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Make new towns more appealing to home buyers

I refer to the report “Consider rewarding older couples who move to non-mature estates: Khaw” (July 17).

I refer to the report “Consider rewarding older couples who move to non-mature estates: Khaw” (July 17).

Freeing up resale units in mature estates by encouraging older residents to join their children in new towns does little to address the reasons behind the persistent appeal of mature estates.

We should not ignore the sentiments of many who do not currently reside in these estates, but desire to do so in the future. These home buyers, mostly young families in outlying estates, are prepared to pay for the privilege for several reasons.

Most mature towns have well-developed transport links that provide residents with easy travel options — people may have a choice between multiple bus routes and MRT lines.

Mature estates also enjoy closer proximity to Singapore’s economic centres, as these suburbs grew naturally out of the city. Many flats in older towns are also larger. Some have layouts that give a semblance of greater privacy for example, cluster units instead of flats laid out in rows. Residents do not feel suffocated and enjoy more personal space.

Mature estates also enjoy well-developed services and eateries that increase an estate’s intangible value to current and aspiring residents. Over time, the concentration of such facilities will elevate the status of a neighbourhood.

Asking older Singaporeans to move to new towns is akin to asking them to leave behind their lifelong community and social links. It may be difficult for them to fit in with the younger crowd in their new housing areas.

They may also be deprived of meaningful social interaction with their peers, which is crucial to positive ageing. If we want the housing demand in mature estates to moderate on its own, we must make the new towns more appealing.

Non-mature estates have yet to catch up in terms of efficient transport links, estate and building design, and facilities and services provided. Once all these factors are equal, market forces will create an equilibrium without the need for policy intervention.

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