Tan Chuan Jin asks netizens: Is the HDB flat really so out of reach?

The honorable Minister did not really address the $68,000 difference in sale prices of two units of same flats on 2nd and 12th floors. The lowest floor is $68,000 more expensive than the highest within one and half year! How would you feel if you had bought the same size flat which costs extra $68,000 than your neighbour? Inflation or drastic market price rising within such a such time? Or profiteering? I don’t know. It seems so obviously ridiculous right? That is the crux of the issue. If it’s just $6,800 I’m sure most of us can accept. This is my perception. I’m sure many will share the same view.

Pls click to read related article here.


Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan Jin has responded to an article written by a netizen ‘Gin Tai’ on the increasing unaffordability of HDB flats on his Facebook.

In the article, ‘Gin Tai’ lamented at the sky-rocketing prices of HDB flats in Singapore in recent years which has priced many Singaporeans out of reach. He also expressed his unhappiness that similar-sized flats are not priced the same. (read more here)

In a note posted last night, Mr Tan began by asking netizens if the housing situation in Singapore is really so ‘dire’:

“Let me just talk about the housing situation in Singapore. Is it really so dire? Is the HDB flat really so out of reach?”

Mr Tan explained that HDB flats are not priced the same because when determining the prices of flats offered, HDB factors in the costs of building the flat as well as the prevailing…

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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40 Responses to Tan Chuan Jin asks netizens: Is the HDB flat really so out of reach?

  1. Lucy says:

    He has said is due to pricing being pegged to prevailing market rate, whether is 6 mths, 1 year or 1.5 yrs later. The same reason the prices went up , it could also work the other way round, decrease. But of course, the latter is as rare as striking a $3m toto lottery. So yes, in short, cannot be helped = free market. Why such huge jump 68k instead of $6.8k? No answer, but he offered his help – don’t be greedy, live within your means..should have gotten a smaller flat. And lastly, since he has to ask – is it really so out of reach, i guess is safe to say his salary is already way out of league to worry about it, unlike the peasants.


  2. zack@epichouse.sg says:

    The Minister have gladly and patiently replied to your ramblings. Can you tell me in which country will a ministry even look into your blogs, your ramblings on the internet and to provide a reason or an answer to your question?

    In addition, I think that he have answered most of your questions in your “obviously gunning PAP down” post. From talking about the high priced flats in Singapore, you move on swiftly to talk about the Foreigners in Singapore. These are 2 different topics and issues that should not, and cannot be mixed together!

    “Gintai’s colleague, “Anak Abu”, lamented about his flat loan instalment payments. While I don’t know Abu’s full details, as a first time HDB buyer, Abu’s flat’s price would include subsidies and he would be eligible for the Additional CPF Housing Grant and possibly even the Special Housing Grant. These would reduce the subsidised selling price considerably. But even with the grant, it’s striking to note that on a stated income of around $1,850, Anak Abu chose to buy a four room flat (not a smaller one), at a Sale of Balance Flat exercise (and not a mainstream BTO flat), in a mature estate (as opposed to a non-nature estate), near the top floor (rather than lower down), and next to the town centre (and not further away). ”

    Now, how true is it that your friend, Anak Abu will be able to afford a 4 room flat with just a $1.85k pay?


    • agongkia says:

      Why do you question someone’s ability to pay for a 4 room flat with a monthly salary of 1.85K pay?
      I do not see Gintai’s post as gunning down PAP.He is just giving his frank opinion and those sleeping in the ivory tower should appreciate,because siew chai poo choo men,nen chze tian sia sze.They only need to on the internet to know what is going on.No need to do house visit.
      Gintai is just giving feedbacks and is harmless.
      Many countries headmen frequently visit their fellow countrymen personally to understand their problem and help to solve them.We should be thankful that we have contribution from people like Gintai,Uncle Bean and those netizen.


    • Conan says:

      Why is the skyrocketing prices of HDB flats and influx of foreigners two different matters?

      Isn’t it obvious to you that importing 2 million foreigners into a little red dot will push up the prices of housing?

      It seems a self-defeating move to me in the long run.

      More foeigners=higher housing cost=higher cost of living and doing business=more businesses will eventually leave this island.


    • SeriouslyNot says:

      Translation = Beggars shouldn’t be Choosers. It’s not out-of-reach, is over-reached!!!


    • L says:

      quote: “The Minister have gladly and patiently replied to your ramblings. Can you tell me in which country will a ministry even look into your blogs, your ramblings on the internet and to provide a reason or an answer to your question?”

