With skyrocketing property prices capturing the nation’s attention for the past couple of years, a new problem seems to have popped up. The newsgroups and websites have been abuzz with citizens voicing out their concerns about the unaffordability of even the most basic housing options. This is especially true for those just starting a family, or buying their first property. But even upgraders and investors are finding that the barriers to entry have suddenly grown more daunting.

Buying property

One of many launches around town

Certainly, the past few years have seen a dramatic rise in the values of property, almost across the board. It became a hot button topic during the recent general elections as well. For a nation where home ownership takes pride of place in the hearts of most citizens, this trend is alarming.

But have we really looked at the issue carefully, or is this simply a knee-jerk reaction? Are our expectations realistic in the light of global developments?

Let us consider one scenario where buying a home presents a significant challenge. With the recent slew of HDB grants and loans available to young couples, new HDB units in outlying areas can be available even to those with a combined income of around SG$2000. Of course, such units will be in less favourable locations, and you may find that not all perks and comforts are available to you. But even the most exclusive private properties will have low-floor units, less desirable views and other undesirable factors.

For public housing, is it then reasonable to expect such perks? Is it reasonable to expect a home with perfect features in such a situation?

Another situation would be if staying near the parents means having to purchase a home in an upmarket location. Admittedly, the government does encourage staying close to family, as reflected in their policies. But should they really provide extra assistance over and above everyone else, just because your parents happen to stay in an area where HDB prices could be mistaken for private property?

Instead of buying a property outright, could rental be an option or first step? With the government claiming that lowering the prices of HDB units would cheapen or devalue the land assets, thus “raiding our coffers”, perhaps they should consider a more widespread rental subsidisation scheme for needy families and young citizens?

Instead of pushing the government to do something they are seemingly unwilling to consider, an alternative such as cheap rental might be more effective in solving this housing issue.

In the end, managing your expectations is as much a part of buying a home, as figuring out leases, loans, and locations.

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