Housing market much cooler: Khaw

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.PHOTO: ST FILE

The hot housing market that was such an issue in the 2011 election is much cooler now, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, expressing relief that the measures put in place have paid off.

"What I shared at my first meeting with my MND (Ministry of National Development) colleagues was, let us try hard to achieve a soft landing of the housing market within four years," he said yesterday at an event to introduce the People's Action Party's election line-up for Sembawang GRC.

"Two years ago when prices began to peak and then began to come down, believe me, I was one of the most relieved."

Mr Khaw had taken over the difficult portfolio after the previous election. In the last few years, the Government rolled out a slew of measures to cool the property market, including the additional levy and loan curbs such as the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty and the Total Debt Servicing Ratio Framework.

It also ramped up the supply of new HDB flats in recent years.

However, Mr Khaw said that the Government would continue to monitor the situation and external environment closely as a soft landing "may suddenly become a hard landing".

There may also be a different housing election issue brewing.

Mr Khaw was asked yesterday if the defects in new flats might crop up as an issue in the coming general election.

Gripes over poor finishes and fittings at some Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats, such as Trivelis in Clementi and Centrale 8 in Tampines, which were built by private-sector developers, have made headlines this year.

Replying in Mandarin, Mr Khaw said that the issue of defects was a perennial one.

Recent complaints may give the impression that the quality of homes has deteriorated but, Mr Khaw said, this is not the case.

Citing scores under the Construction Quality Assessment System, Mr Khaw said the Housing Board's average score had been improving. It scored close to 90 last year, outperforming even some private homes built by developers.

And he stressed that the Government would continue to assist home owners, even if the flats were built by private developers.

"What is important is that builders and contractors are responsible, and fix areas that are unsatisfactory... You don't have to worry - as long as your demand is reasonable, we will help you."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Housing market much cooler: Khaw'. Print Edition | Subscribe