      IMHO, whether in SG or in other foreign countries, i dont really give a damn whether a minister trawl the net and answer to a ordinary citizen’s internet ramblings…. what we truely want from politicians all over the world is ACTIONS and RESULTS!!

      a good minister is not judged just by giving attention, listening ear and answering all questions…. with action and results, all these are just a empty hollow plain WAYANG show. period.


  3. Of course I’m grateful that the Minister replied and clarified issues affecting citizens. As for “gunning PAP” is your interpretation. When I related the truth you accused me of gunning down? I did not say it due to my wild imagination. Infact you seem to be gunning me down with your antagonistic comment. If you look at my comment, I merely was asking why within such a short space of time, the price difference is $68,000 which is a lot of money. It seems that the trend is for those wealthy to live near city and mature estates. Those poor and low income will have to be grateful to find a roof in those far off ulu places! That’s what is happening! If you want to puji pls do it to convince not to whack differing opinion. By the way you or the Minister need not read my rants. I never ask you or force you to come here. Pls go elsewhere and stop lecturing me here or cast doubts here. No prizes for you.


  4. patriot says:

    It is so interesting to read the views of two posts above.

    May I say to Gintai not to tell readers not to visit your blog, on the contrary YOU Must not waste your effort writing blogs oni for yourself or just for few friends to read. Good blogs are hard to find and yours’ is one of the better one, in the sense that You are righteous, sensible and even chivalrous.

    Me am so happy to read that a Cabinet Member was responding to You; so, not all MIWs are deaf frogs, at least some are listening, great consolation I must say. As me had said in the Said Thread, the lower floors are sold at lower prices than higher floors, that is the market practice. And dare I say the older the property, the cheaper is should be(lease becomes shorter); just like the oldies in Sg get peanut for doing the menial jobs, which is a fact of course.

    I am very glad that commenter had came in to discuss and debate or even rebut bloggers, this is the way to go. We, the readers and participants will asses the substance in the argument(s), ultimately with more examinations of any subject, objective will be clearer.

    The BEST Thing that happened as far as I am concerned, is the participation of people in authority. Tan Chuan Jin’s Response kind of tells me that Gintai had written something potent and clarification from the Authority is warranted. HOWEVER, rebuttal alone is not enough, the PEOPLE need help to keep the rising cost in check.

    Personally, I have heard much promises from our political leaders, however little or nothing has been delivered, if anything, WE THE CITIZENS OF SINGAPORE FEEL THAT THE MORE HELPS ARE GIVEN TO US, THE MORE HELPS ARE NEEDED OVER TIME. WHY? WHY? WHY?



  5. patriot says:

    Like to say that I fully concur with Commenter Agongkia.

    Me too feels that Gintai had expressed the common perception(feelings)
    of the people at large. Most of us do get to listen to the same thing at
    most places in Singapore.

    Many bloggers such as My Singapore News, Diary of a Singaporean Mind,
    Singapore Notes and many other intellectuals in the Blogoshere are also
    saying the same thing. THE FEELINGS OF THE PEOPLE ARE THE SAME!



    • L says:

      agree. you can fool everyone sometimes, you can fool someone everytime but you cant fool everyone everytime!!


      • Hi L,

        Thks for all your comments. I really appreciate your participation on my blog. Yes, I agree with that quotation. Lets hope they will learn. But I doubt so!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Quoting Patriot: the lower floors are sold at lower prices than higher floors, that is the market practice.

    No offence intended, but I think Gin Tai was mentioning that the lower price cost 68k MORE than the highest level after 1.5yrs.. not the other way round. It seems quite a few people seems to confuse what he blogged versus our mental model (whereby top level is logically and typically more expensive).

    I feel that the crux of his post might be (correct me if i am mistaken) this: Is the inflation on housing so serious that within 1.5yrs, lower level actually exceed the price of the higher level by 68k? It might be alarming enough if top and bottom level are equally priced, and if u consider top should cost more than bottom, doesn’t it make it seems even worse?

    Just my 2cts



  7. patriot says:

    Dear Anonymous
    26/04/2012 at 20:02

    You got it perfectly deciphered and I
    am pleased with it.

    Thank You!



