Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Be realistic, Mah tells home buyers

THE Housing Board (HDB) cannot meet all expectations of home buyers even though the standard of housing has increased over the years, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

Addressing Parliament yesterday, he said some buyers seemed to have unrealistic expectations.

Mr Mah, who is 61, recalled his childhood days living in Kim Keat Avenue.

His then three-room HDB flat ‘was like a palace’ – even though there was just one toilet and bathroom in a flat with eight people.

‘It was basic but it was like a palace to us because I had just come from a one-room (flat) with 10 people in Chinatown. So I think that reflects our expectations at that time and how things have changed,’ he said.

Although new HDB flats are ‘going to be even nicer over time… certain expectations, we cannot meet’, he said.

HDB cannot build flats only in mature estates, or flats that are only on high floors, he pointed out.

‘I need to have flats on the second floor and third floor as well. And who is going to live on these floors?

‘So I think our commitment is that we will build and make available flats to young couples at affordable prices.’

The minister was responding to Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan, who had wondered why – despite the measures for adequate and affordable housing – ‘there appears to be a groundswell of discontent that first-time buyers are not able to buy the flats’.

Replying, Mr Mah shrugged off the suggestion that there is a groundswell of discontent.

However, feedback from the ground has shown that home buyers ‘would like HDB to provide ready-made flats in good locations at cheaper prices, faster, better… and this is the reason why I think we have to better communicate our policies’, said Mr Mah.

‘But I dare say that there is also a mismatch of expectations, that there is an element of unrealistic expectations.’

He urged young Singaporeans to be realistic in their expectations. Even flats on the second floor will grow in value, he said. ‘These flats will increase in value over time. The non-mature estates today will become the mature estates of tomorrow.’

Source: Straits Times, 24 Nov 2009

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