At least TWO PAP Ministers (Khaw Boon Wan & Lawrence Wong) have confirmed my point about the HDB 99 Year Lease being ZERO in value when the lease expired. This is an important critical fact that most Singaporeans have ignored for decades and despite of such reality, Singaporeans are still pumping huge amount of money willingly into HDB resale market which in turn, pushes up the new BTO HDB flats!

This is one of the important reason why I would insist a TOTAL de-link of new BTO prices from resale market prices because it doesn’t make sense at all.

There are two broad ways of analysing the impacts and implications of this HDB 99 Years Leasehold issue. i.e. Macro Level vs Micro Level.

Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong has recently flip-flopped over this HDB 99 year lease issue. First he admitted that when the lease is up, the HDB flat will have ZERO value and the “Leasers” (which Singaporeans always thought themselves to be “owners”) will have to return the HDB flat to HDB and HDB has to return the land to SLA. But a couple of days later, in a dismay effort to cushion off the shocking effect on Singaporeans, Lawrence Wong came up with the notion that “HDB is a good store of value”!

How could HDB flats which will depreciate and end up with ZERO value eventually to be a “good store of value”? That’s totally nonsensical and illogical.

There are many people and well known bloggers who have written on this topic and got many points right but miss a few critical points altogether.

Micro Perspective

The former MND Minister Mah Bow Tan and up to now, Lawrence Wong, keeps talking about “Monetize HDB flat for Retirement”, which is a totally flawed concept. I would have debated against Mah Bow Tan on this point LIVE on TV if he had dared to accept my challenge back in GE 2011 and I would have shot straight into his face with this 99 Year Leasehold issue of HDB and ask him how could it be possible to “Monetize HDB for Retirement” when most Singaporeans would face great difficulty in selling off their HDB flats when it passed the 50 year lease mark?

Yes, the Time Bomb doesn’t start to blow up with it reaches 99 Year but rather, when your flat reaches 50 year old. How many people are able to fork out over $3000 or even $2000 monthly to pay their mortgage for your 50 year old resale HDB flat? Or even if they could afford to, why would they want to buy your flat knowing that it is going to depreciate further and become ZERO in value in the next few decades?

I believe the projections by the chart above (by Soh Yun Yee) is just too overly optimistic. HDB flats which pass that 50 year mark, would have suffered a steep fall in value thereafter!

And look at it this way, for HDB flats, you cannot own TWO HDB flats at the time! Thus it means that if your parents passed away and left you their HDB flat while you still own a HDB flat, you will have no choice but to sell one away! i.e. either you sell off your own HDB flat or your parent’s HDB flat! Many Singaporeans will face this problem and with the upcoming silver bombing due to aging population, the resale market will be flooded with lots of old HDB flats with lease less than 60 years or 50 years while demand will be extremely small!

Thus, what is the impact? A major collapse of resale market for HDB flats which have less than 50 years lease!

This is the FUNDAMENTAL difference between a Private Property vs HDB flats with the same 99 year lease. For Private Property, you could still keep that property which you inherit from your parents and rent it out, really “monetize” it, but for HDB? You can’t.

For Private Property, there is a good chance for you to seek private en-block and monetize it fully, renewing the lease again when you do so. But for HDB? You will have to wait for HDB to initiate that SERS which is basically non-existence now because it is not PROFITABLE for HDB to do so! This is the reason why only 4% of HDB flats had gotten SERS and Minister Lawrence Wong has “hinted” or rather “WARNED” that Singaporeans should not expect their HDB flats to enjoy SERS!

Macro Perspective

Uncle Leong has rightly pointed the following:

There are 1 million HDB flats, of which 70,000 or 7 per cent are over 40 years old. About 280,000 units are 30 to 40 years old. That’s one in three flats 30 years or older.

But what is exactly the implication? It means that by 2020, the problems of 99 Years Lease will start to surface. Yes just 3 more years. Most HDB flats were built in late 1960s, 1970s to 1980s. From 1970s to 1980s, we have housing estates like Tiong Bahru, Tanglin Halt, Queenstown, Bukit Merah, Bukit Ho Swee, Toa Payoh, Hougang (old Hougang), Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Jurong etc built within this period. It would also mean that many flats from these towns will face the problems when they cross 50 years lease, starting from 2020 (1970 to 2020, it is 50 years)!

It also means that if PAP government just stop doing SERS or do it at extremely slow rate, when the lease expired for all these HDB flats in these towns, where are these Singaporeans going to find another HDB flat to live in? Where to find even HALF the size of these towns (assuming flats will be built double the height of the old ones) add together to house them?

By 2060, we will start seeing these problems exploding.

On the other hand, do you really think your HDB flats could last 99 years? I am doubtful that most HDB flats could even last 70 years while some could not even last 50 years due to poor quality of the material used during the late 1970s to 1980s construction boom. HDB upgrading could only solve parts of these massive problems. Some old HDB flats even have obvious cracks and problems of concretes falling off that walls before they reach 50 years old!


99 Years Lease HDB flats are good policy deal IF AND ONLY IF the flats are kept at extremely low cost and there are continuous efforts to en-block and rebuild them starting from 30 years old onwards. At least 50% of the flats built from 1960s to 1980s should be SERS or en-block and rebuilt before the 99 years lease expired. This will ensure we have enough land for cross generations usage and cater for gradual population growth.

It is not meant to be “Asset Enhancement” nor “Monetize for Retirement” but PURELY cater to the housing needs of Singaporeans of ALL GENERATIONS. 

Unfortunately PAP has strayed too far away from its initial ideology just to insert all means to milk Singaporeans while kicking the cans of problems down the generations instead of maintaining a good balance in providing for the critical basic needs of Singaporeans.

I would not mind to replace my 99 years lease HDB flats with another one when it is near expiry if I have bought my first HDB flat CHEAP at cost plus and continue to buy my second replacement flat CHEAP at cost plus as well!

But the crazy Asset Enhancement Scheme introduced by PAP government during Goh Chok Tong’s era has really screwed us up badly with the poison of greed to entice Singaporeans to use more of their CPF funds to pump up the HDB flats while sold the FALSE dream of forever “Enhanced” value of their HDB flats so that they could “Monetize their HDB Flats for Retirement”! It has mixed up and over-drawn, over-stressed our CPF which should be strictly for our retirement needs!

Singaporeans are blinded by the poison of greed of short term gain in buying and selling their HDB flats in one or two generations, but they have unknowingly, sold out their own retirement plan and their future generations’ welfare by falling for such poisonous enticement.

Goh Meng Seng