Improve ways for older folk to move into smaller flats

The option of right-sizing, where those above 55 years old choose to move out of bigger flats to smaller ones, is becoming popular.

However, there some ways to help this group of older Singaporeans ease into this arrangement.

Many people prefer to right-size to a two-room flexi-lease flat as these are often newer and more affordable.

Currently, they have only two ways to opt for the two-room flexi-lease flat. One is via the Build-To-Order option, which can take about three years. The other is via a Sale of Balance Flats exercise, which happens only twice a year.

Would it make more sense for those who are opting to right-size to be given the option to choose from all the estates available rather than to have to wait six months if they fail to get a unit at their estate of choice?

Furthermore, the applicants of two-room flexi-lease flats are subject to the same conditions as those applying for bigger units.

There is however a critical difference: the former cannot resell their flats in the open market. Effectively, it is a direct-leasing arrangement. There is, therefore, no gains from buying these flats, unlike bigger ones.

Also, applicants of two-room flexi-lease flats have to choose a lease period that will cover them till at least the age of 95. Perhaps this should be reduced to 85 years instead.

Realistically, many people in their 80s or even 70s require some form of assisted living - many move in to live with their children or may need nursing care arrangements.

This would also mean that less money would be tied to the two-room flexi-lease flat, freeing up more for one's retirement needs.

Bernard C G Law

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Improve ways for older folk to move into smaller flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe