Plunge in number of households surrendering flats

Plunge in number of households surrendering flats

SINGAPORE - The number of households that surrendered their flats to the Housing Board (HDB) due to mortgage arrears fell sharply - by about seven times - from 2008 to last year.

The drop in households that lost their HDB flats due to forced sales by banks was even more pronounced: from 225 to six over the same period.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan provided these figures yesterday in a written reply to Mr Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC).

In 2008, 505 households surrendered their flats to the HDB due to mortgage arrears.

This spiked to 711 in 2009 before dropping to 69 last year, representing a fall of more than seven times over a five- year span. The number of such households with at least one lessee aged 55 and above also went down, from 108 in 2008 to 14 last year, said Mr Khaw.

For households that lost their flats in bank mortgagee sales, the number fell from 225 in 2008 to six last year.

None of the households last year had lessees aged 55 and above, compared with 10 in 2008.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive officer of real estate sales organisation Century 21 Singapore, attributed the sharp drop to two reasons.

One, the 2008-2009 recession would have coincided with higher instances of surrendered flats.

"If we had used 2006 or 2007 as the base for comparison, the drop may not have seemed as sharp."

Two, over the past few years and the last two in particular, the HDB and banks have become more stringent in ensuring that buyers and resellers do not overstretch themselves.

Coupled with the improved employment situation, a drop in the number of flats being surrendered is to be expected, he said. On Monday, Mr Khaw also revealed that the number of households with outstanding HDB loans and in mortgage arrears of three months or more has gone down as well.

There were 32,309 such households in 2008, falling by 44 per cent to 18,066 last year.

But while the total number of such households with at least one elderly lessee aged 55 and above has gone down from 8,169 in 2008 to 6,502 last year, they now form a larger percentage of households in arrears.

Last year, 36 per cent of these households had an elderly lessee, compared with 25.3 per cent in 2008.

Mr Ku said that while the numbers have fallen, he finds it a "shocker" that there are more than 18,000 households in arrears for three months or more.

"Despite near full employment, there are families who cannot foot the bill for subsidised housing," he said, arguing that more help should be given to these families in hardship.

andreao@sph.com.sg

GOING DOWN

Number of households that surrendered flats to HDB due to mortgage arrears

2008: 505

2012: 69

Number of households that lost flats in bank mortgagee sales

2008: 225

2012: 6


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