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Old 20-09-2003, 04:05 PM   #46
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Fm TODAY, Friday • September 19, 2003

Sers site revisited

HDB talks to residents but some questions remain unanswered

by Derrick A Paulo
derrick@newstoday.com.sg

NOT in recent memory have the residents of Tanglin Halt and Commonwealth Drive been showered with such attention.

For the last three days, the area has been the focus of the Housing Development Board, which sent its officers out in force to speak to residents.

And last week, TV camera crews converged on the tree-lined and normally tranquil estate for the MediaCorp Channel 8 current affairs show Frontline.

The reason for the flurry of activity?

The Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) that is being implemented in the area.

Two weeks ago, this newspaper reported on the plight of some of the residents, who are mostly in their 50s, 60s and 70s, do not speak English, are retired and do not have much money in their CPF accounts. A total of 98 per cent own two- or three-room flats.

They had received offers for their flats recently from the HDB and many were worried about the difference between the offer amount and the price of the replacement flats. Some said they did not know who to turn to for information or help.

In response to "feedback" that some residents needed "clarification and assistance to understand the compensation they were entitled to and the rehousing options" the HDB decided to visit the 486 affected households last Saturday and this week, said a spokesman.

This move was in addition to a comprehensive communications plan put in place by the HDB after the Sers announcement in January. That plan included door-to-door distribution of a Sers booklet, a week-long on-site exhibition and sessions with the residents to explain the rehousing package.

This time, residents were given a letter telling them how much they would have to pay or how much they would receive under each housing option and if they were eligible for the 20 per cent discount in the Sers package.

While the move was welcomed, some had unanswered questions.

"When I asked (the HDB officers) about the stamp duties, conveyance and legal fees to be included in the calculation, they didn't know," said Mrs Wong Sau Wai, whose 79-year-old mother is affected by the scheme.

The residents at Tanglin Halt and Commonwealth Drive have to decide in November whether to choose a Sers replacement flat or find alternative accommodation.

Those who want to sell a flat must indicate their intention by Oct 31.
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Old 24-09-2003, 11:37 AM   #47
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something i dun quite agree with mr lee's suggestion this time. if the selected residents were given cash, how would the rest of the HDB dwellers feel?

Fm TODAY, Tuesday • 23 Sept 2003

The upgrading myth

Upgrading may no longer raise flats' values, so why not give residents the cash?


News Comment by Lee Han Shih

WHY doesn't the Government forget about upgrading HDB estates since the programme has largely outlived its purpose?

In fact, why doesn't it pass the money it spends on upgrading directly to the residents? This may sound radical but it makes sense.

The MUP or main upgrading programme was launched for ageing HDB estates years back to breathe new life into them. The aim was to enhance the assets of HDB residents and to make life more pleasant for the residents.

But gone are the days that upgrading would raise the value of flats, sometimes by as much as $100,000.

It was this promise of easy money — with the Government footing up to 90 per cent of the cost — that made most residents vote for upgrading.

Today, there are thousands of new and resale HDB flats looking for buyers. And prices of flats have been falling in tandem with those of private homes. In such a market, it is hard to say whether an upgraded flat will fetch higher value than one that has remained untouched.

With more than 800,000 flats for a public housing population of only three million, just about anyone who wants a flat already has one and the ageing population is more likely to trade down (to smaller units) than up.

Given this stark reality, more and more people are wishing they had given upgrading a miss. Just listen to a resident in the Ghim Moh estate near Holland Road, who is getting another room in his flat through the MUP.

"I voted for upgrading and paid a few thousand dollars because my friends told me I could rent out the room for $200. But now that the government has relaxed the rule for flat rental, I don't think I can find any tenants," he said.

Old promises must be trotted out carefully. An MP told residents recently to vote for upgrading because "it is a very heavily-subsidised programme ... you may be losing out if you don't want it." Yes, it is a "heavily-subsidised programme" — so heavy that it costs the Government an average of perhaps $30,000 to upgrade a flat and up to $15 billion for the entire programme. Imagine spending so much money without knowing whether upgrading will enhance the value of the flats.

