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Proportion of private homes grows to 27%
THE number and proportion of private properties in Singapore grew in the decade between 2006 and last year, Parliament was told on Monday.
The total number of private condominium units and landed homes went up from 243,000 to 372,000 in that time, taking their share of the overall dwelling units from the 22 per cent in 2006 to 27 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, the number of Housing Development Board (HDB) flats grew from 880,000 units to 1,011,000 during the period. But despite this increase, the proportion of HDB flats out of the total housing stock went down from 78 per cent to 73 per cent.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong unveiled these figures in his reply to queries by backbencher Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC).
Mr Wong said that the ratio is "expected to remain stable" over the next few years, with 72 per cent of all dwelling units projected to be HDB flats in 2020.
However, he added, this proportion refers only to the housing stock in Singapore - not the total proportion of people living in flats, which remains at about 80 per cent.
Separately, he told the House that under 2 per cent of Build-to-Order (BTO) flat-buyers who were invited to collect their keys had asked for a deferment in the 15 months between the start of last year and the end of the first quarter of this year.
The minister noted that home buyers ask for deferments when they have difficulties selling their existing flats. Responding to questions by Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), Mr Wong added that the government has not noticed an upward trend in the number of such cases, and that, for these buyers, the HDB exercises flexibility and grants them a "reasonable" time extension.
"The vast majority were able to sell their existing flat and complete the new flat purchase. However, a minority, or 45 buyers, eventually opted to cancel their new flat bookings, pay the forfeiture, and continue living in their existing flats," he said.
The main reasons for these cancellations include changes to the buyers' overall financial circumstances; in some cases, they no longer wish to go ahead with buying the new flat for various personal reasons.
Mr Wong advised all flat-buyers to exercise prudence when purchasing a home. If they intend to finance the purchase with the sale proceeds from their existing flat, he suggested that they take into account possible changes in market conditions that may affect their plans, and to be realistic in their asking prices.
They can also use HDB's regular updates on the probable completion date of their new flats so to better plan the sale of their existing flat.
Mr Zaqy later asked whether greater leniency could be given to buyers, given that some of his residents have indicated that they have struggled to sell their current flat because of the slower resale market.
Mr Wong replied that HDB already exercises flexibility and provides time extensions to buyers to sell their flats and complete their transactions.
"For the minority who have chosen not to (carry out the flat purchase), or if there are financial hardships, we can look into these cases and waive their forfeiture," he said.