Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Housing Woes

UPDATE  14 Jan 2014: HDB maisonette bucks price trend, selling for record $1.05m

An HDB maisonette in Bishan sold for a record-breaking $1.05million last month, despite declining resale prices overall.

The price for the property was $250,000 over its valuation, easily trumping the median cash- over-valuation (COV) across the island of just $5,000. The 150 sq m unit is on the 20th floor in a block near Bishan MRT. Its prime location and status as a rare maisonette contributed to its record price, said Dennis Wee Realty property agent Thomas Hee, who brokered the deal. The new owners, a "young professional couple", declined to be interviewed.

It was the fourth HDB property to sell for at least $1 million last year. The others were another Bishan Street 13 maisonette, which went for $1.01 million, a $1 million Toh Yi Drive maisonette, and a rare corner terrace house in Whampoa that fetched $1.02 million. The terrace house is one of just 285 "landed" public homes built by HDB's predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust.

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Khaw urges calm after S$1m flat price

Singaporeans should not be upset over reports that a resale flat was sold for S$1 million, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan during a recent dialogue session with grassroots leaders in Sembawang, reported The Straits Times.

Mr Khaw explained that there will always be premium units offering fantastic views that will command very high prices, just like the case of the executive maisonette in Queenstown.

The sale of that unit is still on-going and is expected to hit S$1 million, with a cash-over-valuation (COV) of S$195,000.

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Public Housing: Setting new benchmark

FIFTY years after launching its mass public housing at a few thousand dollars per flat, Singapore last week made the kind of history few people wanted to see.

A resale maisonette from the Housing Development Board (HDB), which still designs homes to help the broad masses, changed hands for a record one million dollars.

In principle, the rising values should have excited Singaporeans since 85% of them are property owners, but instead the news created widespread concern.

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900k for HDB

Looks like 3 HDB units just got sold at the $900k mark and the psychological barrier of $1m is inching closer. Many analyst give their 2 cents to say it is an exception and unique circumstances, rather than the norm, ya da ya da.

Regardless, it looks set that $1m is probably going to be hit in the next 1-2 years. Wonder if it is fair to become millionaires from government subsidized public housing.

Anyhow, who is going to be the 3 famous people? Huh, what are you talking about? 

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HUDC flat in Shunfu Road sold at record price

The HUDC estate in Shunfu is undergoing privatisation at the moment

Another new record in the property market surfaced today.

A maisonette along Shunfu Road was sold in July for S$1.28 million to a Singaporean – creating a new record for a HUDC flat.

Introduced in the 1970s, for those in the middle-income bracket who could not afford private property, HUDC flats are well known to be spacious. The government stopped building them in the late 1980s. 

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PRC new citizen buys million-dollar HDB

Following reports of a Bishan maisonette sold for S$980,000, a resale executive maisonette at Mei Ling Street in Queenstown has topped the record for being the first public housing unit to reach the million-dollar mark, according to The Business Times.

The buyer and seller have already agreed on the price but the first appointment with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has yet to take place, said Lee Sze Teck, Senior Manager for Research and Consultancy at DWG, the agency brokering the deal.

It is understood that the naturalised Singaporean buyer and her China citizen father paid a cash  premium of S$195,000 for the unit near Queenstown MRT station. Its size has not been revealed. 

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HDB resale prices hit all-time high

The HDB Resale Price Index (RPI) rose two percent to a new record high of 197.9, according to the housing board’s flash estimates for the third quarter of 2012.

“The HDB resale price index is now at its historical peak as this increase of two percent is the highest in the last four quarters (since 3Q11, when the price index grew by 3.8 percent).

This is somewhat unexpected as the increase came with the onset of a greater supply of BTO (Build-to-Order) flats since 2011 and the moderation of HDB resale prices in the first two quarters of this year,” said Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex Realty. 

