POTENTIAL buyers have rushed to put their name down for 400 new premium flats near the heart of town, launched for sale by the Housing Board yesterday.
By 5pm yesterday - nine hours after applications opened - 687 people had registered their interest for the flats, which will be built within an existing HDB estate at the foot of Mount Faber. Another batch of 516 flats were also launched for sale yesterday, further out in Punggol. They received 152 applications by 5pm.
Both projects are being offered under the build-to-order programme, so they will be built only when most flats have been booked.
Going by recent red-hot demand for new HDB flats, housing agents do not expect any problems on that front.
As the level of the response yesterday shows, the Mount Faber area project - called Telok Blangah Towers - is the more popular.
The premium project in Telok Blangah Street 31 comprises 90 elderly-friendly studio apartments, 100 three-room flats and 210 four-room units. Its prime location near the Central Business District, VivoCity mall and Sentosa is one reason behind the high level of interest.
It will be built within the established town of Bukit Merah - one of the few occasions when a build-to-order development will be located in a mature town with established facilities.
Its flats will have timber strip flooring in the bedrooms and ceramic floor and wall tiles in the bathrooms.
Build-to-order projects are usually located in new towns like Punggol and Sengkang - both far from the city centre. This has meant home buyers wanting to live closer to central Singapore have had to settle for older resale flats or pay a higher price for private condominiums.
The attractive location in Telok Blangah comes at a price: Four-room flats will cost between $308,000 and $402,000, more than 50 per cent above similar units in the Punggol project. Three-room flats will cost between $187,000 and $238,000, while studio units will go for $70,000 to $91,000.
The Punggol development, called the Punggol Lodge, will offer standard flats without flooring, with more modest prices.
Four-room ones are between $190,000 and $234,000, with three-room flats priced between $122,000 and $150,000.
Property firm ERA Singapore said four-room flats in the Telok Blangah area built from 1999 onwards cost between $370,000 and $408,000 on the resale market.
From April to June this year, resale four-room flats in Bukit Merah town - where flats in the Telok Blangah area are located - went for a median price of $371,000.
Mr Chandran Pillay, a senior division director of Global Real Estate Services, felt the new Telok Blangah flats were far from cheap.
'I think $400,000 is a bit high, but anybody who wants to live close to the city knows they have to pay a higher premium,' he said.
The HDB said this month that it was stepping up sales to meet rising demand for new flats. Its stock of unsold flats has dwindled from more than 10,000 three years ago to 3,500 now, and is expected to drop to 2,200 by the end of the year.
It will also offer about 4,500 new flats in the next six months under the build-to-order system.