I entered politics in 2001 and my first constituency was Moulmein, with a large number of private properties, mostly old apartments.
I was MP there for 5 years. During the latter half of that period, I saw many of my residents in several private estates becoming en-bloc millionaires overnight. House visits to these estates inevitably ended up chatting about en-bloc, how much money they would be making and where next they would be going.
En-bloc has its pluses and minuses. It can rejuvenate the city by removing old and dilapidated buildings. It enables owners to trade their units at a premium price if their units are sold collectively.
But if done excessively, en-bloc activities can waste resources, if relatively new buildings are prematurely demolished.
Moreover, not everyone favours living through an en-bloc exercise. Some owners resent losing the home and community they have grown to be comfortable in. In some instances, neighbours have turned against each other in the lead-up to obtaining the requisite 80% signatories.
En-bloc activities reached feverish heights in 2006 and 2007, when some 10,200 housing units were sold for redevelopment. This added stress to an already hot property market as housing units were removed from the market, and displaced owners or tenants had to look for replacement properties to stay and invest in, pushing up property and rental prices.
Private residential projects and units sold en bloc by year
Last year, about 1,400 units were sold collectively. This en-bloc number is low compared to the peak in 2007.
It looks like the en-bloc fever is receding. If so, it signals the increasing stabilisation of our property market. This will be a good development for Singapore in the Year of the Dragon.
Happy New Year to all!
Please visit the MND Facebook to leave a comment.