Understanding Cost Of Construction

Chip Eng Seng Contractors (1988) Pte Ltd (CESC) has been building Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats since 1982. It's typical contract scope involves the design and construction of residential buildings and the supporting parking and community facilities. CES has won many contracts from HDB in the past, and the contracted values of projects awarded in recent years provide fascinating insight about the costing of subsidised public housing:
  • Sengkang (698 units) $123 million, awarded June 2008
  • Queenstown (1,394 units) $188 million, awarded June 2008
  • Hougang (792 units) $113 million, awarded August 2011
  • Bukit Panjang (862 units) $137 million, awarded August 2012
If all the numbers are added up and divided, it looks like the average cost of construction for one HDB unit is about $150,000. Needless to say, the units are a mix of 2-room to 4-room units, with selling prices to match.

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HDB is not making money out of building homes, says National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan

On calls for price of new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats to be de-linked from land costs, Mr Khaw said it may be politically easy to say land is free because it belongs to everybody. But that's not the case

He said the price of land is tied to acquisition costs, reclamation and the building of infrastructure around it: "You need to acquire a piece of land , you need to reclaim a piece of land. All those costs money to tax payers and we are just trustees of tax payers and those costs are to be accounted for. And even when you have got that land prepared, then land is only valuable when we invest in infrastructure, roads, MRT, etc etc. And all those costs billions of dollars. So to say that land cost is pittance and therefore should be excluded from total construction cost, I myself think it is not quite an appropriate argument."

He also revealed that the Housing and Development Board, which is the developer for public housing, is in fact losing money for every flat it sells: "Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars of losses were incurred by the HDB and that's why MOF has to give the HDB an annual grant, otherwise the HDB will be in the red. Because every unit that we sell, we lose money, HDB loses money.  So let us not perpetuate this talk about, HDB is making money out of building houses because if it was so simple, life would be straight forward, but that's not the case."

The HDB pays market rate for its land and construction costs. So, when it prices flats below market rate, it incurs a housing deficit. A recent report said the deficit is now in the region of about $1 billion a year, including other costs such as upgrading.

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Something is wrong somewhere with EC scheme

‘Something is wrong somewhere’ is the kind of doubt any lay Singaporean may express, and it’s a flaw we knew all along from the moment someone decides to build fountains and presidential suites for executive condos, or sells off a Queenstown 5-room for $1 million. We don’t need to hear this coming from an authority who’s supposed to be finding and fixing the problem. If they can’t, well, then there’s ‘something wrong somewhere’ with the kind of pay they’re getting to do the job.

Yet, there’s one thing that Khaw seems to be dead confident about: That the government loses ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars just to build HDB flats.  It explains why you never hear reports of HDB making tidy profits these days, it’s like a monk announcing that he won first prize in the lottery. Not so in the past. In 1970, someone calculated that the HDB made an ‘enormous profit’ from rental of flats and shops. In 1982 it was reported that the board made a $7 million windfall off carparks. In 2002, they made reportedly $87 million from carpark operations, half of that from fines. 

How HDB manages its finances today remains a mystery, though our ministers would love to brag about how the government is constantly in the red to justify its noble mission of ‘public housing’. I suppose with all this ‘deficit accounting’ to deal with, it’s only fair that HDB gives its staff the occasional treat, like a Dinner and Dance at MBS with Daniel Ong as MC, for example (more proof of that ever happening here). Did the government subsidise THAT as well?

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Hi Minister Khaw, I understand that you claim that HDB is losing millions every year and MOF has to subsidize HDB because of these losses in MILLIONS? 

Now can please elaborate on your statements by giving us the actual building cost and related cost for building a HDB flat, because it is hard to believe what you are saying when we don’t see the actual breakdown cost, don’t you think so?

It would be good to know every detail of this breakdown so intelligent Singaporeans can look in detail and understand what you are talking about.

