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Singapore's shophouse transaction value up 29.9% in H1 2021


By Yong Jun Yuan

Resale condominium prices in Singapore were up 0.1 per cent month on month in June, while prices rose 6.8 per cent year on year, flash figures from SRX Property showed on Tuesday.

An estimated 1,510 units were resold in June, a decrease of 12.6 per cent from the 1,727 units resold a month earlier. However, volumes were 198.4 per cent higher than in June 2020, and 83.9 per cent higher than the five-year average for the month of June.

Property analysts from both OrangeTee and Tie and PropNex attributed the fall in resale volume to fewer viewings being conducted due to the country's Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures from May 16 to June 13.

Huttons' analysts were surprised, given that the other segments of the market had seen a rebound in activities after the lifting of the viewing restrictions. They attributed the fall in resale volumes to price resistance from buyers, which also resulted in lower volume as well as lower capital gains in June.

Still, Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said demand remains at a healthy level and the month-on-month sales decline may likely be temporary.

"Sales may rebound this month since viewing restrictions have been further eased and some people may rush to close a deal before the start of the seventh lunar month which falls in August," she said.

Meanwhile, all regions saw price increases year on year, as the core central region (CCR), rest of central region (RCR) and outside of central region (OCR) rose 6.2 per cent, 6.5 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively.

Month on month, prices in the CCR and OCR gained 1.7 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively, while prices in the RCR slipped 1.2 per cent.

Analysts from PropNex and OrangeTee & Tie both credited the limited supply of new homes with diverting people towards resale homes, potentially keeping their prices up in the coming months.

Ms Sun said that as the supply of new homes remains limited and more HDB upgraders turn to the private resale market, prices may continue to rise in the coming months.

SRX attributed more than half of resale volumes in June to the OCR, 23.7 per cent from the RCR, and 17.9 per cent from the CCR.

"Since supply is most limited in the suburban segment, price growth may be steepest for mass-market resale homes," Ms Sun said, citing the higher rise in OCR prices compared to the other regions.

PropNex's head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said that while a number of new OCR launches are slated to come on soon, the price gap between new launches and resale properties could also push price-sensitive buyers towards the resale market.

"In addition, some buyers may prefer ready-built homes in the resale market to avoid uncertainties around completion delays for new projects. Hence, we expect the overall demand for resale homes to remain relatively strong," Ms Wong added.

A unit from Sculptura Ardmore saw the highest transacted price for a resale unit in June at S$19.8 million. In the RCR, the highest transacted price was S$5.7 million for a unit at Regency Suites. In the OCR, the most expensive unit resold was a unit at Clementiwoods condominium that was resold for S$2.8 million.

SRX's overall median capital gain stood at S$170,000 in June, a decrease of S$20,800 from a month ago. District 21 (Clementi/Upper Bukit Timah) saw the highest median capital gain at S$535,000, while District 4 (Sentosa/Harbourfront) posted the lowest median capital gain at S$66,770.

SRX calculates the capital gain or loss of a condo resale unit by comparing the current transacted price with the same unit's previous transacted price. Capital gain data is only available for districts with more than 10 matching transactions.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 14 July 2021




Singapore's shophouse transaction value up 29.9% in H1 2021


By Lisa Kriwangko

SINGAPORE'S total shophouse transaction value hit S$836.1 million in H1 2021, up 29.9 per cent from H2 2020, backed by the pick-up in activity from the fourth quarter of 2020.

This total was made up of the first and second quarter's transaction values of S$365.4 million and S$470.7 million respectively. In terms of volume, the half-year saw 118 sales, up from the 90 in H2 2020.

While freehold shophouses still accounted for the bulk of transactions - 78.8 per cent - leasehold sales volume more than doubled from the previous half year to 25 units.

Knight Frank said on Thursday: "Buyers who were drawn by hopes of capital appreciation showed interest in better-located leasehold shophouses, with over half of the leasehold transactions located at prime District 2."

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The report also noted a trend towards more "affordable alternatives". District 8 recorded the highest sales volume among the regions, with 18 out of the 26 sold at "entry prices" of below S$5 million.

However, the typically-favoured Districts 1 and 2 remained sought-after, recording 15 and 20 transactions respectively.