  8. Gentlemen,
    Thks for comments.
    Yes correct. Usually the higher the floor the more expensive the flat or apartment. According to Anak Abu ( Exact address given except unit numbers on my post), he says that the 2nd floor (supposedly much cheaper) is NOW $68,000 more expensive than the 12th floor after abt 1.5yrs. Assume that it’s the same floor on 12th instead of 2nd floor, you can imagine that it might be $100,000 more instead of $68,000 more expensive ONLY after 1.5yrs! That is why citizens feel outrage! By pointing this out and asking them if it’s profiteering etc am I “gunning the PAP” down? It certainly hits a chord with so many citizens with my article circulating in blogosphere. In my blog alone this particularly post already exceeded 150,000 hits and still keep coming! Like Patriot says, if it’s rubbish then nobody will bother to read it! I’m a serious man who don’t talk nonsense. I only talk serious issues to serious people.
    When I pacify Anak Abu that he could surely sell at a profit after 5 yrs, he says that he still need to buy another equally expensive flat cuz he still need a place to live in. He is a Singaporean. He got no other place to go unlike Train Officer Tin who is a PR. Tin could sell off and pocket all the cash proceeds and CPF savings to retire as a millionaire to his hometown. Anak Abu will live and die in Singapore like most of us. Am I not telling the obvious truth? Not related to the theme of my article? It’s abt my Singapore, home and country. What do you mean by different issues?

    To quote Darkness2012 farmer’s saying – Each of us has got a mouth, navel and arsehole for different purposes. Pls don’t get confused and mixed up with them. Really langgar!


  9. Ms Lim says:

    The crux of the problem is, increase in wages lag far behind prices of flats (of course not Minsiters wages). You would expect a train officer to be able to afford a 4-rm flat. My brother only had ‘O’ levels and 20 yrs ago, he could afford an executive flat!

    Can the Minister put his hand on heart and say that his Govt has done well in improving qualify of life? A train officer, likely working 50 hrs a wk, cannot afford a 4-rm HDB in a decent area and the Minister does not feel a sense of regression? Another question, how do you expect train officers to have children?

    I wonder if Mr Tan really feel nothing wrong here.


    • alamak says:

      How is that possible? After all, from DPM to MND to Khaw Boon Wan, there were extensive mathematical calculations that $1000/salary can buy you room HDB flat for sure!! Now with $1800/salary he must be able to get a 4 rm flat, no?


  10. Hobbyist Economist says:

    I actually did a case study of SMRT recently and one of the areas I look at was on the pay increases for the CEO versus that of the average pay per staff using data from the annual reports from 2007 to 2011. CEO pay went up by an average of 12% Year-on-Year (YoY), while average staff pay was actually down 0.2% over the same period. The gross revenue grew 5.5% while PATMI grew 3.5% YoY.

    I find this quite alarming actually but since my calculation are based on averages, I would like to check if your annual pay (including bonuses) has on average increase or decrease from 2007 to 2011?


    • Hi I would very much like to provide details but I really can’t due to obvious reasons. I’ll take a risk by telling you that the starting pay of a train driver is still $1,250 as compared to the recent after pay increase of bus drivers is $1,600! Even that is half of Taiwan bus drivers. Read this http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_780797.html


      • Hobbyist Economist says:

        Ok, thanks. This validates Professor Lim Chong Yah’s view that our lowest paid workers are actually not being paid in accordance to their labour when benchmark against similar countries and also explain why we have to import foreign labourers for these jobs.


        • The whole idea of importing cheap foreign labour is to depress wages of locals for the sake more profits. It’s greed at the expense of citizens’ welfare. Where else in the world where the foreigners are more than a third of the native population of a country? Do Korea or Taiwan suffer as a result of almost zero cheap foreign labor?


          • L says:

            cheap foreign labour is like heroin to corporations…. once you get hooked, the only way is to feed it…. why are corporations not motivated to increase productivity through innovation and creativity across industries? eg. construction/ f&b industries etc…?? the simple reason is because their so called heoin is easily available… why then do senior mgt need to crack their brain and spend huge R&D $$ to innovate and think out of the box?? look at the construction industry in countries like USA or australia etcc.. they know labour wage is at a respectable level so the companies care about innovation and seek ways to improve production and introduce machines and computers etc.. at the same time the construction worker study how to operate these increasingly sophisticated industry machines to stay employed at their reasonable pay… blue-collar workers have to opportunity to earn as much as white collar… win win….

            i am not surprised corporations are making a big huha, like a cry baby, out of the tightening foreign labour market… its the same as asking a drug addict to go to rehab… u think they will check in without a fight?? the issue here is whether the govt have the balls to stand up against these corporations and see through and implement the weaning off of foreign labour strictly… or is it another wayang show??


