Yeah to those of us who are planning to buy a place to call ourselves. Finally, we will have our own space soon.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong has announced that the waiting time for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats will be cut to about 2.5 years from the current three to four years waiting time.

This will be done by commencing construction of the flats before they are even launched.

First-time homebuyers will enjoy priority on these new flats. At least 95% of the 4-room and larger flat types will be set aside for first-timer families, up from the current 85% quota in the non-mature estates. The first batch of these BTO flats, comprising 1,000 units in non-mature estates, will be launched in 2018.

The new measure reminds us of the “Registration for Flat System” which HDB was using to sell its flats before the scheme was replaced with the BTO system in 2001.

Under the “Registration for Flat System”, the HDB would build flats ahead of the demand for flats.

For the BTO scheme, however, flats are built only when there is sufficient take-up of flats in a project and down payments have been made. The HDB uses 70 per cent as a guide for the required take-up rate.

Public housing prices and shortages were hot button issues in the run-up to the 2011 General Election. Young couples who were bidding multiple times for a flat asked if the Govt can look into building flats ahead of demand to relieve the crunch.

Explaining why the Govt did not do so, former Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan explained in Parliament in 2010 that the “Registration for Flat System” led to a situation in the 1990s when the Government was at one point left with 31,000 unsold flats.

“HDB took five years to clear its stock of unsold flats. Having such a large stock of unsold flats is a waste of public money,” he said.

Mr Mah said: “You are anticipating demand based on the length of the queue, and you don’t know whether that is genuine demand or not because there is no commitment to buy.”

SO, we are glad that steps are slowly taken now to meet the needs of our young couples. Because three years is lot of time in our prime to be spent waiting for a flat. #inlawscankill #honeymoonfor2

And yes, we know we may not need much space to start a family, but we are glad we can now have our space sooner.