Already many residents are complaining about the MUP. Some even forsake Government subsidy and move out before upgrading starts.

In addition to the complainers and the quitters, we now have the rejecters — people who successfully scuttle an MUP for their estates. The first case took place in August, in Pandan Garden, where the naysayers mustered enough votes to block upgrading. Others could soon follow. This brings us to the heart of the programme itself.

There are two parts to upgrading. Basic upgrading, some of which is already included in the HDB's interim upgrading programme and includes putting lifts on every floor, changing rubbish chutes etc, is meant to revive ageing estates and make life easier for ageing residents. This is something the Government should do for free as a service for its people. No vote should be required to get it going.

Then there is the add-on variety — a bigger kitchen, an extra room, a new toilet. These are optional items which are not necessary but could cost a lot.

The average cost of upgrading a flat is $30,000. Why penalise residents and withhold the money if they vote against the MUP? Why not just give them the money instead?

In this depressed climate, a gift of $30,000 would make a lot of difference for many families. After all, if the purpose of MUP is to enhance the assets of residents, what better way to do so in a deflationary period than give them cold, hard cash?

Lee Han Shih is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at peccavi013@yahoo.com
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Old 24-09-2003, 11:42 AM   #48
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Fm ST, 22 Sept 2003

Approved: 4,500 homes for office use

HDB and URA have given this many home owners the green light since the scheme was launched in June

MORE than 4,000 businessmen here now have the cheapest office space in town - their own home.

Giving an update on the new Home Office Scheme, which potentially allows one million homes to be used as a workplace, Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday that it has 'received very good responses' so far, with more women applying than men.

The Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority have approved about 4,500 applications for home offices, since the scheme was launched in June.

The numbers so far are seen as encouraging, because only 19 parties took up the Pilot Home Office Scheme, which was launched in November 2001 and restricted to five mixed-zone areas.

Also, there were about 700 home offices approved under the Technopreneur Home Office Scheme introduced in 1999. This scheme has been included under the new one.

The new scheme allows home owners to establish small-scale businesses in both HDB flats and private properties.

The more common types of businesses that applicants said they are offering include Web design and publishing services, IT consultancies, and real estate and legal services.

Those who use their home as an office can employ a maximum of two people not living in their home. The services they offer must not disturb the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood.

Laying out the advantages of the scheme at a home business seminar at Singapore Polytechnic, Dr Balakrishnan said that besides allowing home owners the flexibility to work from their home, it also reduces startup costs in terms of rent and transport, and allows them to spend more time with their families.

'The interest shown in the Home Office Scheme indicates that people are willing and prepared to try new initiatives and to take some risks,' he said.

'This augurs well for Singapore and our efforts to nurture a creative and entrepreneurial nation.'
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Old 24-09-2003, 11:50 AM   #49
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Post HDB revised policy!!

Fm ST, 24 Sept 2003

Housing Board to screen low-income flat buyers

Those intending to take up special loan schemes have to prove that their purchase won't overstretch their means

By Tan Hui Yee

WOULD-BE home owners who want to take advantage of special schemes for low-income families to buy Housing Board flats will have their means checked to make sure they will not be overstretched.

In general, the HDB wants to make sure the monthly instalment does not exceed 40 per cent of a household's monthly income. The loans are at a special rate of 2.6 per cent a year.

The credit checks that start next month are necessary to encourage 'financial prudence', the HDB said. It will also trim the sums they can borrow.

Until now, it has not run such creditworthiness checks on low-income families - those with gross monthly incomes of $2,000 and below - who buy flats from the HDB under special housing schemes. They can get loans for the full amount if they have no savings in their CPF Ordinary Accounts. This practice is being changed.

The HDB said yesterday that it was government policy to help people with low incomes to own homes.

