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Why Can’t We Have More Housing Options For Singles?

Posted by Jayson Ang on April 5, 2024
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TLDR

The blog post discusses the evolving regulations for single individuals to purchase public housing in Singapore. It highlights the journey of Lee Siang, a logistics expert, who faced restrictions due to age limitations but is now considering buying a four-room HDB flat. The post mentions the changing policies, expert opinions on market demands, and the importance of aligning housing policies with societal values. It also touches on potential impacts on the property market and emphasizes the need for a balanced approach.

Logistics expert, Lee Siang, aged 39, decided to leave his parents’ two-room apartment eight years prior when his sibling’s family relocated there.

His desire was to own a flat; however, he was below the minimum age requirement during that time. Upon reaching the age of 35, his options were substantially restricted, as single individuals were only permitted to purchase new flats in non-mature estates – a rule set to be annulled in the latter half of next year.

Consequently, his only alternative was to lease a room in a condominium.

Survey results published by TODAY Youth indicate that 76 per cent of participants are of the opinion that the minimum age for singles to purchase an HDB flat should be reduced from the current age limit of 35. Concurrently, 75 per cent believe that public housing for families should be prioritized.

Echoing their sentiment, Mr Siang expressed his wish for younger singles to be allowed to purchase smaller flats.

“By the age of 30, some singles have the financial capacity to afford a two- or three-room flat. I don’t think those intending to start families would be interested in those types of flats,” Mr Siang pointed out, implying that singles could become homeowners without creating competition with couples or families.

Presently, he is considering purchasing a four-room HDB flat, with the intention of inviting some of his family members to reside with him.

“My kin, both my brother’s son and daughter, have been residing in the communal space of our home for nearly a half dozen years,” he shared. “As an individual purchasing this dwelling, I understand my responsibilities to my relatives who may also inhabit this place.”

The HDB homeownership program, established in 1964, was initially intended to encourage marriage and parenthood among Singaporeans. Those who were unwed were not eligible to procure a public apartment.

However, with time, the regulations for single individuals to acquire an HDB unit have gradually evolved. A significant milestone was achieved in 1991 when the Government initiated the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. This allowed single citizens aged 35 and above to purchase from a restricted selection of smaller apartments on the resale market.

In recent decades, the Government has amplified housing grants and expanded accessibility to various flat types for single individuals. A remarkable progress was announced by Mr Lee at this year’s NDR: starting from the second half of 2024, single individuals will be eligible to apply for a new two-room Flexi BTO flat or purchase a resale flat in any estate.

Dr Tan from PropertyGuru commented that the upcoming measures to enhance public housing accessibility for singles are a “positive stride forward”.

Nevertheless, he highlighted that two out of the five national Shared Values implemented since 1991 include “family as the fundamental building block of society” and “community aid and regard for the individual”. These shared values were embraced to cultivate a unified Singaporean identity across all ethnic groups.

Dr. Tan emphasized that housing policies should harmonize with prevailing societal values.

Other property experts suggested that allowing singles to purchase HDB flats at a younger age could invariably create a surge in market demand, thereby escalating prices.

In such a situation, Mr. Lim from Huttons Asia foresees a spike in demand for BTO flats over resale ones due to their superior affordability. He postulated that this could ignite demands for more single-person flats construction, necessitating a delicate equilibrium between crafting homes for families and single individuals.

The experts highlighted that while singles and families may not vie for the same flat categories, allocating space initially intended for larger family flats to construct smaller individual ones could inadvertently curtail the availability of family homes.

While these property analysts applaud the government’s efforts to enhance housing accessibility, they underscored the need for a measured and phased approach.

Even though singles and families may not compete for the same type of flats, reducing some space meant for larger family flats to construct smaller ones for singles could potentially deplete the supply of family homes.

Mr. Tan from Savills proposed that fulfilling the housing aspirations of single people should be implemented subtly to avoid prematurely encouraging it.

He cautioned against prematurely acting on anticipated demands as it might inadvertently endorse certain lifestyle choices, like remaining single, which may not be beneficial for Singapore’s demographics in the long run.

Should You Buy, Sell or Wait?

If you’re reading this, you must be trying to figure out the best course of action right now: is it the right time to buy or sell?

It’s difficult to give an exact answer since everyone’s situation is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

I can bring you a wealth of on-the-ground experience and a data-driven approach to provide clarity and direction. From beginners to experienced investors, our top-down, objective approach will help you on your real estate journey.

I can help you by:

  1. Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
  2. Connecting Your Home with the Perfect Buyers – Through stunning visuals, an effective communication strategy, and an in-depth knowledge of the market, we’ll ensure your home is presented in the best possible way to fulfill your goals.

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