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HDB to release rental data soon

Govt to make such info available in bid to give clearer picture of prices

The Straits Times - July 25, 2007
By: Jessica Cheam

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HDB to release rental data soon

MORE data on rents for Housing Board (HDB) flats will be released soon, to add transparency to a market dealing with increased talk of rising prices.

The move comes after recent reports that monthly rents of HDB flats are exceeding $2,000 in some locations.

The information will give a clearer picture of recent price movements in the rental market, and will be similar in nature to figures on average resale prices released last week.

Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu said yesterday that this “objective data” will “give potential tenants better understanding of the market”.

“The Government will continue to make such information more widely available so people can make more informed decisions,” she added.

The HDB is looking into the possibility of breaking down the data by the 26 HDB towns instead of by regions.

Some market players had concerns about the way average resale prices were collated on the HDB’s website.

They said the regional grouping made it difficult for buyers or sellers to get a clear picture of how flats similar to their own are faring.

Ms Fu said the Government is considering the feedback but will remain “careful” as it has to assess “if there’s sufficient data to give meaningful comparisons”.

The chief executive of property agency PropNex, Mr Mohamed Ismail, said the industry welcomed such information as comprehensive data on national rental rates is non-existent.

“If there are median prices provided, landlords and tenants will know what is a fair price to ask for and pay,” said Mr Ismail.

Breaking down the information by town will also be more relevant as prices do differ from one town to the next, even if they are in the same region, he added.

Ms Fu also urged buyers, especially young couples, to do their homework before making a commitment to buy.

“There are other options, including flats in different geographical areas, resale flats and first-time flats in less mature estates, that are offering good value,” she said.

Ms Fu was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to an HDB block in Jurong East, where a new system of installing lifts was completed in April.

The new lifts, which are powered by much smaller, cost-effective machines, save up to 20 per cent in costs and have enabled more blocks to be eligible for the Lift Upgrading Programme.

In the past, low-rise blocks of up to four storeys had been left out of such programmes because they were too expensive to upgrade.

The upgrade can go ahead if it costs under $30,000 for every household to benefit.

HDB expects to save $230 million on its lift upgrading programme by harnessing new technology.

Another benefit – the amount of concrete used is cut by 90 per cent.

Ms Fu added the HDB was “on track” to complete lift upgrading of all public housing blocks by 2014.

There are about 2,000 out of a total of 5,000 blocks still to be upgraded.

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The Straits Times - July 24, 2007

By: Jessica Cheam