Future BTO flats in prime locations may face resale restrictions: Desmond Lee

Future Build-to-Order flats in prime locations may be further subsidised so that they remain affordable, but they may also face some restrictions on resale conditions, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Friday (11 Dec).

In a Facebook post, Mr Lee said that a new housing model is necessary for public housing in “new areas with very prime attributes”, as they will be “a lot more expensive” than current BTO flats.

Mr Lee’s comments come amid concerns of a so-called “lottery effect” of public housing, where owners of subsidised flats in prime areas sell their homes for far higher prices than initially purchased.

Singapore has announced plans to develop thousands of housing units in the Greater Southern Waterfront, which is poised to become part of the Central Business District (CBD).

The 2,000ha development will be six times the size of Marina Bay, and was fleshed out by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last year.

To maintain affordability, additional subsidies may be needed for future projects in prime locations, on top of those that already exist for all BTO units, said Mr Lee.

However, he recognised that additional subsidies could also lead to an “issue of fairness” when they result in higher capital gains for buyers.

“In addition, we want to preserve the character of public housing in these estates, so that like other HDB estates in Singapore, they continue to remain inclusive over time,” Mr Lee said.

“Hence, we will have to consider measures for upcoming new flats in the prime areas that balance between these various objectives.”

Mr Lee noted that there will be a range of flat types in these estates, including two-room Flexi flats and rental housing where possible, “to cater to different needs”.

He said that there is a “whole range” of ideas that can be applied to future flats under the new housing model, and that the national development ministry is studying its options.

“We have received many ideas – for example, some have suggested introducing some restrictions on the resale conditions for future prime area projects,” said Mr Lee.

In an interview with Chinese language daily Lianhe Zaobao in November, Mr Lee said that the Greater Southern Waterfront project was “quite far down the line”, and that there may be other sites “with very prime attributes that might be rolled out in the months and years ahead”.

Mr Lee had also reiterated that the Housing & Development Board would seek public feedback through engagement sessions over the next few months.

Source: CNA – 11 Dec 2020

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