Singapore property: global leaders

Singapore set precedence by supplying housing for all, but how did they achieve this?

Singapore’s housing market arouses global interest. Values reached dizzying heights before the government intervened with cooling measures in an attempt to control it. But there are plenty of other reasons why this tiny island state has so much to write about. For example did you know that Singapore was the first country in South East Asia to build prefabricated housing? Used to build modular housing which is placed side-by-side to quickly create different sections. This method enabled the efficient construction of low cost housing. It was pioneered in Singapore in 1980 to build apartments in Tampines, Yishun and Hougang.


Using these precast and prefabrication techniques shaped Singapore property for the future. It allowed the growth of HDBs (Housing and Development Board). A form of public housing where units are owned on leases for 99 years. Currently over 80 percent of the population reside in HDBs, which is testament to their success. Certain factors are cited for this success mainly the communal areas that enable a community spirit to flourish that is usually likened to low rise properties.

This growth allowed Singapore to become a global leader in modernising housing and meeting housing shortages. But it was only 70 years ago that this tiny island-state was home to the world’s worst slums. A far cry from the slick skyline we see today. Aside from tackling issues relating to the quality of housing, Singapore has another string to its bow: high ownership rates. Currently at 90.8 percent, this is figure many other cities that aspire too.

In a recent report, Housing the Millennials by Savills, the real estate firm list a number of factors to Singapore’s achievements. The global real estate firm list these as:

  • Use of building technology
  • Professional management
  • Integrated planning
  • Inter-agency collaboration
  • In-house pre-cast production
  • Ability to control material price
  • Efficient and accommodative regulations
  • Building maintenance and safety legislation
  • Providing public and open space

Savills use Singapore as an example when trying to address how Indonesia should tackle their housing shortage. There is no doubt that Singapore’s government have played a pivotal role in influencing its property market. They have been drivers in ensuring the ease of supply by cutting any red tape that was preventing the building of housing when Singapore came independent in 1959.

What can other countries learn from Singapore?

Well HBD and Public Works Department who were behind the growth of housing controlled construction in order to keep costs down. By this we mean that they stockpiled materials and even made their own construction materials. This ensured the building did not incur any delays and kept costs consistent.

So whilst Singapore’s property market may be in the news for other reasons, lest us not forget its humble beginnings. And how this can be a shiny example of how to provide housing for the masses regardless of budgets.