Can I Apply To Buy A HDB Flat If I Worked For Less Than A Year?

I have a partner and we just started work for less than a year. We plan to apply for a HDB BTO and would like to ask when is the earliest possible time we can do so?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

Even though you can ballot with your partner for any of the BTO sales launches, you should only do so after carefully assessing your own financial situation and determining the size and location of flat you can actually afford to pay by the time the BTO is ready.

After you’re successful in balloting for a queue number and invited to select a flat, you’ll need a HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (if you’re taking a HDB loan) or Letter of Offer from the bank (if you’re taking a bank loan), as well as have enough cash and/or CPF to make your downpayment.

Banks have their own income and work history requirements, so do check with them if you qualify. If you’re interested in exploring a bank loan, you can use our landing page  to get a quote on how much you’re likely to receive.

If you’re taking a HDB loan, the HDB Loan Eligibility Letter basically says that you meet the basic requirements for a HDB loan. Given your short work history, you are likely to qualify for only a small loan amount that may not cover the cost of the flat, after deducting grants and your downpayment.

That is fine, since the Loan Eligibility Letter is valid for 6 months from the date of issue anyway, so you will need to apply for another one before your key collection. You just need to ensure that by that time, you qualify for a higher loan amount, or have enough CPF and/or cash to pay for any shortfall.

You might be interested to know that from the May 2018 BTO sales launch onwards, eligible couples applying for their first flat can defer income assessment for their HDB housing loan until their key collection.

To qualify for this deferred income assessment, couples need to be either 1) full-time students; 2) National Servicement; 3) Completed their studies or National Service in the past 12-months before the flat application.

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Can I Extend My Loan Tenure If I Perform A Refinancing Of My Home Loan?


If I am servicing a bank loan for my HDB flat, can I extend the loan tenure if I refinance the loan?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

The maximum loan tenure cannot exceed 30 years for HDB flats and 35 years for private properties, but the actual tenure that you’re offered may be shorter depending on your age and the years left on your property.

If the tenure of your original home loan was reduced by your age or lease of your property, then refinancing would not help you extend your tenure.

In addition, banks tend to look at when you purchased your property, and deduct that period from the tenure they are willing to offer you.

The only time when refinancing can help you get a longer tenure is if you took a short tenure loan previously, and would now like to stretch it to the maximum period you’re entitled to.

Read  More: Step-by-Step Guide to Refinancing Your Home Loan

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What Is The Eligibility Criteria For Renting A Flat From HDB?

How do I apply for a HDB rental flat? Is there any income ceiling or minimum age?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

In general there are two schemes that allow you to rent a flat from HDB at subsidised rates: Public Rental Scheme and Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme.

The Public Rental Scheme is heavily subsided and caters to Singaporean households with no other housing options. Since the supply of rental flats is limited, applicants must meet the eligibility criteria set by HDB:

Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme on the other hand, is meant to provide temporary housing for families as they await completion of their HDB flats. You can read in detail about the eligibility criteria on the HDB website.

If you do not qualify for either of these schemes, the alternative would be to rent from the open market.

Read Also: Frustrated With Waiting For Your BTO To Be Ready? Here’s How Provisional Housing Scheme Can Help You

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Can Singapore Permanent Residents Apply For A HDB BTO Flat?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

For all HDB BTO flats, the main applicant must be a Singapore Citizen.

If the co-owner is a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR), then they will be able to apply for BTO flats of all sizes under one of the schemes they qualify under – such as the Public Scheme, Fiance/Fiancee Scheme.

If the co-owner is not a Citizen nor a Singapore PR, then they can still apply for a 2-room BTO flat in a non-mature estate. However, the non-Citizen must be holding a valid Visit pass or Work pass at the time of application.

For more information about the other eligibility criteria (such as income ceiling, age and property ownership), you can refer to this article on DollarsAndSense.