But increasingly, some buyers find it hard to service loans, and the special terms granted are being called into question.

Said the boss of property agency Propnex, Mr Mohamed Ismail: 'In the past, an 80-year-old guy earning $10 a month could still get a $100,000 loan to buy an HDB flat. Which rational institution would finance such a person?'

With the change, buyers will have to show that the household earns at least 2 1/2 times the monthly repayments. Loans must be paid off by the time the youngest of the buyers is 65, or within 30 years, whichever comes first.

For four-room or smaller flats, the loan cap is 90 per cent of the value or selling price, whichever is lower. But the buyers must first exhaust their Ordinary Account CPF savings. For five-room or executive flats, the loan is capped at 80 per cent of the value or selling price, whichever is lower.

Jalan Besar GRC MP Lily Neo said the changes may actually help low-income buyers choose a flat they can afford.

For Mr Ravichandran, 43, a contract painter, and his wife, who live in a rented one-room flat, it may mean a lot of rethinking. The three-room Toa Payoh flat they want may cost $160,000 to $200,000 in the resale market.

He earns $400 a month and has about $20,000 in his CPF account, but no other savings. Under the new rules, he cannot hope to buy even a third of his dream flat.
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Old 28-09-2003, 01:40 PM   #50
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Another Delay

Fm ST, 26 Sept 2003

Contractor in the red, stops building in Sengkang
By Leong Pik Yin

WORK on seven new 17-storey blocks at Rivervale Crescent in Sengkang has come to a complete halt -- the fifth Housing Board delay this year.

Scheduled for completion in November next year, the handover of keys to the 700-odd homebuyers is now expected to be delayed.

It is not clear when actual delivery will be, but The Straits Times understands that efforts will be made by the HDB to help those affected by any delay to find alternative accommodation.

They will either be given alternative flats or temporary rental flats.

The latest delay, like those before it, has been blamed on the financial woes of the contractors.

This time round, it is 24-year-old construction firm Chip Huat Construction which is facing financial meltdown. It was granted judicial management on Friday after struggling for months to deal with debts totalling S$14.3 million, as well as lawsuits and demands for payment by suppliers and sub-contractors.
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Old 30-09-2003, 03:27 PM   #51
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Fm CNA, 29 Sep 2003

HDB speeds up tender process to get stalled construction back on track

By : Ken Teh/Yvonne Cheong

Help is on the way for a 1,000 families whose new Sengkang flats are delayed.

One option is to rent 3-room flats and as a sweetener, HDB said first timers will only pay 60% of the market rate.

But it is not going to compensate residents for the delay.

For 1,000 families who have been planning to move into Sengkang soon, plans have changed.

The construction of 10 new blocks of HDB flats has been delayed.

Four in Fernvale Drive were to have been completed between November this year and January 2004.

But they have been delayed from three to five months.

Another six blocks in Rivervale Cresent, due to be ready in November, will be delayed for seven months.

Like in previous cases, the two contractors ran into financial difficulties.

Said Niam Chiang Meng, HDB's CEO: "We cannot choose a 100% guaranteed kind of a contractor, but the recovery can be something that is well done."

To get the stalled work going as quickly as possible, HDB will fast-track the tender, cutting the 3-month process by half.

The new contractors not only need good track records, but they can't have more than three other ongoing projects.

So what options do affected residents have?

"If you cannot wait, I give you transitional housing, I offer you rental housing to tide over, to bridge over this time frame. Alternatively, we open up, we have many other flats in Sengkang, in Punggol, Hougang nearby, you can take a look at those flats anytime and you can transfer. We do it for you seamlessly," said Mr Niam.

So far 63 residents have opted for an alternative flat while 16 others are renting temporary accomodation.

But many affected residents are not satisfied with these alternatives.

One of them, Teo Seok Hoon said: "The main reason is they offer us the flat at the price that is priced 3 years back when we selected the flat. So as we know the housing price nowadays are much lower compared to 3 years ago. So for us we think we are on the disadvantaged side so we did not take up HDB's offer."

