Housing priorities in 2015: Helping families and singles

Property prices in the Republic have been moderating and National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan expects this to continue into 2015.

He was speaking to reporters after witnessing the handover of a completed Build-To-Order (BTO) project at Punggol on Monday (Dec 29). The event also marked the completion of 28,000 new flats this year – a record in recent years.

The minister outlined his ministry’s key focus areas in 2015, and these include meeting the housing needs of singles and helping family members live closer to one another.


The BTO system started in 2002. Up till 2010, fewer than 10,000 flats were launched each year. When Mr Khaw took office in 2011 as the National Development Minister, prices of resale HDB homes were soaring and there was a shortage of new flats.

To address this, his ministry began ramping up supply of new flats. From 2011 till 2013, more than 77,000 units were launched. The mortgage servicing ratio was also lowered to 30 per cent – from 35 per cent – in August 2013.

Resale HDB prices fell in the third quarter of 2013 – the first decline since 2009. Prices have been sliding since, falling by about 6 per cent year-on-year.

Mr Khaw said he expects the decline to continue into 2015: “Now the balance is shifting, and we expect next year to continue to shift, I don’t think it has stabilised yet. But so long as prices are shifting like what happened this year, where prices are softening but not drastically.

“Drastic corrections are seldom good, because they are usually due to some external events, for example, the Asian crisis, SARS, Ebola, then there’s a major market correction. Yes, you may get cheaper housing prices, but you may also find yourself losing your job because it means the underlying economy is very fragile and brittle. So if what we observe this year continues into next year, I would consider that a very good development.”

Mr Khaw gave no indication of when the Government may ease cooling measures, but added that some of these are temporary. “Obviously when the temperature becomes warmer, then we have to adjust them,” he said. “The question is when you do that and how you do that? So those are obviously issues of consideration next year.”


Turning to other areas his ministry will be focusing on in 2015, Mr Khaw said a priority is to help families live closer to each other. Just last month, a proportion of the BTO flat supply was set aside for such buyers. Previously, they only received extra ballot chances.

Priority was also extended to parents living in mature estates who apply for a flat in non-mature estates near their married children.

Another group the Government will be focusing on in 2015 is singles. Mr Khaw said: “They email me or leave messages on my Facebook, saying that ‘I applied seven times’. I said ‘how could it be, we only started BTO exercises for singles just four, five times’.

“So it’s an exaggeration, but I think it is also an expression of frustration. They say ‘I am now 45 years old, 50 years old or even nearing 55 years old’ and they are very worried the money gets locked up in the Retirement Account. So these are genuine personal issues which we have to take into account.”

So while fewer flats will be launched next year – just 16,900 units, compared to about 22,400 this year – Mr Khaw said he will not be slowing the pace of construction of homes for singles. His ministry is also exploring policies to better meet the housing needs of this group.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 29 Dec 2014

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