Before 1 January 2003, people buying a HDB (Housing Development Board) flat have to finance it either with a HDB Concessionary Rate Loan or a HDB market rate loan. But since then the HDB market rate loan was replaced by home mortgage from financing institutions, which are gazetted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
HDB Concessionary Rate Loan
Compared to a home loan from a financing institution, a HDB loan has more stringent eligibility requirements. The below covers most of them.
- For HDB flats only (resale or direct purchase from HDB)
- At least one buyer must be a Singapore citizen
- Must have a gross monthly income not exceeding $10,000 (or $15,000 for extended families)
- For DBSS flat the income ceiling is $8,000 (or $10,000 for extended families)
- For applicants under the Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) scheme, the income ceiling is $5,000
- Must not own any private residence (in Singapore or abroad), including HUDC and executive condominium
- Must not have sold a private residential property within 30 months and taken a HDB loan before
- Must not have previously obtained a HDB loan within 30 months
- Must not have taken more than two previous HDB loans
- Must not own more any market / hawker stalls or commercial / industrial property (Except if you operate the business yourself, have no other source of income, and only own one market / hawker stall or commercial / industrial property)
From July 2013, HDB loan will not be granted for flats with less than 20 years of lease. In addition, for flats with lease between 20 and 59 years, loan approval and tenure will be subjected to certain conditions.
Given the many restrictions of a HDB loan, why then do Singaporeans still want to take one? We delve further into the pros of this loan in the following sections.
1. Higher CPF (Central Provident Fund) withdrawal limitFor financing by bank loans, the CPF Ordinary Account withdrawal cap is up to 100% of the valuation limit (VL), which is the lower of the purchase price or valuation at the time of purchase. If the loan is still outstanding when this limit is breached, the housing withdrawal limit can be increased to 120% VL provided that half (entire) of the prevailing Minimum Sum is set aside for borrowers below 55 (55 and above). This housing withdrawal limit varies with the purchase date of the flat, for purchases from 2008 onwards it is 120%.
With a HDB concessionary loan, however, you can enjoy a higher withdrawal limit.
For direct purchase from HDB, there is no limit to the saving in the Ordinary Account you can use.
For resale HDB flats, there is no limit to the saving in the Ordinary Account you can use, after you have set aside half of the prevailing Minimum Sum.
But from July 2013 onwards, for flats with leases between 30 and 59 years the use of CPF fund is allowed only if the remaining lease covers the buyer till at least 80. For such flats, the withdrawal limit will be computed based on the below formula:
= (The remaining lease of flat or property when the youngest owner is 55 years old / The lease of the flat or property at the point of purchase) x VL
For example, at the point of purchase the buyer is 38 years old and the lease is 40 years. When the buyer turns 55, the remaining lease will be 23 years. Hence
Withdrawal Limit = 23/ 40 x VL
Table 1 further illustrates what is VL.
Table 1: VL
Purchase Price (S$) = 400,000
Valuation (S$) = 350,000
VL (S$) = 350,000
Purchase Price (S$) = 370,000
Valuation (S$) = 420,000
VL (S$) = 370,000
For flats with under 30 years of lease, use of CPF fund is prohibited. In other words, buyers will to cough up cash for the down-payment, monthly repayment of the loan, stamp duties and other miscellaneous fees.
2. No cash component required for the down-payment
A key advantage of a HDB loan is that you do not have to stump up any portion of the down-payment in cash. You are allowed to use the balance in your CPF (Central Provident Fund) Ordinary Account to pay for it completely.
Whereas with a bank loan, you will have to pay at least 5% of the Valuation Limit (VL) in cash. If the loan tenure exceeds 30 years or extends past the age of 65, the minimum amount jumps to 10%.
3. Higher loan quantum
For the first HDB Concessionary Rate Loan you are taking, the loan quantum is as high as 90% VL. In contrast, for bank loans, the quantum is capped at 80% LTV (loan-to-value ratio). It dips to 60% if the loan tenure exceeds 30 years or extends past age 65.
New regulations, that have kicked in from 12 January 2013, dictate that the mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) for private loans must not exceed 30% of the gross monthly income of the borrower and 35% for HDB loans.
