Leong Sze Hian asks if HDB flats should be built by private developers.

Making sense of HDB rejections

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to HDB’s latest BTO, Straits [email protected] launched on 10 June. (“HDB’s challenge: low-cost housing, condo-like flats” (ST, Jun 11)) (“Marsiling goes BTO :Straits Vista project launched as HDB wins UN award” (Today, Jun 11)).

Why is it that the problem of all applicants rejecting BTO HDB flats offered, resulting in leftover flats, is only a recent phenomena over the last year or so ?

Is it because not only has HDB 4-room flat prices increased by an average of 40 to more than 100 per cent from about two years ago, and the price range has also widened ?

For example, the price range for BTOs at [email protected] is from $116,000 to $164,000 (3-room) and $184,000 to $257,000 (4-room), and $ 234,000 to $ 305,000 (4-room) for Punggol Sapphire.

This is a difference of $ 73,000 or 40 per cent between the lowest and highest price at [email protected] (4-room), and 41 per cent between the lowest and highest price for a 3-room flat.

If an applicant can only afford a cheaper-range flat, but is offered one with a much higher price, is it fair to penalise the applicant after two rejections ?

If one is offered only second floor flats, which nobody wants because of the noise level, the difficulty to sell in future, and generally much slower appreciation in value relative to higher floors, is it fair to penalise applicants too ?

As a flat may probably be the biggest asset that one may own in one’s lifetime, wouldn’t it be natural for applicants to decline accepting flats beyond their affordability, or almost certain relative depreciation in market price and marketability in the future ?

Instead of offering more land sites for private developers to tender and build HDB flats, I would like to suggest that the HDB continue to focus on its historic role to build affordable housing to meet Singaporeans’ needs, as the price of private-development HDB flats tend to be higher than HDB- developed flats.

Is it any wonder that as at end March, 250 of the 714 flats available at City View @ Boon Keng under HDB’s Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS), were still unsold, with prices up to $ 727,000 for a 5-room flat?

In view of the current shortage in the supply of HDB flats to meet rising demand, private developers may tender at higher prices, which may translate into even higher priced flats.

I can understand the rationale to allow private property owners to own a HDB flat as well, when there used to be as many as 16,000 surplus HDB flats that could not be sold.

Now that surplus flats available have dwindled, and demand is arguably at record highs, with the problem of many home buyers being unable to meet the “cash above valuation”, I would like to suggest that the policy of owning both a HDB flat and private property be reviewed.

In this connection, I understand that in other countries, citizens are generally not allowed to own both public and private housing.

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