          • Expensive price says:

            Qi chu those who are prepared to pay more for services so that the provider can pay more salaries for their staff? Personally quite ambivalent – the humanist says why not, the consumer is reluctant


          • L says:

            your argument is inherently assuming that profit margins of corporations MUST and SHALL and it is a heavenly-given right that it should be constant or increasing..and demand is perfectly inelastic….

            the weaning off of cheap foreign labour obviously have to be replaced by employing technology to maintain or improve productivity… ie: sack 2 low-skilled FT workers and free up their wage/cost for some technological investment/ or pay 1 highly-skilled worker more or training expenses…. coupled by a lower profit margin, the incremental cost of implementation to the consumer is minimized…

            we need think a bit more creatively and think out of the box… and have the balls to implement it… desperate times call for desperate measures… status quo wont work now aint it…


          • Expensive price says:

            L u are right – it is a simplistic view, but will hold true 95% of the time. Singapore has a toilet syndrome issue – everybody wants to go at the same time – this makes system sizing and operations a nightmare of peaks and troughs.

            High technology and automation is really about exporting of jobs to the originator of these systems – witness the use of ERP tech for HDB carparks – do you invest 100K one time cost with life expectancy of 10 years and 99.9% revenue capture rate or continue to have parking aunties – price is drop substantially as patents expire. We justify investment in technology by reducing labour input cost, error reduction and speed of process. Faster, cheaper better?

            Modern software based technologies have a high degree of self repair capabilities . Tech support will be remotely based. Criticality of the system will determine the SLA and the price one pays for this assurance.

            The modern mantra is you will EARN what you LEARN – most developed economies have are having problems trying find solutions to this conundrum.

            Thinking out of the box – how about letting a number of people work from home through video presence and Internet – that way less, travel, pollution and foreigners? How about COE for living instead of income tax? GST for just past 18 sex? Sure many will have great ideas for new revenue.


          • L says:

            now u’re talking bro!! not just ki qiu-ing and accepting status quo….


  11. Steven says:

    yes! the unit on the 12th floor could very well have see the price increased by about a 100k.
    if you are the owner of the flat, you buy a unit at 100k, will you be willing to sell it at 90k? obviously no! you will want to sell it as high as possible! 1M if you can!

    that is why real estate will just see appreciation exception in land scare singapore.

    the fact that your friend could have choose to join BTO! they would be facing such pricing problem then! it’s all about choice. if you choose to go the hard way, you have to walk the hard way, no point complain!

    further more, if you think life is hard, are you doing ANYTHING to improve yourself to better your life? if you think complaining will help better your life, by all means, keep trying.

    i see that you have been a train operator for years!! what have you done in these YEARS to improve yourself for a better living for yourself and your family? if the answer is NOTHING, you have no rights to lament at all.


  12. Nebermind says:

    Dear Steven

    So what if one works as a train operator for years? Do you have a problem with train operators? Why are you so snide and arrogant? Why are you assuming that he has not worked hard to put bread on the table for himself and his family? Just because you earn more than a train operator does not give you the prerogative to gun down people who earn less than you! I presume you must be a university graduate? But judging from the way you present yourself, your EQ and IQ are definitely far lower than a 3-year old kindgarden kid!


    • seriously? says:

      for a once, i have to agree w Steven. i don’t think he look down on train operator. but he have a point. society progress. unless you do not want society to progress?

      maybe let me put it in a better way for him? if you want a better life, what are you doing to ensure that? besides working very hard on ones own job? society is improving everyday, are you doing anything to improve yourself?


      • SeriouslyNot says:

        Why don’t you ask SMRT HR, his employer, what are they doing to provide additional training (outside of train-driving) to their employees for more self-improvement? His long work hours and what little time left for his family, if he is not perhaps moonlighting for additional income on the side, where do you think he gets the time to ‘improve himself’?


      • L says:

        what is the point of improving oneself when you improve yourself for the sake of it?? or just because the govt tells you to do so? so what if you study part time and got yourself an MBA in the end? or degree in another industry?? that is more impt is what happens AFTER you get your qualification…. is there enough job demand in the first place to capitalise the new qualification? is there value in the qualification? if a train operator doesnt need an MBA to operate the trains why ask him to get an MBA?? (no offence or not discriminating here. just an example) or asking a hawker to get a degree in engineering?? wat is the point??

        the fact of the matter is, how can the govt or society create the right job environment and right mix of jobs for all blue and white collar workers?? case in point, in the last decade, the govt have been producing so many engineers but so many end up working as property agents or in banks… isnt it a waste? what is the point of training then???? open to discussion…


