By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Slower take-up for build-to-order flats in Yishun” (ST, Feb 8).

Source: ST

The article states that “the two projects at Yishun, featuring 1,548 flats ranging from two-room to five room units, got 1.8 times as many applicants as there were flats on offer…this showing pales in comparison to a December BTO launch for Punggol Topaz that received six times more applicants than there were flats on offer”.

Well, does that mean that the flats’ take-up rate has dropped by 70 per cent?

One reason to explain why the take-up rate has slowed may be that Singaporeans are realizing that the ever increasing BTO flat prices may not be affordable.

In the last three years, whilst HDB prices sky-rocketed, the real median wage growth registered in 2008 and 2009 was negative and clocked only 0.5 per cent last year.

Rising cost of living

So, your income is not going up, and yet the cost of living continues to accelerate. For example, the average surgery bill in six of the seven public hospitals increased by at least 50 per cent to as much as double over the last four years. In addition, you also have to take into account the rising electricity tariffs, increase in public transport fares, child-care fees, university fees, etc.

In such an environment, wouldn’t you think twice before committing to a flat purchase?

The uncertain future

When your flat comes in about five years time, wouldn’t you be afraid that your circumstances may change such that you may not be able to afford the flat, not to mention the risks and uncertainties of job losses, pay cuts, illness, etc, over a 30-year mortgage loan?

Experiencing a problem getting a loan?

Another reason why less people may be applying for the flats may be also tied with the new rule on a second HDB concessionary loan.

How many people can cough up 50 per cent of the cash profits from their last HDB flat sold, regardless of how long ago, and also have their entire CPF utilized plus accrued interest from the previous flat to pay for the new flat?

No demand for two-room flats?

With reference to the statement “The two-room units were the only ones that were under subscribed, with just 138 applicants for the 192 units available,” one of the primary reasons may be the $2,000 household income ceiling eligibility which has not changed for many years, whilst the two-room price has escalated to the typical selling price of $105,000 as of date.

After the HDB announced on 3 March 2006, after it had stopped building two-room flats in the early 1980s, that it would resume the building of the flats from June 2006, the average price of a two-room flat in November 2007 in Compassvale Beacon (Sengkang), was only $78,000 for example.

I estimate that the prices of two-room BTO flats may have increased by about over 30 per cent over the last four years or so. Since two-room flats are the cheapest option for lower-income Singaporeans, why have their prices been allowed to increase by so much?

If your household income is below $2,000, you may be finding it hard to make ends meet in the first place.

So, with the lower income group’s arguably greater incidence and fear of job security, declining wages (over the last decade, it is estimated that 30 per cent of workers have had negative real wage growth), rising cost of living, etc, would you commit to a flat purchase?

Cross referencing to the article “Most two-room BTO flats taken up eventually” (ST, Feb 8) which said that “The Housing Board explained that this happens as buyers who first pass up on these one-bedroom units for their lack of size eventually buy them when they realise these units can still meet their needs”, some of these eventual buyers may be those who were forced to vacate HDB rental flats because their incomes had gone up, or those who failed to get a bigger BTO flat after applying umpteen times etc, who did not even think about applying for a two-room in the first place.

Is it really affordable?

According to the HDB’s web site, “Affordability of a Typical Flat”, Applicants’ Median Household Income for two-room is $1,400.

If half of the two-room applicants’ household income was less than $1,400, how on earth can they afford to buy anything, including a flat?

Using $260 as the typical monthly installment for a 30-year loan, after the first-timers’ $40,000 eligible additional CPF housing grant (which is the highest possible grant for those with income of not more than $1,500; applicants must also have been in continuous employment over the last 24 months at the date of the flat application), at 19 per cent installment to income ratio which then seems to suggest that flats are affordable, how then is a family struggling with $1,400 a month can afford to squeeze $260 out from their already miserably low income to buy a flat?

Down-payment problems

Finally, many lower-income households may not even be able to come up with the initial 10 per cent down-payment for the flat.

Also, if you are not eligible for a HDB concessionary loan, your down-payment will be increased to 20 per cent from 20 February 2010 for HDB bank loans.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

对王瑞杰动议“感到不舒服” 官委议员王丽婷、特斯拉弃权表决

官委议员王丽婷和特斯拉博士也参与王瑞杰动议的辩论,他们虽认同议员应维持高标准诚信,惟质疑是否有通过此动议的必要。基于动议无法分项表决,他们只得放弃表决权。 副总理王瑞杰提呈的动议分为两大部分,第一点重申国会议员应维持高标准的诚信和责任感。 第二部分提及此前高庭对阿裕尼后港市镇会诉讼的判决,指林瑞莲和刘程强行为不诚实、有违受托责任,应该回避一切阿裕尼—后港市镇理事会相关的财政事务。 在辩论中,王丽婷先是认同议员需保持高度诚信的原则,但也质疑有关动议的动机,指动议即无法律效益,再者《市镇会法》也已赋予部长权力,可要求阿裕尼-后港市镇会采取必要行动处理不当行为。(参考市镇会法43D项) 在国会讨论法庭诉讼“感不舒服” 再者,他也提及在国会讨论法庭的诉讼个案感到“不舒服”(uncomfortable),再者工人党议员林瑞莲已表明将上诉,故此即便有议员发言免责的权限,仍恐有“藐视法庭”之嫌,干预司法程序。 特斯拉博士提及,此前法庭判决虽指林瑞莲等人,由于无法与前管理公司合作,而未招标即委任FMSS公司管理市镇会事务,有欠妥当;但他指出,根据判决他也未看见有任何证明,当事者是为了个人利益动机这么做。 市镇会实为“政治性的机构”,由民选议员领导,上述动议要求工人党采取行动,动议本身就已涉及政治解决的作用。 故此,尽管他认同议员需保持高道德标准原则, 但以非民选的官委议员身份,去参与表决具有政治意味的动议,同样令他感到不舒服。


日前,工人党质问,有鉴于当前冠状病毒19疫情还未消退,具体在疫情下如何竞选活动到细节和详情,迄今仍待厘清。 对此,贸工部长陈振声表示,选举局不能“过早”宣布与下一次大选有关的规则和规定,因为这些可能会因局势而转变。 在今日(30日)的媒体简报会上,陈振声表示选举局理解竞选需求,也会尽早把必要信息提供给政党和候选人,让他们能去做准备。 他表示已他要求选举局模拟各种情景以探讨是否能与政党和候选人,分享有关规章条例,让他们有充足时间做准备,同时确保这些规章不会因不断变动的局势失效。 陈振声表示,阻断措施结束后的第一、第二和第三阶段,都需要不同的对应措施。 他强调一切取决于总理何时宣布选举,选举局需确保所有措施,能符合当时的情况。


SMRT公司陆路服务总裁陈健雄证实,该公司一名新加坡籍巴士司机,确诊感染冠状病毒19,相信他也是本地首位确诊的巴士司机。 据了解,该名司机驾驶972号巴士路线,最后一次上班时上月27日,隔日休假。 29日他感到不适前往求诊,31日再去看医生就被送入医院,同日确诊。 陈健雄则表示SMRT目前协助卫生部,接触曾与该名司机有近接触的人士,一些职员已被通知居家隔离。

TOC Face to Face Forum LIVE UPDATE (with pictures)

7:45pm Nearly full house. Forum starting soon! 7:48pm Panelists arrive! 8:00pm Stephen…