Parliament: HDB flats made up 73% of Singapore's total housing stock in 2016

Over the past 10 years, the number of HDB flats shrank in proportion to Singapore's total housing stock. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Over the past 10 years, the number of Housing Board flats shrank in proportion to Singapore's total housing stock, making up 73 per cent - or 1,011,000 units - in 2016.

This is down from 78 per cent - or 880,000 units - in 2006, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong told Parliament on Monday (May 8).

Meanwhile, the number of private condos and landed homes increased from 243,000 to 372,000 over the same time period, with their share of the overall dwelling units rising from 22 per cent to 27 per cent.

Responding to a question from Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Mr Wong said this proportion is expected to remain stable over the next few years, with 72 per cent out of all dwelling units projected to be HDB flats in 2020.

This ratio only refers to the housing stock, not the proportion of people living in flats, which is still around 80 per cent, he added.

Mr Wong also revealed that less than 2 per cent of BTO home buyers who had been invited to collect their keys had asked for a deferment in the whole of 2016 and the first quarter of this year.

While a majority were able to sell their existing flat, 45 buyers eventually cancelled their new flat bookings and paid the forfeiture, he said.

Said Mr Wong: "The main reasons for these cancellations include changes to the buyers' overall financial circumstances or they no longer wished to proceed with the new flat purchase for their own personal reasons."

He also reminded flat buyers to be prudent in their flat purchases and take into account possible changes in market conditions if they plan to finance their new home with the sales proceeds from the sale of their current flat.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked if HDB could exercise more leniency to protect buyers, as he has come across several cases of buyers unable to let go of their current flat due to the slow resale market.

"Some have difficulties paying the cash that they need to top-up (their BTO purchase)," said Mr Zaqy.

Mr Wong said HDB already "exercises flexibility and grants time extensions" to buyers to sell their flats and complete their transactions.

"For the minority who chose not to (complete the purchase), if there are financial hardships, we can look into these cases and waive their forfeiture."

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