Developing properties for investors
I was kind of, er, uneasy when I heard someone from the property industry talking about developing properties for investors as the next big thing. This statement came after the announcement on changes to allow banks to manage the conveyancing money of buyers. We had a few too many cases of honorable lawyers running away with their clients’ money.
Properties are perhaps the only local produce that we can sell to foreigners for huge profits. We cannot prevent the property developers or anyone who want to make big bucks from selling this product. But we need to be very careful as land is a very limited resource here. Once sold, especially in freehold properties, it is sold forever, like selling Alaska to the Americans by the Russians. We need a policy to limit how much land and freehold properties can be sold to foreigners. If not, all will eventually be sold. The foreigners have all the money to buy up everything on the table.
The other main concern is the public housing market. In the absence of a long term policy to protect housing for the citizens, we may plunge into a deep hole and unable to climb back up. Like it or not, when private property prices shoot to the sky, they will drag prices of public housing along. Good huh?
For now, everyday we are hearing people trumpeting that our public housing prices are affordable. Even so, there are already people living without a roof on their heads. Blame them on their stupidity, losers, misfortunes, luck, etc, they are still citizens of the country and they need a roof over their heads.
And as the prices hit the roof, the number of homeless will only increase. Not everyone is born lucky to be a minister’s son, not everyone is able to inherit a fortune, not everyone is born with super talents. Then there will be the silly ones, the couldn’t care less ones, the ones that live for today and think about tomorrow when tomorrow comes, and the irresponsible ones. Still they need housing.
At the moment the problem is small and a few of these homeless can be kept away from sight. When the problem snowballs, they will be in every corner, every void deck, and the parks and beaches. Someone selling a 4 rm flat the second time could still downgrade to 3rm flats. Those selling 3 rm flats can only hope for a rental flats as the money could not buy them anything in the resale market and neither would HDB sell them a third time.
There must be safeguards and protection of the people’s housing. Public housing must be sheltered from the greed of developers and speculators. If public housing is also thrown into the ring, many will become victims of circumstances and their own wrong doings. In a sea infested with hungry sharks, the hapless will quickly fall victims to the predators.
The superficial huge profits to be gained by some will soon be the misery of many. Don’t play with people’s homes and run people to the streets or the beaches.