Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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Harder than buying Jacky Cheung’s concert ticket: applicants complain about hour-long queing for HDB’s May launch

On Tuesday (30 May), the Housing Development Board (HDB) launched nearly 7,000 flats for sale, of which 1,500 are Sale of Balance Flats located across various estates.

The 5,495 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats offered are spread across five housing projects, three of which are in the mature estates of Bedok, Kallang/Whampoa and Serangoon, while the other two are in the non-mature estate of Tengah.

These BTO come with a median waiting time of about 3 years 5 months. 4 out of the 5 projects, making up almost 90% of all flats offered, have wait times of 3 plus years, with the remaining project having a waiting time of 4 years.

HDB added that as it has been several years since the last BTO launch in the towns of Bedok and Serangoon, strong demand for the BTO flats at Bedok South Blossoms and Serangoon North Vista can be expected.

In a Facebook post, Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development reiterated that the government are “on track” to launch 100,000 flats between 2021 and 2025 and will launch more Shorter Waiting Time flats, with waiting times under 3 years, from next year.

“We are committed to providing options for different budgets and needs – from homes in Tengah designed to integrate lush greenery, to units in the mature estates of Bedok and Serangoon for families who wish to live closer for mutual care and support, there is something for everyone.”

He added that to help first-time homebuyers, apart from providing an extra ballot chance, HDB also set aside at least 95% of 4-room and larger BTO flats for them.

Interested home buyers complained about long waiting, some queued for more than 1 hour twice

In the November 2022 sales exercise, HDB had rolled out the virtual waiting room feature “to better manage online traffic” in instances where there are many applicants accessing the system at once.

To participate in the May 2023 sales exercise, applicants are required to follow two steps. They need to obtain a preliminary HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) assessment by completing “Step 1: Preliminary HFE check.”

Once the preliminary HFE check is completed, applicants can proceed to “Step 2: Apply for an HFE letter” Within 30 calendar days of initiating Step 1, they must submit the necessary information to HDB to obtain the HFE letter.

The Preliminary HFE assessment will inform them upfront of their eligibility for a new or resale flat purchase, CPF housing grants (including the grant amount), and HDB housing loan (including the loan amount).

Flat applications can be made online via HDB Flat Portal from 30 May, and close at 11.59pm on 5 June. Flats will be allocated through balloting.

“More difficult than buying Jacky Cheung’s concert ticket”

However, numerous applicants have expressed their frustrations on the official Facebook pages of HDB and the Minister of National Development (MND), complaining about the waiting system and finding the application process tedious and user-unfriendly.

For instance, an applicant left a comment on Desmond Lee’s Facebook post, revealing his experience of queuing for more than an hour on two separate occasions just to access the launch information, and then having to queue again to complete the application.

“The launch of this new system really made us more difficult than buying Jacky Cheung’s concert ticket. Pls look into it. Thanks”

A comment raised concern about the requirement for a valid HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter to apply for the May sale launch. It has been pointed out that the processing time for the HFE application is 21 working days, leading to doubts about whether applicants will be able to obtain the letter in time before the application deadline on 5 June.

Applicants complain about being stuck during the application process

In addition to the frustrations expressed by applicants, some have even shared screenshots in the comment section of HDB’s Facebook post, depicting instances where they encountered difficulties and got stuck during the application process.

Several individuals commented that they had to wait for hour, further adding to their dissatisfaction.

Moreover, certain applicants highlighted that the previous application procedure was much simpler and questioned whether HDB took into consideration the challenges faced by non-tech-savvy elderly individuals who may struggle to navigate the system or comprehend the requirements.

In addition to the frustrations expressed on Facebook, individuals have also turned to Reddit to voice their complaints about the long virtual queues on HDB’s May 2023 sales launch page. Several applicants reported being forced to wait for over an hour in these queues, further exacerbating their dissatisfaction.

Some ridiculed scalpers might start emerging to sell “BTO tickets”

Some individuals took a sarcastic tone, ridiculing the situation by suggesting that HDB might be taking the “Singaporeans love to queue” mentality too seriously. Others even made light of the situation, joking that scalpers might start emerging to sell “BTO tickets” in the future.

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