HDB showroom (Photo - Terry Xu)

Irresponsible to pursue the policy of Build-To-Order flats

Below is a comment made by Lee Seok Geok at Straits Times Facebook page about its report, ”BTO first, propose later: Young couples don’t regret applying for flat first“

Bidadari 4RM @ $485K
Tampines 4RM @ $350K !!!
Clementi 4RM @ $520K

Actual BTOs Transactions..
1984-4RM in Tampines $62K
1996- 4RM in Tampines $107K
2017-4RM in Tampines $350K

It is very irresponsible for mature adult policy makers to continue to pursue this policy of Build-to-Order (BTO) as the precondition for purchase is marriage (six months’ upon Temporary Occupation Permit ‘TOP’), a long term commitment and for any to book even before a couple commits to each other is ridiculous and irresponsible.

Just like for any home owners to commit purchase without seeing the product which cost a sum of 6-7 figure, with no responsible gatekeepers to supervise and ensure basic decent quality works!

All public and private housing should be sold only upon completion to ensure consumers get a fair chance to see the final product and quality before committing huge finances and their lives to it, especially when assigned gatekeepers like MND/BCA/URA choosing randomly their scope of work supervision, preferring to arrow consumers to go the hefty costly legal ways to seek justice for basic quality homes dite paying 6-7 figure for them with no automatic of lemon law to protect the consumers’ interests and rights and the tight labour market as well as lack of skilled labour in construction industry (a big cause of poor quality homes delivered. Can future homes hang on as long as the old ones built in 70s and 80s?)

The Straits Times article wrote,

“Before applying for her BTO flat with her 27-year-old financial planner boyfriend, marketing executive Amanda Seow, 25, decided that if they should break up, they would split the cost of the down payment – which would be forfeited – equally. They were successful in their bid for a four-room flat in Bidadari last year. It costs about $485,000.The long wait for a flat put pressure on her to “BTO earlier” as she wants to get married by 28.

…For undergraduate Guo Jing Yang, 24, and administrative clerk Janice Ng, 23, it was a “BTO horror story” that prompted them to apply for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat.

After hearing that a good friend had failed in six attempts to get a BTO flat, Ms Ng was motivated to start searching early for a home with her boyfriend of four years.

…Their second try in applying for a flat in August was successful. Their four-room Housing Board flat in Tampines costs about $350,000 and is expected to be ready in five years.”

HDB purchase should also be delinked from marital status to remove the urgency and desperation for any rush and rash decision which ends up with divorces and broken families and price escalation.

It’s in the interests consumers that we pay for what is physically delivered and what we see not what we imagine and assume our living box will be.

Moreover, given current excess supply and even to indicate interest and buy upon actual completion is better than buy at launches, in particular for private residences. The quality of works is actually quite bad given the shortage of labour and lack of skilled labour and irresponsible players, in particular foreign ones.

Worse, the assigned authorities are not doing what we consumers are assuming any responsible authority will do. They are not monitoring the works of the developers and contractors strictly and hence a slew of complaints by owners upon TOP over the tremendous defects and frustrations cos injustices suffered after paying to the developers.

Read: HDB BTO defects: Punggol Waterway Terraces I

Many narrow minded folks gloat over other home buyers’ plight thinking they’re not part of the ecosystem only to get similarly stung when they join the market to purchase their homes when their needs arise.

It’s wrong to allow such bad practices to persist and everyone should protest in unison for changes in the authorities as their slack has impactful consequences on all and the entire construction industry. We can’t afford piece meal superficial measures and controls, allowing plenty of loopholes for irresponsible developers and contractors to shortchange the people after all the money paid.

Editor’s note – I can never forget how one of my friend had to forfeit the entire deposit that he paid for his HDB because his wife ran away from the marriage just a week before the wedding ceremony is to be held.

Like what the reader has written in her comment, I see no reason why couples should be compelled to make a life decision just so that they will not find it hard to purchase a flat later on in their marriage.

One would have to note that BTO policy is a result of HDB being burnt after building excessive flats in anticipation that Hongkongers would flock over to Singapore after 1997 handover.