Hopes of moving in, starting families in new homes dashed due to BTO project delays, Singapore News

SINGAPORE – Ms. Ellen Neo, 29, and her fiancé, Operations Manager Felix Lua, 36, were due to receive the keys to their BTO (Build-To-Order) three-room apartment last December and move early this year.

The couple, who have been together for six years, received a session at Pine Vista in Geylang on their third attempt in 2017. The first vote took place in 2015.

Last June, Ms. Neo, an administrative clerk, was told that the flat-rate delivery would be delayed until the second quarter of this year.

Ms. Neo said, “I was really looking forward to seeing my finished home as it’s been in the works for years. I searched for home decor ideas on Pinterest and talked about it with my neighbors.”

She hoped against hope that her project wouldn’t be one of the belated ones, but it shouldn’t be. “One reason I liked Pine Vista was that I could get it earlier than the others (in the area). But it seems it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Last Monday, the Ministry of National Development (MND) announced in a parliamentary response that around 85 percent of the 89 ongoing BTO projects are around six to nine months behind schedule.

National Development Secretary Desmond Lee said Wednesday the Covid-19 pandemic was making it difficult for construction companies to hire and supply chains were disrupted.

Therefore, around 43,000 households will receive their keys to their BTO apartments late.

The Housing Board supported around 240 affected households with interim rents.

The 34-year-old project manager Matthias Mar recently rented a residential unit in Punggol with his wife through the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS). Delivery of the newlyweds’ four-bedroom BTO apartment in Ubi Grove has been delayed from the fourth quarter of this year to the third quarter of next year.

They spent nearly $ 8,000 decorating the PPHS apartment, including buying furniture and a portable air conditioner that will eventually be dumped or given away when they move out. The monthly rent is $ 500 excluding utility bills.

Mr Mar said, “The rental prices are much lower compared to the free market, but of course the money could be better spent on the BTO apartment instead.”

Most of the eight affected couples the Sunday Times spoke to live with their parents and have delayed the birth of children.

One of them is the special educator Kayyathiri Elango (31). She and her husband, police officer Puvaneswran Letchumanan, 33, were supposed to pick up the keys to a four-room apartment in the Alkaff oasis in Bidadari last September, but this has been delayed until June this year.

Mr Puvaneswran Letchumanan and Ms. Kayyathiri Elango were due to collect the keys to a four-bedroom apartment at the Alkaff Oasis in Bidadari last September, but this was postponed until June this year. PHOTO: ST / Gin Tay

The couple who got married this February have lived with their parents since then. They don’t want to have children until after they move into their home.

Ms. Kayyathiri, who found out about the delay a month before the keys were picked up, said, “Our original plan was to move into our house immediately after we got married and start a family right away. Our ages are catching up; this is one of ours To care. “

National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Tan Ern Ser said the delays could be disruptive to those planning to build a marital home or have larger space for a growing household.

He added that the delays could affect the overall fertility rate if couples postpone their intentions to have a child or another.

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Mr. Nicholas Mak, head of research and advice at ERA Singapore, said uncertainty about the completion dates of new BTO apartments has led some buyers to turn to HDB resale apartments.

He noted that prices have been rising fairly steadily, partly due to the delay in completing the BTO apartment. According to the official HDB resale price index, prices rose by 5 percent last year.

This was more than double the 2.2 percent rise in private residential property prices last year.

However, Ms. Christine Sun, senior vice president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said the subscription rate for BTO homes is likely to stay fixed as they are still the cheapest housing option as HDB resale homes are now more expensive.

Dr. Sing Tien Foo, director of the NIS Real Estate and Urban Research Institute, said the delays in current BTO projects are easier to handle than new developments, with the latter potentially taking five to six years to complete.

He encouraged households to plan with their designers and contractors to ensure the renovations were not delayed any further.

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Some affected homeowners are looking on the good side.

Audiovisual specialist Sofian Abdul Manan, 42, was looking forward to upgrading his four-room apartment to a five-room apartment in Rivervale Shores, Sengkang, with his family of five in the second quarter of next year.

You applied under the Third Child Priority Scheme and the process has now been delayed by nine months.

He said, “We wanted a bigger apartment because the kids are growing up and we felt the need for a bigger study space. But we’re lucky enough to still have a roof over our heads.”

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission is required for reproduction.

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