Hope for more liveable, affordable homes

I find the comments from the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) interesting (New guidelines may price some buyers out of market: Redas; Oct 19). I believe the whole idea of setting the minimum average size of condominium apartments is to curb rising property prices and the miniaturisation of homes.

The rapid rise in property prices is mainly due to the fact that developers bid aggressively on big and old projects. With the sky-high prices based on a per square foot per plot ratio basis, the only way to make it "affordable" is to build many smaller units.

I recall that the number of units on the site of the former Farrer Court development almost tripled after it was sold en bloc - from 618 flats to 1,715 units in D'Leedon. To be fair, the D'Leedon project built on the land was not a shoebox project.

Thereafter, waves of collective sale sites and new government land sale projects resulted in the creation of an ever-increasing number of shoebox units.

What is the limit to that if it is left unchecked? To put things into perspective, Hong Kong created units called "nano apartments". Some measure as small as 128 sq ft, which is even smaller than the standard carpark space.

I am glad that Singapore is not going down that path. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) first implemented an average minimum apartment size a few years ago to curb shoebox projects outside the central area as these are primarily residential areas catered to residents with families.

In the long term, I hope the new guidelines will make new apartments liveable and affordable.

Hopefully, with larger unit sizes and the average per square foot price dropping, there will be less urgency for newer condominium or apartment projects to be hit by wrecking balls.

I do not believe humans like to live in tiny homes.

URA is definitely doing the right thing.

Tay Kar Wooi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Hope for more liveable, affordable homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe