The Housing Board announced new Build-To-Order (BTO) prices for 7 locations, at Sengkang, Tampines, Jurong West, Bukit Panjang and Yishun. Their asking prices are $137,000 (3-room), $217,000 (4-room) and $274,000 (5-room). Few months ago in May, they demanded $166,000 (3-room), $264,000 (4-room) and $335,000 (5-room). So what happened?
|In May||New Prices||Price Reduction (%)|
Cost of materials couldn't have plummeted in the intervening months, foreign labour couldn't be that much cheaper, contractors couldn't have suffered sudden pangs of guilt and cut back on their profits. The only variable that can be manipulated that quickly has to be the "market cost of land". Developers will assure you that the market values of land in Singapore have not dovetailed in the last couple of months; some civil servant must have simply coughed up new numbers on demand. While grateful for small mercies, we suspect that 3-room flats can be priced lower, say $80,000, without bankrupting the HDB. SLA may have fewer officers splurging on exotic cars, but that we can live with.
Cost of housing hits the lower income group more than the super rich, as statistics show. Cash premiums - paid on top of valuations - have risen to about $32,000 from $21,000 in the last quarter. This really hurts first time house buyers, whose purchase is usually a HDB flat. Ministers, present or past, and their kin excepted. While a good step in the right direction, the National Development Minister still has a long way to go to build them flats "cheaper, better, fasterer".