More households eyeing bigger flats or private homes, HDB survey shows

UPGRADING aspirations have risen over the years, with fewer Housing Board (HDB) households content with smaller flats and more aspiring to bigger flats or private property.

But even as they wanted bigger homes, most were happy with the state of public housing here, with nine in 10 saying their flats were value for money.

These findings were captured in the latest HDB Sample Household Survey, which is conducted once every five years.

The report, which surveyed 7,800 HDB households in 2013, tackled issues related to public housing ranging from HDB residents' satisfaction with their physical surroundings, to their family ties and aspirations.

Of those surveyed, 57.5 per cent said they were content with their present flat type.

But 35 per cent would be content only with better housing, up from 28.6 per cent in 2008.

Households headed by someone younger than 35 had the highest aspirations.

Three in 10 of such households aspired to own private property, compared with the overall average of 15.9 per cent.

Existing home owners' aspirations may have risen along with house prices, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

"Many buyers understand that the flats they own have seen paper gains due to increases in flat prices, so they would like to cash out and top up 'a bit more' for a better living experience."

But while many continued to believe that flats were good value for money, pride in their homes slipped. Seven in 10 said they were proud of their homes, down from eight in 10 five years before.

The study also found that one in five young married couples under the age of 35 chose to rent instead of buying their first home.

Experts said this could be due to couples waiting for flats to be completed or to be able to afford an ideal home, and did not indicate that they were shunning home ownership.

With about 3.06 million Singaporeans living in public housing - or about eight in 10 Singaporeans - the survey findings closely tracked the overall demographics of the country.

Households were getting older, with the median age of HDB residents at 39, up from 37 in 2008.

Households also had more income earners. On average, there were 1.8 income earners per household in 2013, slightly higher than the 1.7 in 2008.

Four-room units were the most common type of flat sold, making up 41 per cent of the total stock.

The study also showed that bonds in families staying in HDB estates remained strong.

Nine in 10 married children visited their parents at least once a month, with 19.5 per cent doing so on a daily basis.

Similarly, filial piety in the form of financial support for parents remains a virtue in many households.

Nearly three in four younger married residents provided regular financial support to their parents in 2013, up from 70.2 per cent in 2008. The average quantum given to their parents went up from $336 to $400.

The generally positive reviews of public housing come even though the population density has risen, noted the HDB.

"Despite the increase, survey findings showed that residents liked most aspects about the HDB living environment," it said.

janiceh@sph.com.sg