Dear Reuel: What Is This ‘Sell 1 HDB Flat, Buy 2 Private Properties’ All About?

Dear Reuel, 

I have been seeing Facebook ads from property agents telling me that I can sell my HDB flat and with the sales proceeds – buy two private properties. A HDB flat for two condominiums? For real? How is that even possible? Is it a scam or some sales talk?

– Skeptical


Dear Skeptical,

You are right to be skeptical (like me). It’s this killer street-smart instinct that stops you from falling prey to ridiculous scams like the DHL episode, Nigerian prince inheritance bullocks and magic stone horsesh*t.

Here’s the true-true. It’s actually possible. But there’s a caveat though and for it to work, there must be some conditions to be met. In order to show you how it works, I am going to create a fictitious (but realistic) Singaporean homeowner profile.

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PHOTO: A 4-room Punggol flat sold by Reuelwrites

John and Mary’s Profile:

  • John and Mary are both 35 years old and make $6,000 and $3,500 respectively for the past 10 years.
  • They got married, successfully applied for their high-floor, 4-room, Punggol BTO HDB flat in 2008 and moved in upon its completion in 2011.
  • They took a 90% HDB loan for the $200k flat and have been paying $817 in monthly installments. They do not have any other debts and loans.
  • Because their monthly CPF contribution into their Ordinary Account is $1,840, they have more than enough to pay the monthly installment and put into their CPF OA.
  • John and Mary has accumulated around $220k and $120k in their CPF OA respectively.

Fortune smiles upon them and their flat has appreciated to $450k based on the most recent market transactions.

After staying in their HDB flat for six years;

  • They still have a loan balance of $146,800, with an assumed accrued CPF interest of $2,000.
  • If they sell their flat, they will have an extra $60,000 in combined CPF monies and accured interest credited back into their CPF OA.
  • After taking away all the deductibles, they will get to pocket a cool $232,700 in cash proceeds.
  • John and Mary will have $251k and $151k in CPF monies respectively.
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PHOTO: Sims Urban Oasis Showflat

 

How the ‘Sell 1 HDB flat, Buy 2 Private Properties’ Work:

John:

  • As the higher income earner, John buys a 3 bedroom condo in Punggol which costs around $1m, as a sole owner.
  • Based on his salary of $6,000, he can borrow a maximum bank loan of around $800k.
  • His monthly installment amounts to around $2.8k/month, which he can pay using his existing CPF monies for minimum 20 months (if John happens to go on a sabbatical or loses his job due to misfortune).
  • His monthly CPF contribution is $1,380, which means he needs to top up the difference of $1,420 in CPF (or cash).

Mary:

  • With a salary of $3,500, Mary can borrow a maximum bank loan of around $468k which she loans to purchase a 1 bedroom apartment in Aljunied at $550k, as a sole owner as well.
  • Her monthly installment amounts to around $1.7k/month, which she can pay using her existing CPF monies for minimum 33 months (if Mary happens to go on a sabbatical or loses her job due to misfortune).
  • Mary rents it out for $1.7k, thereafter having the tenant cover her monthly installments.
  • Mary can sell it four years later at $650k (based on an inflation of 4-5%/annum), thereafter pocketing another $120k in cash proceeds and rental income, which she can use to roll on another property.
  • Her monthly CPF contribution is $805, which means she needs to top up the difference of $895 in CPF (or cash).

Outcome:

  • Together, John and Mary are now cool owners of two private properties instead of one.
  • After paying the 5% option fee for both properties, they still have $155,200 from the sale of their HDB flat which they can use to renovate their new home and put into their children’s education fund.
  • They have also saved 7% Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duties since they each bought the properties under individual names.
  • They have upgraded to a private property where their entire family can enjoy a better quality of life while also growing their monies through another property investment at the same time.

Sounds good yea? This is granted homeowners such as yourself share the same or similar profile as the clients above. But alas, the world is not fair ya.

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PHOTO: Parc Life Executive Condominium Artist Impression

When Does It Not Work:

I have done plenty of presentations and financial calculations for clients. Here are some common reasons why the above method do not work all the time.

  1. Not all HDB flats can be sold with such high cash proceeds (some might even be a negative sale)
  2. Homeowners make the mistake of fully/partially paying the flat with their CPF monies early, resulting in high CPF accrued interests which diminishes the cash proceeds.
  3. Homeowners have been staying in the HDB flat for decades, resulting in super high CPF accrued interests payable back to their own CPF OA when they sell the flat.
  4. Homeowners’ salaries are insufficient to take loans to buy two separate properties.
  5. Loan is insufficient to finance 80% of the property as home buyers have many loans and debts which include but are not limited to credit card debts, car loans, renovation loans, etc.
  6. Banks are unwilling to loan home buyers as home buyers have a history of bad debts, resulting in a low credit score.
  7. Home buyers are self-employed and declared a low income (dum dum dum).
  8. Home buyers are conservative and fear having too much debts (loans) to pay – even if they have the ability to pay for them.

My Thoughts:

The ‘Sell 1 HDB flat, Buy 2 Private Properties’ can work. But for it to work, you will really need to have a sit-down sharing session with a good and capable real estate agent with a conscience (which I highly and shamelessly recommend myself for obvious reasons!) and share all information with him/her, including your debts (if any).

Overall, ‘Sell 1 HDB flat, Buy 2 Private Properties’ is good but it’s not for everyone. There is a Chinese saying that goes这么大的头就别戴这么大的帽子” (If you don’t have a big head, don’t wear a big hat). Don’t be greedy (or carried away to another planet by the property agent’s flowery words) and leverage beyond your means.

Even if you can’t buy two private properties, exchanging a used 99-year leasehold flat for a brand new condo (or even an Executive Condominium) with a fresh lease is pretty sweet too, isn’t it? RW

 

Editor’s note: Every week, Reuelwrites dishes out uncensored, practical advice to friends, family members or strangers regarding real estate. Got a question for Reuelwrites? Email it to eugenetayhy@gmail.com.

Consultation: There is no one-advice-fits-all solution. For more in-depth advice, contact Reuelwrites at eugenetayhy@gmail.com or call +65 9833-6450.

Disclaimer: While the author Reuelwrites is a certified real estate agent with Huttons Asia, the above thoughts represents his own and is in no way representative to that of Huttons Asia.

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