SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party launched a series of videos on public housing on Wednesday (Aug 16), with Sengkang GRC Member of Parliament Louis Chua getting the ball rolling by putting his finger on the crux of the matter: that people want their homes to be affordable, and yet expect them to be an ever-increasing asset.

With over 80 per cent of Singaporeans living in HDB flats, public housing is surely part of the country’s success story. In the first instalment of the WP’s mini-series, The Property Slide, Mr Chua noted that public housing costs have increased by over 30 per cent in the past few years.

But on the other hand, Mr Chua noted that older Singaporeans increasingly rely on their primary property, which they rely on for their retirement, “may find that this valuable retirement will get eroded with the passage of time.”

The two major factors to consider, in other words, are affordability and retirement adequacy.

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This is a problem because the model of the public housing market, built on ever-appreciating prices, cannot be sustainable, said Mr Chua.

And while it can be said that HDB flats are an appreciating asset, “there is still the issue of the 99-year-lease,” he added,” where “if all else goes according to plan, the higher the prices go, the harder the fall.

He also mentioned the widening disparity between the value of older HDB flats, whose lease term is approaching, and the newer BTO flats, a problem Singapore will see more of in mature estates.

Mr Chua’s fellow Sengkang MP, who shared the video, put it this way: “On one hand, we want to have affordable public housing that all Singaporeans can call a home, while on the other, we want this same house to be the main way that we finance our retirement, since we pay for it with our CPF. These goals are hard to reconcile, since in one case we want the flat to be as cheap as possible, but in the other, we want it to fetch as much as possible. #makingyourvotecount” /TISG

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