HDB to scrap Re-Offer of Balance Flats exercise

The change is part of the various measures unveiled by Wong to make housing more accessible as well as to better support Singaporeans’ diverse housing needs.

Homebuyers can look forward to faster access to public housing as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will do away with the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises, announced Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Wednesday (4 March).

Related story: What You Need to Know About HDB’s ROF Scheme

Instead, unsold flats in the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises will be offered directly to buyers for open booking.

“This will enable home-seekers with urgent needs to access flats more quickly,” he said during his Committee of Supply debate speech.

Helping home buyers to access unselected flats faster

Previously, unsold flats at SBF exercises will be first offered through the ROF exercises. If these flats remain unselected, they will be made available for open booking.

With the removal of ROF exercises, most of the unselected flats from SBF exercises will now be offered directly via open booking. 

“Effectively, with this change, there will be three main ways of applying for a HDB flat. You can go for BTO flats, new flats, which will be released four times a year; you can apply for a balance flat which will be put out twice a year; or you can go for open booking and apply online at almost any time of the year.”

The change is part of the various measures unveiled by Wong to make housing more accessible as well as to better support Singaporeans’ diverse housing needs.

More measures to help unwed parents, Improvements to Silver Housing Bonus

Apart from the removal of ROF exercises, the MND also announced measures to support unwed parents, who will now be allowed to buy a two-room Flexi flat or three-room flat within non-mature estates or a resale flat if eligible. Those who cannot afford to purchase a flat will be considered for public rental flat.

Related: HDB Flats: Who’s Eligible and What Are the Available Schemes?

The Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) will also be simplified and enhanced in three ways, said Wong.

First, the requirement for seniors to sell a larger flat will be removed. Regardless of the flat type they sell, seniors can apply for the SHB as long as they purchase a three-room or smaller flat, and receive some proceeds from the move.

“Next, to receive the SHB, seniors must top up some proceeds from their move into their CPF Retirement Account. This is to ensure they have adequate savings for retirement. The top-up required today depends on their net sale proceeds, and we will simplify this, such that seniors only need to top up the first $60,000 of their proceeds.”

Finally, the maximum cash bonus will be increased by 50%, from $20,000 to $30,000. Hence, seniors will get $1 in cash bonus for each $2 topped up to their CPF Retirement Account.

Lease Buyback Scheme bonus to increase

In view of the hike in SHB, the maximum Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) bonus will also be raised to $30,000. Currently, owners of three-room or smaller flats, four-room flats, and five-room or larger flats can get a maximum cash bonus of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.

With the new LBS enhancements, the maximum cash bonus will be $30,000, $15,000, and $7,500 respectively.

Alternative housing options for seniors

And given the positive feedback received for its assisted living concept (housing integrated with care services), HDB will proceed to launch the new flat typology within Bukit Batok this May, with the pilot development featuring 160 units. 

Measuring about 32 sq m, the block will be designed with large communal spaces on every floor, so that residents can gather with their neighbours conveniently. These flats will come with senior-friendly fittings, larger bathrooms as well as other features to accommodate those with mobility needs.

HDB’s HIP: What Gets Improved, How Much to Pay and Where to Do a Number Two?

“More details will be shared in the coming weeks, including the sales conditions, indicative flat prices, and payment options,” said Wong.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

This post was originally posted on Property Guru Property Market News Section