• by: Singaporean Ong
  • recipient: All Singaporeans who feel resale HDB price & COV is too high
(Dear fellow Singaporeans,

We deeply appreciate your participations in this petition and we are glad to gather more than 1000 signatures in such a short time, strengthening the fact that increasing numbers of Singaporeans do encounter affordability issues in flat purchases due to high COV and flat prices. This petition shall be forwarded to email of Minister Mah directly to inform him about this largely ignored group of middle/low income Singaporeans and their problems while in the hunt of a simple roof. We do understand that the govt. may not be able to control COV prices, but if flats supply can be increased in tandem with reduction in resale flats valuation, this issue can be contained effectively. In the meantime, please do continue to treat this petition site as a platform for everyone to share their experience and woe in the flat hunting process. It may be a long process for our pleads and demands to be heard, but we should continue to create awareness and let the public understands our plight. Hopefully our dreams of owning our own flats can be realised soon.)

Not right for Govt to intervene-Mr Mah Bow Tan
-(Today, 15th Sep 2009):

IT HAS been the bane of cash-strapped househunters in the HDB resale market. One backbencher asked yesterday, is there no alternative to the cash-over-valuation (COV) system?

Many people are CPF-rich but cash-poor when they want to buy a flat, said Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC). Could there be a separate mechanism to look at HDB or even the private sector providing a bridging loan for this COV, so as to help young couples

overcome that barrier? The COV is the amount a homebuyer must pay over the property's valuation.

Yesterday, several MPs repeated the call for the Government to do more to make it more affordable for Singaporeans, especially young couples to buy a flat. MP Lim Biow Chuan (Marine Parade GRC) said: My parents bought their four-room flat in 1958 for less than $20,000. Given that prices have increased so much compared to increases in income ... how would today generation be able to afford that dream home?

According to HDB data for the second quarter, a four-room resale flat cost an average of $320,000. While noting that prices have risen, Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan said homebuyers need to shop around, do your homework and remember also that not all COVs that buyers ask are realistic ones. He also noted that a third of transactions are done at zero COV.

To expect the Government to ban COVs or to come in and impose itself
in these transactions, I think is not the right thing to do, said Mr Mah. As for gauging affordability, the rule of thumb is, not more than 30 per cent of the monthly household income goes towards mortgage payments.

For instance, a household earning $2,000 monthly would be eligible for

the additional housing grant of $35,000. The family can buy a $150,000, threeroom flat in a non-mature estate. Your monthly instalment is $460, (or) 23 per cent of your household income, well within the 30 per cent, said Mr Mah. MP Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) asked if there was sufficient supply of new flats, and if the current waiting time about three years could be shortened.

Mr Mah advice was that young couples should plan ahead and book a flat under the fiance/fiancee scheme. There are ways and means of shortening this processand HDB is quite accommodating.

HDB resale flat prices to rise-Mr Mah Bow Tan:
-(Straits Times, 2nd Sep 2009)

HDB resale flat prices - already at record high levels - are likely to continue rising this year, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Wednesday.

'The flat prices would probably go up ... by 1 per cent, 2 per cent,' said Mr Mah. 'It will just keep on going up if the economy recovers as people expect, and if confidence returns but affordability will always be there.'

HDB resale prices rose 1.4 per cent in the second quarter to a record high.

Resale flat prices go up in tandem with a very strong market, Mr Mah told reporters at the launch of the final skybridge at The Pinnacle@Duxton on Wednesday.

'We subsidised you when you buy and we increased the value of your flat when you live in it and... facilitate you to monetise it when you grow old. This is the best form of investment and welfare for the people,' said the minister.


Voices from the public:
Ordinary Singaporean (1)
Dear Mr. Mah, my partner and I do not get subsidies because our combined income is over $8k. You disqualified me from buying new HDB flat and exposed me to resale flat. Your public housing arm turned a blind eye to Cash Over Valuation which had prevented us from ever affording a HDB resale flat. Your Ministry turned a blind eye to private property speculation and this has increase the prices of property beyond our reach. I am afraid that when we finally get to buy a flat in Singapore, we will be too caught up with debts that we do not have money for our retirement. At the same time, I do not feel any form of investment and welfare from neither you nor your fine colleagues.

I am disappointed by your rather non-chalent attitude and your seemingly lack of understand of the basic concept of public housing. While you have satisfied a lot of homeowners and people who can afford a $600000 HDB flat because of housing loans which might have bought you a lot of votes, you have greatly disappointed a group of poor people in Singapore called the "middle class". I had always admired the way that you have ran Tampines new town. However I am sick to the stomach today by your recent comments that not only have I lost faith in my government for failing to provide me with an opportunity to start a family in Singapore, I have lost faith in Singapore as a home for me and my future family.

