HDB CEO, Dr Cheong Koon Hean, has told Singaporeans to be “prudent” with their spending, and implied that HDB flats are not a store of wealth as their value will dip as their remaining lease lowers.
This comes as worry among the Singaporean public mounts that their HDB flats could be a “ticking time-bomb” – contrary to the government’s mantra for the past 20 years that a HDB flat is a “nest egg”
One way which Dr Cheong suggested Singaporeans monetise their flats in their old age – sell them and downgrade to a smaller flat.
The government had promoted HDB flats as “assets” despite their 99-year lease, under the Asset Enhancement Scheme, which some have criticised as a scam.
Recently, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has also warned Singaporeans that a vast majority of flats will be returned to HDB when their 99-year lease run out without any compensation.
Dr Cheong was speaking at the 2nd of Institute of Policy Studies-Nathan 5th Lecture Series titled, “Anticipating Our Urban Future -Trends, Threats and Transformation
These are thoughts she shared:
On HDB Flat Prices
“Prudent choice is very important. You should buy a flat, as you say it commensurate with the lease. The price you pay should commensurate with the lease. As you should buy a flat that would last you a lifetime. So, these are prudent choices that you probably need to make sure that you are making.”
On the Need for 99-Year Lease
“Singapore SG100…SG200. Given that you are small place, how do you ensure that we have facilities and housing for children, our grandchildren going into the future? So, in a way the leasehold enables us to recover the land loan…so that is the over-arching umbrella that we are thinking about.”
“99 years is meant for a home. And is enough for 2 generations. It lasts you for 2 generations. It’s a long time. And for most people by the time you live in it – after one generation – in fact they can monetise the home. And there are many ways to monetise today right?”
On How to Monetise Your HDB Flat
“You can sell the larger flat and buy a smaller flat. I build a lot of smaller flats, which a lot of my elderly love. Because now they don’t have to maintain such a big home. And with the money, it goes back to CPF…and you buy CPF life. So there are many ways to monetise. So, if they want to stay in their own home, they can do a lease buy back. I buy back some of the leases.”
“You must remember that actually their children will go on to buy an affordable flat from me. Correct? Now how do you make sure they can buy back an affordable flat from me? Eventually you have to recycle the land. You understand?”