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Resale Price Index for HDB flats rose 1.3% while resale transactions fell 23% in Q1 2013: HDB

The Resale Price Index (RPI) for HDB flats rose 1.3 per cent from 202.9 in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 205.5 in the first quarter of 2013

According to data from the Housing & Development Board, resale transactions fell 23 per cent from 5,631 cases in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 4,335 cases in Q1 2013. As for the Rental market, HDB said subletting transactions rose 15 per cent from 6,443 cases in Q4 2012 to 7,410 cases in Q1 2013. The total number of HDB flats approved for subletting rose 1.8 per cent from 43,508 units in Q4 2012 to 44,274 units in Q1 2013.

Bukit Merah town saw the highest median resale prices for 3-room and 5-room flat types. It was $398,000 for a 3-room flat, and $800,000 for a 5-room unit. A 4-room flat in Queenstown was sold at $679,000, the highest median resale price for that flat type.

Toa Payoh town saw the highest median cash-over-valuation (COV) for 3-room and 5-room flat types. It was $32,000 for a 3-room unit and $75,000 for a 5-room flat. For a 4-room flat, the highest COV was $69,000 in Queenstown.

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Khaw Boon Wan doesn’t geddit!

The media says that Mr Khaw Boon Wan told a Our Singapore Conversation group that there is “something wrong somewhere” with the Executive Condominium (EC) scheme and the scheme cannot carry on in its current form.

Here is the link to the Straits Times version of this confession and the brick bats thrown at him for his belated Eureka moment!

I could have told him so — and did — in January when I wrote a post extensively on the G’s Medusa-like HDB policies. Here is the link and the screen shot.

not just EC policy, Mr Khaw :(

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Dhana on ethnic integration housing policy

Former Cabinet Minister S Dhanabalan has weighed in on the immigration issue, more specifically on the subject of ethnic integration. Recall that it was he who introduced the HDB policy in 1989 to break ethnic enclaves that were beginning to form in the neighbourhood. The result is that ethnic distribution is more evenly distributed, although there are still complaints about how difficult it is for members of a minority community to find those of their own to sell their flat to.

Mr Dhanabalan said in a Mediacorp radio forum yesterday that the issue is  “further complicated’’ by the new immigrants.

“If the new immigrants are a small number, say, one per cent or half per cent of the population… They have to integrate with the local population. But they are a significant proportion, so all the more reason why we need to continue to have a policy that will integrate the people regardless of their ethnic origin, religious origin, in where they live what they study, how they do things,” he was reported to have said.

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Remember the core mission everyone

IT’S always good to hear old war horses speak. In this case, Mr Liu Thai Ker and Dr Aline Wong, two people who have been associated with Singapore’s housing programme for years. Read TODAY.

What they weighed in on – the role of the G in providing public housing. It’s just what National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan ordered, when he asked that the public get involved in the discussion on public housing.

The public housing monster has spawned so many heads that it’s gone beyond being just a roof over people’s heads which they are proud to own.  It’s become an asset, an investment, a way to make money by selling and upgrading to yet another subsidised flat, a source of rent/retirement income.

HDB resale flat prices since January 2012

Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat sales have dropped sharply on the resale market. Sales are down to a 16-year low, reported the Straits Times. They have never been this low, it said, since HDB started reporting the sales of resale flats in 1997. 

Only 4,335 resale flats were sold between January and March this year, compared with 5,631 sold between October and December last year. Resale prices rose just 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year after a 2.5 per cent increase in the previous quarter, according to the HDB.

Here we look at the median prices of HDB resale flats in different parts of Singapore since January last year. Scroll through the document to see the prices of three-, four-, five-room and executive flats.

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Re-examining the basis for public housing: shelter or asset?

Changes to public housing policies have been fast and varied. For example, the housing minister recently allowed singles to buy BTOs and he gave further considerations for disadvantaged families. In addition, policies were tightened for new buyers in terms of loan requirements, thereby reducing the risks of a bubble forming in the face of rising resale values. Being cognizant about the impact of the clustering of foreigners in certain enclaves within HDB heartlands, he also addressed the rental of flats to foreigners so as to minimize the risks to our social environment.

What grabbed the biggest headlines was the media interpretation that Minister Khaw Boon Wan intended to lower new HDB prices by 30%.

