The flexible truth
We have all been convinced that 30% of household income is the reference for affordable housing. What does this number really mean? To begin with, household income can be one income family, two incomes or several income family. This part is really very flexible and can be anything. The problem with the number of income in a family is that it is not a certainty and can vary over time. But the house/flat, when bought, the amount to be repaid in a 30 year mortgage is inflexible and will remain the same. So one day it is affordable within the definition of 30%, the next day could be very affordable or very unaffordable.
When breaks up, when children got married and left the family unit, the affordability reference can change drastically. Same as when a household loses one or more incomes. The affordability can become meaningless.
The other issue of this affordability is the rubber band of time. To be stretched to 30 years, 50 years or 100 years to be affordable is a playing of rubber time. This kind of interpretation of affordability is treacherous and deceiving and can be adverse to the home buyers.
What about the type of housing, rental or bought, 30 year lease, 60 year or 99 year lease, or freehold? Comparing a 99 year lease with freehold and using the same yardstick of 30% household income surely would make the meaning quite different. When a 30% income is for the purchase of a freehold property, and applying it to a 99 year leasehold, it is like comparing apple with orange.
Would the type of properties or size of properties matter in this affordable formula? 30% to buy a 1000 sq ft unit and a 500 sq ft unit surely must be quite different as the quality of living condition will be affected. To make this clearer, look at yesteryears fresh graduate spending 30% of his income for a landed property and today’s graduate spending an equivalent percentage to buy a 99 year leasehold shoebox flat. It is affordable in both cases, but are they the same?
This flexible truth is now being waved daily to tell the Sinkies that housing is affordable. Is this kind of truth acceptable and responsible? What kind of credibility is the person spouting this kind of reasoning? Is his or her intent honest, sincere and well meaning?