Rental, shared housing more appealing to young S'poreans, though most still want to own homes: Study

One-fifth of respondents aged 22 to 29 felt that current property prices are too high. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More young Singaporeans, compared with older age groups, are considering renting and flat sharing as they find current property prices too high.

Even then, most still intend to buy a home within the next two years, a consumer sentiment study released by real estate portal PropertyGuru last week showed.

While one in three respondents said they feel the pinch of rising rents, two in three of those aged 22 to 29 said they have chosen to rent instead of buy a home due to their lack of savings.

One-fifth of respondents in this age group felt that current property prices are too high, and about one-third expressed interest in home ownership alternatives like shared housing - such as renting a common room in an apartment or co-living spaces - due to lower rent and common facilities.

The study did not release data on the sentiment towards shared housing for the other age brackets. The twice-yearly study, conducted between June and July this year, had 967 respondents.

Privacy and freedom are the reasons often cited by young Singaporeans who enter the rental market, said OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun.

"The trend was more prevalent during the pandemic when more people were working from home. We have also observed more young couples renting because they are waiting for the completion of their new flats," she said.

Mr Asher Chua, 27, who rents a four-room Housing Board flat in a central location with two friends, said he chose to move out of his parents' home last year as he wanted to have his own space.

"I do still feel the pinch of forking out for rent each month, but I'd say having the personal space is worth it and I don't regret it.

"I want to be able to have friends over, but when you're staying with family, it can be a bit hard to do so," the sales executive said.

But most people still want to buy their own homes in the next two years, with the need for more personal space being the top reason, the study showed.

Among those aged 22 to 29, 54 per cent shared the sentiment, and for those aged 30 to 39, it was 48 per cent.

Workers' Party MP Louis Chua, who intends to speak on the housing needs of singles at this month's Parliament sitting, said housing policy should accommodate the growing rental needs of citizens.

"HDB rental flats should not be seen as just to meet the housing needs of poor and needy citizen families who are unable to afford home ownership flats, have no other housing options and no family support," he told The Straits Times.

In March, Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said the Government's intent for HDB's rental flats continues to be providing highly subsidised housing to those with financial difficulties and first-timer families who are waiting for their Build-to-Order flats to be completed.

Noting that Mr Chua had suggested a model of subsidised rent that could lead to tenants owning their flat, Ms Sim said such arrangements serve a purpose in societies where there are significant gaps between home ownership aspirations and affordability.

"In Singapore, we design our public housing financing policy to minimise this gap," she said.

"Flat buyers in Singapore generally require little or no cash outlay in servicing the payments for their flats as their mortgage loans can be paid using their CPF (Central Provident Fund) contribution... Therefore, it is not clear how rent-to-buy is better for the aspiring Singapore home owner."

Mr Asher Chua said that while he intends to buy a home in the future, he does not rule out the possibility of renting long term.

"If housing prices increase exponentially and I cannot keep up with the market, I wouldn't be stressed about not owning a home. It means I can be more flexible if my company sends me overseas," he added.

PropertyGuru Singapore country manager Tan Tee Khoon said the Covid-19 pandemic and hybrid work model sparked a shift in consumer buying behaviour.

The increased demand for larger residential types makes HDB resale flats more attractive than private residential homes due to better affordability, he added.

This also means rare HDB flat types that feature big spaces, such as executive apartments and maisonettes, can fetch a premium.

"In an inflationary environment with prices of private homes rising, a spacious HDB flat in a great location going for $1 million is an absolute steal, contributing to the increase of million-dollar HDB houses transacted this year," he said.

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