Singapore may see more smaller homes, shorter-lease units: Experts

Victor Kang8 Jul 2021

Smaller household growth and an ageing population could see more smaller homes with shorter leases in the future.

Singapore’s future housing landscape may feature more smaller homes with shorter leases, on the back of the growing number of smaller family units, which includes smaller family nuclei, seniors living alone, and singles, according to experts, reported Channel News Asia (CNA).

Data from the latest population census showed that the average household sizes in Singapore have shrunk in the last decade from 3.5 persons in 2010 to 3.2 in 2020, despite seeing an increase of residential households from 1.37 million to 1.5 million during the same period. 

Specifically, one-person households made up 16% of all households last year, while two-person households accounted for 22.6%. The two categories both increased by 3.8 percentage points over the decade.

PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor said the growth of one-person households can support demand for smaller housing units within the private residential market.

Another factor that could affect the buying decisions of younger people is whether caring for their elderly parents will deplete their savings.

“Would they then buy smaller homes, as these are more affordable than larger units?” said Ismail as quoted by CNA.

However, he acknowledged that such demand may be hampered by a desire for bigger homes due to lifestyle aspirations and the evolving work arrangements. This was evident in recent buying trends.

“Based on public housing resale data over the last 10 years, we have observed an increased demand for four- and five-room flats, over three-room flats, particularly in 2020,” he said.

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But while Singapore may need to provide more smaller homes, there is still a need to build a “good distribution of home sizes” to cater to other preferences, said CBRE’s Director of Research for Southeast Asia Catherine He.

Dr Woo Jun Jie, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), said there is a need to rethink housing grants and allocations for HDB flats–particularly age requirements as well as the limitations on flat sizes for single buyers.

The proportion of singles has increased among all age groups within the 20- to 49-year-old bracket.

Subject to various eligibility criteria, singles aged 35 and above can apply to acquire two-room BTO flats.

Ismail noted that while housing policies for this group of buyers have become more inclusive, authorities can consider allowing singles to acquire three-room BTO flats in the future.

“Some singles may need more space, for instance, an elderly single with a caregiver, or a single person who has plans to eventually get married and start a family,” he said.

Another pressing issue for housing policy arises from the city-state’s rapidly ageing population. In 2020, persons aged 65 and above accounted for 15.2% of Singapore’s resident population, up from 9% in 2010.

“(Authorities can review) whether the present housing models are sufficient to cater to the needs of the ageing population, and whether there is enough supply of such housing to meet future demand from the elderly,” said Ismail.

Seniors currently have various options in the public housing market, including assisted living flats and two-room Flexi flats.

However, authorities can consider whether more elderly housing options can be offered within the private housing sector, said Ismail.

“With an ageing population, we might see more projects with shorter leases to make them more affordable to the elderly,” said CBRE’s He as quoted by CNA.

“We might also see more sites set aside for eldercare, such as the residential care community concept for people with dementia at Sembawang or the one at Kampung Admiralty, an integrated housing project for the elderly.”


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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email:

Jul 08, 2021
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