February 2021 Built-To-Order (BTO) Launch: Greater focus on caring for our pioneers

Amidst rapid westernization and change in demographic beliefs, Singapore is very much still guided by our Asian cultures and beliefs. One of the key pillars forming the Asian culture is the idea of “孝顺” which translates to filial piety, where the younger descendants make it a duty to care for their elders. Our nation’s leader spared no effort in caring for the elders of the city, from the provision of substantial housing subsidies, to cash rebates and even complementary digital literacy courses to ensure that they are not left behind as Singapore continues to march forward.

To further enhance the quality of living for elders, a new public housing prototype was announced and is set to launch in the February 2021 Built-To-Order (BTO) sales launch. This article will serve as a perfect guide for what to expect in this project!

Known as Community Care Apartments, these BTOs are unlike the usual projects catered to the general public. Instead, they are elderly-centric and are tailored by design to suit the needs of the elderly, defined as individuals who are aged 65 and above, with average gross monthly household incomes not exceeding $14,000. This BTO launch will be situated along Bukit Batok West Avenue 9, a housing estate that has one of the highest elderly population demographic composition.

These housing projects come with shorter and more flexible lease options, ranging from 15 to 35 years, depending on preference and calculated needs based on one’s current age.  With only 160 units up for grabs, they are likely to be a popular choice amongst elderly homebuyers seeking to downgrade. However, these units come with a list of conditions attached to them and here they are:

1. No sale or rent allowed

This would probably come as no surprise, given that these flats are catered for the sole purpose of enabling the elderly to live in well-provided environments with access to elder-care facilities at very affordable prices (estimated price list below). Just like how the State has expressed its intention to introduce cooling measures to hedge against million-dollar HDBs to prevent over-valuation and disruption of market behaviours that lack economic fundamentals, the same applies for these elder-friendly BTO projects. As such, no rental or resale back to the mainstream market will be allowed without prior approval. Should owners decide not to continue residing in these flats, they have the option of returning the flats to HDB who will provide a refund value based on the remaining lease. Financing for these apartments is strict, requiring all applicants to pay for the flat lease fully upfront, either in cash and/or CPF fund balances.

Source: HDB

2. Age determines your minimum lease allowable

As mentioned, the minimum age to be eligible for the flats is 65. Thereafter, each age group will be entitled to choose from the various lease commitment periods based on your preference. The younger an applicant is, the higher the minimum lease period required. This is in line with HDB’s objective that an individual’s flat is able to last him through his lifetime, with the average lifespan of a Singaporean male and female is 81.4 and 85.7 years respectively as of 2019. With huge advancements in healthcare and technology, the average lifespan is likely to extend as the years progress.

Source: HDB

Now that we have cleared all the administrative information, you must be wondering, what makes these BTO flats any much different from the rest? How will your elderly parents benefit from getting a unit in this development? That is exactly what we are about to touch on!

1. Somewhat like a serviced apartment

With most of the younger generation busy in the day with work and family, caring for the elderly may not be the most convenient. As such, this facility has identified this need and came up with the chance for the elderly to opt for ‘Optional Services’ such as housekeeping services, meals provision and more, all with nominal fee.

Source: HDB

2. An elder-friendly space

Each of the home unit within this project will be equipped with pre-installed fittings and senior-friendly design features such as wheelchair ramps, slip-resistant floorings in the toilet, grip bars and even built-in wardrobes for personal storage. Currently, most BTOs do not offer such amenities, and would require opting for additions under the Option Component Scheme (OCS).

The Community Care Apartment blocks will incorporate full-furnished communal spaces on every floor to facilitate community bonding with neighbours, which can step up as extra vigilance for the weaker individuals. Retail, lifestyle, healthcare and public transport amenities will also be made accessible to residents to facilitate an enriching environment.

Source: Artist Impression by HDB

Just as founding father, late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said, “the younger team must always have in mind the interests of the older generation”, reinforcing the necessity of Singapore to remain inclusive and cohesive. Afterall, the success that the younger generation gets to enjoy today stands on the shoulder of giants, who were our predecessors and significant agents of change in our society.

Jesse Ho
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