Where’s the equity, HDB?

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) today said its ban on those who buy HDB flats in the resale market from owning private property during the new five-year minimum occupation (MOP) period is to ensure equitable treatment for all flat lessees during their MOP.

I say this doesn’t make sense.

Whether HDB likes it or not, by opening the HDB market to Singaporeans and permanent residents without income cap, it has already created two categories of HDB lessees:

On one side, those who bought from the Government at huge subsidies and those who bought from the resale market with substantial grants, also from the Government; on the other side are those who bought from the resale market without subsidy of any kind, whether big or small.

So, how can it be equitable to put a five-year private property ban on those who bought HDB resale without a sous from the Government, along with those who enjoyed subsidies that range from $30K to a couple of hundred thousand dollars?

By all means keep that no-private property ban on those who buy HDB direct from the Government or in the resale market but enjoy the various grants and subsidies offered, such as being near to parents etc.

But why should those who buy in the resale market using their own money be similarly restricted?

Indeed, I’ve always thought it strange for the Government to insist that those who buy from the resale market must “reside” in their HDB flat for a minimum period, one year, three years, five years, whatever.

Isn’t it enough to say, no letting or subletting during the MOP? And if you own a private property, no claim for concession owner-occupation property tax rate?

Why must I live in the HDB unit physically?

By buying from the resale market, at prices that are two or three times what the state priced to direct buyers, am I not contributing to raise the value of all HDB flats and thereby ensure the intrinsic nest egg encapsulated in the homes of the direct-from-Government purchasers?

 Or at minimum, help enlarge the resale demand — which may collapse somewhat now, what with the Government ensuring a substantial pipeline of new hugely subsidised HDB flats coming on stream and knocking down the resale mainstay which assuredly must be the private property owner?

So, by pleasing those who missed getting onto the HDB boat for whatever reason, our Government may be making those already an HDB owner mighty unhappy by pricking their castles in the air!

It may also please the new permanent residents, some of whom may not be able to afford private. The latest move could give them a better chance at HDB, now that those Singaporeans with private property are effectively locked out.

Still, why am I bellyacheing about the latest moves to douse the burning HDB resale market?

At best, I’ve only an academic interest, toying occasionally with the idea of downsizing, provided I can find an HDB unit that suits my needs, and then letting out where I now call home to fund my living cost.

That option’s out now, for the time being at least.

Also, the restrictions effective today may not be such a blow for private property owners , after all. It will drive those with the money and already having private property having to choose more private property, if property investment is their preferred option. And to whom can these turn but to developers and those who have the spare property or two to sell?

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7 thoughts on “Where’s the equity, HDB?

  1. No one has to buy a resale flat. If you want to choose to buy HDB, part of the deal is that you agree to live within whatever framework HDB wants to set. And you must accept that they can change the rules anytime they want, and it will be binding on you. This is already clear from the long history of changes in HDB rules over the last 10 years.

  2. You are right Contrarian; nobody forces anyone to buy HDB resale in the sense that no one puts a gun to our head to do so. And I’m not so much objecting to the flip flop changes as to HDB/MND minister describing the latest changes as “equitable” for all HDB lessees, geddit?

    It’s like pple who come into S’pore with drugs over the limit will be given the death sentence if convicted. But it doesn’t prevent the condemned and the anti-drug lobbyists fm saying “no fair, cruel and unusual etc etc, pse change”.

    Like death sentences, the HDB’s latest changes ain’t equitable. Govt shld just say that’s our policy prerogative, so there 😛 and be done with it. I hate bitter pills in candy floss.

  3. 80% of Singapore’s population stay in HDB with the core mission of HDB to provide Singaporeans with a roof over the head to enable a longer term stake in Singapore. With that as a core purpose, money making or “building” a nest doesn’t quite sync with the core purpose but across years, the scheme have creatively lend itself to be an investment scheme. Sure, the price is 2-3 times higher than a direct buy from HDB. But does paying more doesn’t makes it private ? It is still HDB to me. And not a bad choice given the newer flats abiet smaller but of admirable quality. For the 20% in Singapore, are there choices ? I would think so, but it’s more expensive and limited. But expensive is relative to income. Policy changes will never be fair. Because, policy changes affect a group of people who are affected by these changes. For majority of HDB lessee, these changes doesn’t affect them at all. To them, it is unfair to see rich Singaporeans owning HDB units and subletting it out and parking their expensive luxury cars in HDB. So is the purpose of HDB is to provide a home for Singaporeans or a home for non-weathy Singaporeans ? Is leasing an HDB a Singapore birth right ? or is it an enabler to help younger Singaporean family start their homes but yet provide a path for upgrade to achieve a Singapore Dream ? 5 years is not a long time. For that matter, why make it 5 ? why even allow owners of private properties to even buy open market HDB ? Or for those who stay in an open-market bought HDB to buy private properties ? If they are rich enough to buy private properties then HDB is not for them. Bitter pills are easier to swallow with sugar coating. The fear is in loosing votes when the Government sends our messages that only support the 80% of the population. And these marginal votes count alot more in today’s context.

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  5. Hi Uncle Keng! Thanks for visiting again. ImHO, the 80% in public housing model will not be sustainable in the long long time, unless our country is aiming to be a 100-year wonder. U r probably too young to remember y HDB resale housing was opened to private buyers in 1989 as well as the $1 bn a year HDB upgrading program launched arnd the same time. I shall go further into all this one of these days in a separate post. I’m not anti-S’pore or heavens’ 4bid, the PAP. But there are times when — like Petunia Lee @ petunialee.blogspot.com — I damn miss MM Lee’s plain talking. Lay it on the line, baby. We r all adults n don’t need to be coaxed or worse, conned into a certain way of thinking.

  6. I agree with the straight talking part. But as much as I don’t protest against teachers in my time hitting the palms of our hands with a thich wooden ruler, times have changed, and what is acceptable then is no longer acceptable now. Community Centers are no longer what it is used to be. The no-aircon bus has disappeared. With changing times, I think its far harder to find leaders like MM Lee where straight talking gets to the point fast and almost sounds dictatorial. But as followers, we all need strong leaders during tough times. If we are all adults, then surely we can be trusted to censor what we watch and see, yet it is not so. I have benefited from the HDB scheme and for one, I had a memorable time recalling the days living in a 180,000 1,500 sq ft big executive HDB flat. I think flat rooms were bigger then since some even sleep in the living room ( called TING ZHANG ). Sizes of rooms shrunked and prices have risen. Quality has indeed improved alot more. So, as much as look back at what worked, I think the new generation needs a different approach namely the softer sugar coated ones. I am sure you are as Pro-Singapore as me, but reasoning these out calmly is perhaps the best way to engage Singaporeans and get us all thinking how things were and how things are and how things will be.

  7. Eh Uncle Keng, am I not reasoning it out calmly? Point is while pple keep on saying things have changed they still keep on harping on how cheap HDB flats once were, like yr $180k 1.5K sq ft exec flat. But if voters want to be spoken to in candy coated tones, then they must also realise that the new $ are also softer like the words, and there must be quantitatively more $$$ to buy smaller bricks and mortar. In other words, pple change; so does the purchasing power of our money. Have a good week end and talk to u another day. 😀

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