Ordinary Singaporean (2)
Same for me. I am single wanted to purchase a HDB flat, however, not qualified to get HDB loan and grant because income salary exceed $3K. 5 years ago, one HDB resale flat cost approximately $150K to $180K. Sellers at most asking for $5K to $10K cash. HDB terms and conditions no change. 5 years later now, one HDB resale flat can cost around $280K to $350K. Worse of all, sellers are asking for $20K to $35K and more. And HDB terms and conditions remain the same. We wanted government to take action to resolve the HDB resale flat prices from rising further. Yet the minister added fuel to the property boom. I have also lost faith with our Singapore government. I completely don't see hope and future. Finding life is so meaningless. Slog all days just want to find a place called home. I think now I have to save up for my tombstone.

Ordinary Singaporean (3)
Recently I went to view a few resale flats , got married 1 year ago.. Still homeless until now, these are the asking COV of the flats i viewed recently. So according to Mr Mah, these are considered affordable?

CCK 4 room - valuation 325k, asking 375k (COV: 50k)
CCK 5 room - valuation 340k, asking 380k (COV: 40k)
CCK 4 room - valuation 310k, asking 340k (COV: 30k)
Sengkang 4 room - valuation 340k, asking 380k (COV: 40k)
Tiong Bahru - 3room - valuation 300k, asking 350k (COV: 50k)
Tiong Bahru - 3room corridor - valuation 290k, asking 325k (COV: 35k)

Ordinary Singaporean (4)

in the 1985, my aunt who is a teacher, after working for 12 years, can afford to buy a 5 room flat in Toa Payoh with her cpf alone. no loan needed.

today? you need both husband and wife to do it. tomorrow? both will slog until they retire, oops, here no retire one.

Recently i have a friend who wanted to buy a resale as she is single. But the pricing keep going up and the unit that she is interested, is offered 50k cash above valuation by a PRC. my friend is only making decent salary so she has to give the house up because she won't be able to come up with so much cash as HDB only can loan up to 90% base on valuation. So she would need to come up with 10% 50k all the fees renovation.

Another one is about the 10% for staying near parents and 30% grant for new buyer. If after you purchase your house and suddenly your parent need to sell their house, you will have to cough out not only the 10% but also the 30% new buyer grant. make sense?

Ordinary Singaporean (5)
Time for the HDB to review its resale policy, probe into actual transaction costs of flats by ensuring real COV values are reflected truthfully in transactions. Otherwise the HDB officials, sitting inside their ivory towers would not know the real situation but continue to think that prices are very affordable. If COV values reported are lower than actual, is this not in similar vein as the illegal cash back trick?

Ordinary Singaporean (6)
'Cash upfront for HDB resale flats doubles in a month', suggests that the recent ramp-up in HDB prices during the most severe recession since Independence signals that the system requires a thorough review. Two failings come to mind - that public housing has become too correlated to the private market, and that HDB has not regulated its supply in line with immigration and demographic trends. As housing is the largest financial obligation for most Singaporeans, I fear this ramp-up in prices will create a batch of young couples who are too highly leveraged and tied to their mortgages. Come the next economic downturn, we will have a demographic group unable to deal with the loss of their jobs, as they will be laden with other obligations such as their children and ageing parents.'

Ordinary Singaporean (7)
When the Singapore bubble burst one day, foreigners will simply leave and only the Singaporeans will be left tied to their high loans with the banks...and the property prices will cool....What happened in Dubai should be a lesson, rather than for Singapore to become the next. When Dubai got hit....the first droves were foreigners who left...with huge loans in the banks. The prices of the houses were simply beyond the moon. These foreigners left without being noticed, swiftly....as it was the initial stages. They knew leaving the properties behind was better than to continue to be entangled with it...for they were worthed much less, and they had made enough from the market....The subsequent batches could not leave because the banks and immigration systems became integrated, and thus for foreigners who still had a huge loan in the local banks, they were prevented from leaving, and those who could not pay up....they were imprisoned in the 'debtor jail'. Singapore should have the same system to prevent such speculative foreigners from using Singapore as the next Dubai....and in making their fast huge bucks...and then to leave with no trace...what is happening is mind boggling...good for us to be down on earth. It is something to be guarded against. Speculators of international standing can do a lot of damage to our country built up from blood and sweat. We must not follow them and end up digging our own graves.

Ordinary Singaporean (8)

How come the resale price is keep on going up?
I thought that during this down turn, our nation should lower down the price instead of increasing it.

Recently, I have proposed to my wife and we registered at the ROM. If we never have our turn during the half yearly sale ballot and yet the resale flat is keep on increasing. where should we suppose to live at?

Our nation has keep on encouraging young couples have more babies because of our nation's low birth rate.
But if we cant even have a roof to shelter ourselves, do you think that we would want to have babies?UNLESS all of us are born with a silver spoon, else nobody would want to have more burden on ourselves.

Ordinary Singaporean (9)
I was previously a Malaysian and just obtained my Singapore citizenship. Decided to settled down here after lived in Japan for almost 6 years.
I know how to sing Majulah Singapura since I was a child and always believed that Singapore is a country that is well governed.
However the current housing policy is the very first thing that I cannot agree with the government.