This is flawed. What the Minister said in Parliament on 08March2013 was that he wished “to bring BTO prices in non-mature estates to say, around 4 years of salary as it was before the current property cycle started”.

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Minister Musings – Income Ceiling Obsolete?

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan recently mused out loud about the direction that Housing Development Board (HDB) policies would take in the future.
His revelations have sparked quite a bit of reaction from netizens, ranging the gamut of negative to positive responses. He highlighted two points specifically that the authorities are thinking over:

  • Lifting of income ceiling for HDB
  • Build-to-order (BTO) flat pricing set by HDB instead of following market rate, allowing it to influence market
For the government to specifically voice out such ideas is a tremendous step, make no mistake. It is a landmark moment because while many commentators, insiders and pundits have advocated such solutions, they have never been officially acknowledged as viable by the Singapore government. We feel credit should be given where it is due, and in this case Minister Khaw should be applauded for such a bold admission that these seemingly drastic mindset changes are required.

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Khaw lauds EC scheme but will stay vigilant to prevent abuses

"And if I may give an analogy, it's like offering you a Lexus at a Corolla price," he told Parliament.

"But only Singaporeans have this privilege of doing so and they know that in due course the price will go up to Lexus and above Lexus levels." However, he said the scheme had been taken advantage of by some developers and buyers, which prompted new measures targeted at this segment of the residential market. Developers had taken to building super-sized ECs, Mr Khaw said, and in some instances had exploited planning rules.

A 4,349-square-foot (sq ft) penthouse at Citylife@ Tampines that included a 1,600 sq ft roof terrace sold for $2.05 million in December.

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Property: Tharman is wrong that measures are working?

Colin Tan has a regular column on Friday in Today. Unlike the other property “experts” that appear in the local media, his take is always slightly different from the govt spin. Take this week’s http://www.todayonline.com/business/property/cooling-measures-or-market-booster 

Based on the new private home sales data for March, the seventh round of the Government’s property market cooling measures must definitely qualify as an own goal, as a colleague put it. Instead of cooling the market, the latest curbs unveiled in January actually boosted it as buyers turned up in droves.

Tharman was quoted by today’s ST as saying: “Property prices remain high but they are moving in the right direction”, and that govt had no plans for additional measures.

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Home prices moving the right way: Tharman

PROPERTY prices remain high but they are moving in the right direction, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, adding that the Government has no plans for another round of cooling measures for now.

The Government is determined to lower the prices of homes relative to incomes, he added, but does not want to cause a crash in the short term.

"We're not planning another round of measures, but it depends on market conditions," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

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8 awful facts you must know about Singapore homes

Population density rose 20% in just a decade. According to the Singapore Social Health Project 2013, due to the rise in population density, housing and transport sectors are increasingly stretched. Commuter stress and cost of transport are on the rise.

It also noted that housing prices have also increased rapidly over the last few years and is becoming unaffordable, especially for the low wage earners.

1 Singaporeans are experiencing greater pressure in the arenas of housing and transportation, as population density rose 20% from 2001 to 2011
2 Commuting congestion generates stress.
3 Increasing transport cost raises costof living
4 Low accessibility among the low income
5 The growth rate of housing prices is outstripping that of monthly incomes
6 Resale flats are not accessible to the bottom 20% of young home buyers
7 Erosion of long-term housing affordability
8 Homelessness on the rise

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Cooling measures or market booster?

Based on the new private home sales data for March, the seventh round of the Government’s property market cooling measures must definitely qualify as an own goal, as a colleague put it. Instead of cooling the market, the latest curbs unveiled in January actually boosted it as buyers turned up in droves.

In October last year, following the announcement of the sixth round of curbs, I wrote in this column that the Government’s cooling measures were in danger of losing their credibility.

To date, we have had seven rounds of such measures. In the sixth round, where home loan tenors were curbed, show flats were packed the day after the announcement with prospective buyers unfazed by the new measures.

