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Posts Tagged ‘HDB’

DBS doing NS on HDB loans?

In Corporate governance on 13/11/2013 at 4:26 am

If it’s one thing S’poreans who are paying off the mortgages on their HDB flats can agree on, it is that the govt is stretching the truth when it says that HDB mortgage payments are affordable because mortgagors can use CPF money leh. They are not that daft not to realise that it affects their old-age funds. And anyway, it’s always nice to pay less.

So it’s interesting that DBS has a very gd scheme for HDB borrowers. So gd that only the daft wouldn’t apply for it. I’ll let BT explain:

Thousands of HDB homeowners are turning to DBS Bank for a mortgage product that guarantees savings.

Those who took up a POSB HDB loan when it was launched in April could be looking at savings of as much as $1,600 by next month, calculations from DBS showed.

The first POSB HDB loan pilot launch – where homebuyers enjoyed a floating-rate loan with interest capped below the HDB concessionary rate for 10 years – was fully sold.

The bank is now into its second offering, which charges the same rate but for eight years, said Ms Lui.

The current POSB HDB loan charges for the first eight years the three-month Sibor (Singapore interbank offered rate) plus 1.38 per cent, capped at the CPF Ordinary Account rate. The current CPF Ordinary Account rate is 2.50 per cent.

Thereafter, the loan charges three-month Sibor plus 1.48 per cent. The September three-month Sibor is 0.374 per cent.

The HDB concessionary loan now charges 2.60 per cent, which consists of 0.10 per cent plus the CPF Ordinary Account rate of 2.50 per cent. Based on the three-month Sibor of 0.38 per cent, borrowers who switch from the HDB concessionary loan will pay a lower interest rate of 1.75 per cent.

For a homebuyer refinancing from the HDB in April, based on a loan of $400,000 and 25-year tenor, the potential savings over six months amount to $1,684.

And should interest rates rise over the next eight years, DBS guarantees that it will be capped at the CPF Ordinary Account rate of 2.50 per cent or 0.10 per cent below the HDB concessionary rate.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={563079109-19246-5011258124}

Nice to see DBS returning to its roots as “Development Bank of S’pore”., and using the POSB brand which some Foreign Trash CEO tried to get rid off. Fortunately, he went before the POSB brand went. Gd work ,New Citizen Gupta.

But if DBS is doing gd, is this mortgage making money, on a risk-adjusted basis, for DBS? How come OCBC and UOB don’t have similar schemes? Maybe DBS is helping out in constructive nation-building? Err what about shareholder value for non-controlling shareholders and gd corporate governance?

Never mind, I don’t own DBS shares.

PM questioned on studio apt pricing

In Public Administration on 12/04/2013 at 5:12 am

Here’s a topic Uncle Leong, SDP  and other kay pohs activists missed. This juz shows that there are cso many things wrong here. Or juz that they don’t live in HDB flata?

A few weeks ago, I met someone whose wants to move into a HDB studio apartment. On the HDB website there were two flats available under a previous scheme that started in the early noughties. The tenants had “moved on” and the flats returned to the HDB*. The flats were being offered for around $120,000.

He wrote to the PM asking the rationale for the drastic price increase. He wanted to know why since the flat had been returned, why the same flat was being reoffered offered at almost double the original price about 10 yrs ago**. All the HDB had to do was to restore the flat to its original condition before leasing it out. Even assuming the flat had been thrashed by the previous tenant and taking into account the rise in labour and building materials, how come the doubling in price?

He said the PMO had called him asking for his email address, so he assumed that the PM or HDB would be in touch.

Sadly I forgot to give him my email address or telephone number so that he could keep me posted. I also forgot to ask for his contact details or his full name.

——

*The arrangement is that these flats are made available on a 30-yr lease, payable upfront. If the tenant moves on, the flat has to be returned to the HDB, which will pro-rate the amount paid based on the occupancy period, and refund the outstanding amount.

**When the scheme started in the early noughties, he said, the flats were price at around $60,000 each.

A natural topic for national conversation

In Political economy, Property on 11/10/2012 at 5:49 am

An article in SunT ST last week on farming on the rooftops of HK reminded me that I had written in My S’pore: A greener & more pleasant land about using the roofs of our HDB blocks and other high-rise buildings to create a greener S’pore using examples from Switzerland. I also added, “This being S’pore, we could use HDB roof-tops to be self-sufficient in basic veggies, and range-free eggs.”