The average unit price of freehold shophouses during the half year dipped 0.4 per cent from that of H2 2020, to S$4,344 per square feet (psf) on land. This is 59.5 per cent higher from H1 2020, when Singapore was experiencing the onset of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, leasehold prices reached S$4,418 psf on land, up 4.9 per cent from the previous half-year and 23 per cent from the year ago. The rise came on the back of transactions in the Tanjong Pagar and Kreta Ayer Conservation Areas fetching higher prices.

The biggest transaction for the six months was 277/279 New Bridge Road, which sold for S$28 million or S$11,018 psf. On a psf basis, the most expensive transaction was 9 Stanley Street in the Telok Ayer Conservation Area, which sold for S$17.8 million or S$12,607 psf.

A fully tenanted three-storey conservation shophouse with an attic at 91 Tanjong Pagar Road obtained the highest gain during the half year: it was sold at S$10.5 million, more than five times the previous sale price some 15 years ago.

Knight Frank said that buyers exhibited a "continued appetite" for shophouse assets in the first half of 2021. The real-estate consultancy firm noted that the half year's transaction value was equivalent to 91.6 per cent of that in the full year of 2020.

"Barring any recurring waves of the Covid-19 infection and based on the current demand momentum, it is more than possible for the sales value in the full year of 2021 to exceed the last S$1.46 billion high posted in 2018, and for sales volume to cross the 200-unit mark," said Knight Frank.

"In addition, with many still keen to test the market on the offers they can draw, we might see shophouse sales in the second half of the year achieving new benchmark prices," it added.

That said, the company also noted that there is an "inevitable ceiling" to the escalating prices.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 9 July 2021




106 HDB resale flats sold for over S$1m in first half of 2021, over 4-fold increase year-on-year


By Michelle Ng

By Navene Elangovan

The number of Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats changing hands for above S$1 million in the first half of this year jumped to 106, more than four times the total for the same period in 2020. Nineteen of these sales were in June alone.

Flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Thursday (July 8) showed that the highest price for a resale flat sold last month was S$1,268,000 for a three-room terrace unit along Jalan Bahagia near Whampoa estate.

Ms Wong Siew Ying, head of research and content at real estate agency PropNex, said that all 106 transactions took place in mature estates, especially in more central locations with a broader range of amenities.

The central area, primarily Pinnacle@Duxton in Tanjong Pagar, led with the highest number of million-dollar HDB resale transactions with 30 deals, followed by Queenstown and Bishan with 16 transactions each.

In non-mature estates, the highest price commanded by a resale flat last month was S$968,000, for an executive apartment on Bukit Batok Street 25.

In the first half of last year, a total of 24 resale HDB flats sold for more than S$1 million. For the full year of 2020, the total was a record 82 flats at that price level — eclipsing the previous record of 71 such sales in 2018.

The numbers point to a growing trend over the last five years of HDB resale flats being sold for at least S$1 million.

Aside from a slight dip in 2019 when there were 64 such transactions, the number of resale flats sold for at least S$1 million have steadily increased from 12 in 2015 to the 82 figure last year, Propnex data showed.

SALE OF MILLION-DOLLAR FLATS

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics of property agency OrangeTe, said that the increased demand for flats selling above S$1 million could be driven by couples or singles in their 30s to 50s who work as top executives in private firms or the public sector.

“These people do not mind paying top dollar for well-located resale flats as they perceive connectivity and convenience to be crucial when it comes to choosing a home,” she said.

Other buyers could be those downgrading from private property or former homeowners who had sold their property in an en-bloc sale and have collected a substantial sum of money from the collective sale.

For many of these buyers, million-dollar HDB flats are considered affordable compared to private property, Ms Sun said.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at property agency ERA, said that the number of resale flats sold at at least S$1 million each pointed to the strength of the HDB resale market.

He noted that buyers of the most expensive HDB flats sold last month showed a preference for spacious homes that presented value for money.

Three of the most expensive HDB flats sold last month were transacted above S$1.23 million each, with the unit price of each of these three flats below S$1,000 per square foot as they were rather large in size.

“The pandemic and current work-from-home culture could have pushed more households to look for larger homes,” he added.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, who has been a property analyst for 17 years, said that the sales reflected a continued preference by affluent buyers for centrally located flats, including Pinnacle@Duxton and lifestyle-oriented flats built under the HDB's Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

These flats offered buyers an opportunity to live in prime, prestigious areas at the ideal price point, Mr Ong said.