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Hidden dangers in mixed development and mature estate

The past weekend began with a shocking message from my sister: A strong fire broke out in our hometown in the estate where my mother stays. It is government-subsidized private housing built around 15 years ago – a 5-block residential development and each block comes with 21 storeys. It is also a mixed development with one of the blocks housing a wet/dry market and a food court on the lowest three storeys. 

The blaze first started in a dry product store in the wee hours of the morning at around 3 a.m. (whether it was arson or accident the police were still investigating). The fire quickly spread to all the other stores. 

The whole estate was soon surrounded by dense smoke. Amid the sound of a few explosions, 140 firefighters spent 7 hours to put out the fire. Close to 700 residents were evacuated and eight people were admitted to the hospital for treating of smoke inhalation.

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Singapore’s Record Home Sales Adds to Concerns of More Measures

A woman walks past a billboard displaying CapitaLand Ltd.'s Sky Habitat condominium project in Singapore. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Singapore’s March home sales rose to a record as more developers started marketing new residential projects, raising concerns the government will introduce more cooling measures to tame property prices.

Home sales rose to 2,793 units in March, rebounding from a 14-month low in February and the highest since the Urban Redevelopment Authority started releasing the information in June 2007, according to data released today. Sales in February slumped to 712 units, the data showed.

Prices climbed to a record in the first quarter, according to government data on April 1. The latest measures in January, the seventh round of curbs in about four years, included an increase in the stamp duties for homebuyers by 5 percentage points to 7 percentage points.

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GLCs helping Chinese developers to muscle into Singapore property market as demand from PRC nationals surged

Bloomberg, 16 Apr 2013
China Vanke Co. (000002), the biggest developer listed on Chinese exchanges, is entering Singapore’s property market in a venture with Keppel Land Ltd. (KPLD) as it expands outside its home country.
Vanke (200002) will acquire 30 percent in Keppel’s Sherwood Development Pte for S$135.5 million ($110 million), according to a joint statement today. The Sherwood unit will be used to co- develop properties in Singapore and China, and the first joint venture project will be a condominium development in Tanah Merah in Singapore, according to the statement.
Chinese developers are starting to take advantage of demand for real estate around the world from Chinese nationals as the government imposes property curbs at home. Full story

Also read:

  1. PRC company snaps up 36 condo units at one go in Singapore - The Real Singapore
  2. Govt property cooling measures prove ineffective to foreign buyers who are still snapping up homes and driving up prices - report

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New property cooling measures did not spoil first-quarter home sales

February and March take-up rates were healthy.

According to Savills Singapore, despite the Singapore government releasing the seventh round of cooling measures in January, which was considered by market watchers to be the harshest to date, home buyers continued to snap up what units were available in the market. Mass-market home buyers in particular led the purchasing spree.

"In the immediate aftermath, developers pulled back launches, releasing just 261 private homes in February, an 88% nosedive compared with the same period a year ago and the smallest release since January 2009. Attractive discounts both on existing and new launches were also offered.

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Singapore new private home sales soar to record number in March

SINGAPORE, April 15 (Reuters) - Developers in Singapore sold a record number of new homes in March as buyers returned to the market, driven by discounts and incentives and raising fears the government could take further steps to cool the housing market.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Monday developers sold 2,793 housing units last month -- nearly four times the 712 units sold in February and the highest number since the URA began publishing monthly data.

Including executive condominiums or ECs, a category of homes reserved for Singaporean buyers, sales by developers rose to 3,072 in March from 921 in February.

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Latest proof that PR buyers are still snapping up homes

Heftier ABSD did not deter the group.

Savills Singapore reports that purchases by PRs constituted 14.3% of total private non-landed home sales in February, a dip from January’s 19.8%. However, the share of 14.3% was still within two standard deviations between January 2011 and March 2013, leading the property research firm to opine that the revised ABSD did not have a significant impact on PR purchases.