Well not only are the Hongkies now farming on the top of high rises, but I have since learnt that the Americans were already doing it for some yrs now: The idea to grow more food within city limits has spread in recent years along with increased awareness about the quality of our food and where it comes from. Advocates say urban farms can also provide important green-space and, when built on roofs, help reduce energy use and storm-water runoff. In dense cities like New York, with high real estate prices, rooftops represent enticing, unused space. Several cities, including New York and Seattle have revised zoning and building codes to help encourage the practice.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/19/us-farms-urban-idUSBRE86I0U120120719?type=smallBusinessNews

Maybe Khaw can get his planners to see if leasing out the roofs of HDB blocks to wannabe farmers can help lower the cost of the HDB flats to S’poreans?

And this is a natural topic for our National Conversation (Ya silly pun, I accept). It is a non-political topic of conversation for the S’pore of 2030.

Only SDP and NSP activists, Ravi the lawyer, KennethJ, Goh Meng Seng and TJS will strain out gnats to find a political angle to this issue. LOL.

Related link: Parks along abandoned railway tracks in the sky (NY) and on the ground (England)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19872874

What the news of the numbers of PRs owning HDB flats (and how it was reported) tells us

In Political economy, Political governance, Property on 29/11/2011 at 6:31 pm

(I waited eight days after the data on PRs owning HDB flats came out because I wanted to see if the local MSM would give a favourable-  to the government- spin on the data, which the MSM could reasonably do. The MSM was silent.)

Last Tueday, BT reported that  S’pore permanent residents (PRs) owned some 48,700 HDB flats as at September 2011 , according to the Ministry of National Development. It was answering a PAP MP’s question. According to this, there were approximately 1,038,473 flats as of May 201o.

This means that 4.7% of HDB flats are owned by PRs. So those lurid figures (over 20%, if I remember correctly) claimed by TR are not true.

It was also reported that 39,100 units in the 3rd Quarter 2011, are rented out. Assuming that the rentees are all FTs (PRs and other foreigners), a not unfair assumption, this means only 8.5% of the flats are occupied by FTs. Again, nothing near what TR claimed (over 30% from memory). 

Now as PRs are 13.9% of the resident population or 10.2% of the total population*, and PRs and other FTs 37.1% of the total population, these HDB numbers indicate that PRs and other FTs cannot be a major cause of HDB price rises. If  the 8.5% of the flats are occupied by FTs were 30- 40% (in line with their share of the population), then they would be a major cause of price rises. So Mah was right to he said that PRs and other FTs had no or little effect on public housing prices?

The way to look at this piece of data in relation to all the data made available is that FTs  have an effect (disproportionate perhaps?) because the supply was not keeping pace with demand given the influx of FTs. Khaw’s programme of building a surplus buffer is an admission that there was insufficient supply when the FTs were flooding in, courtesy of the government that we voted in in 2006.

No surprise then that the government and PAP spin doctors, and ST and MediaCorp staff missed telling us shumething important. This piece of info shows that Minister Mah did not know the numbers, or was fibbing when he said that PRs and FTs had no or little effect on public housing prices. They had an effect because he goofed, and then was in denial.  Hence the silence when the local MSM or spin doctors could have rubbished TR’s assertions, and the belief that FTs are the the major cause for HDB price rises?

This piece of information helps give some perspective to the ongoing (often heated and irrational on both sides) debate on public housing and immigration. Yet it only appeared in BT, which is behind a pay wall most of the day. Later Yahoo! reported it. This reminds me of what David Boey in a letter to Voices wrote, ” [R]elevant information is sometimes unavailable to the public or is not presented in a consistent format to facilitate analysis.”

How true and sad. Can fix this lack of info or not, PM? Will be a test of your promise of more openness, and change.

————-

*”Singapore’s total population stood at 5.18 million as at end-June 2011. There were 3.79 million Singapore residents, comprising 3.26 million Singapore citizens and 0.53 million permanent residents, and 1.39 million non-resident foreigners, ” Department of Statistics report released on September 28th 2011.

“Singapore’s total population stood at 5.18 million as at end-June 2011. There were 3.79 million Singapore residents, comprising 3.26 million Singapore citizens and 0.53 million permanent residents, and 1.39 million non-resident foreigners.”

HDB: Oversupply again by next GE?

In Property on 19/11/2011 at 6:40 am

The housing market in Singapore is heading for a prolonged downturn and overall private home prices are forecast to fall between 22 and 26%  in the next three years, Daiwa Research said. “We believe the residential property market could remain depressed for several years, triggered initially by a likely forthcoming gross domestic product slowdown (in 2012) and lingering global economic uncertainty.” (If you think this is bad, Barclays predicts a 45% decline in HK.)