Given the demand for such flats, Mr Ong recommended that the Government consider reintroducing the DBSS scheme, which was discontinued in 2011, to offer housing varieties for Singaporeans who have high housing aspirations.

DBSS flats, which were meant to be condominium-style flats, were developed and sold not by HDB but by private developers even though they were considered public housing. 

RISE IN HDB RESALE PRICES

On average, HDB resale prices rose 0.9 per cent in June compared with the month before. They also jumped 13.2 per cent compared with June last year.

Analysts attributed the increase in sale prices to demand spurred by delays to the construction of new Built-to-Order (BTO) flats.

“With the completion delays of new BTO flats spurring demand for resale flats and the limited availability of choice resale units, we expect HDB resale prices to continue to see some upward pressure,” Ms Wong of Propnex said.

Mr Mak of ERA said that the presence of cash over valuation (COV) could also contribute to the acceleration of HDB resale prices. This is the cash that buyers have to pay if the selling price exceeds HDB's valuation of the flat.

He noted that a quarter of flats sold from January last year to April this year had been sold with COV.

“As a result, the official HDB resale price index could increase by 8 per cent to 11 per cent for the whole of this year,” Mr Mak said.

OVERALL HDB RESALE TRANSACTIONS

The overall number of HDB resale transactions in June rose 17.5 per cent from May this year to 2,311, though resale volume fell 5.8 per cent from the same month last year.

Ms Wong of Propnex said that the sales notched up in June last year had been higher due to the spike in sales when the two-month semi-lockdown period ended last June.

She noted that there had been a broad-based increase in sales for all flat types in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year. Larger flats, especially, saw a steeper pace of growth.

For example, the number of five-room flats resold in the first half of this year was 70 per cent higher than that of the same period last year.

Resale volume of executive flats also jumped by about 67 per cent to 1,063 units over the same period.

Ms Wong attributed this to buyers preferring a more spacious home to accommodate working or schooling from home.

Ms Sun of OrangeTee observed that while HDB resale volume rebounded after the heightened alert measures were partially eased in mid-June, last month’s sales total was still below the 12-month average of 2,377 units from June 2020 to May 2021.

She said that this could be due to viewing restrictions imposed during the heightened alert period and said that sales could pick up as the Government relaxes infection controls further.

Adapted from: TODAYONLINE, 8 July 2021




HDB resale prices rise for 12th straight month; 19 million-dollar flats sold in June


By Michelle Ng

SINGAPORE - The Housing Board resale market bounced back quickly last month, with prices continuing to climb and more flats changing hands as tightened Covid-19 measures were eased.

HDB resale prices rose for the 12th straight month, advancing 0.9 per cent last month compared with May, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX on Thursday (July 8).

The HDB resale market has "returned to business as usual", said ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak, who added that the latest figures show that people are getting used to the safe distancing measures and restrictions imposed by the Government as a result of the pandemic.

Year on year, resale prices increased 13.2 per cent from June last year, and are just 1.7 per cent off their peak in April 2013.

The rise in prices for resale flats last month was broad-based, climbing for both mature and non-mature estates, as well as across all room types.

A total of 2,311 resale flats changed hands last month, rising 17.5 per cent from the month before.

Huttons Asia senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said the jump in transaction volume reflects the demand that was artificially constrained by viewing restrictions imposed during the phase two (heightened alert) period, when households could receive only two unique visitors each day.

After June 13, the measures were relaxed to five unique visitors each day.

Last month also saw 19 resale flats change hands for at least $1 million, a jump from 13 such transactions in May.

A 49-year-old terraced house in Whampoa was sold for $1.268 million, making the 210 sq m dwelling the most expensive HDB resale unit on record.

The 19 million-dollar flats sold made up 0.8 per cent of last month's total resale transactions.

This brings the total number of such flats to 106 in the first half of this year, more than four times the 24 units sold in the same period last year.

PropNex head of research and content Wong Siew Ying pointed out that all of the 106 million-dollar transactions were located in mature estates.

The central area, specifically The Pinnacle @ Duxton, saw the most activity, with 30 such deals, followed by Queenstown and Bishan, with 16 each, she noted.

Analysts are expecting resale prices to continue to rise, so long as Build-To-Order (BTO) flats face construction delays.

