80% of the people live in public housing, or what is known in Singapore as HDB flats. HDB stands for Housing Development Board, which manages public housing.
In 1960, HDB was established along with the newly elected government then to address the serious housing shortage. Because of the limited land space, high rise flats were built and each block of flats can range between 4 to 30 storeys high, with 4 to about 8 housing units on each floor.
Each housing estate containing flats over a designated area is self-contained, with wet markets, parks, coffee shops, clinics, hawker centres, bus services, a police post and post office, sometimes an MRT station and a shopping mall in the vicinity as well. A distinct feature is also the hanging of laundry to dry outside the HDB units using bamboo poles. In order to promote and maintain racial interaction, the Ethnic Integration Policy enforces that the proportion of people of different ethnicities living in a block of flats be the same as that of the population.
To purchase a HDB flat, certain criteria have to be met. For instance, citizens have to be married if they are below the age of 35 to qualify to purchase a flat. There is also an income ceiling of S$10,000 for a HDB flat purchase.
A HDB flat is bought under a 99 year lease agreement with HDB, and costs about S$300,000 for a new flat, and about S$500,000 for a resale flat (can be resold after 5 years of ownership), depending on the estate location and how big the flat is (750-1600 square feet).
People who do not meet the criteria for a HDB flat may opt for condominiums (apartments) or landed housing.
Many condominiums have been built especially in the past decade and both locals and foreigners have taken interest in them to live in or for investment purposes. A shoebox unit can be as small as about 500 square feet and cost more than $500,000. Regular condominium units can cost between S$800,000 to more than S$1m. Many condominium units are also sold on a 99 year lease agreement. In recent years,
many en bloc (collective selling of property in an area) exercises have taken place for developers to redevelop with mostly smaller unit condominiums.
There a number of areas in Singapore with landed housing (terraces, semi-detached, bungalows), including Bukit Timah and Siglap.
The industry is highly regulated to ensure stability in prices and supply and demand.
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