Hot market tamed, housing more affordable, says Khaw Boon Wan

S'poreans can get flat 'within budget'; plans afoot to help different segments

Public flats have become more affordable in recent years, with many Singaporeans able to buy a home within their budget, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan.

To ensure that this remains the case for future generations, Mr Khaw said that the Government remains committed to quality housing that is within the reach of most Singaporeans.

"Every generation will be able to afford their own HDB homes. This is our promise," he said in the parliamentary debate on his ministry's budget yesterday.

Stressing the importance of home ownership, Mr Khaw said his ministry has achieved results in taming the red hot housing market. This was a hot topic in the 2011 General Election.

Resale housing prices have risen by about 37 per cent since their low in 2009, while new flat prices rose by just 15 per cent without grants. With grants, new flat prices rose by just 6 per cent.

-- SOURCE: MND

"Measured against the (median) household income increase of 38 per cent, we can see that public housing affordability has substantially improved since 2011," he said.

As for whether cooling measures will be lifted, Mr Khaw said that the property market is in transition and that the Government "should not overkill".

Mr Khaw also cited a recent Housing Board survey which showed that people were willing to pay up to $300,000 for a new three-room flat, and between $300,000 and $500,000 for a four- or five-roomer.

In comparison, 90 per cent of new three-roomers last year were sold at below $250,000.

For new four-roomers, 81 per cent were sold below $350,000, and 89 per cent of new five-roomers were sold below $450,000.

"These are actual transactions. They paint a comforting picture of young Singaporeans being able to get their first BTO (Build- To-Order) flat, well within their expected budget," said Mr Khaw.

Home ownership has also been possible for the lower-income group, added Mr Khaw.

From March 2012 to July last year, 1,491 families with household incomes below $1,000 had booked two-room or larger BTO flats.

Yesterday, 24 MPs rose to ask about issues such as the affordability of housing. Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) was one of three MPs calling for the $10,000 income cap to be raised, while Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) and Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) wanted flats with shorter leases for the needy.

Mr Khaw outlined plans to help different segments, from singles to public rental tenants.

Starting from May, half of all new two-room flats in non-mature estates will be set aside for singles, up from 30 per cent now.

The Government will look for ways to help non-first-timers who want resale flats near their parents, as well as public rental tenants who aim to own a home.

It is also prepared to raise the $10,000 income ceiling for public flats, as incomes rise, he said.

janiceh@sph.com.sg