I read with concern reports last week regarding Singapore's lower birth rates and number of marriages last year, and Housing Board resale flat prices exceeding their previous peak in 2013 (S'poreans put off marriage, parenthood plans, Sept 29; HDB resale prices hit record in 6th straight quarterly rise, Oct 2).
I think that the two are correlated.
Though the current Covid-19 pandemic has played a big part in the low birth rates and number of marriages, I think the long delay in Build-To-Order (BTO) flat construction and the unrelenting rise in HDB resale flat prices are important factors as well.
I believe it is time for the Government to consider reviewing the BTO approach to selling HDB flats.
To reduce the long waiting period and to encourage young couples to marry early, HDB should go back to building flats based on projections - preferably with some allowance built in.
If demand exceeds projections, the slack will be able to cater to the higher demand.
In any case, a rolling projection should be used, and any decrease in demand will result in fewer units being built in later years.
Furthermore, if these extra units are not taken up, they can be used as temporary rental units or sold to families and couples who need a unit urgently.
Having shorter wait times for housing could be a major factor in arresting our downward trend of birth rates and marriages.