purchase "Standard" flats with standard market subsidies.
"Plus" flat owners will also have a longer MOP of 10 years and cannot rent out their flats during the period.
Lee explained that this was to ensure these "Plus" flats were for "owner occupation" and "not for speculative investment or rental yield".
Lee shared that during the Forward Singapore Housing Conversations, many supported imposing a longer MOP as they felt that "HDB flats should primarily be for owner occupation".
In response to a question on whether Plus flats can come with a shorter MOP, Lee replied that a 10-year MOP "strikes a balance between strengthening the intent for owner occupation on the one hand, and giving homeowners the flexibility of moving home for genuine reasons".
Lee also pointed out that most HDBs come with a 5-year MOP, but most Singaporean households stay in their flat for 10 years or more before selling.
For those who "genuinely need to move out" before their MOP ends, HDB will assess their appeal on a case-by-case basis.
First-time families, first-time parents and married couples will receive more ballot chances
Under the new framework, across all BTO projects, first-timer families will receive two ballot chances.
First-timer parents and married couples will receive three ballot chances and additional priority under the Family and Parenthood Priority Scheme.
More details on the specific prioritisation and quotas for different groups will be announced when it is ready, said Lee.
14,000 2-room Flexi flats to launch from 2024 to 2026
During his National Day Rally, PM Lee announced that singles will have access to more housing options under the new HDB framework.
To meet the housing demand from singles and the elderly looking to "right-size", Lee announced they would launch more 2-room Flexi flats over the next three years.
From 2024 to 2026, HDB will launch up to 14,000 2-room Flexi flats, a 30 per cent increase over the past three years from 2021 to 2023.
Lee also shared that they have worked hard to catch up on delays, and the median waiting time for HDB flats is now about four to four and a half years.
They aim to bring it down to three to four years by 2024.
When asked if the age floor can be lowered to allow singles to apply for BTO flats at an earlier age, Lee shared that their priority is to build enough flats over the next few years to address the expected increase in housing demand from singles.
Top photo via MCI/YouTube