Speaking in Parliament on Feb. 22 during the Budget debate, PAP Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling called for additional measures to help first-time buyers secure their homes.
Another additional ballot for first-timers
Tin suggested in her speech that another additional ballot be given to first-timers repeatedly applying under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) in Build to Order (BTO) projects in mature estates.
She cited that "almost all" the young couples she met expressed a strong desire to live near their parents for "mutual familial support".
By living near their parents, young couples can tap on their parents for childcare help, and the couples can, in turn, care for their parents as they age further, Tin said.
"But when they fail at the ballots or cannot afford a nearby resale flat, one can imagine the anxiety they feel."
Increase proportion of flats set aside under Married Child Priority Scheme
While Tin was heartened by the government's responsiveness to citizens' needs, by giving an additional ballot to first-timer families with kids and young married couples aged 40 and below, she called for more measures for first-timers applying under the MCPS.
On top of the extra additional ballot, Tin suggested the government consider increasing the proportion of flats set aside under the MCPS in BTO projects in mature estates.
She reasoned that young couples who favour speed and affordability would choose non-mature estates. Therefore, those who continuously choose mature estates must have good reasons for their choice.
Gan Thiam Poh: Another additional ballot for first-timers with two kids or more
The idea of an extra additional ballot for BTOs was also floated by PAP MP Gan Thiam Poh, who asked if the government might consider such a move for young families with at least two children.
He added, "May I suggest that such applicants be prioritised ahead of other applicants? Likewise, those who have registered at the Registry of Marriages should also be prioritised ahead of those who have not."
Gan also called on the government to review and consider boosting the supply of public housing.
He queried,"Will HDB be able to increase the supply of HDB flats from the current 25,000 to even more, 50,000 per year, for the next two years?"
Need to check on the resale HDB flat market as well
Gan also highlighted a need to check on the HDB resale market as well.
The MP added that while the increase in grants to first timers for the purchase of resale flats is welcome, sudden and rapid increase in the prices of resale flats without the support of "economic fundamentals" will affect others, such as non-first timers, who can only buy resale flats.
These affected groups include divorcees and hard-press families with unfortunate circumstances, Gan highlighted.
In addition, the increase in the price of resale flats will also have a serious impact on those whose incomes are unable to progress to match the rapid rise, he added.
Multiple suggestions for the issue of resale flats have been put forward
He noted that there are suggestions to apply the same income ceiling for BTO applicants to the buyers of resale flats and to disqualify those who can afford to pay exceptionally high Cash Over Valuation (COV) from buying resale flats.
However, there are also others who want the income ceiling caps to be removed to help the sandwiched classes who can neither afford private housing nor are eligible to buy public housing, he acknowledged.
He added, "I urge the government to review these feedback and suggestions and consider a balanced solution."
Gan also put forward his own proposal, in which he suggested the the marginal buyer’s stamp duty be further reviewed to have different set of rates for HDB resale flats, private residential and non-residential property.
He also suggested that the marginal buyer's stamp duty be progressively tiered based on per square foot instead of purchase value.
The Ang Mo Kio MP reiterated:
"The people trust in the government to safeguard Singaporeans interests and be the buyer of last resort for public housing. On the other hand, this may have led to the perception that property prices will only go north, not south; thus, driving up their demand and prices. HDB flats are perceived to be risk-free and underwritten."
Top photo via MCI's YouTube