But HDB said there will be no compensation.

The reason - although HDB can't meet its Estimated Completion Date, the flats will still be ready by the legal Delivery Date.
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Old 01-10-2003, 10:05 AM   #52
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OCT 1, 2003
Another HDB project in danger of stalling
Builder for 7 blocks in Sembawang under judicial management. Just a cash-flow problem, director says

By Leong Pik Yin and Tan Hui Yee

CONTRACTOR problems may lead to a sixth HDB project being delayed this year, this time seven blocks in Wellington Circle, near the Sembawang MRT station.

The Straits Times learnt of this case yesterday, just one day after the Housing Board announced it had booted two of its contractors off their projects.

The builder, Lee Services Construction, went under judicial management in August.

This was its first HDB job. Graded B1 by the Building and Construction Authority, it could tender for jobs worth up to $30 million.

The buildings in Wellington Circle were to re-house residents from Blocks 1 to 7 in Sembawang Road, which are to be rebuilt under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or Sers.

Several residents told The Straits Times that only three blocks were ready and the rest should have been completed in July. December, insisted the company's director, Mr Lee Kok Keong, 50.

It is just a cash-flow problem, he said.

The company is owed $1 million in all, while it owes its creditors just under $1 million. He said he has not been paid for at least four completed projects, two of them government contracts.

'Now the market is really bad and payment is slow,' he said.

The company is also working on about $500,000 worth of private-sector projects, and Mr Lee hopes it will be running normally within six months. He also added that he was 'confident' of completing the Sembawang project.

The company is also handling smaller projects in Woodlands and Bukit Batok under the same contract, which is worth a total of $37,151,910.

Recent construction delays have led the HDB to tighten its checks on builders, even top-rated or A-plus ones. Now, none of its contractors can take on more than three projects in a year.

Three months ago, there was no limit to the HDB contracts that its A-plus contractors could get.

Less-experienced builders were allowed just one or two a year. This had been the case since the contract-award system was set up in 1995.

It applies to the HDB's main- and lift-upgrading programmes, and public-housing projects, which include building and redevelopment work.

The grading of HDB contractors is reviewed twice a year, based on how they had performed in their recent projects.

But neither the award system nor the grading review has kept the projects from running into trouble.

Many companies are struggling to survive in a business worth $24.5 billion a year in 1997, but just $13 billion last year.

Meanwhile, the lively chatty Sembawang Road estate is now 'a deserted, dead town' with more than half the old flats vacated by those resettled in Wellington Circle.

Retiree S. G. Krishnan, 60, who lives in Block 1, Sembawang Road, said he had expected to get his keys in July.

'In the first place, many of the residents here didn't want to move but we had no choice. Now we're left in the lurch, with no clue when our new flats will be ready. Deepavali is coming. I would like my home to look nice. My plans have been upset.'

Madam Chen Ya Wen, 68, who moved into Wellington Circle two months ago, said of her former neighbours from Sembawang Road: 'I hope they'll be able to join us here soon.'
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Old 01-10-2003, 10:05 AM   #53
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Originally posted by jq75
OCT 1, 2003
Another HDB project in danger of stalling
Builder for 7 blocks in Sembawang under judicial management. Just a cash-flow problem, director says

By Leong Pik Yin and Tan Hui Yee

CONTRACTOR problems may lead to a sixth HDB project being delayed this year, this time seven blocks in Wellington Circle, near the Sembawang MRT station.

The Straits Times learnt of this case yesterday, just one day after the Housing Board announced it had booted two of its contractors off their projects.

The builder, Lee Services Construction, went under judicial management in August.

This was its first HDB job. Graded B1 by the Building and Construction Authority, it could tender for jobs worth up to $30 million.

The buildings in Wellington Circle were to re-house residents from Blocks 1 to 7 in Sembawang Road, which are to be rebuilt under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or Sers.

