Do more to address unhealthy property trends

I thank the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for clarifying that shoebox units make up less than 30 per cent of the units in the majority of new developments approved over the past decade (Mix of home sizes to meet housing needs; Aug 2).

However, this means there are some developments where these units make up more than a third of its stock.

Can the URA quantify what it means by the "majority" and "minority" of developments, since the margin can be as narrow as 50.01 per cent and 49.99 per cent?

What exactly is the URA's threshold for the proportion of shoebox units in any development here?

Whether the buyers of these apartments are Singaporean or foreign is really immaterial. What is of greater concern is that most of them appear to be investors rather than owner-occupiers.

They are increasingly the target of developers, who buy land and properties en bloc at high prices - pushing overall property prices up as a consequence - for conversion into projects comprising largely of units under 90 sq m.

A recently launched development along Grange Road consists of only shoebox units as well as units under 65 sq m, including two-bedders.

Perhaps the URA should also look into mandating average room sizes.

Woe betide the day that Singapore becomes home to three-room multimillion-dollar apartments of 50 sq m, like those that exist in Hong Kong.

Wanting a property market that is responsive to the expectations and demands of Singaporean home buyers is one thing.

Addressing unhealthy trends that contradict the goal of a stable and sustainable property market with more targeted intervention is quite another.

The URA can certainly do more to ensure that our private property market does not go down Hong Kong's sorry road.

The little red dot must be more efficient in ensuring that our land is put to productive use to house our population, instead of it lying idle as a speculative asset amid a rise in vacancy rates and unsold housing inventory.

Toh Cheng Seong