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Thread: HDB pricing policy limits impact of rising costs

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    Default HDB pricing policy limits impact of rising costs

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...83059,00.html?

    Published June 11, 2008

    HDB pricing policy limits impact of rising costs

    Board trying to contain cost by simplifying some projects

    By EMILYN YAP


    CONSTRUCTION costs for Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats have increased but the impact on buyers is likely to be limited, due to HDB's pricing policy and cost-control measures.

    Speaking to the media at HDB yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that 'construction costs have gone up significantly both for the building of private as well as public housing'. According to him, construction costs may have risen 20 to 30 per cent in general.

    'HDB is trying to contain the cost as much as it can,' he added. One way is to simplify some of its projects. The government is also withholding some projects to ease pressures on the construction sector.

    Asked how much of the increase in construction costs would go to buyers, he said that 'for new flats, it should not feed directly through to the buyers, but it will probably feed through indirectly as the market price of flats goes up'.

    In a forum reply last year, HDB mentioned that the prices of new flats are based on the market prices of resale HDB flats, not on construction costs. 'In order to provide affordable housing to Singaporean families, new HDB flats are priced below their equivalent market values,' said the reply.

    Mr Mah assured that the prices of public housing will remain affordable.

    The squeeze in the construction sector is not likely to delay the integrated resort projects. Progress is 'on track', he said.

    Mr Mah also expects demand for HDB flats to strengthen if Singapore's population grows as it has over the last few years. 'We are monitoring the situation, and as the demand grows, we are also increasing the supply.'

    He pointed out, however, that 'we must also always be careful that we do not overbuild.'

    HDB yesterday launched 382 flats for sale at Straits Vista @ Marsiling under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system. The first HDB project in Woodlands town in recent years, Straits Vista forms part of the total BTO supply of 8,400 units planned for this year. The project will comprise 50 three-room units with an indicative price range of $116,000 to $164,000, and 332 four-room units from $184,000 to $257,000.

    HDB will receive the United Nations Public Service Award for its home ownership programme on June 23 and Mr Mah was at the agency to celebrate the win. There are more than 800,000 HDB flats in Singapore, housing more than 80 per cent of the resident population. About 95 per cent of HDB households own their homes.

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    Default HDB's challenge: low-cost housing, condo-like flats

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapor...ry_246524.html

    June 11, 2008

    HDB's challenge: low-cost housing, condo-like flats

    Board has to find ways to cater to the poor as well as those better-off, says Mah

    By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter


    AS THE population grows and becomes more diverse, the Housing Board will have to find creative ways to keep its flats affordable for low-income families but attractive for the better-off.

    As it tackles this task, one concern is rising construction costs, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday.

    He said costs are estimated to jump a further 20 per cent this year and they could start pushing up the prices of HDB flats. 'Construction costs have gone up significantly...HDB is trying to contain the cost as much as it can.'

    These higher costs will not directly affect the selling prices of flats, as the Board prices flats at a discount to market prices rather than based on cost, Mr Mah said.

    But building costs will boost the market prices of flats, so 'there will be some feed through' to HDB prices.

    'We cannot escape that. But the important thing is, as salaries go up and prices are fixed at a discount to the market, flats will continue to remain affordable,' added Mr Mah, who made a special visit to the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh yesterday to congratulate staff on winning a United Nations (UN) Public Service Award.

    The HDB's 44-year-old Home Ownership Programme was honoured for improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service. HDB chairman James Koh Cher Siang and chief executive Tay Kim Poh will accept the award at a ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York on June 23.

    Mr Mah praised the agency for its success over the past 48 years in moving Singaporeans out of slums into clean and modern flats. In its first five years, HDB built 50,000 flats; now there are 900,000, housing more than 80 per cent of the population.

    He also pointed out the new challenges the Board is facing, including the key issue of helping more low-income families buy a flat rather than rent one.

    'Those with income of $1,000 to $1,500 a month, although they are eligible to rent a flat, I much rather they own a flat because from there they can build a base and own some assets,' he said.

    The cheaper two-room flats the Government has been building over the past few years will be ready soon, with construction to be ramped up, he added.

    For those who cannot afford to buy even the cheapest flats, HDB will make available 20 per cent more rental flats over the next three years, Mr Mah said.

    On the other end of the spectrum, better-off Singaporeans should also get to enjoy the 'HDB experience'. To this end, condo-like flats are being built under the Design, Build & Sell Scheme in areas such as Boon Keng and Bishan.

    HDB also launched a new Build-To-Order project at Marsiling yesterday. Straits Vista @ Marsiling is near Woodlands Regional Centre and is the first new public housing estate in Woodlands in recent years. It will offer 50 three- room and 332 four-room flats.

    Applications can be made until June 23.


    Board wins UN Public Service Award

    WHAT IT IS: An annual award for excellence in public service that has been given out by the United Nations since 2003. There were four winners each in three categories this year. HDB was the only Asia-Pacific winner in its category: improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service. The other two categories were improving the delivery of services and fostering participation in policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms.

    PAST AWARDS

    Singapore has won the award in the past.

    # Progress Package, various ministries, 2007

    # Work Permit Online system, Ministry of Manpower, 2006

    # Online Business Licensing Service, Ministry of Trade and Industry, 2005

    # Polygon of Good Laws, Ministry of Law, 2002

    # National Trust Council and the Trustmark programme, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, 2002

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