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Elderly applicants opting for shorter leases

SINGAPORE — Given a choice, many elderly applicants are opting for shorter leases under the Two-room Flexi Scheme, figures from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) show.

And with the encouraging response so far, the board will launch more Build-To-Order projects with such flats. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia , Carpmael Thirty Eight and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

In BTO and Sale of Balance Flats exercises for which flat selection has been completed, 85 per cent of elderly buyers who have booked flats under the scheme opted for short leases, said the HDB.

Since the scheme’s introduction in the November 2015 sales exercise, the HDB has offered about 10,000 two-room Flexi flats, and the application rates have ranged between 1.2 and 5.3.

Of the BTO and Sale of Balance Flats exercises that have been completed as of end-January, 87 per cent of these 6,070 two-room Flexi units on offer were booked.

Nearly half the buyers, numbering 2,467, were aged 55 and above, and 2,101 of them opted for shorter leases. The most popular was the 40-year lease, followed by the 35- and 30-year leases, according to the HDB.

Mr Low Su Miang, 93, and Mdm Tan Siang Keng, 90, were among the 32 buyers who opted for the shortest lease of 15 years. The couple had their wish to own a flat fulfilled by their four children. They applied for their Sengkang flat in November 2015, and it is estimated to be ready in the third quarter of 2019. They are living with their daughter in the meantime.

Calling the response to the scheme “very encouraging”, particularly among elderly flat buyers, the HDB said it will launch more BTO projects with two-room flexi flats in locations islandwide.

For elderly buyers, the scheme means being able to have a new home “even as they monetise more from their existing property”, said the board.

Last month, in the first sales exercise this year, the 713 units of 2-room Flexi flats offered in Punggol received 2,894 applications, with an application rate of 4.1, said the HDB.

The Two-room Flexi Scheme merged and replaced the previous two-room flat scheme and the Studio Apartment scheme, which was launched in 1998.

Under the new scheme, first-timer and second-timer families as well as first-timer singles are offered 99-year flats. Elderly buyers aged 55 and above may also opt for leases of between 15 and 45 years.

The short-lease flats must be bought using cash or Central Provident Fund savings, and not a mortgage loan, so that the elderly do not get into debt.

The flats cannot be resold or sublet, and owners who no longer need the flats return them to the HDB, which will refund them the value of the remaining lease of the flat.

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