Chart compiled by : Fabrications About The PAP
He gave these assurances at a feedback forum, after participants took the chance to quiz the minister in charge of housing.
While many believe that HDB flats have been shrinking, Mr Khaw said that flat sizes have in fact remained unchanged for the past 15 years.
A four-room flat, for instance, has remained at 90 sq m since the mid-90s, HDB figures show. HDB has also said that the amount of living space per person has risen, as the number of people in an average household has dropped.
Mr Khaw said Singapore will not go the way of Hong Kong, where public home sizes are much smaller. ‘I would consider that a deterioration of our quality of life and we should avoid that,’ he said.
As for prices, he said flats would remain affordable, and that the current high levels would not persist.
Prices had shot up, he explained, due to a ‘temporary imbalance’ of demand and supply: Singapore’s population had grown so rapidly in the past five years that the infrastructure could not keep up. But HDB has been pumping more units into the market, and ‘there is some stabilisation’, Mr Khaw said. The housing market will stabilise once this imbalance is corrected, he added, though it will take time.
‘In the next five years, I’m committed to building at least 100,000 HDB flats if necessary,’ he said, adding that the Government will continue to release land if needed.
One participant, consultant Lu Keehong, 55, noted that buyers who bought an HDB flat for $60,000 two decades ago could sell it for $300,000 today. Did that mean, he asked, that prices would rise five times again over the next 20 years?
Replying, Mr Khaw said that housing values had grown so much primarily because of Singapore’s rapid economic growth in the past. But as it reaches maturity, ending the days of high gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the growth in property prices will likewise slow down.
He also talked about the proliferation of ‘shoebox’ units of 500 sq ft or less built by private developers. The Government is keeping an eye on this trend, said Mr Khaw, and if the proportion of such units becomes too high in the market, ‘we may have to step in’.
By Jessica Cheam, Political Correspondent