• Published Date: 20 Sep 2018

    HDB's Reply


    Most flat sellers are able to secure buyers from eligible ethnic groups
    Date: 20 Sep 2018


    We refer to the letters by Ms J. M. Daniel, Mr Raj K. M. and Mr William Gomez (Flexibility needed for minority-race flat owners, Sept 7; Medical bills loom, but unable to sell flat, Sept 12; and HDB needs to look at plight of minority-race flat owners, Sept 14; respectively). 

    The Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) was introduced in 1989 to ensure a balanced mix of ethnic groups living in our HDB estates, promote racial harmony and strengthen social cohesion. 

    It applies to the sale and purchase of all new and resale HDB flats, and is implemented for all ethnic groups. Prospective flat buyers and sellers can check the ethnic proportions via the HDB InfoWEB. 

    Given the large volume of buyers on the market every year, most home owners are able to secure buyers from eligible ethnic groups. 

    The saleability of a flat in the open market is dependent on many factors, not just the EIP. 

    While home owners may have their own expectations of how much their flat could sell for, flat attributes such as location, storey height, the physical condition of the flat and market sentiments would also be considered by prospective home buyers. 

    Home owners looking to sell their flat would have to set realistic asking prices. 

    For those who are unable to sell their flats, HDB may grant them an extension of time. 

    Additionally, HDB has and will continue to exercise flexibility for households where there are exceptional circumstances. 

    Besides selling their flats, elderly home owners who wish to unlock the value of their existing flats can also consider taking up the Lease Buyback Scheme or renting out spare bedrooms. 

    However, we understand that each individual has different considerations and needs. 

    HDB branches offer one-on-one financial consultation services to help home owners better understand the various monetisation options so that they can make decisions that best meet their needs and preferences. 


    Lily Chan-Wong Jee Choo (Mrs) 
    Director (Policy & Property) 
    Housing & Development Board 



    Letters to The Straits Times


    HDB needs to look at plight of minority-race flat owners
    Date: 14 Sep 2018

    From: William Gomez


    I would like to highlight the situation I am in because of the Housing Board's Ethnic Integration Policy (Flexibility needed for minority-race flat owners, Sept 7). 

    I have been staying in my five-room executive maisonette flat for more than 30 years. 

    My children have all moved out and my wife and I have been trying unsuccessfully to sell this flat for over a year. 

    We are both in our early 70s and not only are we having difficulty maintaining the large flat, we also struggle to climb the stairs to get to the upper rooms. We value our privacy so leasing our spare rooms is not an option. 

    We see downgrading to a smaller unit as the solution as it would allow us to use whatever balance we get for our medical and other expenses. 

    I would like to appeal to HDB to look into our case and into those who are in a similar situation as ours, and come to an amicable solution so that individuals like us can age gracefully without being a burden to our children or the state.



    Medical bills loom, but unable to sell flat
    Date: 12 Sep 2018

    From: Raj K. M.


    I concur with Ms J. M. Daniel (Flexibility needed for minority-race flat owners; Sept 7). 

    I am visually handicapped and undergoing kidney dialysis, which is a very expensive lifelong affair that has taken a toll on my family's finances. 

    My mother and my late father had no insurance and had their own medical issues, resulting in hefty medical bills. 

    My sister is the sole breadwinner. She is nearing retirement. 

    Thus, we have planned to downgrade and sell our lovely Bishan flat because of the overwhelming medical bills. 

    Our repeated appeals to the Housing Board to waive the Ethnic Integration Policy, given the special circumstances, have been rejected. 

    While the merits of the policy cannot be denied, flexibility for special circumstances allows the spirit of the law to prevail. Giving an exemption to those with special circumstances will not cause a major upheaval in the ethnic quota of any block. 

    Most importantly, it will help those, like my family, under financial duress to pay off our debts and have enough for future medical expenses. 

    That we are willing to downgrade shows our earnest intention not to become a liability to society by ending up on government welfare. 



    Flexibility needed for minority-race flat owners
    Date: 7 Sep 2018

    From: J. M. Daniel (Ms)


    The Housing Board's Ethnic Integration Policy has been a good way to ensure diversity in heartland estates and prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves. 

    However, as HDB estates mature, minority-race flat owners, such as Indians and Malays, will find it difficult to find another Indian or Malay buyer. 

    The critical mass of this small group of potential buyers is just not there.

    In Bishan, for example, some HDB flats are already 30 years old and minority-race owners are finding it difficult to find eligible buyers unless the property goes for a song. 

    I know of a minority-race owner of a flat in Bishan who has tried to sell the property for a very long time without success. The bank finally took over the flat and put it up for auction recently. There was no bidder. Now it is back in the market again with an agent to find a minority-race buyer. 

    If the apartment is not sold, the owner could become bankrupt if he is unable to meet his financial needs or downgrade. 

    I have also heard of a couple in their 70s who have been unable to sell their flat for money they need to pay their medical bills and other expenses. 

    HDB needs to look into this matter, especially if the flats are more than 20 years old. 

    More flexibility should be allowed so that people from minority races who own HDB flats older than 25 years can sell them to buyers of any race. 

    Or they should be allowed to sell their flat to HDB after an independent market valuation. HDB can then sell the flat to another minority-race buyer.