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Govt must rethink approach as S'poreans, HDB flats age

Our public housing programme is a success story unique to Singapore and, today, more than 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in Housing Board flats.

Sadly, after more than 50 years, the very same rules that have made this scheme a success are now causing much anxiety to ageing Singaporeans and owners of older HDB flats as the end of the 99-year leases looms (Owners worry older HDB flats a depreciating asset; April 15).

Restrictions on the use of Central Provident Fund savings to buy older HDB flats and the lack of financing possibilities have caused a progressive decline in the value of such flats. This is sad as many Singaporeans have used large chunks of their life savings to purchase the flats.

Ironically, many of the older flats are in mature estates offering very liveable attractions, such as bigger unit sizes and proximity to MRT stations. A remaining lease of 60 years, or even 30 years, is still a long time for one to live in a flat. With most residential properties on a 99-year lease, government bodies must change their mindset and rethink how they assess the risk of these assets - places where people live and not mere properties bought for investment's sake.

We should aim to have a positive attitude towards properties with shorter leases. By doing so, older flats will continue to have robust valuations and mature estates will see a good mix of old and young people. As Singaporeans age along with their HDB flats, the authorities must adopt a more long-term vision to tackle this problem.

Raymond Koh Bock Swi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Govt must rethink approach as S'poreans, HDB flats age'. Print Edition | Subscribe