"A possible reason for the fall could be due to PRs returning to their homeland during the lunar new year holiday. Similarly, it appears that non-PR overseas purchasers were impervious to the 5-ppt revision in the ABSD rate as their proportion has been trending up since November 2012," said Savills Singapore.

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Singapore New Private-Home Sales Nearly Quadruple

Sales of new private homes in Singapore nearly quadrupled in March from the previous month, government data showed Monday, as transactions recovered sharply thanks to the revival of property launches previously held back by cautious developers.

A total of 2,793 new private-residential units were sold in March, compared with a revised 712 units in February, according to data on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's website.

This marks a sharp turnaround from February, when sales plunged 65% from the month before as developers delayed property launches in the wake of new government real-estate curbs imposed on Jan. 12.

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The average cost of a BTO, five room flat ranges from $310,000 to $380,000.

Most of that price difference is based on location (higher in mature estates, cheaper in non-mature estates). Common floor sizes are up to 112 square meters, with these features.

But let’s look at what the same amount of money could buy you, somewhere else:

1. One Acre Home in Arizona, USA ($356,500)
2. The Old Parsonage Bed & Breakfast in Maitland, Canada ($342,800)
3. Cotes-d'Amour in Brittany, France ($207,561)
4. Three Bedroom Landed Property in Western Australia ($342,370)
5 Taman Iskandar in Johor Bahru, Malaysia ($341,500)

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A Home for the Really Rich: Singapore Mansion Listed for $242 Million

A mansion in the heart of Singapore’s central shopping district has just gone on the market – for the low, low price of $242 million.

The 85,000-square-foot site lies just near the city’s Botanic Gardens, next to the city state’s main shopping district, Orchard Road. Included in the price is a two-story home, swimming pool and tennis court. The house is also next door to the Russian and Japanese embassies and a few streets away from the home of the British high commissioner. 

The property is being sold by a holding company belonging to Cheng Wai Keung, chairman of the Hong Kong property developer Wing Tai Holdings. 

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From boom, to blowing bubbles

Singapore’s property market has been framed as a success story. Prices have moved inexorably up since 2005 despite several rounds of cooling measures.

The intervention of cooling measures is indicative that the Government has concerns that the market may be overheating, but also reflects political considerations from Singaporeans who feel they are being priced out of the “Singapore Dream”.

Property forms the largest asset within each household balance sheet. Judging by news reports of packed showrooms, it would seem that most Singaporeans feel positive about the future of the property market. Is the optimism justified or are they headed for a fall?

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Top of the Props

In the second half of March 2013, Urban Vista was the most searched condominium project, pushing Bartley Ridge into second place. The newly launched project has seen keen interest from private home buyers. Set to be completed in 2016, over 250 units have been sold out of 582 apartments in the development. Located at Tanah Merah Vista in District 16, it is close to two MRT stations.

Bartley Ridge has also attracted healthy demand and is sited close to Bartley MRT station and the shopping and entertainment hubs of Orchard Road and Little India. The new condo is located near the upcoming Bidadari Estate and is expected to obtain TOP by 2018. Attractive discounts are also being offered for both projects to offset the effects of ABSD (additional buyer’s stamp duty).

At the same time, the most popular property search terms on the portal are Iskandar, Penthouse, Tiong Bahru, Holland and Master, among others.

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HDB will be the price-setter: Khaw

AS THE chief supplier of homes, the Housing Board should set the price of public housing, rather than take its cue from the resale market. No longer will HDB let "the tail wag the dog" as it did for decades when it used a market-based approach to price its Build- To-Order (BTO) flats, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

This resulted in soaring new flat prices as the resale market spiked 80 per cent over the last six years. Mr Khaw put a stop to this by "delinking" BTO prices from the resale market after he took over the housing portfolio in 2011. "(Being) led by the private sector (is like) a tail wagging the dog. We should be the price-setter, not be the price-follower... The social objective is to ensure home ownership and affordability," he said in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times.

