The five Cs of Singapore are no longer applicable in today’s society, especially to younger Singaporeans.
Instead, we keep our ears open for the line “you want to BTO together?”, and that’s when we know they’re the one.
And if you did hear it recently, you’re in luck. For the first time, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) breaks down the cost price of Built-to-Order (BTO) flats, so that you know exactly what you’re in for when you apply for a BTO with your significant other.
HDB Reveals Cost Price of BTO Flats for All to See
On Wednesday (7 Dec), HDB and the Ministry of National Development (MND) gave a joint statement regarding the prices of BTO flats.
We’ve had many unexpected happenings in the recent years, from our “East Coast Plan” in GE2020, to the Raeesah Khan debacle.
This revelation of the development costs of BTO flats isn’t an exception—it’s unexpected as well. It’s the first time the development costs of BTO flats are being revealed to the public.
This comes after the Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh suggested making these costs public knowledge, in order to keep tabs on the amount of subsidies offered.
This also comes amidst the rising prices of BTO flats, with a five-room BTO flat at Ang Mo Kio just launching at a record high price of S$877,000 in August.
At this rate, I just might be living on the streets in the future…
It was revealed that in the 2021-2022 financial year, the development costs for 13,506 BTO units amounted to approximately $3 billion in land costs, S$2 billlion in building costs, S$5 billion for the total costs of sales of completes flats, and S$102 million for other costs.
In spite of the high development costs of BTO flats, these high development costs are not a key factor in determining the price of these flats. In fact, the two are kept separate and distinct from one another.
So what exactly does HDB take into account in pricing BTO flats?
The answer is simple: affordability.
Setting the Price of BTO Flats
In setting the price of BTO flats, HDB establishes the flat’s market value by comparing the flat with the transacted prices of comparable resale flats in the vicinity.
What if the resale flat has a better view, or is closer to the MRT station?
Well, those are taken into account as well. The prices of these resale flats are admittedly influenced by a confluence of factors from market conditions to individual attributes like location and accessibility, which are taken into consideration.
Next, HDB will provide subsidies to account for the difference in price between the assessed market value of the BTO flat and its final selling price.
The final subsidy that is given is determined according to affordability.
When we say affordability, we’re not talking about reducing the prices of BTO flats arbitrarily as if it’s a wet market.
Affordability is pegged to two factors. The household incomes of buyers and the mortgage servicing ratio.
Looking for extra subsidies? Why not try and ballot in BTO projects under the Prime Location Public Housing model?
The high market value of flats at prime locations likely means that the subsidies applied by HDB will be higher.
Other than housing subsidies, eligible first-time flat buyers can consider looking at housing grants for additional support to keep flats affordable as well.
Losses Incurred Due to Housing Subsidies
With the onset of COVID-19, it comes as no surprise that costs of developing BTO flats have increased. I mean, even the cost of your favourite bubble tea order has increased.
Specifically, construction costs have increased by almost 30 per cent in the past two years.
Based on the figures released from each financial year, the total development costs have increased in general as well. This also comes alongside the increase in the number of BTO units constructed.
Regardless, HDB manages to keep BTO flat prices relatively stable. The reason why?
The housing subsidies.
Over the last 3 financial years, HDB has been consistently incurring deficits as a result of the housing subsidies it provides.
In the latest financial year, the losses it incurred increased to about S$3,850 million.
So the next time your family group chat complains about BTO prices in Singapore, at least you’ll know that the government isn’t “wasting taxpayers’ money”.
Drop in Applications for BTO Flats in November
The breakdown of the development costs of BTO flats also follows a piece of news first-time BTO applicants will be happy to hear.
The number of applicants for BTO flats in the November sales exercise fell.
During the August launch, almost 40,000 applications were received for BTO flats. In the November exercise however, the number was almost halved as there were only 24,562 applicants for BTO flats.
At this point, it’s simple math—there are more BTO units, but less applicants vying for the flats. This means that applicants will have a higher chance of success.
The November launch was the last BTO launch of the year.
If you’re looking to BTO with your partner soon, you better hurry and pop the question. The next BTO launch is expected to take place in February 2023.
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