Set minimum size for homes
From Paul Chan Poh Hoi
I disagree with Mr Conrad Raj’s commentary “Not too small for comfort” (June 7) that we should leave shoebox apartments to market forces. Are we trying to rival Hong Kong? We should address this unhealthy trend for the sake of future generations.
Does the Urban Redevelopment Authority condone the building of more 35-square-metre units? Rather than being non-committal, it should indicate the size of a self-contained residential unit with basic amenities that would provide decent living.
In the 1960s, the Housing and Development Board built 41-sq-m two-room flats with compressed amenities, a vast improvement from living in squalor. Public housing prices then were commensurate with the income of ordinary folks. But now, when Singapore is one of the best places to work and live in Asia, instead of building larger flats for a better lifestyle for Singaporeans, property developers are increasingly offering 37-sq-m shoebox units for up to S$1 million.
The smallest units approved were 24-sq-m. With columns, corners, walls, partitions and doors, can this provide a decent bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and healthy living area?
We could build a limited, controlled number of shoebox apartments if demand warrants the supply, but we do not want to be the city with the most number, or highest proportion, of shoebox apartments.
As a premium city, we should not challenge First-World codes of building practice and technical specifications for decent dwelling. Our lawmakers must specify the minimum internal nett area, with self-contained basic amenities, approved for development.
Hence, government intervention is necessary. Perhaps 60 sq m is feasible. Yes, singles or couples can live comfortably in a 37-sq-m unit. But why not a better quality life if the law were to state the minimum is 60 sq m?
Stop Shoebox apartment bashing
From Leona Lo
I thank Mr Conrad Raj for speaking up, in his commentary “Not too small for comfort” (June 7), for small apartment dwellers like me, my husband and our two cats.
We are renting a 43-sq-m house and will move to a similar-sized private apartment in 2014. We love our cosy dwelling, which we can easily spring-clean without having to rely on domestic help. The space constraint curbs indulgence in unnecessary household goods.
Amid the outburst by the CEO of a prominent property developer and the hostility to small apartments by some analysts, I ask this question: “How is it any of your business if you are not paying for my mortgage?”
Small apartment dwellers can live comfortably, too. Please respect this.
Smaller units have a role to play
From Leow Zi Xiang
I agree with Mr Conrad Raj’s commentary “Not too small for comfort” (June 7) and would add that shoebox apartments play an important role in the real estate landscape here.
Single professionals like me who graduated recently from university face difficulty starting a life of our own because of the high real estate prices.
Renting is not a good alternative because high housing prices translate to high rentals. Sinking money into this means further postponing home ownership.
It does not help that the Housing and Development Board bars singles below the age of 35 from purchasing public flats.
Despite the high per-square-foot prices, shoebox apartments are thus the only affordable option for young graduates with only a few years of savings who wish to also graduate from the family home.
While there are fears that speculators are cornering the shoebox apartment market and artificially driving up prices, cutting supply is not the answer.
Instead, to rebalance the property market and allocate housing to those who wish to be owner-occupiers, rather than those who “invest”, the loan-to-value limit for companies buying properties could be further lowered.
Loan-to-value limits could also be pegged to income levels. Now, the amount of housing loan a first-time individual buyer can obtain is a flat limit of 80 per cent of the purchase price.
The Government should implement a sliding scale whereby lower-income individuals are allowed a higher limit, while high-income buyers and those who already own property are further restricted.
Source : Today – 2012 Jun 14