Sunday, September 30, 2012

S'pore population up at 5.31 million, 82% residents live in HDB flats

Posted: 28 September 2012 1130 hrs

SINGAPORE: Singapore's population has increased, due to growth of both the resident and non-resident populations.

The Department of Statistics (DOS), in its Population Trends 2012 report released on Friday, said the country's total population stood at 5.31 million as at end June 2012, up 2.5 per cent from a year ago.

It said there were 3.29 million Singapore citizens and 0.53 million permanent residents, and the rest were non-residents.

The number of Singapore citizens grew by 0.9 per cent, comparable to the growths in the last couple of years, while the number of permanent residents increased marginally by 0.2 per cent.

Growth in the number of non-residents was at 7.2 per cent, slightly higher than last year's 6.9 per cent. But DOS said it was significantly lower than the double digit percentage increases of 14.9 per cent seen in 2007 and 19.0 per cent in 2008.

An estimated 3.14 million Singapore residents were living in HDB flats this year, accounting for 82 per cent of Singapore residents, said the report.

It said there were 10 planning areas where at least 90 per cent of Singapore residents were staying in HDB flats. The proportion of HDB dwellers was the highest in Punggol, followed by Woodlands.

There were five planning areas with more than 200,000 Singapore residents, with Bedok, Jurong West and Tampines each having over 250,000 residents. Bedok had the highest number of residents at 295,200. The other two planning areas with more than 200,000 Singapore residents in 2012 were Woodlands (247,800) and Hougang (217,400).

The proportion of elderly aged 65 years and over was generally higher among Singapore residents staying in older estates. In 2012, the proportion of elderly was the highest in Outram, Downtown Core, Rochor, Queenstown, Bukit Merah, Toa Payoh and Kallang.

In contrast, the proportion of children aged below 5 years was generally higher among Singapore residents staying in relatively newer estates.

In 2011, HDB 4-room flats remained as the most common type of dwelling among resident households, at 32 per cent.

The next common type was HDB 5-room & executive flats (25 per cent), followed by HDB 3-room (20 per cent).

Those staying in condominiums and private flats formed another 11 per cent.

Reflecting the ageing population, the report said the median age of the resident population went up further to 38.4 years in 2012, compared to 38.0 in 2011 and 37.4 in 2010.

The proportion of Singapore residents aged 65 years and above rose to 9.9 per cent from 9.3 per cent last year.

This resulted in the ratio of residents aged 20-64 years to elderly residents aged 65 years and above trending downwards. The report said there were 6.7 residents aged 20-64 years to each elderly resident, compared to 7.2 last year.

Female residents outnumbered their male counterparts in Singapore. The sex ratio was 970 males per 1,000 females, down from 972 in 2011.

Turning to marriages, the report said a total of 27,258 marriages were registered in 2011, which was 12 per cent higher than the 24,363 registered in 2010. This was a rebound after a dip in 2010.

In 2011, 75 per cent or 20,315 marriages were first marriages where neither party had previously been married.

As for the fertility rate in Singapore, DOS said total live-births rebounded and increased by 4.4 per cent to 39,654 last year, from 37,967 in 2010.

Singapore's resident total fertility rate rose slightly from 1.15 in 2010 to 1.2 in 2011.

The department also noted the increase in the proportion with no children among married women in their thirties.

The proportion who was childless grew from 15 per cent in 2001 to 21 per cent last year among married resident women aged 30-39 years.

As for educational profiles, the population report said the educational levels of the resident population continued to improve over the years.

The share of university graduates also increased significantly from 14 per cent in 2001 to 25 per cent in 2011.

The population report was the eighth edition of an annual series that puts together different aspects of demographic statistics in one volume.

It comprises five sections, namely, "Population", "Households and Housing", "Family Formation and Dissolution", "Fertility" and "Mortality".

The report can be accessed online at the DOS website.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)

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New flats in old estates bring cheer

Friday, Sep 28, 2012

When Ms Daphnie Chong, 28, and her longtime boyfriend applied for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Pasir Ris earlier this year, they were in for a surprise.

It was their first time applying for a flat and they got lucky: They will get the keys to their four-room flat at the end of 2014.

The first-time buyers had not had their hopes up, having heard stories from peers about repeated unsuccessful applications.

Ms Chong, who works as an events coordinator, told my paper: "We didn't expect it. It's good that we got it now, because prices next year may go up."

Shorter queues for units have been a boon for young couples such as Ms Chong and her boyfriend, as a result of the Government's ramp-up in BTO projects for this year and next year. But rising prices are still a source of worry for many.

Yesterday, the Housing Board (HDB) announced that the total supply of BTO flats will hit 27,000 units for this year, up from the 25,000 planned originally.

Seven new BTO projects offering 3,727 flats were also launched yesterday. Among them are 2,424 units in mature estates, such as Ang Mo Kio and Tampines.

First-time buyers are set to benefit most, with 95 per cent of the BTO flats, excluding studio apartments, reserved for them in these mature towns.

HDB also said it will offer 3,328 balance flats in 11 non-mature and 12 mature towns. At least 95 per cent of this supply, excluding studio apartments, will be set aside for first-time buyers.

Yesterday's HDB announcement comes hot on the heels of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's reiteration of the Government's stance on public housing made earlier this week.

Responding to questions submitted to - The Straits Times' current-affairs website - Mr Lee said that the Government's purpose is to build enough flats for Singaporeans and to offer more affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Mr Lee also addressed concerns of rising prices and questions about whether HDB flats should be treated as assets.

He said he preferred giving young people a housing asset as an "endowment" - something to help them start off with "the right chips".

First-time home buyers whom my paper spoke to raised concerns about the rising prices of public housing.

