Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HDB: 15 Q & A – Uniquely Singapore?

theonlinecitizen on June 8, 2011

Q. Which is the only country in the world that allows foreigners to buy public housing?

A. Singapore – permanent residents (PRs) can buy resale HDB flats.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that allows not just citizens, but also PRs to own public housing and private property at the same time?

A. Singapore – You can buy private property after the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

Q. Which is the only country in the world that allows whole public flats to be rented entirely to foreigners?

A. Singapore – After the MOP, you can rent out the entire flat to anyone.

Q. Which is the only country in the world which requires a public flat owner to pay a penalty of up to $50,000, when he or she buys another new public flat?

A. Singapore – Resale levy when you buy your second new flat, even if you suffered a loss when you sold your first flat many years ago, or if you were forced to sell your flat or had your flat compulsorily acquired by the HDB because you couldn’t pay your mortgage. Or if the HDB Resale Price Index dropped by about 40 per cent from 1996 to 2003.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that pays your down-payment in full or in part, when you cannot afford to buy a flat?

A. Singapore – CPF Housing Grants. Other countries’ public housing authorities normally keep the prices of public housing low and affordable, so that the lower-income can afford to buy. What is the difference between the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States, which caused the 2008 global financial crisis, by encouraging those who cannot afford to buy homes by lending them housing loans effectively without the need for any down-payment, and the HDB Housing Grants for the lower-income?

Q. Which is the only country in the world that marks up the price of public housing, and then give Housing Grants that never seem to catch up with the price increases, and thumb it as helping people to own homes?

A. Singapore – Flat prices rose 66 per cent or 11.1 per cent per annum over the last five years or so, whereas Housing Grant increases were about a few thousand dollars a year for most eligible buyers. What about buyers who are not eligible for Housing Grants?

Q. Which is the only country in the world that allows public housing prices to increase by about five times more than median wage increase?

A. Singapore – The real median wage only increased by about 1.1 per cent over the last 10 years or so

Q. Which is the only country in the world that acquires public housing flats at only 90 per cent of the valuation as determined by the public housing authority, when owners default on their mortgage?

A. Singapore – The HDB eats up 10 per cent of the valuation from those who are already in dire straits when they cannot pay their mortgage.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that requires you to find another stranger who is 35 years or older to rent a flat together, with a combined monthly income not exceeding $1,500, when you are homeless?

A. Singapore – Joint singles rental scheme.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that increase the rent of the poorest of the poor, after two years of renting a public flat?

A. Singapore – Households earning just over $800 a month have to pay higher rent after two years of tenancy.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that allows public housing to be rented to foreigners for profit?

A. Singapore – E M Services, a joint venture between HDB and a publicly listed company, rents HDB flats to foreigners for profit. How much profits does E M Service make from renting flats to foreigners?

Q. Which is the only country in the world whose public housing supply policy caters almost entirely to first-timer families?

A. Singapore – 95 per cent of Build-to-order (BTO) flats are reserved for first-timers and and an unknown percentage for grassroots volunteers. The forsaken – second- timers, divorcees, single mothers, singles, down-graders due to financial stress, mortgage defaulters, etc.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that requires a public housing flat to be returned to the public housing authority, at a price to be determined by the authority, when couples divorce?

A. Singapore – Divorce within five years, without children.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that requires divorcing couples to cancel their existing public housing loan, and re-finance with a new one?

A. Singapore – Why can’t the existing housing loan be continued? Many divorcing couples have difficulty in re-financing.

Q. Which is the only country in the world that does not disclose public housing statistics like mortgages in arrears, foreclosures, etc?

A. Singapore – Only occasionally, but rarely, when questions are asked in Parliament, but only HDB loan statistics, but not HDB bank loan statistics.

Q. How many of the above HDB policies will be reviewed by the new National Development Minister?