I refer to Vincent Low’s article “32,000 out of 405,000 HDB households in mortgage arrears of over three months” (theonlinecitizen, Feb 22).
It states that “over the last three years, of a total of about 405,000 households with outstanding HDB loans, about 32,000 households (or 7.9%) were in mortgage arrears of three months or more.
Of these 32,000 households, almost half or 50% are in the 41-55 age group, based on the age of the oldest owner. Another 38% are above 55, and the rest are in the 21-40 age bracket.
At the end of last year, 57% of these households (about 18,200) were no longer in mortgage arrears of three months or more.”
Perhaps, the greatest concern of Singaporeans is to have a roof over their heads.
Looking back in history – as of October, 2008 – about 8 per cent of HDB concessionary loan mortgages were in arrears over three months.
In this connection – I would like to refer to the article “Plunge in number of households surrendering flats” (Straits Times, Nov 12, 2013).
Flats surrendered dropped 7 times?
It states that “the number of households that surrendered their flats to the Housing Board (HDB) due to mortgage arrears fell sharply by about seven times from 2008 to last year.
In 2008, 505 households surrendered their flats to the HDB due to mortgage arrears.
This spiked to 711 in 2009 before dropping to 69 last year, representing a fall of more than seven times over a five- year span.”
So, it would appear that historically – from the mid 2000 or so – the percentage of HDB mortgages in arrears has ranged from around 5 to 12 per cent, practically every year.
How many HDB flats have been foreclosed by the HDB or banks, right-sized to a smaller flat with the assistance of the HDB, or sold in the open market to avoid the typically lower prices in the event of foreclosure after financial counselling with the HDB?
To what extent has our public housing policies of charging land at market prices – resulting in arguably, the most expensive public housing in the world (ratio of price to income) – contributed to the financial stress of HDB households?
I would like to suggest that the Government consider giving the assurance that during any economic downturn, such as the recent 2016/2017 – any one who cannot pay for his HDB flat, will not be subject to compulsory acquisition by the HDB, nor be compelled to liquidate in the open market.