Daiwa downgraded its view of Singapore’s property sector to “Negative” from “Neutral”, adding that “it is hard for us to see the developer shares outperforming the Straits Times Index over the next six months” despite their underperformance in the year to date.

From late next year, Daiwa said, structural issues such as the rapid build-up in unsold inventory in the primary market and vacant rental units will take centre stage and keep home prices and rents in check for several years. The mass-market segment will hold up slightly better than high-end properties, supported by better affordability and the resilience in the resale prices of HDB flats.

Err what happens if because of

– less FTS,

– slower economic growth or even a recession, and

– Khaw’s promise to build, build,

kiasu young S’poreans decide not to take up the HDB flats that are being built because they think prices will tank?

Remember that Mah overbuilt by more than 150,000 units in 2003, and was beaten up by the Opposition and netizens. For housing, the simple answer was the electorate demanded it, if you could recall the daily outcry in 2001 – 2003 by the opposition as well as members of publc on wastage of public funds on the more than 150,000 units left empty:  ajohor, a poster, on my blog pointed out recently.

(BTW can you blame him for then being super cautious and getting a reputation as the man who made public housing prices go up in a recession? No can win. But he got millions in the bank to console him, so no need to cry for him.)

Final tots. If there is an overhang of HDB flats, what will the Opposition and netizens then say? And how will the voters vote? For or against PAP? Hmm maybe PM deserves his global benchmark breaking salary? Salary review committee pls note.

HDB: “affordability” and “market-based land costs” redefined”?

In Political governance, Property on 27/10/2011 at 5:51 pm

“Mr Khaw said that a typical two-room Build-To-Order flat, which has an income ceiling of S$2,000, would cost less than three years of income, factoring in the grants available. Meanwhile, larger four or five-room flats – with an income ceiling of S$10,000 – cost less than five years of income,” it was reported last Friday. (Translated into $. 2-room flats: $72,000, 5-room flats up to $600,000.  All before subsidies.)

Err who can devote 100% of monthly salary for 3- 5 years to pay for flats? More likely kanna strech payments for 30 years (Comrade Mah’s assumption). So talking of the cost of flats in terms of salaries for 3- 5 years sounds like another variation of Minister Mah’s, “No cash outlay” where he forgot to mention the more and for a longer duration money is deducted from CPF accounts, the less home owners have to retire on.

Remember Minister’s Mah rants about “reserves being raided” if the land on which HDB flats were built were not valued at “market-based land costs”? Well Minister Khaw may have redefined “market-based land costs”, without the “reserves being raided”.

The possibility that there is a new definition of “market-based land costs” was spotted and commented on by a ST journalist, Li Xueying (Good for her).In a piece on 20 October 2011, “Chance lost on clearing hows and whys of flat pricing”, she wrote, Mr Khaw spoke of how, since May, the Government had stabilised the prices of 13,000 flats in three [Build-to-Order] launches. This, even as prices in the private and resale market rose, albeit at a slowing pace … ‘We have moderated price changes such that after adjusting for differences in location, amenities and other physical attributes, the May, July and September BTO prices were roughly comparable to the prices of similar units in the April BTO launch.’

The BTO launch next month will repeat this pattern, he promised … ‘As long as construction costs do not rise dramatically, the BTO prices will stabilise.’

As long as construction costs do not rise dramatically. This raises a question.

What about the second component that the Housing Board factors in in pricing its new flats, that is, land costs?

More specifically, market-based land costs – a formula that has drawn so much angst in the past, given that it is pegged to the gyrations of the private market.

(Market-based pricing of land is done based on prices of state land located within HDB estates sold to the private sector.) …

But it is telling that Mr Khaw also spoke of how his ministry had moderated the prices of the BTO projects such that the prices of those launched last month were comparable with the prices of those launched in April, even though prices in the private market rose over the same period.

Has the market-based pricing formula been quietly tweaked behind closed doors? Or did the Government just decide to deploy an interim measure of pegging new prices to April’s levels, given the unhappiness over spiralling flat prices? …

But the speed with which the minister has done so – never mind the market – does raise questions on how exactly the Government prices its flats.

… MP Zainudin Nordin also queried this, calling for the pricing formula to be as transparent as possible.

Doing so will assure Singaporeans that ‘the Government is not out to make a profit through the sale of public housing’, he said.

Unfortunately, Mr Zainudin and his colleagues did not manage to seize the opportunity to seek this clarification from Mr Khaw yesterday.

