Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

August 7, 2008

HDB’s challenge: low-cost housing, condo-like flats

Filed under: General,HBD Reviews — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:17 am

Board has to find ways to cater to the poor as well as those better-off, says Mah

AS THE population grows and becomes more diverse, the Housing Board will have to find creative ways to keep its flats affordable for low-income families but attractive for the better-off.

As it tackles this task, one concern is rising construction costs, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday.

He said costs are estimated to jump a further 20 per cent this year and they could start pushing up the prices of HDB flats. ‘Construction costs have gone up significantly…HDB is trying to contain the cost as much as it can.’

These higher costs will not directly affect the selling prices of flats, as the Board prices flats at a discount to market prices rather than based on cost, Mr Mah said.

But building costs will boost the market prices of flats, so ‘there will be some feed through’ to HDB prices.

‘We cannot escape that. But the important thing is, as salaries go up and prices are fixed at a discount to the market, flats will continue to remain affordable,’ added Mr Mah, who made a special visit to the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh yesterday to congratulate staff on winning a United Nations (UN) Public Service Award.

The HDB’s 44-year-old Home Ownership Programme was honoured for improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service. HDB chairman James Koh Cher Siang and chief executive Tay Kim Poh will accept the award at a ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York on June 23.

Mr Mah praised the agency for its success over the past 48 years in moving Singaporeans out of slums into clean and modern flats. In its first five years, HDB built 50,000 flats; now there are 900,000, housing more than 80 per cent of the population.

He also pointed out the new challenges the Board is facing, including the key issue of helping more low-income families buy a flat rather than rent one.

‘Those with income of $1,000 to $1,500 a month, although they are eligible to rent a flat, I much rather they own a flat because from there they can build a base and own some assets,’ he said.

The cheaper two-room flats the Government has been building over the past few years will be ready soon, with construction to be ramped up, he added.

For those who cannot afford to buy even the cheapest flats, HDB will make available 20 per cent more rental flats over the next three years, Mr Mah said.

On the other end of the spectrum, better-off Singaporeans should also get to enjoy the ‘HDB experience’. To this end, condo-like flats are being built under the Design, Build & Sell Scheme in areas such as Boon Keng and Bishan.

HDB also launched a new Build-To-Order project at Marsiling yesterday. Straits Vista @ Marsiling is near Woodlands Regional Centre and is the first new public housing estate in Woodlands in recent years. It will offer 50 three- room and 332 four-room flats.

Applications can be made until June 23.

Source : Straits Times – 11 Jun 2008

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