Nine in 10 older buyers of two-room flats opt for shorter leases

HDB said 54 per cent of 16,169 two-room flexi units booked to date were by buyers aged 55 and above. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A semi-retired couple initially wanted to upgrade to a new four-room flat, until they learnt about the Housing Board's two-room flexi scheme.

For Mr Tan Hiok San, 68, and his wife Madam Chen Yuxian, 58, downsizing from their three-room flat in Chai Chee made more sense financially instead of buying a larger flat with a 99-year lease.

They opted for a new two-room flat with a 45-year lease in the same neighbourhood, and moved in last April after selling their resale flat for $370,000.

Under the two-room flexi scheme, flat buyers aged 55 and above can opt for a lease ranging from 15 to 45 years, and for senior-friendly features like grab bars.

"We don't really have much use for a 99-year lease, as we have no children to pass the flat on to. Moving to a smaller flat was not a problem for us, and we are still in Chai Chee, which we are very familiar with," said Madam Chen, who used to run a coffee-shop business with her husband.

The couple are among about nine in 10 older buyers aged 55 and above who have opted for shorter flat leases since the scheme was launched in November 2015, the HDB said on Sunday (Feb 24).

Giving an update on the scheme, the HDB said 54 per cent of the 16,169 two-room flexi units booked to date were by buyers aged 55 and above. The rest were booked by families and singles.

Of these 8,700 older buyers, 7,959 - or 91 per cent - chose shorter leases.

The 40-year lease was the most popular, with 2,545 buyers, said the HDB.

This was followed by the 35-year lease with 2,154 buyers and the 30-year lease with 1,344 buyers.

The HDB said 139 buyers opted for the shortest lease of 15 years.

Mr Tan said they would have preferred a 30-year lease, as flats with shorter leases cost less than those with longer leases.

But that option was not open to them, as Madam Chen would need to be at least 65 to qualify. The HDB requires two-room flexi leases to cover the applicant and his or her spouse up to the age of at least 95.

Mr Tan said their switch has prompted some old friends and former patrons to follow suit.

"They got a little envious of how comfortable we are and decided they would do the same as well," said Mr Tan, who works part-time making coffee at a Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet in Bedok Mall.

The HDB said more two-room flexi flats will be offered in Kallang Whampoa, Tengah and Woodlands at the next Build-To-Order sales exercise in May.

It launched 937 such flats in Jurong West and Sengkang at the sales exercise earlier this month.

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