Read More: [BTO Guide] Eligibility Criteria For Buying A HDB In Singapore

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What Is The Difference Between ETFs And Low-Cost Index Funds?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

Both exchange traded funds (ETFs) and index funds are investments that track an underlying index. This has become an increasingly popular way to invest as they:

# 1 Allow investors to take a passive investment approach;

# 2 Are low-cost compared to active fund management;

# 3 Offer investors a diversified investment, with a single investment of as low as $1,000 or even $100;

# 4 Enable investors to receive close to market returns (while also mitigating any manager risk – the risk of an investment manager making wrong investment decisions)

Read Also: Step-By-Step Guide To ETF Investing In Singapore

So, now that we’ve established how they are similar, let’s try to resolve our user’s question.

The biggest difference between ETFs and index funds is that ETFs are listed on stock exchanges, while index funds are not. This means you can buy or sell ETFs like any other listed stocks via a brokerage account, while you can only buy or sell index funds, similar to unit trusts or mutual funds, at the end of the trading day at its Net Asset Value (NAV).

Read Also: The Pros And Cons Of Building An ETF-Only Portfolio

Being listed and unlisted securities respectively, there are different transaction costs associated with investing in ETFs and index funds. There is a minimum brokerage fee of close to $30 when we invest in ETFs. The cost of investing in index funds can vary from 0% to about 5%.

ETFs are also generally stored in your Central Depository (CDP) account. Index funds aren’t listed, and there are generally platform fees for a custodian account to consider.

How Can Investors In Singapore Buy The S&P500 Index Fund/ETF?

The S&P500 is a benchmark index for the strongest 500 companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the NASDAQ.

For investors in Singapore, the easiest way to gain exposure to the S&P500 is to buy the SPDR S&P500 ETF Trust (SGX:S27), listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) since 1993. We can buy and sell this similar to how we buy and sell other locally listed stocks.

Read Also: How Singaporeans Can Start Investing In Overseas Stocks, By Looking At The World Around Us

Of course, index funds offer investors another way to gain exposure to the S&P500 index. Platforms such as iFast’s FSMOne and Aviva’s Navigator offer several index funds that either track the S&P500 benchmark in full or use it as part of its benchmark.

This includes Infinity US 500 Stock Index SGD (tracking the S&P500 index) or the Neuberger Berman US Equity Index PutWrite Fund USD A Accumulating Class (with 85% of its benchmark tracking the S&P500 index).

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How Will I Receive My 2.7% Per Annum Interest From My Temasek T2023-S$ Bonds?

Thank you for the recent article on the Temasek T2023-S$ bonds. I’m glad I received my allotted lots.

I would like to ask, how will I be receiving the coupon payments, and upon the maturity of the bond, will the monetary value of the bond be automatically credited to me, or do I need my broker to help me redeem the bond?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

First of all, congratulations on your allotment!

As you know, the Temasek T2023-S$ bonds are held in your CDP account and can be traded on SGX.

As with other stocks and bonds held in your CDP, dividends and coupon payments will be credited to you by CDP, in the form of  a cheque or bank transfer, which you specified when registering for your CDP account.

Upon maturity, your investment will likewise be credited to you, without any intervention from your broker. Your brokerage will only be involved if you wish to sell your bond before maturity.

Read Also: Step-By-Step Guide To Opening A CDP Account In Singapore

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When Enjoying 50% Off Discounts At Restaurants, Is It Right For Service Charge Or GST To Be Applied To The Price Before Discount?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

In most cases, the service charge (10%) is levied on the full price of your food order, before any discounts are applied to the original price of your food items.

GST is then applied to the net price, after discounts,

To illustrate, here is the math:

Net Price = MENU PRICE + 10% of MENU PRICE – Discount Off MENU PRICE

What You Pay = Net Price + 7% GST of Net Price

Restaurants applying the service charge to the full menu price is fair, since discounts are for the food items, and not service.

However, by law, GST should only be applied to the value of goods and services you’re actually paying, after discounts.

Read Also: Dining Promotions: 1-for-1 or 50% Off – Which Is Better?

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Does The Retirement And Re-Employment Age Apply To Singaporeans Who Returned From Overseas?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

Short answer: It depends.