Said manager May Chen, 26, who bought a four-room flat in Hougang last July: "I'm glad I applied for my flat when I did.

"I bought it for below $300,000; it was a low-floor flat. Now you can't even find a similar one at such a price."

Ms Koh Yi Wen, 25, who is a student at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, said the five-room BTO flat she bought with her boyfriend in Clementi was "very expensive".

She said: "I had to pay a stamp fee of $15,000. It was an amount my boyfriend and I did not prepare for."

The stamp fee is calculated based on the selling price or market value of the property, whichever is higher.

Ms Koh said that, while owning an HDB flat offers stability, prices are increasing and having to service a bigger loan may be difficult for some.

HDB said that the next BTO launch will be in November, when it will offer 6,400 units in Queenstown, Bedok, Toa Payoh, Sengkang and Chua Chu Kang.

Mr Benny Ng and Ms Chan Li Ping, both 32, who bought a resale flat in 2008, said the Government is moving in the right direction in ramping up the supply of BTO flats.

"I think the problem was quite severe in the past, when my colleagues had to hold off on their marriage because they couldn't get a BTO unit," said Mr Ng, who runs a bag-making business.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)

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New HDB flat supply increased to 27,000 units

Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

SINGAPORE - HDB today launched 7,055 flats for sale under the joint Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) Exercises in both non-mature and mature towns.

This brings the total flat supply in 2012 to 27,000 units, including the 6,400 flats to be launched in Nov. This is 2,000 units more than the 25,000 units originally planned for the year.

HDB said in a statement that the increase in HDB flat supply will help to meet the housing demand, especially those from first-time home buyers.

It also advised applicants to apply for a BTO flat in the non-mature towns/estates for a higher chance in securing a unit as demand for flats in mature estates is expected to be high,

Of the new flats offered in the seven BTO projects, 3,727 units are located in Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Kallang Whampoa and Tampines.

First-timers will enjoy priority flat allocation with at least 95% and 85% of the BTO flat supply (excluding Studio Apartments) set aside for them in mature towns and non-mature towns respectively.

In addition to the BTO Launch, HDB will offer another 3,328 balance flats in 11 non-mature and 13 mature towns/estates under the SBF Exercise.

These flats comprise 818 studio apartments, 697 2-room flats, 302 3-room flats, 1,016 4-room flats, 471 5-room flats and 24 Executive flats. At least 95% of the flat supply (excluding Studio Apartments) will be set aside for first-timers.

Another 6,400 BTO flats in Queenstown, Bedok, Toa Payoh, Seng Kang and Choa Chu Kang will be launched November 2012.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)

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No more freebies for home-buyers

The New Paper
Thursday, Sep 27, 2012
Does the purchase price of a home include the legal fees, valuations and fire insurance?

Some banks here say yes, and have calculated them as part of the purchase price. When a loan is given out, it then covers the three items.

But that's wrong, reminded the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in a letter sent to banks about two weeks ago. They pointed to Notice 632 which spells out the items banks can no longer include as part of the purchase price.

Among them - stamp duty.

On monday, some home buyers hunting for bank loans were told legal fees, valuations and fire insurance will no longer be absorbed. The New Paper understands banks are going to make an announcement on this on tuesday.

The end of subsidies were part of a series of cooling measures, introduced by MAS that came into effect in January last year.

Depending on the value of the property, these legal fees can range from S$2,400 for an HDB flat to a few thousand dollars for a landed property.

Valuation for private property can range between S$200 and S$500, while for HDB it is S$180, property agents told TNP.

A senior bank executive said: "Individually, the sum may be small per customer. But in total, they can be quite a hefty sum. It is a saving for the bank.

"It's not that banks were not complying with Notice 632. We have compliance officers to ensure we do.

"But it was a question of how to interpret purchase prices."

Last January, MAS told banks to grant loans on the price of the property contingent on the borrower declaring any "discount, rebate or any other benefit from the bank or any other party (including the payment of legal or stamp fees for the purchase) which has the effect of reducing the true purchase price".

Another senior bank executive said the subsidies were only introduced recently to attract customers.

So what would be the impact of banks announcing an end to such subsidies?

A spokesman for mortgage broker Advance Partner said: "The outcome is that customers might switch to another bank which still offers these freebies, even though this other bank is charging a higher interest rate (on its housing loan).

"At the moment not all banks have done away with the freebies and we're looking at a transition period in which customers could be motivated to take up a loan with a bank which still has these offers." .

Low profit margin

While the interest rate of these other banks "might be higher, it is not that significantly higher", she added.

Mortgage Supermart Singapore's Keff Hui, said interest rates are projected to remain low until 2015. Property loans would yield "low profit margin" for banks and cutting freebies could give them an "opportunity to review and streamline their costs", he said.

Property experts say removing these freebies would have minimal impact on the hot property market. OrangeTee head of research and consultancy Tan Kok Keong said: "The cost is not a big proportion of the purchase price, hence it will have minimal impact.

"In the past, when some developers were offering cars to home buyers, the cost of freebies were deducted from the actual cost when you took a housing loan. This measure may just be about tying up the loose ends."

PropNex's associate branch director Ron Lim agreed: "Initially, it will affect the buyers. But people will get used to it after a while and adjust accordingly."

According to a Colliers International report released on monday, the property market is set to heat up even more.

One major factor which may come into play is the US move to print more money, a measure also known as Quantitative Easing 3 (QE3).

The report said the US government's move could drive up property prices here.The weak US economy might drive investors to put their money here.

But Chesterton Suntec International's director of research and consultancy Colin Tan told TNP that he does not think the additional capital flowing into the property market here will have minimal impact because there is "enough supply to dampen pressure on price increases".

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)

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