Resale prices for public housing flats in Hougang single-member constituency (SMC) are not clearly lower than nearby flats of the same design, judging by an analysis done by Bernard Leong and his Singapore Angle friends.
The analysis was based on a total of 798 resale transactions of 4-room flats in Hougang Town over a thirteen-month period between 1 April 2010 and 30 April 2011. Of these, 103 flats were located within Hougang SMC, of which 79 were of the ‘New Generation’ design and 25 were of the ‘Model A’ design.
In the adjacent parts of Hougang Town that were assigned to other constituencies and held by the People’s Action Party (PAP), there were 49 ‘New Generation’ flats and 453 ‘Model A’.
There were a further 192 flats of other designs in the PAP-held areas, but since there were no equivalent ones in the Workers’ Party-held Hougang constituency, these were omitted from the analysis.
The raw data, including floor area and age of the building came from the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Source. Prices post-analysis are shown on a per square metre basis to remove any bias in flat sizes. On the right-most column the difference in average ages of the flats is also shown so that you can make a mental adjustment.
The price difference between Workers’ Party-held areas and the People’s Action Party-held areas in the same town does not look very great.
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This differs from figures released by housing minister Mah Bow Tan and published in the Straits Times 4 May 2011, which shows an “Aljunied premium” of 16 percent for 4-room flats.
Housing Board resale flats in the Hougang single-seat ward have fetched lower prices than those in Aljunied GRC on average, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday.
He released figures aimed at refuting Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang’s claim that flats in his former ward were valued no less than similar resale flats in wards held by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
— Straits Times, 4 May 2011, HDB data shows Hougang flats fetch lower prices than Aljunied units: Mah
Below are the figures from the minister published alongside the newspaper article:
Assuming that Mah Bow Tan obtained his figures from the HDB just like Bernard Leong did, it may strike you as strange that the difference in prices is so much greater in Mah’s figures. I can’t explain how Mah crunched his figures but it is perhaps useful to note the differences between the two tables.
1. The upper table is drawn from a much larger sample (606 versus 54), but all were still flats in Hougang township. Why Mah chose to use such a small sample is unknown.
2. The upper table includes ‘Model A’ flats whereas the lower table does not.
3. The upper table uses price per square metre, not price per flat.
4. The upper table indicates age difference.
5. The price difference between Hougang SMC flats and others is much less in the upper table.
Mah also gave figures of 3-room and 5-room flats, but since Bernard Leong’s analysis did not include them, there is no discussion about these types of flats here.
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When Bernard Leong gave me those figures and the comparison with Mah Bow Tan’s, it seemed to be at odds with what I recalled. I recalled that it was not Mah Bow Tan, but Lee Kuan Yew who made the assertion that flats in opposition party-held wards were lower in value. So I did a search of the Straits Times, and found that we were both right. Both Lee Kuan Yew and Mah Bow Tan made the same assertion. However, what I found interesting was that Lee’s assertion came four days BEFORE Mah released his data.
Homes in Hougang cost less than similar ones in neighbouring areas because they belong to an opposition ward, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew last night.
‘If you have the wrong government, your property prices go right down,’ he warned.
‘Ask why in Hougang the property prices are not as high as their neighbours’.’
He added: ‘If Singaporeans are that fickle, they will have to pay a price, the hard way.’
— Straits Times, 30 April 2011, Why Hougang flats’ value is lower
It’s a bit of Alice-in-Wonderland, that. Assertions are first made, then data supporting them are released.
And then we have nosey, itchy-fingered people who go dig up the same data and recalculate everything.