By Paul Ho (iCompareLoan.com)
Have you ever wondered how is Singapore’s land supply managed? Who controls the largest land supply? You often see that URA launches land for sale, and HDB launches land for sale, etc. So do they own these land?
In order to shed light on this topic, it is important to understand the role of each statutory body, in general.
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
The Urban redevelopment authority is in-charged primarily with urban renewal, designing Singapore’s land use master plan and various other initiatives. Their role spans residential dwelling, entire townships design which includes commercial, industrial as well as residential zoning and density.
URA also “acts as agent for the State in carrying out land sales for commercial, hotel, private residential land industrial developments. In addition, URA also sells sites for special uses e.g,heavy vehicle parks, conservation shophouses and recreational developments.” (URA, Reference 1)
Picture 1: URA Master Plan 2014, URA
Housing Development Board (HDB)
The housing board as most people are already aware, involves itself in building low cost public homes for Singaporeans as well as Permanent Residents. Apart from that, HDB is also involved in many other facets of properties.
“HDB manages a total close to 12,000 ready-built factories and industrial land leases located island-wide catering to a wide spectrum of customers’ needs. These properties include low rise workshops, warehouses, high-rise factories with vehicular ramps for access, specialized high-rise food factories and motor-vehicle service and repair complexes, and land-based properties. Majority are for rental. Most of the trades that can be accommodated within these properties and developments are Clean and Light industries and some small-scale General industries.”
(HDB, Reference 2)
Although it is still a puzzle why HDB is involved in Industrial properties to begin with.
Again, HDB also acts as agent for the state to sell land for various uses, though the bulk of these land is residential HDB or EC use, it is not restricted to these. (HDB, Reference 3)
Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
Singapore land authority helps the government to manage it’s land sales system. It’s role is to make sure that the land is to achieve optimum returns. SLA is also to manage the land title system. SLA is also in-charged of appoint sales agent for state land. Hence it is the authority responsible for appointing sales agent such as HDB, URA, JTC, LTA and make sure that compliance and statutory guidelines are adhered to for the land sales process.
Certain parcels of land are also available for sale by the state under SLA. These land are remnant lands (landed development) which cannot be economically used by the state and could also be odd shaped. These land holds great value to the land owner as they can extend their development and combine it with these remnant land to create better economic value, or more luxurious consumption. Other lands such as Agricultural land on short leases are also sold by SLA to bidders. (Reference 4)
Contrary to popular belief, SLA is a statutory board of the Ministry of Law.
Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)
Jurong town corporation (JTC) is mainly focused on building Singapore’s industrial infrastructure. “JTC has developed 7,100 hectares of industrial land and 3.2 million square metres of ready-built facilities across the entire spectrum of industrial space.” (JTC)
JTC roles is to help Singapore to concentrate industrial and economic clusters together by grouping the suppliers, services close to the end users coupled with funding and support, to promote the growth of Singapore.
JTC is also appointed to be the sales agent of state land, hence it launches land under the government land sales program (GLS).
JTC is under the purview of Ministry of Trade and Industry. (MITI)
And JTC has ventured into mixed use Industrial offices as the lines blurred between offices and industries with the advent of internet companies and online services, reflecting the emergence of the new economy.
Perhaps the old bureaucratic structures of Commercial businesses and industry will need to be redefined very soon.
Ministry of national development (MND)
This is the ministry where Minister Lawrence Wong sits. This is the hottest seat. The ministry of national development (MND) develops the land use planning for Singapore and pushes through various visions such as, “An endearing home and a global city” initiative. As such MND has purview over national well-being, namely food (via Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, AVA), safety of dwellings (via the Building and Construction Authority, BCA), Housing (via HDB), Housing transaction and orderliness (via Council of Estate Agencies, CEA), nature and enjoyment (via the National parks, NParks) and Land use planning, zoning and land user master plan (via the Urban Redevelopment Authority, URA) and aims to provide a superior living environment for Singapore citizens, Singapore PR as well as other nationalities.
But in short, URA is also often appointed as the Sales agent for government land sales relating to private condominiums, commercial properties, but must less in other property segments.
For researchers & Property buyers and Investors
In short, Singapore Land Authority (SLA – under the Ministry of Law) helps to appoint sales agent for government land sales (GLS) program for sales of state land. URA, HDB, JTC, LTA as well as SLA can be appointed sales agent for state land. MND overlooks URA and HDB while Ministry of trade and industry (MITI) overlooks JTC, while LTA is overlooked by Ministry of Transport.
Hence for any researcher to do a comprehensive supply of property and land research, he cannot overlook any other sectors within the constraints of the national boundary.
For example, if there is an over-supply in Condominium (private properties), but there is an under-supply in Commercial properties. It is always possible for condominiums to be converted to become Commercial properties by paying a Differential premium (DP) to Singapore Land authority (SLA) for change of use. Hence often we cannot analyse any particular property segment in isolation of the other segments.
You could contact a Singapore Mortgage broker such as iCompareLoan to help talk you through some basic property investing and help you through your property financing options.
Is HDB veering too far off?
And some statutory boards such as the HDB seems to be more enterprising and have even industrial properties under management for rental, which is weird considering that it’s Housing development board. Perhaps it has veered a little off it’s original aim of providing housing for the masses.
1. URA, www.ura.gov.sg/sales/body_index.html
2. HDB, http://www.hbiz.gov.sg/web/aa17/corporate/properties/overview.en.html
3. HDB, http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/SITES_SOLD_-_RESIDENTIAL_-_CONDO_APT_LANDED/$file/RESIMASTER+Condo+devt(Sites+sold)(14+Jun+13).pdf
4. SLA, http://www.sla.gov.sg/htm/ser/ser0202.htm
5. Other related articles, www.iCompareLoan.com