Protection For Retirement Age

Based on the MOM website, the retirement age only applies if you join your employer before the age of 55.

Source: MOM

That means overseas Singaporeans who return home and join a company before the age of 55 will enjoy the retirement age protection.

Protection For Re-Employment

Aside from being medically fit and having satisfactory work performance, an individual will be eligible for re-employment after turning 62 if they have worked with their current employer for more than 3 years.

Source: MOM

This does not mean your existing employer cannot offer you a re-employment contract if you do not meet the eligibility criteria. They can if they want to, but remember, they are not obliged to do so.

Applies Equally To All Singaporeans & Permanent Residents (PRs)

For all Singaporeans and PRs, both the retirement and re-employment age will apply to you as long as you qualify for them based on the criteria stated above. Whether or not your work experience was from overseas does not matter in this case.

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Some Investment Trainers Market Themselves As “SGX-Accredited Speakers”. Is That An Indication They Are Of A Certain Quality?


I am looking into investments or courses to take to build portfolio. There are many investment schools teaching about trading, there is one particularly marketing itself as being conducted by a “SGX-accredited speaker”. Do you think this is proof that it is of a certain quality since it is SGX-approved?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

First of all, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is the entity that administers Singapore’s capital markets, derivatives and other markets. Through its independent RegCo subsidiary, it regulates publicly-listed companies to ensure a healthy, fair and vibrant markets for all participants.

To increase knowledge and interest among retail investors, SGX has an academy that conducts courses on a range of topics, ranging from the entry-level to more advanced courses. To conduct these courses, SGX partners with independent course trainers, full-time traders, and other subject matter experts.

However, SGX does NOT have an accreditation system where it endorses individuals or companies. The term “SGX-accredited speaker” is meaningless, misleading and you should be much more skeptical. If you can’t trust the company to accurately represent their credentials, then can you really trust them with hundreds or thousands of dollars of your money?

For example, SGX might partner with someone to conduct a “How To Read Financial Statements” class. But it does not mean that SGX endorses the person or their expertise in other areas, such as a full-fledged trading system or masterclass on other topics.

If you’re interested in learning to invest, there are plenty of resources on DollarsAndSense, such as this beginners’ guide. Since investing is just one part of your overall financial health, speaking with a trusted financial adviser will also be helpful in determining if you’re adequately insured and how much you can afford to set aside for investing.

Read Also: [Beginners’ Guide] How To Start Investing In Singapore

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Is It Worth Paying Down My Housing Loan?


Do you have any information on how to determine whether it is worth to pay my housing loan fully?

DollarsAndSense Answers:

When thinking about whether it makes sense to pay down your housing loan, there are many factors that one should consider. However, it typically comes down to two main factors. Opportunity cost and cashflow.

Opportunity Cost – Assuming you are taking an HDB loan of 2.6%, this means the cost of borrowing money for your housing loan is 2.6%. If you repay this amount, you will immediately save 2.6% per annum. However, you also miss out on the opportunity where you could have invested and earned a higher return than 2.6%. Of course, we have to consider that investing also comes with an element of risk and uncertainty. So, while you may expect a higher return, this is not be a guarantee. There may also be conditions for how long you need to hold your investments in order to earn the return.

Read Also: HDB Or Bank Loan: Pros & Cons To Consider Before Deciding On Which Housing Loan To Take

Cashflow – If you have an existing housing loan of $100,000, and emergency savings of $100,000, you may choose to repay your housing loan in order to save on interest cost.

However, you have to consider your short-term cashflow. If your emergency savings are depleted because of a housing loan repayment, it also puts you at financial risk if some unexpected cost were to incur, or if you were to lose your job. That’s because you no longer have your emergency savings to tap on since the funds have been used for home loan repayment.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong decision. You should decide based on what you are comfortable with, the opportunity cost you lose out on if you repay your housing loan, and your cashflow requirement.

Read Also: Why Singaporeans Should Stop Using Their CPF Money To Pay Their HDB Home Mortgage