Avoid speculating in the hope of a "big payout" Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE: it would be "unproductive" to play homeowners' expectations because of the recently announced voluntary early redevelopment (VERS) – a plan to take back old Housing Board flats before their leases end, Secretary of Development Cooperation Lawrence Wong said Tuesday (21 August).

"All of us, including the media, must ensure that we do not play the market's expectations or … make people enthusiastic and exaggeratedly exuberant … thinking this will help the resale market," he told reporters on the sidelines of a REACH feedback forum.

They also have to avoid speculating in the market in the hope of a "big payout at the end of the day," he said, adding that the government will do its best to manage expectations.

READ: Owners of old HDB flats now know & # 39; there is some future & # 39 ;, experts say

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced at the National Rally of the day on Sunday that the government will take back a number of apartment buildings from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) from the moment they turn 70 years old to redevelop the residential areas.

Homeowners will vote about whether they want to move and receive compensation if their flats are taken back, Lee said. However, the details of the scheme are still being worked out and will only be implemented in 20 years time.

Mr. Lee had also announced that every apartment building of the Housing Board would be upgraded twice in the Home Improvement Program (HIP) II.

READ: Plan to redevelop more old HDB flats before the lease expires

On Tuesday, Mr. Wong added that the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) will continue to follow its course until all remaining sites with a high development potential have been released.

According to the estimates of the HDB, only about 5 percent of the flats are suitable for SERS.

"There are still more to go, but we will eventually reach the limit … as soon as we do that, we will move on to a VERS program," Mr Wong said.

He added that the government will seek more feedback on proposed changes to housing policy before the schemes are refined.

READ: & # 39; It would be ill-advised to go into details right now & # 39 ;: Lawrence Wong about new housing policy VERS

Mr. Wong spoke with reporters after a feedback session conducted by REACH on the National Day Rally. The discussion of the evening, which attracted more than 130 participants, varied from concerns about the cost of living, housing and foreign relations.

To the concerns of a forum participant about social divisions that might arise when the elections are taking place for VERS, Mr. Wong said: "I acknowledge that in this case the stakes are higher … but we have some experience and we will have time have to study how to work out the exact mechanisms and how to do that without causing too much division or creating self-healing within the block itself. "

READ: New VERS scheme can be used among residents & bitter; & # 39; Achieve, warns Alex Yam

Leadership renewal for the government was another area highlighted at the forum chaired by Mr Sam Tan, REACH President and Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Social and Family Development.

A forum participant asked whether the long-term plans drawn up during the National Rally of the Day can be fulfilled by the next Prime Minister.

In response, Mr. Wong said that it is "quite unique" that Singapore can plan so far in the future.

"I do not know any other country that plans and thinks about urban rejuvenation on the scale we're talking about, so this is indeed a long-term plan, it's never been anywhere in the world, it's going to be a bigger challenge than our first phase of building HDB, "he said.

"But we have a plan and now it's the key for the government and the people to work together to create and realize these plans," he added.

READ: Lease buy back regulation is extended to all HDB flats

On the Lease Buyback scheme, which recently expanded with all HDB flats, Mr Wong said that the take-up rate is "not very high", but it does give homeowners peace of mind when they need to get some value from their property for retirement.

"It's not really about the numbers, because not everyone wants to use this option … But if you want to make the option available to every flat owner, you get the assurance that whatever happens … there is always an option that you can exercise, "he added.

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