Huttons' Mr Lee said HDB's willingness to consider waiving penalties for buyers who cancel their BTO applications to buy a resale flat to meet their urgent housing needs may likely prop up demand in the resale market in the months to come.

Besides increased demand and rising prices, another issue that buyers might be contending with is the cash-over-valuation (COV) component, said Mr Lee.

COV happens when a resale flat is sold above its actual HDB valuation, and the shortfall can only be paid for in cash by the buyer.

"More buyers have chosen to match the sellers' asking prices, which tend to be higher than the last transacted price, resulting in more instances of COV. If left unchecked, this will affect affordability and put flats out of reach for some buyers," he said.

However, Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, pointed out that the Government had recently clarified that the majority of buyers did not have to pay any COV, with the median COV remaining at $0.

"This information can serve as a market indicator for both buyers and sellers. It may help to alleviate the anxieties of some buyers who may be worried about paying high COVs or 'overpaying' for certain flats," she said.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 8 July 2021




Heartland malls in areas with less retail space per capita may recover more quickly


By Fiona Lam

The recovery of suburban malls will likely be uneven across different locations in Singapore, due to the varying tenant mixes, shopping experiences and catchment sizes.

Retail spaces in predominantly residential zones may emerge as more resilient amid limited competition, said the National University of Singapore's Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS), going by its analysis of retail space per Singapore resident in each area.

The overall retail sector has been reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many shopping centres seeing lower footfall. As a whole, heartland malls have fared better than those along the Orchard Road shopping belt and in the central business district, which continue to be affected by the absence of tourists as well as thinner office crowds due to remote working.

"However, this simple dichotomy belies the fact that suburban malls are not a uniform category whose members share identical attributes," IREUS deputy director Lee Nai Jia said.

He expects the retail space per Singapore resident to correlate inversely with the malls' rate of recovery, all things being equal. "More retail space per capita essentially entails more competition for consumer spend, and vice versa," Dr Lee added.

Generally, areas with substantially more retail space per capita have large working populations or are made up of more established housing estates. These include established regional centres such as in Tampines and Jurong East, as well as fringe areas like Bukit Merah, Kallang and Geylang, IREUS noted.

Established regional centres tend to have more retail space per resident, compared to other planning areas with similar residential population sizes. For example, when it comes to locations with more than 200,000 residents each, Tampines has 10.4 square feet (sq ft) of retail space per capita, almost double the 5.7 sq ft in Jurong West.

And in planning areas that each house 50,000 to 100,000 residents, Jurong East has 24.6 sq ft of retail space per capita, more than double the 11.3 sq ft in Bukit Timah.

"Both Tampines and Jurong East have significant working populations, which is a market segment with purchasing power," Dr Lee said.

Fringe precincts such as Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Kallang and Geylang have been attracting companies, even though they are not regional centres. A substantial number of employees are thus also in these areas.

For instance, major commercial developments Paya Lebar Quarter and SingPost Centre are located in the Geylang planning area, Harbourfront Centre and Harbourfront Towers One and Two are part of Bukit Merah, while Mapletree Business City is in Queenstown.

Also, areas with more established housing estates, such as Bukit Timah and Clementi, tend to have more retail space than emerging ones like Sengkang. The Sengkang planning area has one of the lowest amounts of retail space per capita, although this may change after Sengkang Grand Mall is completed.

"With the work-from-home trend, suburban malls in areas with less retail space per capita - about 4-8 sq ft - will be more resilient, with higher revenue and occupancies, aided by lower competition," Dr Lee said. Emerging regional centres Woodlands and Punggol are examples, where the malls may see a quicker recovery.

Some areas saw a decline in retail space per capita due to an increase in the residential populations. That suggests these areas may have the potential for more retailers, he noted.

In places with more retail space, such as those above 10 sq ft per capita, retailers' tenant mixes and marketing positioning to boost footfall will be "more critical than ever" given the greater competition, said Dr Lee.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that the bulk of the upcoming pipeline of retail space will be part of integrated developments. In these cases, the commercial component adds value to the residential portion, which in turn helps ensure the retail component "enjoys a certain level of support from consumers".