Several residents told The Straits Times that only three blocks were ready and the rest should have been completed in July. December, insisted the company's director, Mr Lee Kok Keong, 50.

It is just a cash-flow problem, he said.

The company is owed $1 million in all, while it owes its creditors just under $1 million. He said he has not been paid for at least four completed projects, two of them government contracts.

'Now the market is really bad and payment is slow,' he said.

The company is also working on about $500,000 worth of private-sector projects, and Mr Lee hopes it will be running normally within six months. He also added that he was 'confident' of completing the Sembawang project.

The company is also handling smaller projects in Woodlands and Bukit Batok under the same contract, which is worth a total of $37,151,910.

Recent construction delays have led the HDB to tighten its checks on builders, even top-rated or A-plus ones. Now, none of its contractors can take on more than three projects in a year.

Three months ago, there was no limit to the HDB contracts that its A-plus contractors could get.

Less-experienced builders were allowed just one or two a year. This had been the case since the contract-award system was set up in 1995.

It applies to the HDB's main- and lift-upgrading programmes, and public-housing projects, which include building and redevelopment work.

The grading of HDB contractors is reviewed twice a year, based on how they had performed in their recent projects.

But neither the award system nor the grading review has kept the projects from running into trouble.

Many companies are struggling to survive in a business worth $24.5 billion a year in 1997, but just $13 billion last year.

Meanwhile, the lively chatty Sembawang Road estate is now 'a deserted, dead town' with more than half the old flats vacated by those resettled in Wellington Circle.

Retiree S. G. Krishnan, 60, who lives in Block 1, Sembawang Road, said he had expected to get his keys in July.

'In the first place, many of the residents here didn't want to move but we had no choice. Now we're left in the lurch, with no clue when our new flats will be ready. Deepavali is coming. I would like my home to look nice. My plans have been upset.'

Madam Chen Ya Wen, 68, who moved into Wellington Circle two months ago, said of her former neighbours from Sembawang Road: 'I hope they'll be able to join us here soon.'
Bad market affects everyone
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Old 05-10-2003, 11:13 PM   #54
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Turning a ghost town to 'dream' town?? :confused:
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Old 08-10-2003, 10:02 PM   #55
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Fm TODAY, 03 Oct 2003

HDB rental slump

New ruling leads to excess supply of flats for rental

by Lee Yew Meng
yewmeng@newstoday.com.sg

HDB flat rentals, which have dropped by 15 per cent or more in the past year, are expected to fall further with another 250,000 flats allowed to be rented out since Wednesday.

A day after the rental scheme kicked in, three flat owners have applied to the HDB to rent out their whole units. But property agents believe more will do so once they are familiar with the new rules.

Mr James Lee, senior associate marketing director of ERA, said he has received an increase of 30 per cent inquiries from landlords who wish to rent out their flats since the scheme started.

"I received more calls from people who want to rent out rather than sell their flats. Landlords will no longer be so fussy about the type of tenants they want."

Most of the HDB tenants are professionals from India, China, Taiwan and the Philippines.

One year ago, a five-room HDB flat could be rented for $1,200 a month.

Now, it is $1,000, a 17 per cent drop. And if the forecast by Mr Chris Koh, vice-president of Dennis Wee Realty, comes true, within the next six months, tenants may be able to get the same flat for $800 to $900 a month.

The fall in HDB rentals will have an adverse impact on the already-weak condominium rental market, which has been softening on weak expatriate demand and excess supply.

As such, there is already an oversupply of private rental properties, with about 15,800 vacant private houses or an overall vacancy rate of about eight per cent, according to Mr Nicholas Mak, associate director at Chesterton International.

Excess supply of condo units has caused rentals to fall about 20 per cent in suburban areas such as Hillview, off Upper Bukit Timah Road.

The rental for that area has dropped from between $1,500 and $1,600 per month for a fully-furnished three-bedroom unit from a year ago to about $1,200.

