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How to Save Money on Your HDB BTO Flat

We hear you. Yes, there’s a price to pay for having a roof over our heads and not having to put up with bipolar landlords, but surely there has to be a better way than working to the bone for two and a half decades. After all, a few hundred thousand is a pretty intimidating sum to those who haven’t even seen it in their own bank accounts. So, we’re going to show you five (wholly legal!) ways to make that monetary burden a little bit lighter.

 

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1. Make use of grants

As a Singapore citizen, you’re already enjoying a government-subsidised price on your BTO flat. But did you know you can offset your flat purchase further with a housing grant? Called CPF Housing Grants, these housing subsidies can be used for the initial payment or to reduce your mortgage loan.

HDB offers a selection to cater to different income levels and household demographics. This is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable public housing. If you’re eligible, you should definitely apply for one as the grant amount goes up to $60,000—imagine that being shaved off your flat purchase. And nope, you do not need to repay it! 🙂

Only Singapore citizens are eligible to apply, as the CPF grant is credited directly into your CPF account instead of via cash. To understand which grant you should apply for, click here.

 

 2. Get a loan

Unless you’re confident you’re able to make the full payment in one lump sum, it might be better to spread out the financial burden by taking on a housing loan, either from HDB or a bank, because:

  • You free up your cash flow for emergencies and other significant purchases, e.g. a wedding package if you’re getting married.
  • You can accumulate your wealth over time, and be able to bear the monthly payments more easily with a higher salary.

Between a HDB loan and a bank loan, the HDB loan amounts to a lower repayment figure in the long run (thanks to concessionary interest rates). Save even more by choosing a shorter repayment period if you can. This is because paying off your loan earlier means you save on interest, which adds up to a significant sum over time.

 

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3. Use your CPF to pay for it

Another way to free up your cash flow is to pay with your CPF savings. Not only is it a good way to utilise the CPF monies in your Ordinary Account, many of the steps in the application process encourage and facilitate using of CPF to make payment. For example, if you’re taking a HDB loan, you can use your CPF to pay for 10% of the flat’s downpayment. If you do so, the option fee of $2000 will be reimbursed to your bank account, which means you get to save that amount outright.

Using your CPF to repay each monthly instalment also means you can focus on saving up your take-home pay for personal pursuits, such as education funds for the kids or your retirement fund.

 

4. Opt for existing furnishings

We know that renovating your house can be time-consuming, not to mention it’s another thing to pay for after collecting your keys. With HDB’s Optional Component Scheme (OCS), homeowners can opt to have the internal doors and sanitary fittings, and/or flooring installed in their flats during the construction itself. Default tiles and doors will be used, so if you don’t mind that, OCS will save you time and hassle.

The good thing about OCS is that you’re using your CPF to pay for it (no additional cash output), since the cost is directly added to the flat’s purchase price. Homeowners who have opted for OCS share with us that, considering the prices of materials and fixtures can inflate in the three to four years it takes to get their flat, opting for OCS is a good investment.

Sometimes renovations also drag on for longer than expected, and this can cost you a few months more of rental if you’re renting a place while waiting to collect your keys.

 

5. DIY renovations

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If you can do it yourself, why pay someone else to do it for you? Here’s how you can have the best of both worlds: OCS gets the groundwork completed for you, so that you are left with the simpler stuff such as carpentry, basic electrical wiring, plumbing and painting. Then get to work and settle those yourself at only cost price of the materials.


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