She ends with remarks that the prime minister especially should take heed of, Going ahead, the need to be more open and transparent with information will continue to be an imperative that the Government has to struggle with, given a more questioning electorate.

Voters no longer want to be told just the answer – the what. They also want to understand the hows and the whys.

 

Property prices: Going against natural laws

In Economy, Property on 30/04/2011 at 6:55 am

MM was quoted in late 2009 as saying, “If the country is going to go down, then economy will go down, people’s incomes will be down, unemployment will be up, then property values will go down.”

He was wrong because we had a recession, but property prices rose  . Specifically in a recession year, prices of HDB resale flats rose by 8.2%.

Mah Bow Tan should boast of what must be first for public housing in any country, “We ensure public housing prices go up even in a recession.”

And adding, “So when economy does 15%, of course, HDB rices will fly. Only the daft will expect HDB prices to stabilise or go down.”

“Vote PAP. Public housing values will always go up,” he should say.

Property sales also fund our SWFs

In Economy, GIC, Property, S'pore Inc, Temasek on 19/11/2010 at 5:13 am

Did you know that when the government sells state land to property developers, the money flows into the reserves (which are managed by our SWFs)  and not into the Consolidated Fund like other government income?  This is uniquely S’porean. Other countries credit land sales to income.  The government’s rationale is that as state land is an asset, sale proceeds should not be credited to income but to capital (reserves). Makes sense, but that’s not how other governments account for land sales: even HK, and no-one can say that HK is badly run or profligate.

So when HDB “buys” land from the government it is adding to the reserves. As it and government claim that the price an apartment is sold does not reflect this price, they claim HDB makes a loss. But whatever it is (I leave it to others to dispute this claim), the reserves are increased.

So in addition to the surpluses (generated by thriftiness or meanness according to who is talking) and (indirectly via a circuitous route) our CPF monies http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-we-fund-our-swfs/, sales of state land also contribute to the reserves that GIC, Temasek and the central bank manage.

There was one financial year ending March 2008 ( I think), where the government injected abt S$10 billion into Temasek. This sum was more or less equal to the amount that the government took in property sales for that year. Easy come, easy go as in the following yr Temasek could have lost as much as US$4.6bn (in 2009 March this would have been S$7bn) on Merrill Lynch. And there was the much smaller loss on Barclays (800m sterling?, then worth abt 1.7bn S$). Err not much change left over from injection: only S$1.3bn, “peanuts” as Mrs GCT might have put it, except she didn’t.

So this combination of surpluses, CPF money (indirectly via a circuitous route), and state land sale proceeds, have resulted in our SWFs having 179.5% more in assets than S’pore’s 2009 estimated GDP.

The Norwegian’s much larger fund (US$471bn) is only 23% more than Norway’s GDP. Abu Dhabi’s fund (at US$627bn) is 627% of its GDP. For those interested, I used FT’s US$248bn for GIC and US$133bn for Temasek. As to GDP numbers, I used CIA Fact Book as reference. (BTW, I’ve not taken into account the amt of foreign reserves that MAS manages because I could be double counting if I do. For the record, MAS says its reserves as at end 2009 are US$188bn).

So we got plenty of $ to make housing more affordable*. And there is no need to change constitution, or cut other expenditure.  Juz change the accounting rules on land sales.

BTW, I am working with an illustrator so that it is easier to visualise the connections between CPF, surpluses, Consolidated Fund  etc http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-we-fund-our-swfs/ . Hope to post something one of these days. [Update on 4 December, the cartoon]

*Even after taking away our public debts; 8th in the world at 113.10% of GDP. [Update at 10.30 am]

Words of wisdom on property R govmin?

In Economy, Property on 21/09/2010 at 5:35 am

Well property counters are off, HDB prices softening. Forget abt market finding their own level. It’s all abt govmin policies.

So waz this talk of market forces?

As Siew Kum Hong blogged a moon ago: By mixing up the public policy goals of providing affordable accommodation and helping citizens plan for their retirement, the Government has ended up achieving neither, with public housing becoming increasing unaffordable and many retirees being asset-rich and cash-poor.

The point that I ultimately want to make, is that the “leave it to the market” message is deceptive when the bearer of the message is able to manipulate the market. Markets do not exist in vacuums, but are instead influenced by government regulations and policies. So when the Government declines to intervene or to change the underlying rules, it is really a conscious political decision to maintain the status quo.

His totful rant in full http://siewkumhong.blogspot.com/2010/04/market-as-deus-ex-machina-or-scapegoat.html

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