Assuming a 20 per cent gap between the rental of a three-room condo unit and a five-room HDB flat, condo rentals for outlying areas are expected to slip to $1,000 a month, analysts said.

"The Hillview area has at least 13 to 15 completed condo projects, with many units bought for investment. The rental situation can be scary," says Mr David Huan, managing director of housing agency Rainbow Cottage.

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Old 08-10-2003, 10:06 PM   #56
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Post SERS

Fm ST, 05 Oct 2003

Market rate compensation for Geylang Serai residents
By Wendy Tan

RESIDENTS of Block 3 in Geylang Serai will be compensated at market rates for their HDB flats which are to be rebuilt under the Housing Board's selective en bloc redevelopment scheme (Sers).

They had been worried that they would receive less than residents of Blocks 1 and 2, which are also affected Sers, because Block 3 flats were leased through the Singapore National Co-operative Housing Society.

It is the main lessee of Block 3, which consists of 82 two-room flats and one three-room flat.

In all, there are 490 flats in the three blocks being redeveloped to rejuvenate this old estate.

Yesterday, the HDB began informing all residents what they would receive.

Though market rates will apply, they will get less than their neighbours in Blocks 1 and 2, because Block 3 leases have just 62 years to run while leases on flats in Blocks 1 and 2 have 67 years remaining.

Blocks 1 and 2 were originally rental blocks and the flats there were sold only 5 1/2 years after the co-op leased Block 3.

Owners there get between $80,000 and $252,700, depending on the size and state of the flats. They range from two-room flats to four-room converted flats, which are two adjacent two-room flats combined.

Block 3 owners will get between $77,000 and $137,100. The sum will be split between the housing co-op and its sub-lessees, according to their legal arrangements.

The Sunday Times understands that the co-op plans to give its share - from $2 to $7,000 for each apartment - to the lessees. But the co-op could not be contacted yesterday.

Reactions in Block 3 were mixed.

Retiree Syed Hassan Syed Mohamed, 68, who will receive $90,000, said: 'It's more than what I had expected. And they said I could go to them for help if the new flat I will be getting costs more than the compensation amount.'

Housewife Saodah Othman, 67, who will be getting $84,600, said: 'I'm satisfied.'

But housewife Amnah Aman, 62, felt she ought to get more than $89,000.

She said: 'I spent $20,000 renovating my flat a few months ago, and I can't take the built-in furniture with me when I move, so I'm not so pleased.'

HDB officers are going door-to-door in all three blocks to hand residents their compensation letters and explain their financial position. Each home has been assigned a 'buddy' from HDB to help with questions.

Residents will be offered new flats, including studio apartments and three- to five-room flats, now being built near Eunos MRT station, about 500m away.

They can also pick two-room upgraded or three-room buy-back flats in other areas, or new three-room flats in Cantonment Close and Farrer Park Road, said the HDB.
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Old 08-10-2003, 10:12 PM   #57
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Post Re: HDB Rental Slump

Fm ST, 05 Oct 2003

Home sweet rented home

Slow economy and shrinking pay mean more aspiring home owners may opt to rent instead

By Leong Pik Yin

FIRST to the Housing Board, then to the wedding registry.

That little jibe at Singaporean life may soon have to stop making its rounds, given that more couples are expected to rent rather than buy their first homes.

Home rental has become a serious option because the economy is still weak, there is less job security and Central Provident Fund contribution rates have been cut.

Currently, less than 1 per cent of the 795,000 owned-HDB flats in Singapore are rented out.

But with 250,000 Housing Board flat owners allowed to sublet their entire flats from Oct 1 due to a relaxation in HDB subletting rules, the rental market is expected to grow considerably.

Foreigners, students and newlyweds are some of those who are expected to take advantage of the new ruling.

The HDB said that 18 flat owners have already opted to sublet their flats as of Thursday - up from just three that were received on the first day that the rules were eased.

