HDB BTO prices stabilised: Really? yet 3-room increased 25%?

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the articles “BTO flat prices stabilised: Khaw” (Straits Times, Apr 9) and “BTO flat prices have stabilised, says Khaw” (Channel NewsAsia, Apr 8).

BTO prices stabilised?

The latter article states that “prices of Build-To-Order (BTO) Housing Development Board flats have been stabilised by de-linking them from the resale market. Government subsidies for BTO flats were increased so that they will not be heavily affected by re-sale flat price increases.

For example, in Punggol, three-room BTO flat prices were between S$150,000 and S$210,000 in 2010. They remained the same in 2011 and 2012.

In Sengkang, four-room BTO flat prices were between S$200,000 and S$280,000 dollars in 2010. They increased to between S$230,000 and S$340,000 dollars in 2011 and remained at that level in 2012.”

3-room increased 25%?

You can see from the above that there has been no mention of 3-room flat prices in Sengkang.

In this respect, according to the table in the first article mentioned above, 3-room flat prices increased from $120,000 – $170,000 to $150,000 – $190,000, from 2010 to 2012.

Therefore, the cheapest 3-room flat in Sengkang increased by 25 per cent, from $120,000 to $150,000, from 2010 to 2012.

So, how can we say that BTO flat prices have stabilised?

Benefit of selective disclosure?

Given that not all BTO statistics were disclosed, and with the benefit of just selecting three estates to show that prices have stabilised – is this the best that one can come up with to draw this conclusion that price has stabilised?

Moreover, these are 3-room flats which lower-income families generally apply for, which have increased by such a large quantum, when “BTO flat prices have stabilised”!

No 2-room or studio flats?

I was curious as to why there is no mention of 2-room or studio flats?

So, I decided to try to check on their prices from 2010 to 2012.

2-room increased 22% in 20 months?

“Lo and behold” – the cheapest 2-room flat in Sengkang increased by 22 per cent, from $68,000 (June 2010) to $83,000 (January 2012).

Studio increased 20% in 2 years?

For studio flats, the cheapest one in Choa Chu Kang increased by 20 per cent, from $64,000 (January 2010) to $77,000 (January 2012).

So, how can we say that BTO flat prices have stabilised?

Studio increase 23% in 8 months?

If you think the above increases of up to 22 per cent in the 20-month period from June 2010 to January 2012 is bad enough, wait till you see the November 2012 BTO’s cheapest studio in Toa Payoh at $116,000 – an increase of 23 per cent from $94,000 in March 2012 in just 8 months!

So, once again, how can we say that BTO flat prices have stabilised?

Poorest Singaporeans’ flat prices increased the most?

Since 2-room flats are generally for the lowest-income families, and studio flats are generally for retirees who may need to downgrade in order to get some cashflow to retire, why do we allow these flats’ cheapest prices to increase by up to 23 per cent (studio) in just 8 months or up to 22 per cent (2-room) in just 20 months?

Meaning of stabilised?

Perhaps the HDB’s definition of “stabilised” may be quite different from the dictionary’s!