Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wrong timing, now family has no home

MR W. H. Wong, 36, a manager, has been living apart from his wife and two young children for six months and sees no end to their plight in sight.

He sold his four-room flat last August to upgrade to a maisonette but while trying to secure a housing loan, HDB's loan policy changed and he now faces a cash shortfall for his next purchase.

He still hopes to buy a maisonette, so his parents can move in with him.

For now, his wife and their two children, aged six and four, stay with her parents in Serangoon, while he is with his parents in Chua Chu Kang.

Every evening, he drives to Serangoon to see his family, then heads back to his parents' four-room flat, which is too small to accommodate his family.

He is frustrated at the situation because, unlike some others, he did not sell his flat for easy cash but to upgrade to a bigger home.

When he sold his flat last August, he received cash proceeds of $57,000. Now, HDB has asked him to fork out half of that sum for his next purchase. HDB has also reduced the size of the loan it will grant him by that amount.

'The housing loan is now smaller, and the cash-over-valuation for flats is rising. With this new rule, HDB has reduced the amount of cash I have that I could have used to pay for the COV of the new flat,' he said.

A buoyant market has sent the COV - cash premiums for HDB flats - soaring.

Mr Wong has tried looking for flats with lower COV but to no avail. He also sought the help of his MP Cynthia Phua.

His query: 'I sold my flat before the policy was implemented. Why does it apply to me?'

In November last year, he applied for an HDB loan to finance the purchase of his second flat.

The board rejected the application as the couple's combined monthly income exceeded the cap of $8,000.

He re-applied. HDB finally gave him a loan in April. By then, his wife had left her job and the family income was below $8,000.

Now, the problem is that he does not have enough cash to buy a flat of the size he wants.

'Every maisonette seller is now asking for at least $50,000 in COV. If I give HDB half of my cash proceeds, where do I find the cash to pay for the COV?' he asked.

'It's all wrong timing,' he lamented.

Source: Straits Times, 22 Jul 2010

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