Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Two-Room Flexi: Studios, 2-roomers to come under same HDB scheme










* New two-room flexi housing scheme to allow different lease lengths: Khaw Boon Wan
More details of new HDB scheme revealed
But 'Two-Room Flexi' policy will restrict buyers to leases based on age: Khaw
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2015

NATIONAL Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has revealed further details of the new "Two-Room Flexi" housing scheme that he said would give buyers more flexibility.

He first mentioned grouping studio apartments with two-room flats in the same category in the March Budget debate, offering buyers different lease lengths for the same flat type.



Last night, he announced the scheme's name on Chinese radio station Capital 95.8FM, saying it will aim to "give buyers more flexible leases depending on their individual needs".



More details will be announced in the next few weeks, but Mr Khaw said it could be rolled out as early as the next Build-to-Order sales exercise in August.

Currently, studio apartments are meant for elderly home owners who have sold a previous flat to fund their retirement. These have a 30-year lease and are for those aged at least 55.

Two-room flats come with a 99-year lease and are meant for families or singles. Both flat types come in 36 sq m or 45 sq m sizes, but studio apartments are cheaper owing to their shorter leases.

"The key characteristic of this new scheme must be flexibility," Mr Khaw stressed. "We need to be flexible to allow (leases of) 30 years, 35 years, 40 years, 45 years.

"But a lot of details need to be closely studied and considered."

He added that a public consultation might be held to gather views.

He told reporters after the show that home buyers will be restricted to certain lease lengths based on their ages.

"Should we allow a young couple to buy, say, a 50-year lease? While price may be cheaper for them, our worry is 50 years is too short for them... By the time the lease runs out, they will only be 75.

"We have to make sure that there are restrictions. Such people will not be allowed to buy shorter than (a) 99-year lease."

Mr Chris Koh, director of estate agency Chris International, agreed that young people should be allowed only long leases. "They have the option of passing it on to the next generation," he said.

Mr Khaw also gave his strongest hint yet that the income ceiling for new HDB flats could be raised soon, echoing his earlier hint in March. Any announcement on this will be in August or September.

Generally, households with a gross income of more than $10,000 are not eligible for new HDB flats. Those earning more than $12,000 cannot buy executive condominiums (ECs). The ceiling was last raised in 2011, from $8,000 for HDB flats and $10,000 for ECs.

Acknowledging that incomes have risen in the past four years, Mr Khaw said: "I generally prefer to give every Singaporean couple a chance (to live) in HDB (flats)... it's part and parcel of a Singaporean way of life."





* More HDB lease options for seniors soon
Two-Room Flexi scheme will have leases of 15-45 years in five-year increments
Yeo Sam Jo, The Sunday Times, 9 Aug 2015

The new Two-Room Flexi scheme for Housing Board flats will have lease options ranging from 15 to 45 years for older households.

These options will come in five-year increments, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post yesterday.

Flat applicants aged 55 and above can opt for these shorter leases, "provided the chosen lease will be able to allow them and their spouse to live in the flat till age 95 or above", he said.

The new 2R Flexi scheme will bring together the 2-room and Studio Apartment schemes. It aims to preserve the objectives...
Posted by Ministry of National Development on Saturday, August 8, 2015


The new housing scheme combines two existing ones - the studio apartment and the two-room flat schemes.

Currently, studio apartments are meant for elderly home owners who have sold a previous flat to fund their retirement. These have a 30-year lease and are for those aged at least 55.

Two-room flats come with a 99-year lease and are meant for families or singles. Both flat types come in 36 sq m or 45 sq m sizes, but studio apartments are cheaper owing to their shorter leases.

Mr Khaw had earlier said there was a need to merge both schemes, as they offer similar flats.

He likened the new scheme to mixing coffee and tea, much like the local drink "yuanyang".

He said: "Mixing coffee and tea requires balance, such that coffee lovers can still taste the coffee while tea drinkers can still enjoy the tea. And on top of that, both must get an extra distinct flavour and kick."

Under the new scheme, first- and second-timer families and first-timer singles can continue to buy two-room flats with 99-year leases from the HDB.

But because of the different lease options, pricing will take into account lease tenure and whether buyers are first- or second-timers, said Mr Khaw.

Shorter-lease flats will be cheaper, and second-timer buyers will pay more than first-timers as the latter will get more subsidies.

