By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “4,079 BTO flats on offer for families & singles” (Channel NewsAsia, Jul 30).

$16,000 2-room BTO?

It states that “The selling price (including grants) of a two-room BTO flat in Yishun (Vine Grove@Yishun) starts from S$16,000.

With effect from Tuesday, the government will also extend the  Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) to singles buying a resale flat in the open market.

The AHG will be up to S$20,000 for those who apply under the SSC and up to S$40,000 for those who apply under the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS).

These will be on top of the CPF Housing Grant (S$15,000 under SSC and S$30,000 under JSS) that they would already be getting.

Housing Development Board (HDB) said the extensions of AHG and SHG are intended to provide even more help to singles to buy their first flat.”

When I read the above – Wow! – two-room BTO fat as cheap as $16,000!

So, I followed the link at the bottom of the article to look at the pricing.

It does confirm that the cheapest flat after the maximum housing grants of $60,000 is $16,000 on the cheapest selling price of $76,000.

How many get maximum housing grants?

I wonder what percentage of applicants actually get the maximum $60,000 housing grants? Some of the grants’ conditions are household income not above $1,500, first-timer, etc.

2 different pricing illustrations for the same flats?

I next visited the HDB web site on the subject BTO launch, and strangely enough the information was quite different.

It showed the same 2-room flat in the same location (Vine Grove @ Yishun) with a typical selling price of $85,000 (not the $76,000 cheapest price) with total housing grants of just $50,000 (not the maximum $60,000), resulting in a nett selling price (less grants) of $35,000 (not $16,000).

typicalprice

So, is the article’s link trying to make the flats look cheaper or is the HDB’s web site trying to make them look more expensive? Aren’t both the links from the HDB?

The obvious question that may come to mind is how many applicants and what percentage of them actually get the maximum $60,000 housing grants illustrated?

How many second-timers in total?

I believe some may be second-timer downgraders who may be trying to monetise their existing flats in order to retire. As I understand it, such applicants may not qualify for any grants at all, and may also have to pay a resale levy of up to $50,000.

Half of applicants earn less than $1,600?

As to “Also with effect from this BTO launch, the monthly household income ceiling for families for two-room flats in non-mature estates will be increased from S$2,000 to S$5,000, to give more families the option to buy such flats”, what I find interesting is that according to the HDB’s web site link, the 2-room applicants’ median household income was only $1,600.

This means that half of the applicants had household income below $1,600.

Earn less than $1,600 – financially stretched?

Since you need at least two family members to be applicants (this data is before the “singles can buy 2-room BTO” effective this month), a typical family earning less than $1,600 a month may be quite financially stretched – after paying for the monthly mortgage, S & CC, utilities, transport, food, etc.

How many get 30-year loans?

Even if the applicants are young enough to qualify for the maximum 30-year HDB loan, the monthly mortgage is $340. The mortgage payments for a 25 and 20-year loan are $386 and $455, respectively.

How many self-employed?

In this connection, how many and what percentage of 2-room applicants are self-employed (no CPF OA to pay for the mortgage) and/or do not qualify for the maximum 30-year loan tenure?

Monthly mortgage only $107?

I am asking the above questions because the HDB web site’s link says that the typical monthly mortgage is only $107 or just 7 per cent of the applicants’ income.

How many and what percentage of applicants actually only pay $107 or just 7 per cent of their income?

How many applicants in total?

With regard to “From this BTO launch, a couple comprising a first-timer and a second-timer applicant will enjoy the same priority in flat allocation as families comprising two first-timers”, how many and what percentage of applicants are not eligible for such priority, for the cumulative total of all applicants who are still applying for a flat (not the per BTO statistics)?

You see – giving BTO specific subscription statistics may be quite meaningless because what we need to know is how many people in total are still trying to get a flat?

Enhanced priority?

In respect of “From this BTO launch, a couple comprising a first-timer and a second-timer applicant will enjoy the same priority in flat allocation as families comprising two first-timers.

The priority for first-timer families includes a higher proportion of flat supply set aside for first timers, additional ballot chances and eligibility for schemes such as the Parenthood Priority Scheme and Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme.

HDB said this change will help singles who subsequently marry after buying a two-room BTO flat, to purchase their new matrimonial flat.

It will also benefit reconstituted families comprising a first-timer and a second-timer applicant, such as divorcees who remarry”

Discriminate against divorcees?

Why not extend such priority to divorcees or single mothers with children? Otherwise, are we not in a sense, discriminating against them?

Trying too hard to look “affordable”?

In the final analysis, don’t you get the feeling that some people may be trying too hard to try to give a “too rosy picture” to Singaporeans that HDB flats are “affordable” to such an extent that it may be “far fetched” from the reality on the ground?

 

 

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