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Commentary: Can shifting the emphasis to renting help solve Singapore’s public housing puzzle?

5 1 1747

SINGAPORE: With significant CPF funds being funnelled to housing, and a substantial reason why Singaporeans' retirement savings may be inadequate, Singapore needs to consider that housing and retirement security are two sides of the same coin.

We need to look at other ways to unlock housing equity in a way that resolves the conundrum of the ageing flat and gives home owners adequate retirement funding without disrupting the property market which so many Singaporeans rely on as a source of wealth.


The finite land tenure system in Singapore is hardly unique. In Hong Kong, virtually all land is under leasehold, most with terms of 75 or 99 years.

In Japan, residential land leases of 50 years can be found in urban centres. House prices adjust accordingly. Citizens there generally do not expect the government to swoop in and rescue them when their leases expire.

When new HDB flats are sold with 99-year leases, nearly all Singaporeans benefit up front. At the end of the minimum occupation period, resale prices are almost invariably much higher than the purchase price.

The home owner has also paid for their housing up front, in effect inflation proofing their housing needs – important when house prices are rising.

READ: 99-year HDB leases a chance to review home ownership and retirement policies, a commentary.

READ: An over-emphasis on home ownership can come at a cost to society, a commentary.

READ: Singapore's public housing has done its job splendidly. Maybe it's time for a make-over, a commentary.

The Government also gives an assortment of housing grants to encourage various social goals in housing. The subsidised upgrading programme, present since the 1990s, is also another source of redistribution.

File photo of HDB Flat in Singapore.

HDB flats may be harder to sell when their leases get shorter, due mainly to restrictions on CPF withdrawals, and the reluctance of banks to lend for houses of short........

© Channel NewsAsia