300,000 new homes needed in 10 years as household size shrinks: CBRE

The average household size declined to 3.2 persons in 2018 from 3.5 in 2009.

Singapore would need to build at least 25,000 housing units a year to reach 300,000 units by 2030 if the average household size will continue to contract at a similar rate with the past 10-year period, according to a CBRE report.

The average household size fell from 3.5 to 3.2 in 2018, leading to average sizes of new private homes going down from 111 sqm in 2009 to 70 sqm in 2018.

For example, an HDB 5-room flat is now about 110 sqm from 120 sqm in the 1990s.

Data from Singstat stated that the number of households with one person rose 69% to 185,400 as compared to 10 years ago. This is on the back of a falling general marriage rate from 67 per 1,000 unmarried resident females aged 15 to 49 years old in 1980, to 47 per 1,000 unmarried resident females in 2018.

In the same period, the number of couple-based households without children grew by 43%, while single parent households grew by 28%, contributing to smaller household sizes.

CBRE attributed the shrinking home sizes to rising land costs as developers are keen on keeping the prices affordable.

However, CBRE noted that this does not translate to smaller living space per person because of lifestyle changes, digitalisation of media and contracting household appliances. For instance, the living space per person in an HDB 5-room flat remained at 28 sqm for the past two decades.

Furthermore, the government is also freeing up space to take in more residential land in Tengah, Kampong Bugis, Bayshore and the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW). It is estimated to yield a total of 67,500 housing units.

HDB also introduced options to seniors wherein they can either monetise their flat by rightsizing to a smaller flat or by participating in a lease buyback scheme where they could sell the remaining lease of a flat.

“Although public flats with shorter leases are already available, this option is still lacking in the private housing market. In that respect, there could be more housing sites with shorter tenures injected into the private market,” CBRE continued.  

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