This article was written in collaboration with the Ministry of National Development (MND). All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg.
One way to plan for retirement is to ensure that you will receive a stream of monthly payouts for the rest of your life.
For many Singaporeans, an HDB flat not only provides a roof above our heads and a place we call home, but it is also a valuable asset that we can monetise in our golden years. While monetising our HDB flat is not the only way to fund our retirement, it’s nice to know that this option exists for home owners. Whether you prefer to move out of or stay in your current flat, there are different options for you to monetise your flat.
# 1 Taking Up The Lease Buyback Scheme
If you are perfectly comfortable with the home that you are currently living in and have no intention to move, you can monetise your HDB flat by taking up the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) from age 65.
And the good news is, as of 1 January 2019, the Lease Buyback Scheme has been extended to all HDB flats.
So, what is the Lease Buyback Scheme all about?
Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Sell part of your flat’s remaining lease back to HDB.
Those aged 65 and above can retain a sufficient amount of your flat’s remaining lease to cover the youngest owner till he/she is at least 95 years old and sell the rest back to HDB.
|Age Of Youngest Owner
|Choice Of Lease To Retain
|65 to 69||30, 35|
|70 to 74||25, 30, 35|
|75 to 79||20, 25, 30, 35|
|80 and above||15, 20, 25, 30, 35|
Step 2: Top up part of the proceeds to your CPF Retirement Account
Part of the proceeds you get from selling your lease back to HDB will be used to top up your CPF Retirement Account (RA).
For households with 1 owner, he/she will have to use the proceeds to top up the Retirement Account to the current age-adjusted Full Retirement Sum (FRS).
For households with 2 or more owners, each owner will have to use his/her share of the proceeds to top up his/her CPF RA to the current age-adjusted Basic Retirement Sum (BRS).
After making the required CPF top-up, owners can retain up to $100,000 of the remaining proceeds in cash.
Any proceeds (after the top-up and setting aside of $100,000 cash) will be used to further top up the respective Retirement Accounts of each owner up to the current FRS. They can then retain any balance proceeds in cash.
Step 3: Receive remaining cash proceeds, cash bonus of up to $20,000 and an income for life.
Besides being able to keep the remaining cash proceeds after topping up your CPF RA, you will also receive a cash bonus upfront for topping up your CPF RA. The amount of cash bonus that you will receive depends on your flat type – up to $20,000 for a 3-room or smaller flat, $10,000 for a 4-room flat or $5,000 for a 5-room flat. Do note that this cash bonus is from the Government and does not come from your CPF accounts.
That’s not all – your full CPF RA savings will be used to buy a CPF LIFE plan, which will allow you to enjoy monthly payouts for the rest of your life.
What happens if elderly households pass away within the 15-/20-/25-/30-/35-year LBS lease?
Should the elderly flat owner pass away before the expiry of the balance lease, the lease will be passed to the owner’s estate. Their spouse or child who is staying in the flat will be given the option of either staying in the flat for the balance of the lease retained, or returning the flat to HDB. If the flat is returned to HDB, HDB will reimburse the beneficiaries the value of the remaining lease based on straight-line depreciation.
What happens if the owners outlive their 15-/20-/25-/30-/35-year LBS lease?
LBS flat owners who outlive the lease of the flat will not be left homeless. HDB will look into the circumstances of each case to determine the appropriate housing arrangement for them.
At their advanced age, the owner’s health condition and financial status will be taken into consideration in determining the appropriate housing arrangement. With family as the first line of support, HDB will work with the owners’ family members to work out an appropriate housing arrangement. Those without family support may also need to be referred to social agencies for holistic support and assistance.
For more FAQs on LBS, click here.
# 2 Right-Sizing with the Silver Housing Bonus
The second option is to right-size to a smaller HDB flat.
The truth is that a smaller flat is going to be easier to maintain and clean in the long-run, especially for an ageing couple.
If you right-size to a 3-room or smaller flat, you can apply for the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) and receive a cash bonus of up to a $20,000 when you use part of your net sales proceeds to top up your CPF RA.
Find out more about right-sizing with the Silver Housing Bonus here.
# 3 Renting Out
For many older couples, after their children move out to start their own families, they are left with a home that is too big for them.
Another way to monetise your HDB flat is to rent out your spare bedroom(s) or entire flat, if you have some place else to live (e.g. with your children).
Renting out is a practical way to utilise space that you no longer need without having to sell your flat, while receiving a monthly rental income.
Choose The Option Which Best Suits Your Retirement Preference
Having sufficient funds to support ourselves in our retirement is important. Being able to live out our retirement in a home and in a manner that we are comfortable with is just as essential.
Whether it’s taking up the Lease Buyback Scheme, right-sizing to a home which is suitable for our needs, renting out rooms in our home, or staying with our children while we enjoy income from our rented HDB flat, we should carefully consider all the available options if we intend to monetise our HDB flat to support our retirement.
To better help you decide which option best suits your needs, you can visit the MND website to get a rough gauge of how much you can get from the various options.