"Through a combination of pro-rated grants for first-timers and pro-rated resale levies for second-timers, we will be able to price the Two-Room Flexi flats so that recent buyers of studio apartments or two-room flats will find the Two-Room Flexi scheme to be fair," he said.

He added that these flats will also be affordable.

Public consultations are currently being held to iron out the scheme, which is expected to begin at the next Build-To-Order flat launch next month.

Mr Chris Koh, director of estate agency Chris International, said the flexibility of five-year intervals for shorter leases is a "win-win" for older flat buyers.

"Currently elderly folk have only a 30-year lease for studio apartments. Now, they can choose based on their budget and their age."

PropNex Realty's chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor said that having a lease last until at least the age of 95 is "a good buffer given our greying population and rising life expectancy".





Studios, 2-roomers to come under same HDB scheme
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2015

TWO-ROOM flats and studio apartments will be unified into a single scheme by the next Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise in August, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The two Housing Board schemes are currently different as they serve different clientele, he told The Straits Times.

Studio apartments, meant for elderly home owners using a previous flat to fund their retirement, have a 30-year lease and are for those aged at least 55.

Two-room flats with a 99-year lease are for families or singles.

Both flat types come in 36 sq m or 45 sq m sizes, but studio apartments are cheaper due to their shorter leases.

"While the differences are logical, they can be quite confusing for potential buyers," said Mr Khaw. "We will try to see if we can replace both schemes with a single scheme."

He added: "But to continue to accommodate the different needs of different buyers, we can allow the new scheme to come with different lease tenure and different sales terms."

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh welcomed the news, as he has called for shorter lease tenures for HDB flats since 2012. "Shorter leases may really help people who might not be able to afford flats otherwise," he said.

In response to MPs' calls, Mr Khaw first indicated that he would merge the two-room and studio apartment schemes in this year's Budget debate.

Yesterday, Mr Khaw said: "The details are being thought through. We will work towards launching the new unified scheme by the time of the next BTO exercise."

The next exercise in August will offer 2,710 flats in Punggol and 2,150 flats in Bidadari.

The flats in Punggol include two-room units and those in Bidadari include studio apartments. Mr Khaw's latest comments could mean the same unified flat type will be offered in both estates.

But property experts are worried about the resale implications.

"There will be two-room flats of various leases within the same blocks all over Singapore. This could cause complications in the market," said SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak.

With shorter leases, families may inherit flats with just a few years left, which would be hard to sell, said Century 21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong.

For Mr Gan, however, shorter leases provide a more accessible first rung on the property ladder. "People may not want to start with a heavy commitment."

They also suit home owners downsizing after their children leave the nest, said Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng, who has also called for shorter leases. "For most of us, we might think: It's my second flat, I really don't need such a long lease."





* Flexi scheme ensures diverse mix
Studio, 2-room HDB flats sold under the scheme will appeal to young and old: Khaw
By Adrian Lim, The Sunday Times, 26 Jul 2015

The new Two-Room Flexi housing scheme will lead to a "more inclusive" arrangement, with young and old living in the same block, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

This is one of the benefits of the programme, which groups studio apartments and two-room flats in the same category and sells them under the same scheme, he added.

"The buyers will be diverse - there will be some elderly people, younger people; some may be getting married, others may be married, and then there are those with kids," Mr Khaw said in Mandarin, during a dialogue organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

Attended by 45 Zaobao readers, the two-hour session at the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre in Toa Payoh included small-group discussions on the new housing scheme.

Mr Khaw noted that having an entire block of studio apartments occupied by elderly people - as is the current practice - may not be good for their mental outlook.

The plan to group studio apartments and two-room flats together in a scheme that will offer buyers different lease periods was first mentioned during the Budget in March. Last month, Mr Khaw said buyers will be restricted to certain lease lengths based on age.

Mr Khaw said yesterday that the Two-Room Flexi scheme should be ready by the next Build-To-Order sales exercise in September.

Currently, studio apartments have a 30-year lease and are for people aged at least 55 who have sold a previous flat to fund their retirement; two-room flats have a 99-year lease and are for families or singles.

Both flat types come in 36 sq m or 45 sq m sizes, but because of their shorter lease, studio apartments are cheaper.

Madam Foo Twe Heng, 75, a retiree, is considering downgrading from a five-room flat to a two-room unit, but hesitates to move to a new estate.

"I've been living in my Toa Payoh flat for 40 years and I'm very close to my neighbours," she explained.


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