ERA Realty said it received more calls, with one agent reporting a 30 per cent increase in enquiries from people wanting to rent out their flats.

This means more choice for project executive Agnes Wong, 24, and her fiance, 26. They are considering living in a rental home when they marry next February.

She said: 'We don't have the money for the 20 per cent down payment on a Housing Board flat. And although the Central Provident Fund cut is not that big, it will take us a longer time to accumulate enough to buy a flat.'

They want to live in the east. The down- payment for a four-room Housing Board flat in Tampines is about $50,000, and the couple do not have that kind of cash now.

Her fiance, who graduated last year, took almost a year to find a job and has been working for only two months.

Market observers say it is a situation more young Singaporean couples are expected to find themselves in.

Miss Wong said: 'We can afford to buy a three-room flat in a good location, or a four-room unit in some far-flung part of Singapore.

'But the place we buy is going to be our home for maybe the next 10 years, and a three-room flat would be too cramped when we start a family.

'We'd rather wait and buy a four-room unit in Tampines or Bedok than rush to buy a place we're not too keen on.'

Dr Sing Tien Foo, the research director at the National University of Singapore's Centre for Real Estate Studies, expects more couples, especially those in their late 20s or early 30s, to 'defer making a long-term commitment'.

They, and those who are new in the job market, will find it hard to come up with sufficient cash for a down payment, he noted.

That said, he still believes that Singaporeans are unlikely to give up the dream of owning a home. Instead, they would shelve it, temporarily.

At the end of the day, people will have to do their sums.

If they can afford the down payment on a flat, many may find that it makes more sense to buy rather than rent.

Take the case of Miss Wong and her husband-to-be.

Renting a four-room HDB flat in Tampines, for example, costs about $700 a month.

The amount may be similar to the monthly mortgage instalment that they would have to pay if they had bought a flat of similar size in Tampines.

But if property experts are correct in predicting that Housing Board rents will dip about 20 per cent over the next six months when more households start rent- ing out their homes, some may be more inclined to rent, including foreign profess- ionals currently staying in private propert- ies.

Mr N. Mehta, 30, a computer programmer from India who has been working in Singapore for over a year, is considering making this switch.

Rent for the two-bedroom private apartment in the East Coast that he is sharing with a colleague is $1,100.

They are thinking of renting a four-room HDB flat instead and hope to pay under $700.

'If the price is right and the flat is near an MRT station, we'll definitely be keen,' said Mr Mehta.

'It will help us save both money and time.'
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Old 13-10-2003, 10:47 PM   #58
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mr mah had mentioned earlier that the concessionary rate won't be reduced but never state the reason why it has to be pegged 0.1% below cpf rate. (pls refer the earlier post on this thread.)

Fm ST, 10 Oct 2003

HDB 'concessionary' rate

The Government has said repeatedly that the Housing Board concessionary interest rate cannot be lowered because it is pegged at 0.1 per cent above the prevailing CPF Ordinary Account (OA) savings rate. And lowering the savings rate would be disruptive to our retirement funds.

A typical HDB homeowner stands to incur much much more in HDB interest than he would ever earn in CPF interest. In my case, for every dollar I earn in OA interest, I incur $62 in loan interest. It is glaringly obvious that one's home-loan interest is the biggest disruption to one's retirement funds.

I do not understand the logic of pegging the HDB interest rate to the CPF savings rate in the first place.


AGUS TIRTOREDJO
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Old 13-10-2003, 10:49 PM   #59
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Fm ST, 12 Oct 2003

It's time to think of refinancing your home

Move could mean big savings for some flat owners on HDB loans

By Vladimir Guevarra and Leong Pik Yin

HDB flat owners may have more reason to refinance their home loans, after the Central Provident Fund contribution rate cuts starting this month.

Financial planners and property experts The Sunday Times spoke to said refinancing could mean substantial savings of up to $38,000, particularly for those who bought their flats using HDB's market-rate loans.