These upcoming malls include The Woodleigh Mall, Sengkang Grand Mall, and the retail component of the Pasir Ris 8 project.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 8 July 2021




Singapore office market abuzz with investment sale activity


By Kalpana Rashiwala

Investment sale activity for Singapore office properties is headed for a recovery, with a flurry of potential deals under way.

These include One George Street and Twenty Anson. Suntec City has also seen strata office deals lately.

Outside the financial district, observers say it is just a matter of time before the owners of Lazada One, at 51 Bras Basah Road, explore the possibility of a sale.

Savills Singapore's managing director of investment sales and capital markets, Jeremy Lake, said: "The outlook for the office investment market is compelling for investors. Rents are expected to start rising again in the second half of the year, and prices have already started to firm up in anticipation of the rental recovery.

"We are talking to a growing number of investors who are keen to buy offices in Singapore, now that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the office market."

Data compiled by JLL Research, which cover transactions of S$5 million and above, show that so far this year, some S$1.94 billion in office assets have changed hands. The figure for the whole of last year was S$2.3 billion

In 2019, prior to the Covid outbreak, the figure was S$7.6 billion.

A bidding process is in progress for One George Street, located about 400 metres from Raffles Place MRT station. The Business Times understands that initially, potential buyers were being quietly engaged for the 50 per cent stake in the 23-storey office building held by CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust (CICT).

More recently, word in the market is that the remaining half stake in One George Street, held by insurer FWD Group, has also been offered alongside CICT's stake to potential bidders, who are expected to submit their offers later this month.

One George Street's net lettable area (NLA) is about 445,735 sq ft, based on information on CICT's website.

The property is on a site with 99-year leasehold tenure that started in January 2003, leaving a balance of about 80.5 years. Observers say the building could fetch between S$1.25 billion and S$1.29 billion, or S$2,800-S$2,900 per square foot on NLA.

Over at the other end of the Central Business District, near Tanjong Pagar MRT station, AEW's Twenty Anson has been put on the market. CBRE and JLL have been appointed to market the building through an expression-of-interest exercise that will close late this month.

The guide price is understood to be S$630 million or S$3,050 psf on NLA of about 206,200 sq ft. The net yield is understood to be in the high-2 per cent range.

There is untapped gross floor area (GFA) of about 34,400 sq ft.

Twenty Anson is a 20-storey building on a site with 99-year leasehold tenure that began in November 2007, which leaves about 85 years on the lease. AEW bought the property in 2018 for S$516 million or S$2,503 psf.

The owner of 112 Robinson Road, a freehold 14-storey office building, is said to be seeking a price of around S$3,000 psf. Based on the NLA of about 92,205 sq ft, this would amount to S$276 million. The existing GFA of about 115,000 sq ft reflects a plot ratio of almost 11.8. This exceeds the 11.2 plot ratio assigned for the 9,780 sq ft site under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's latest Master Plan.

Market watchers say the ARA Asset Management and Chelsfield joint venture that owns Lazada One, formerly known as 5One Central, may be getting ready to put the property on the market next year.

It bought the asset in January 2019 and is now busy refurbishing it. Committed occupancy now stands at over 90 per cent.

The joint venture is said to be eyeing about S$3,000 psf for the 11-storey property, which has about 241,000 sq ft of space, comprising a street-level retail podium and offices above. However, a spokeswoman for the ARA-Chelsfield joint venture said that as the property is being refurbished, "a sale is not actively considered for now".

Lazada One is flanked by Bras Basah MRT station on the Circle Line and Bencoolen station on the Downtown Line. The asset's refurbishment, aimed at making it more environmentally friendly, started last August and is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of this year.

Following that, Lazada/Alibaba Group will move in from Axa Tower, which is slated for redevelopment. Flexible space operator JustCo is already in Lazada One and this potentially provides flexibility for Alibaba Group to take additional space if needed.

Over at Cecil Street, LaSalle Investment Management is understood to be taking the majority stake in a consortium spearheaded by TE Capital, which is in exclusive due diligence to buy PIL Building. The price is expected to be in the S$320-S$330 million range. Some market watchers say the consortium could be eyeing the prospects of selling strata commercial units in the new development on the site.

Activity in the strata office market was given a boost lately with Suntec Reit's sale of six office floors in the Suntec City mixed development.

