Thursday, February 19, 2009

First-time flat buyers get more aid

FINANCE assistant Ang Li Shan, 27, and her fiance Alex Chan, 35, have enjoyed a double dollop of good news in their quest to buy a flat.

Last month, before the Budget, they asked the Housing Board about buying a three-room resale flat. They were thrilled to learn that if they bought a flat near Ms Ang's parents', they would get a $40,000 HDB grant.

Now with the Budget comes more good news. As first-time home buyers with a combined income of less than $5,000, they will get an extra grant of $10,000. The earlier $4,000 income ceiling had ruled them out.

'The raising of the income ceiling is great news,' said Ms Ang. 'Given the uncertain times, we want to keep our loans as low as possible.'

For first-timers buyers of HDB flats, there will be tweaks to the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG), with the maximum amount now raised by $10,000. Buyers must be continuously employed for at least a year instead of two. The income ceiling will be raised to $5,000 a month.

Home owners facing financial problems can also defer monthly HDB loan repayments for up to six months and reduce the monthly repayment amount.

A new interim rental housing scheme will enable home owners to sell their HDB flats and buy new, smaller flats. While these are being built, they can move into rental flats priced below the market rate

For new home owners, the Government will lift the supply of studio apartments, two- and three-room flats to add to 4,800 such units now available.

From next month, older Singaporeans can benefit from a Lease Buyback Scheme which will allow those in three-room or smaller flats to sell the tail end of their lease back to HDB and still stay in their flats.

Source: Straits Times - 19 Feb 2009

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