HDB to raise income ceiling

THE Housing Board will raise the $8,000 income ceiling to $10,000 to give those caught in the ‘sandwiched group’ more housing options.

While the $8,000 monthly income cap remains for those buying Built-To-Order (BTO) flats, the ceiling for those buying flats under Design-Build-and-Sell Scheme (DBSS) will be upped to $10,000. DBSS gives private developers flexibility in designing, building pricing the units.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who announced this at the National Day Rally on Sunday night, said the higher income ceiling will allow those caught in the $8,000 to $10,000 group to qualify for both DBSS and executive condominiums.

‘I think this group is quite anxious about falling in between, as they are not eligible for HDB and they can’t afford private property.. And because people are marrying a little bit later, so their incomes tend to be a little bit higher, so they worry that they will get promoted before they get settled. So we will do more to help them own their homes,’ he said.

Buyers of a DBSS will enjoy concessions given to those buying an executive condominium. They will be eligible for a housing grant and can arrange their own financing. While not quite doing away with the $8,000 ceiling cap, the new move, which many flat buyers have long clamoured for, will open up thousands of mid-priced units to the sandwich group.

A typical four-room BTO flat costs $300,000, a DBSS flat around $500,000 and an executive condominium around $700,000.

PM Lee also announced that the government will move to cool the private property market, but did not give details. ‘Otherwise you will remember nothing else about my speech,’ he said, to laughter from the audience at the University Cultural Centre.

The Ministry of National Development will announce details of the changes on Monday morning.

On public housing, PM Lee said the HDB will build 22,000 more BTO units next year. ‘So if you miss one BTO, don’t worry, the next one is coming… There are 22,000 new flats coming along and we don’t have 22,000 new couples getting married in Singapore every year,’ he said.

He added that the HDB will also speed up construction of flats and cut the waiting time, which averages three years now. He also assured flat buyers that HDB flats would be kept within reach of Singaporeans. The affordability of housing has been a hot-button topic this year, with many voicing concern over the surge in property prices.

PM Lee acknowledged that the influx of foreigners has impacted on housing demand, but he added that it was not the only factor. There were broader economic forces at work, he said.

-30 aug, ST

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