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HDB will cater to buyers with different income levels: Mah

THE Housing & Development Board (HDB) will continue to provide a range of housing options to cater to buyers of differing income levels and aspirations, Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan told Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to concerns that the price gain in the HDB market is putting flats out of the reach of many. HDB resale prices rose by about 17 per cent last year. In addition, reports said that buyers forked out up to $727,000 for a five-room flat in a private-developer built, condo-style project offered under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

The price gain for resale homes should slow this year. Mr Mah said: ‘The HDB resale price index grew by only one per cent in January, and I expect prices to grow at a more moderate pace in 2008.’

The HDB plans to release three more DBSS sites to build up a ‘reasonable stock’ of DBSS flats, Mr Mah said. Together with the four sites already released, the new sites will yield about 4,000 flats.

He said HDB will continue to cater to buyers with different aspirations and means by providing a range of housing options.

However, Mr Mah said that flats built by HDB will continue to be the mainstay of new supply.

‘Similar to executive condominiums, DBSS flats serve a small niche market of buyers that can afford to pay higher prices for public housing with different designs and features,’ he said.

Mr Mah also unveiled details of HDB’s new Lease Buyback Scheme, which aims to help low-income and elderly households.

Under the scheme, which will be implemented next year, the HDB will purchase the tail-end of the flat lease from an elderly household. The occupants will continue to stay in the flat, which will be left with a 30-year lease. On top of the housing equity unlocked, it will provide an additional $10,000 subsidy.

Of the total amount, $5,000 will be given to the household as an upfront lump sum, while the remainder will be used to purchase a CPF Life Plan to provide the owner with a monthly stream of income for life. If the flat is jointly owned by an elderly couple, they will get individual CPF Life Plans.

Source: Business Times 29 Feb 08

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