Even before he stepped into this job, he was clear about wanting to make use of HDB's dominant market leadership position to influence prices, he said, adding: "I can't set market prices in the private sector, but I can influence them". He dismissed worries that delinking new flat prices from the resale market would mean indefinitely increasing the subsidy that taxpayers give to HDB buyers, as the property market moves in cycles and "what goes up must come down". HDB pays market rate for its land and construction costs. Hence, when it prices flats below a market rate, it incurs a housing deficit - now in the region of about $1 billion a year, including other costs such as upgrading.

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Downgrade or Lease buyback? Worse off by $700k?

I refer to the article “Lease  buyback scheme leaves retiree $130k richer” (Sunday Times, Apr 14). 

Lease buyback? It states that “His flat, which he bought in 1985, has about 70 years left on the lease. Under the scheme, the HDB bought the unit from him for more than $300,000 and he paid about $170,000 for the 30-year lease.

CPF Life? Most of the $130,000 net proceeds will be used to top up Mr Kwek’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) Retirement Account, and depending on which CPF Life scheme he opts for, he will receive a monthly annuity of about $700 for his lifetime.

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PM questioned on studio apt pricing

A few weeks ago, I met someone whose wants to move into a HDB studio apartment. On the HDB website there were two flats available under a previous scheme that started in the early noughties. The tenants had “moved on” and the flats returned to the HDB*. The flats were being offered for around $120,000.

He wrote to the PM asking the rationale for the drastic price increase. He wanted to know why since the flat had been returned, why the same flat was being reoffered offered at almost double the original price about 10 yrs ago**. All the HDB had to do was to restore the flat to its original condition before leasing it out. Even assuming the flat had been thrashed by the previous tenant and taking into account the rise in labour and building materials, how come the doubling in price?

He said the PMO had called him asking for his email address, so he assumed that the PM or HDB would be in touch.

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HDB Lease buyback scheme leaves retiree $130k richer in cpf

Retiree Kwek Joo Heng will get about $130,000 by selling the tail end of the lease on his three-room Ubi flat under the Enhanced Lease Buyback scheme.

Mr Kwek, 67, found out about this scheme while watching the news on television last year and thought that it would be a good way to provide himself with a steady stream of income in the coming years.

His flat, which he bought in 1985, has about 70 years left on the lease. Under the scheme, the HDB bought the unit from him for more than $300,000 and he paid about $170,000 for the 30-year lease.

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Initiative to aid HDB residents settle arrears

Housing Board (HDB) residents in Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC who struggle to pay their service-and-conservancy charges can now opt to do community work to settle their arrears.

What's more, they can earn some extra cash while they're at it.

They will be able to do so through an initiative called the Programme for Resident Estate Service and Support (Progress).

Pulau Ubin residents told to pay rent or resettle

The villagers lead a simple life on Pulau Ubin all their lives but may now have to pay rent or face resettlement. Last month, they received a census survey notice from the authorities, which aimed to re-establish their eligibility for resettlement benefits.

According to a joint statement from the Ministry of National Development and Singapore Land Authority, they would not be evicted but they are currently residing on State land without a Temporary Occupation Licence. To stay, they need to pay a fee for the use of the land, similar to any other use of State land.

But it won't be easy for Ubin's residents. Madam Hamidah Awang, who is one of the few remaining villagers in Ubin, said: “In Singapore, the moment you step out of your lift, you spend money. Life here is better... more peaceful, more calm.” 

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Many are still illegally subletting HDB rooms for short-stay to foreigners

Is the Ministry of National Development turning a blind eye to such illegally subletting of HDB rooms for short-stay to Filipinos?

Daily SG: 16 Apr 2013

– News Clips: From boom, to blowing bubbles
– Singapore PropertyGuru Blog: Top of the Props
– Under The Angsana Tree: Housing Woes

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BTO Blues
The woes of DBSS residents
Planning For Singapore’s Future
Tweaks in Our SG Housing
Further steps to cool Singapore property market
Housing Woes
Our Sg Public Housing
Our Sg Properties
Affordable Housing
Prices of HDB resale flats rise, but can new HDB flats be cheaper?