Growing pool of seniors, singles 'could trigger housing rethink'

PHOTO: Growing pool of seniors, singles 'could trigger housing rethink'

SINGAPORE - A new report suggests that the growing presence of senior citizens and singles here may prompt a rethink of housing options and policies by both developers and the Government.

Consultancy Colliers International has mooted suggestions such as longer land tenures for retirement villages and a quota for allocating Build-to-Order (BTO) HDB flats to singles.

The firm said that while senior citizens and singles are likely to remain minority groups here, their numbers are substantial enough to contribute significantly to potential housing demand.

The proportion of those aged 65 and older is expected to hit 15 per cent of the resident population by 2020 before ballooning to 20 per cent in 2030.

While some public sector housing options - such as rental flats and studio apartments on 30-year leases - cater to the elderly, less has been done by private developers, Colliers noted.

Developers could consider serviced apartment style housing with long-term leases or purchase options for homes that come with services such as housekeeping, it said. They could also explore the feasibility of retirement villages.

Instead of shorter land tenures, however, Colliers added that selling land for a retirement village on longer tenures of 99 years, or up to 120 or 150 years, could be considered.

"That way, the developer will have room to create a good quality product, with all of the necessary additional facilities and services that the elderly require. The developer can then sell the retirement village units to senior citizens on 15-year, 20-year and 30-year options, where the units will revert to the developer to resell to another set of retirees," the report said.

In this way, retirement village units' economic lifespan can be longer and the developer will be able to generate a reasonable return on shorter leases.

As for singles, the firm said a ratio or quota system could be used to allocate new BTO flats to them. Such an approach has worked fairly well for Singapore, the report noted.

The ethnic quota, for instance, ensures that different races live together. "In the same vein, singles and families should... learn from each other and help each other within the context of community."