Minister: Housing policy change not for GE
Two boosts to home ownership scheme
Changes to housing policies have nothing to do with the upcoming General Election, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
In fact, it is a continuation of what he has been doing since he took office over four years ago, Mr Khaw (above) told reporters yesterday at Toa Payoh HDB Hub.
"If you have been watching what we've been doing since I entered MND more than four years ago, we've been making adjustments, practically every year, because my objective is quite clear: That home ownership is a very important part of the governance of Singapore," he said.
He added that as society evolves and salaries adjust, policies need to be changed.
Two policies took effect yesterday: the Proximity Housing Grant, which gives families $20,000 for children or parents to buy resale flats within a 2km radius of each other; and the raising of income ceilings for HDB flats and executive condominiums (ECs). (See graphics at below.)
Those applying for new HDB flats need not worry about greater competition with the latest rise in income ceiling, Mr Khaw said.
"We have leverage over the supply, and we can always adjust the supply - expand and reduce as necessary," he said.
The Special CPF Housing Grant has also been enhanced and will kick in during the next round of Build-To-Order and Sale of Balance Flats exercise later next month.
But Mr Khaw added that even while the higher income earners benefit from these policies, his Ministry is also looking at enhancing subsidy for the lower-income group.
The Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally on Sunday, will target families with young children who used to own flats but sold it for whatever reason and now live in public rental housing.
The new scheme is aimed at helping such families own flats again and is likely to offer two-room flats with shorter leases and stricter resale conditions.
Said Mr Khaw: "We are not ready for implementation yet, but it's something that I'm confident we'll be able to sort out for implementation over the next few months, which means probably next year."
CHANGES TO HOUSING POLICY
Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)
All Singapore citizen families who buy a resale flat with or to be near their parents or married children will receive $20,000 in Proximity Housing Grant (PHG). Singles get half the amount: $10,000. This can be used only once in a life time. It does not matter if families have received previous housing grants for moving to be close to their families. Even those who have previously owned private property qualify, as long as they get rid of their private property within six months. This took effect yesterday.
Raising income ceiling
More people will qualify to live in HDB flats when the income ceiling for HDB is raised by $2,000. This means that income ceiling to own a HDB flat will be increased to $12,000 a month, and those who earn up to $14,000 can qualify for an executive condominium.
Increase in Special CPF Housing Grant
The maximum grant available will be doubled to $40,000 for families. This will be made available to households whose monthly income is up to $8,500.
When combined with the Additional CPF Housing Grant, families buying new flats are entitled to up to $80,000 worth of grants.
In the case where the housing grants make up more than 95 per cent of the price of a flat, the buyer must pay 5 per cent of the flat's price, whether in cash or from his CPF.
How someone earning $1,000 a month can afford a two-room flat
Assuming Mr Tan started work 10 years ago earning $1,000 a month and now at 31, he is married and would like to buy a flat.
The average price of a new two-room flat is $110,000.
After 10 years of work, he would have about $27,600 in his CPF Ordinary Account.
$110,000 Cost of flat
- $40,000 Special CPF Housing Grant
- $40,000 Additional CPF Housing Grant = $30,000
He can pay his 5 per cent ($5,500) downpayment using his CPF Ordinary Account.
He will also be eligible for a 25-year HDB loan, which works out to a $130 monthly instalment, which can be repaid using his CPF.
This way, Mr Tan does not have to fork out any cash for his HDB flat.
POOR PEOPLE GET MORE HELP
Some poor residents may pay just 5 per cent of the cost of the flats they buy.
Take the example of Mr Tan, who is married, earns $1,000 or less a month in household income and seeks to buy a two-room flat worth $75,000.
If he qualifies for all the grants, he could get up to $80,000.
The Special CPF Housing Grant and Additional CPF Housing Grant provide up to $40,000 each in funding.
The $5,000 extra that he could receive can be used to pay for optional items like flooring or will go into Mr Tan's CPF Special Account/Retirement Account/Medisave Account.
The caveat is that because the housing grants are more than 95 per cent of the flat's price, Mr Tan will have to pay 5 per cent ($3,750) of the flat in cash or from his CPF Ordinary Account.
What this means for the market
In a statement, realtors ERA Real Estate welcomed the new measures:
Raised Income Ceilings
"Developers with existing Executive Condominium (EC) stock and those that have new EC projects that are lined up for launch will welcome this move as the base of EC buyers has essentially broadened with the increase in income ceiling from $12,000 to $14,000.... They would now be able to leverage on the wider base to drum up more sales. While there may be some headroom to up prices, we envisage most developers' priority now would be to clock more sales first."
"We envisage that many families will make use of this to buy a resale flat that is near to their parents. This would be a great boost for the resale HDB market and we may well expect volumes to increase in the coming months. Resale HDB flats, especially those in mature estates, would probably be in greater demand..."
Enhancing Special CPF Housing Grant
"This will mainly benefit couples who are looking to buy their first Build-To-Order flat, and it will make it more affordable for them."