Recognise this ang moh description of our HDB system?

In Uncategorized on 16/03/2015 at 4:57 am

In a recent article in the FT entitled “How to ensure the lowest paid aren’t forced out of cities”, this is how our HDB system was described:

The most obvious reaction to a market failure is to remove the market. … the state can step in. In Singapore, for example, 80 per cent of the population live in homes built by a government body, the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

It was set up in 1960 in a bid to clear up the city-state’s pervasive slums, and later turned into an all-purpose housebuilder and landlord. The vast majority of Singaporean households own their homes leasehold, with the HDB as the freeholder. The HDB also finances home buyers at preferential rates.

The HDB will only sell to Singaporean citizens, not foreigners. Maximum income ceilings also apply.

This popularises housing, preventing it from turning into an investment asset class which investors can pour cash into. Home ownership in Singapore is widespread, savings rates are high and the housing system has been credited as one of the factors in the country’s transformation from a third-world economy to a global powerhouse.

On the downside, such control gives the government a lot of power. For example, until 1991 the HDB would not sell to single people aged under 35, as part of the government’s attempts to promote marriage.

The market restrictions can also prevent people from building up an asset to fall back on in hard financial times, or in retirement. In many other countries, homes have replaced pensions as many people’s source of financial security.

If so good, how come so many people complaining online anonymously about the system?

I mean one anti-PAP complainer even complained that he had to sell his 5-room flat and downgraded to invest in his daughter’s future: sending her abroad to study medicine because she didn’t get the straight As to get into medical school here.

Shouldn’t he get on his knees before this photo and thank the PAP for his gd fortune: that selling his HDB leasehold could fund his investment in his daughter?

My serious point is that unlike our public transport MRT system*, our HDB system works pretty well. It can be improved and made really affordable. But by other major cities’ standards, there is affordable housing for the less well-off.


*Our public bus system works well during off-peak hours. I know; I use it regularly. Btw, I’ll soon be eligible for senior citizens’ concession.

  1. If the HDB “can be made really affordable”, then one would have spare cash/CPF and no need to sell to “invest in daughter’s future”.

    • I’m sure this relation of scholar Eng would say that his daughter’s birthright to go to medical school free so that she can then give him six figure monthly allowance )))) Anti_PAP will always KPKB. LOL.

  2. Minister Khaw and his predecessor, Mah both talk about HDB flats as “affordable” and you talk about them being “really affordable”. That is the crux of the problem. What makes the flats not “really affordable”? The difference is in the manner of calculating what is affordable. They take the total family income, without taking into account the expenditures and the whole thing becomes an academic exercise.

  3. Idiots lah. Affordable means home price <= 4 yrs annual household income. If you cannot afford 5-rm, then make do with 3-rm HDB. Or find ways to increase your salary.

    Idiotic to take up 25, 30 year mortgages for something that you legally don't own — you will never ever get a title deed.
    For your primary residence, you should aim to pay off within 15 years max, or by age 45, whichever comes first.

    Long-tenor mortgages are a drag on your retirement and ultimate financial independence. S'pore property is now mature, not like 30-40 yrs ago where you can anyhow buy some junk rat-infested atap house and become multi-millionaire after 3 decades. S'pore property at most provides a store of value, preserving your money against inflation in the long run. The more money you throw into property and the longer you take to pay it off, the worse retirement funds you will have. At the end of the day, you will be forced to sell off your properties and / or downgrade to fund your retirement.

    Also idiotic for Sinkies to max out their CPF for property WHILE NOT making up by saving 25%-30% of their take home pay, AND THEN KPKB that they got no money in CPF for retirement.

  4. To be fair, that guy complain about the lack of places in local uni.

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