As of last year, about 540,000 HDB flat owners were still paying off their flats, and previous reports estimated that one-third, or 178,000 households, were servicing HDB's market-rate loans. For the first eight months of the year, 14,400 HDB flat owners - mostly those who were servicing HDB's market-rate loans - took up bank housing loans.

Mr Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of property agency PropNex, said that those still servicing HDB's market-rate loans should now consider migrating to bank loans.

Noting that HDB's market-rate loan at 3.5 per cent interest is higher than a bank's interest rates for at least the first two years, he said home owners should take advantage of the low interest rates to cushion the effects of the CPF cuts.

Some banks currently charge about 1.5 per cent interest for the first year, 2.4 per cent for the second year and 2.6 per cent for the third year and after that.

Analysts have said the cuts in CPF contribution rates will have a direct impact on many who use their CPF savings to service their mortgages.

Mr William Cai, director of Frontier Wealth Management, a financial planning consultancy, said: 'People who are strapped for cash would be able to benefit from lower interest rates; so for some, it may make sense to refinance.'

PropNex said a new owner of a four-room flat can save up to $38,000 if he takes a $200,000 loan with a 30-year payment period from a bank instead of continuing his mortgage under HDB. (see Table 2)

Analysts cautioned, though, that home owners should be aware that banks' interest rates from the third year are not fixed and can go up. Mr Mohamed said: 'The third year is anybody's guess. But this doesn't mean that it will shoot up.'

Even if the banks' rates go up to, say, 5 per cent, HDB's market rates won't remain stagnant at 3.5 per cent, he said, adding that both rates will rise in tandem with market demand.

'You won't lose out too much, even if that happens,' he said.

Financial planner Leong Sze Hian said that those who are eligible for HDB's concessionary loan of 2.6 per cent, such as first-time buyers, should not think of jumping ship. 'It's not worth the risk. It's safer to stick with the HDB if you qualify for concessionary loans.'

Mr Leong added that those who have enough money and can afford to pay off their loans should not refinance. 'Even if the interest rate is minute, it does not make sense if you have money sitting in the bank.'

Lawyer Yap Kok Kiong, senior partner at K.K. Yap and Partners, said new flat owners should not refinance if they are facing possible law suits, as the banks may not grant them the loan, or worse, may recall it.
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Old 15-10-2003, 10:42 PM   #60
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Thumbs down Some residents at newly completed Sengkang flats face water seepage

Fm CNA, 14 Oct 2003

Sengkang flats have been in the spotlight recently but for all the wrong reasons.

First, construction at several blocks was delayed, then there was an invasion of cockroaches at several other blocks, and now there's water seeping into several flats at a newly completed block at Compassvale.

A 5-room Sengkang flat which is is barely two months old, but its floor has already had to be repaired by HDB contractors twice.

The problem - there's water leaking into the ground floor unit.

The joints, where the walls meet the floor have been re-sealed with water proof material, and the outside walls were hacked open and re-sealed with water-proof material.

Yet less than a week after the latest repairs, water is still slowly seeping through the floor.

Wang Xingwei, affected flat owner said: "Water keeps seeping through the floor in my master-bedroom. My contractor had intended to complete renovation by the end of this month, but now he's having a headache, especially with the parquet floor."

Because of this water seepage, the family has held back delivery of many of the household items they bought earlier.

But this isn't the only unit affected - next door watermarks had appeared on the ceiling, even though the unit above is not occupied.

Another affected flat owner, Weng Zhuping said: "I've complained a couple of times, and the contractor only came to paint over it. Now one week later, the watermark has returned."

And on this 9th floor unit, water is seeping through the wall tiles.

HDB contractors have had to remove them and add more cement to replace the tiles, but they admit it may not solve the problem.

It is believed around 10 units in Block 207C Compassvale are facing similar problems.

HDB has ordered its contractors to fix these leaks, although it won't say if they are the result of shoddy workmanship. - CNA
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