by Sharon See
SINGAPORE – With immediate effect, unmarried Singaporean and permanent resident siblings under the age of 35 and whose parents live overseas can no longer buy a new or resale Housing & Development Board flat.
The move was announced by Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education Grace Fu in Parliament yesterday, in response to questions by Marine Parade MP Lim Biow Chuan on the rationale of the previous scheme which allowed the two groups to do so, on a case-by-case basis with certain conditions attached.
The HDB had said last month that the scheme was under review, following media reports about some Singaporeans’ concerns.
Ms Fu said yesterday that, with the liberalisation over the years of the subletting market for HDB flats, the Citizen-Singapore PR sibling scheme – introduced in 1990 – is no longer necessary. Said Ms Fu: “The sublet market (then) for HDB flats and rooms was limited, and there were few viable housing options for these siblings.”
Now, the two groups can either rent a room or a small flat from the open market, Ms Fu noted.
Ms Fu said that, as HDB has been “very stringent in assessing applications for this scheme, the number of such cases is small”. She added: “There are about 300 cases each year, or less than 1 per cent of total flat transactions.”
(Via Today, 15 Feb 2011)
While some property analysts felt the small number of approved applications meant that the scheme was redundant – especially when housing demand is high – SLP International director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said he was puzzled by the decision to cull the scheme.
Said Mr Mak: “Why target this group of people – siblings who want to get together – especially if they form such a small group?
Separately in Parliament, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Government will continue to monitor the property market closely and take further steps, if necessary, to promote a stable and sustainable property market.
He said that, despite the large supply in the pipeline, market sentiment remained bullish at the end of last year, with the majority of buyers being Singaporean.
The Government was particularly concerned that low interest rates plus excessive liquidity in the financial system, in Singapore and globally, could further drive up demand for private housing, causing prices to overshoot economic fundamentals.
Thus, it had introduced additional measures last month to pre-empt a property bubble from forming, temper demand and encourage greater financial prudence among property buyers, said Mr Mah.