I am very disappointed reading such comments from a minister.
I grew up in a rather poor family. My father earned monthly what a `medium household income` Singapore family earns daily now.
So I empathize with the lower income Singaporean.
Singapore should not be a country for the rich only.Why a few thousands rich Singaporean/PR/Foreigner snapping up the condo need to be aired in the prime time news every now and then?

Why not the dilemma of lower income household and people who cannot get a simple flat to stay not be aired? I am also looking for a flat now. With my income now, the flats is `very affordable by any standard` to me (in their words).

However I am afraid that I cannot maintained my current income level when I was 50s or 60s.I also started to worry about how my young daughter is going to afford a simple flat in this country.

Ordinary Singaporeans (10)

I have no issue with the principles of free market; I am infact an advocate of it. However this uncontrolled raging property prices in Singapore is only going to make gain for a little few but negatively the masses. The furious price movements are ridiculous in view the country and the region is only coming out of the gloom with no clear skies ahead. In view of the situation the economy of the region or the world is in, ridiculous price movements of the local properties are the actions of but a few speculators. The government ought to get involved in controlling the price movements as this is making Singapore uncompetitive in the region, businesses are reconsidering other locations to run their operations. The cost of living in Singapore is becoming too high for the foreigners what more can we say about Singaporeans. Property can be a tool for investment but it will be a shame if a successful country like Singapore eventually leads to it citizens becoming homeless.

I feel that COV is forever going to be there because there are still so many people out there who can afford to pay. I also read with interest on the comments from people from overseas saying how lucky we are. Please do not compare our policies with yours. It does not mean that if your house is messier than mine, I have to feel happier and luckier. I still need to clear the mess in my house as well. So please do not compare your house to mine. And the gahment should not use this to justify its position as well.

Ordinary Singaporeans (11)
As I said, this is a worthless attempt. For the gahment, the math does not add up. How can a couple who earns more than $8000 cannot afford a flat in SG? Are they trying to buy a big flat in a prime area? My friends couldn't believe me as well until I do the following math for them:

$400k flat:
1) 5% cash - $20000
2) COV - $30000 (easy. just throw a stone and you will hit one flat with COV of $30k)
3) Agent Fee - $4000
4) Other misc - $4000

This easily adds up to $58000 upfront payment in CASH (please note that I have not added renovation which can be $20000 min). Bear in mind that I based the above on the CPF being enough for the first 15% or the bank is willing to loan you 90% loan. How many young couples earning regular income can afford the $58000 now? I know we can't but if you can, congratulations! Congratulations as well if you have a rich dad! :)

A helpful suggestion: "If you can't afford a $400k flat, buy a cheaper one somewhere further lor" - That does not solve problems because evidently, the high COV is ever present in flats of all types (3 room flats inclusive) anywhere. At this point in time, I know that affording a 3 room flat is a struggle for us.

Advice I often get: "but COV is determine by market force. You should negotiate as well" - Yeah, we should negotiate and we WILL negotiate. However there are a lot of established people out there who will keep affording to pay the high COV requested. How can a young couple compete against such market forces?

As long as someone keep affording the exorbitant COV, we will keep being held hostage. The gahment will never put a stop to COV because that equates to limiting the sellers' ability to earn more money out of their property. The gahment will always peg HDB price to private homes because of the same reasons. However our gahment forgets that HDB is public housing. It is supposed to be affordable. LKY's memoir stated that it is vital for every Singaporean to own a home in Singapore. The early policy makers have set the precedence. As we became a "developed" country in a flat world, escalation of house prices will always happen. There are things that the gahment can do to control COV but I think this gahment is GUTLESS to do it.

Our voices will never be heard because to the gahment and the high earning young scholars who are deciding such policies in their comfortable offices, we are just a bunch of whiny, choosy and pampered bunch of young Singaporeans.

Ordinary Singaporeans (12)
1. Last year there are about 100,000 new PR joining our population, which may create 30,000 families.

2. We have about 25,000 new couple married last year.

3. We have many thousands of the boom-time private en-bloc owners who are super cash rich and can push up prices without a sweat and with plenty of spare cash. The parents can buy one HDB flat, each children above 35 years old can buy one HDB flat each. They can buy low and sell high, make a tidy profit and still have a comfortable roof over their head.

But HDB is building only a few thousands new HDB flats last year.

From the above, there is a shortage in supply and that is why when HDB launched a Built-To-Order flats, number of applicants out-numbered number of flats many times over. This is sad.

The number of HDB transactions booms from last year to first eight months of this year see prices jumping during a recession. It show that demand for resale flats far outstripped the limited supply to create this ironic situation.

One resale HDB flat for sale nowadays can see as many as 20 to 30 families/individual above 35 years old queuing up with desperation and having to bid on the spot to secure the unit. The highest bidder secure the unit. This is very sad but it happen.

Ordinary Singaporeans (13....1000 )
...Many thousands more Singaporeans who share the same sentiments, pls sign up this petition and let our voices be heard by the Singapore media and govt.  Singapore is a democratic country and it is time that we should stand up together and fight for our rights and save our future generation from the reckless spikes in HDB prices that threaten to strip our very basic rights to own an affordable SINGAPOREAN HOME. 












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