        • Expensive rpice says:

          Sadly education qualifications mean little to this new economic landscape of Twitter, Facebook, Google Cloud technologies and mobile communication. Founders of these companies are educational dropouts – also interesting is Harvard and Stanford employ practioners of the art who have not been formally educated – they r self thought
          Producing 20th century technologists will not create the 21st jobs that are emerging but little understood by most of the world’s leader and policy makers. Whilst most of us want change, we seem unwilling or unable to accept the disruptions and uncertainties that comes with it. Check the Spanish crisis – over 50% of university graduates and 25% of population. Hope n pray Singapore will not be sucked into this economic maelstrom.
          the new normal is – EARN what you LEARN. The process of continual renewal is now a constant – witness what is happening to Nokia, Erikson, RIM, Sony, Matsushita, Sharp – yesterday’s peacock is today’s feather duster. Companies are just a collection of people – individually we suffer the same fate. Hopefully working as a “group” we can improve our chances of be able to thrive in this new economic landscape. Hope this will encourage reflection and comments.


          • L says:

            i am optimistic.. as an indicator, 40% already want the disruptions and uncertainties that come with change… hopefully its not too late when it comes..


      • Anonymous says:

        To seriously? at 27/04/2012 at 09:42

        And what have you done to improve yourself? I suggest you go enroll yourself in some English courses to improve your horrendous grammar before lecturing others…


  13. Just got this email from my friend ..

    “Dear Gintai,

    I fully agree with your frustrations on housing pricing in the market, it’s ridiculously rising without any actual justifications (especially from 2009 onwards), and for me , it’s purely due to an overwhelming demand for housing versus shortage of housing, and basically arising from the influx of new “talented immigrants” to our country.

    Let me relate to you by experience, I used to stay in a 3 rm flat in AMK which I bought in 2001 for only 139K, minus levy 30K, nett price approximately 109K, reasonable and affordable, only paying abt $220 a month for a 29 year loan. I always kept track of the price of my house in the resale market hoping to sell it and upgrade to a bigger unit but apparently from 2006 (5years minimum occupation period) onwards, selling price was not attractive enough for me to sell my unit. But to my surprise and amazement, the year 2009, saw me observing the selling prices in AMK like a hawk watching the stock market, it was increasing every quarterly at an amazing figure, and when it hit the 250K mark in the beginning of 2010 Jan, I choose to put up my unit for sale. To earn a 100% profit for a house in 10 years, why not? I have to thank Mr MAH for his worldly wisdom in balancing the demand and supply.

    It’s true that I upgraded to a 4 rm unit at higher price but do you think that I would actually see and feel my CPF at the end of my retirement? I choose to upgrade for the sake of my daughter cos I know the fact that it will be near to impossible for her to purchase a flat in the near future unless she strikes “Toto”, marry a rich husband or get a high paying job.

    My question to Minister Tan will be this – Do we actually have an iron rice bowl job in SG? Are we able to work continuously for 20 odd years in the same job or similar scope of work if retrenched on an increased salary annually to enable us to service the monthly loans he is referring to? Seriously speaking, with the influx of new “talented immigrants”, it will be like striking 4D if we get an increase and I won’t be overly surprised if our salary is stagnated and hey, its normal for us to be overlooked and discarded by “talented immigrants” at obviously a lower salary.

    It’s nice to put in writing, on affordability, living within your means and not stretching ourselves thin but seriously speaking it’s just a big joke with no concrete conclusion. I can definitely afford a 4 room flat now, it’s affordable and within my means but hey! I dont have an iron rice bowl! If I lose my job to a “talented immigrant” who is much much cheaper in costs than I am, where do I go? What was affordable, reasonable and living within my means will overnight be totally unaffordable, leading into a “deep dungeon”.



    PS: Do send my best wishes and regards to Mr Tan.”


    • Expensive Price says:

      “Free Markets” are interesting in that we think participants are not coerced into a any predetermined price eg like previous real communist regimes. Fact is – it’s about supply, demand, fear and greed. In Singapore HDB dominates 85-90% of residences. It is the 800lb gorilla in the market – they are prime market factor period.

      Sellers wud like a high price – buyer is opposite. Is it possible to have asset appreciation for both parties at a given time? Is itossible to please everyone.

      Will Singapore houses ever depreciate – it has in most developed countries except for some cities (NY, London and Singapore???) Markets only exist when there is demand and a big middle class with disposable income – a static population or economy must of necessity also mean a static market.


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