BT understands that an entity linked to SilkRoad Property Partners is the buyer in the S$197 million transaction involving a floor in Tower One and five levels in Tower Two. The price works out to S$2,510 psf on strata area of 78,491 sq ft; the net property income yield is 3.1 per cent. Savills Singapore brokered the deal.

The property agency also acted for the buyer in another deal in Suntec Tower Two; this is for a low floor which fetched S$38.3 million or S$2,663 psf on 14,381 sq ft strata area. The buyer is understood to be a private fund from Hongkong. The floor was sold by IMC Shipping.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 8 July 2021




BTO flat buyers affected by Covid-19 construction delays may be able to cancel booking without penalties


Singapore - Home buyers affected by Build-To-Order (BTO) construction delays may be able to cancel their flat booking without penalties. They can appeal, and the Housing Board will consider each case depending on the individual circumstances.

For instance, there could be buyers hoping to cancel their BTO booking to get a resale flat to meet urgent housing needs, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said in various written parliamentary replies on Monday (July 5).

"We recognise the challenges faced by flat buyers given the Covid-19 situation and HDB will consider waiving forfeiture based on an assessment of the flat buyers' specific circumstances," said MND.

Typically, buyers who cancel their flat booking will have to forfeit either their option fee which ranges from $500 to $2,000, or the 5 per cent of the flat purchase price paid in advance, depending on which stage of the process they are in.

In addition, they have to wait out a one-year period before they can apply for another subsidised unit, either BTO or a resale flat with grants.

"These measures are in place to ensure that buyers are serious when they buy a flat and do not deprive others with urgent housing needs of the opportunity to do so," said MND.

However, if buyers are successful in their appeal, the HDB will waive the financial penalty and the one-year wait-out period.

"The waiver of the one-year wait-out period will allow first-timer families with urgent housing needs to receive housing grants if they decide to buy a resale flat," said MND.

Eligible buyers can receive up to $160,000 in grants when they purchase a resale flat.

Many BTO projects are facing delays of up to one year or more, as the construction industry continues to grapple with a manpower shortage caused by tighter border controls during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While buyers could appeal for a waiver of forfeiture earlier, this is the first time the MND has said HDB will consider waiving the penalties for BTO buyers affected by construction delays.

In its replies, MND said it is also looking at ways to increase the supply of temporary housing to support affected flat buyers.

First-time applicants waiting for their BTO flats can apply for temporary housing under the HDB's Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS).

Demand for such interim housing had almost doubled during the pandemic.

Last year, HDB had received 2,350 applications for a PPHS unit, but there were only 160 available flats.

"Given the limited supply of PPHS flats, we are considering how to fine-tune allocation to give priority to families in greater need of temporary housing," said MND.

For low-income households with no family support and no other housing option, HDB will consider offering interim rental housing on a case-by-case basis, said MND.

Affected flat buyers are encouraged to find alternative housing arrangements with family members, relatives or on the open market.

Notwithstanding the current challenges faced by the construction industry, MND said HDB is on track to launch about 17,000 BTO flats this year as planned, higher than the 16,800 flats launched in 2020, and 14,600 units in 2019.

The BTO flat supply is also supplemented by balance flats offered through the twice-a-year Sale of Balance Flats exercises and open booking, which is available all year round, said MND.

A buyer who wanted to be known only as Ms Low is among those who successfully appealed to cancel her BTO flat booking earlier this year.

Ms Low, 27, and her husband had applied for a five-room BTO flat in Tampines GreenVines via open booking last March, thinking that construction would be swiftly completed as the project had been launched in 2018.

It was their sixth try, after the first five attempts did not yield a queue number.

"When HDB first notified us of the nine months' delay after the circuit breaker period, we were already thinking of cancelling the BTO flat. But it wasn't easy to get one so we decided to wait," said Ms Low, who works in a bank.

"But when we heard news of even further delays, we decided we need to get a resale flat so we engaged a property agent while submitting the appeal to cancel the BTO flat at the same time."

The couple have been living apart since their wedding last October.

Ms Low said her appeal took about two months in what she described as a "tedious process". But she considers herself lucky to secure the full waiver.

They have since bought a resale four-room flat in Canberra and are waiting for renovations to be completed.

"Because of all these delays, we now have to throw our savings into a resale flat which is more expensive than a BTO flat. But if we held on to the BTO flat, we would have to delay our plans to start a family till much later," she said.

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 7 July 2021