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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

S’pore halts DBSS land sales, reviews scheme

SINGAPORE: The sale of land for Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) projects has been put on hold while the government carries out a review, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

But developers that clinched sites last year would launch their projects as scheduled in the next few months, he added, noting that “these are old tenders beyond my control”.

Khaw made these points on his official Facebook page over the weekend in response to a member of the public who called for the scheme to be scrapped in the wake of high asking prices at a Tampines project called Centrale 8.

The developer, Sim Lian Group, initially estimated prices at S$880,000 for five-room units but later revised them to S$778,000 after a public uproar.

on Monday, the Ministry of National Development said that pending the results of the review, the Housing Board would not proceed with the sale of a DBSS site in Bendemeer slated for later this month.

Checks with Housing and Development Board's (HDB) site revealed that the sale of a site in Sengkang expected to yield 790 units is still ongoing, with a July 20 deadline.

DBSS was rolled out six years ago to give private developers a chance to participate in the public housing market and to introduce more building and design innovations in such housing.

Since then, 13 sites have been awarded and 5,500 flats have been built and sold.

DBSS flats make up less than 1% of the total HDB stock.

Analysts say the current review is timely, given the changing housing landscape. Recent flash estimates from HDB revealed that resale flat prices jumped 2.9% from the first quarter of this year while data from major real-estate firms put the median cash premium paid above a flat's valuation at about S$30,000, an almost 50% increase.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail noted that when DBSS kicked off in 2005, the market was in the doldrums and there was a surplus of public housing.

“The scenario now has changed with soaring prices,” he said, adding that DBSS flats were in demand because most were in mature estates or central locations.

Chesterton Suntec International research and consultancy director Colin Tan said if the objectives were to inject variety and engage the private sector and smaller contractors, “then perhaps the sites should be in newer towns which are less in demand”.

By The Straits Times

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