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About 3% of HDB flat owners own at least 1 private property: Desmond Lee

Around 45 per cent of HDB flat owners who own at least one private residential property are not living in their flats and have rented out their whole unit.

About 3% of HDB flat owners own at least 1 private property: Desmond Lee

HDB flats in Singapore. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: About 3 per cent of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat owners own at least one private property, and nearly half of these have rented out their flats, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament on Monday (Nov 7).

The minister was replying to questions from MP Gerald Giam (WP-Aljunied) and NCMP Leong Mun Wai (PSP) about the number of HDB flat owners who own private residential properties and were not living in their flats.

Mr Giam asked if there were plans for the Government to review the policy of allowing HDB flat owners to keep their flats after they own private property, and if there were plans to increase the supply of resale flats and moderate their prices. 

The resale price index, which provides information on the general price movements in the resale public housing market in Singapore, has risen for 10 consecutive quarters.

Mr Lee said in Parliament on Monday that around 3 per cent of HDB flat owners own at least one private residential property as of October this year, adding that this proportion has fallen by about 0.3 percentage points in the last three years.

Of these flat owners, about 45 per cent are not living in their HDB flats as they have rented out their whole flat, said Mr Lee.

Another 4 per cent of HDB flat owners are renting out one or more bedrooms of their HDB flat and these proportions have stayed stable in the last three years, he added. 

"Among the remaining 97 per cent of the flat owners who do not own private residential property, about 13 per cent are renting out their whole flat or bedrooms within their flat. This proportion has also stayed stable in the last three years," he said. 

Currently, Singaporean households that have fulfilled the minimum occupation period of their HDB flat may buy private residential property without selling their flat, said the minister. 

Flat owners who do not sell or dispose of their HDB flat will be subject to an additional buyer’s stamp duty of at least 17 per cent on the purchase of their second and subsequent residential property. 

On the question of whether the Government will consider requiring HDB flat owners to sell their flats if they buy private property, Mr Lee said that the Government has been gathering views from Singaporeans as part of the Forward Singapore exercise and will study the findings. 

In a supplementary question, Mr Giam said that resale prices have risen over the last two years and that more than 266 flats were sold for more than S$1 million between January and September this year. 

"This has put resale flats beyond the reach of many Singaporeans, even after factoring in the generous government grants," said Mr Giam. 

"So the purpose of my question was to discuss ways to moderate resale flat prices so they're more affordable for lower and middle income Singaporeans and one way to ... achieve this is to increase the supply of resale flats."

In response, Mr Lee said that million-dollar flats were "headline grabbing prices" that have caused concern and "fuelled market psychology" causing people to worry and enter the housing market. These have also affected the resale market, said Mr Lee. 

Million-dollar flats make up about 1 per cent of all resale transactions in the last two years , Mr Lee noted. 

He added that the Government took measures in December last year and September this year to cool the property market by moderating demand. 

"We are also mindful of macroeconomic conditions going forward, rising interest rates, uncertainty in the economic climate globally, people being more prudent in their home purchases. So those will also have an impact and we need to monitor the market carefully," he said.

Mr Lee added: "Nevertheless, with grants as well as the measures we are putting in place, we want to make sure that the property market remains in line with economic fundamentals and, we've said before numerous times, we will act decisively but carefully to ensure that the property market remains in line with economic fundamentals."

Source: CNA/wt(mi)
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