Effectively, this can translate into a lower loan quantum for a bank loan compared to a HDB loan.
For example, for a 30-year loan with a 80% quantum for a S$800,000 HDB flat, at an interest rate of 1.5% p.a., the monthly repayment amount will be S$1,932.67. In order to be eligible for a
- HDB loan: Gross monthly income ≥ S$5,521.92
- Private loan: Gross monthly income ≥ S$6,442.24
Thus, if your income is below S$6,442.24, you will not be eligible for a private loan of 80% LTV. If you extend the loan tenure, current rules mandate that you can only take up to 60% LTV.
Therefore, a HDB loan will allow a higher loan quantum.
4. HDB is more lenient
As a Government agency which main goals are to provide affordable quality housing and encourage home-ownership, HDB tends to be more tolerant of delinquent borrowers.
But for a loan from a financing institution, you are always required to pay the monthly stipulated amount even if you have suffered a pay cut.
Further, HDB usually grants deferment of monthly installment payment if you have fallen into financial hardship. The banks, on the other hand, will likely be hot on your heels if you defer payment even for a day!
5. No penalty for partial or full repayment of loan
Of note, is that HDB imposes zero penalty for partial or full repayment of its loan.
Most mortgages of financial institutions, however, come with a lock-in period (aka commitment period) typically of 3-5 years. During this period, any repayment above the prior agreed amount will result in a penalty – usually at most 1.5% of the repayment amount. Financial institutions profit from the interest incurred on the loan, any partial or full repayment of the loan means a loss on interest earnings. Hence, the penalty helps to compensate for this loss.
6. Stability in interest rate
Since revision to the interest rate of a HDB loan is made quarterly in tandem with changes to the CPF rate, which has been the same for over 10 years. The interest rate has, likewise, remained stagnant. A HDB loan, thus, offers relatively more stability than even a fixed-rate mortgage which rate is only fixed for 3- 5 years. This is not saying that there have been no fluctuations in HDB interest rates. For instance, in the 1990s rates demonstrated more volatility.
I am a writer for iCompareLoan and PropertyBuyer.com.sg
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Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage loans have increased exponentially in recent years due to the downturn in the U.S. economy. This economic slump has resulted in banks tightening lending standards for conventional loans. The increase in VA loans is largely due to the fact that they are easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages and are one of the few mortgage options available for qualified borrowers who do not have a down payment.
VA loans often offer lower interest rates than other type of loans and are available for the “full reasonable value” of a given property. Consequently, a down payment is not required as with other government programs such as FHA, which requires a 3.5 % minimum down payment.
So what is a VA loan? VA loans are home mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs however they are not a direct lender. The loan is made through a private lender (of your choice) and is guaranteed by the VA as long as guidelines are met. What are the guidelines and who actually qualifies for a VA loan? To follow are the seven basic steps you will need to take to successfully obtain a VA home mortgage loan.
Step One: Determining Eligibility
Most members of the military – veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard are eligible to apply for a VA loan. The spouses of military who died in active duty or as a result of service-connected disability may also apply. Active duty members qualify after about six months of service.
Reservists and National Guard members must wait six years to apply unless they are called to active duty, where they gain eligibility after 181 days of service. However, during war periods members are generally eligible after 90 days of service. In consideration of your status of service, loan applications can differ. Your VA regional office personnel can assist you with any additional eligibility questions.
After pre-determining your eligibility, the first step for potential borrowers is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (26-1880) before applying for a loan. At this juncture, you will need to select an accredited VA loan specialist who will assist you in moving forward in the loan process which includes accessing and submitting this eligibility form online.
Step Two: The Pre-Approval Process
Before embarking on step two of the VA loan process, it is crucial that you have pulled your credit report in advance with all three credit reporting agencies to see where you stand with your FICO credit score. You should thoroughly examine the report for any errors and/or identity theft, taking care of any such issues beforehand. Although Veteran’s Affairs does not require a minimum score for a VA loan, most lenders have internal requirements, asking for a credit score of 620 or higher.
After you have completed this important task, you will provide this information to your VA loan specialist. They can answer any questions that you have and help you with determining the loan amount you are eligible for through a pre-approval process. The pre-approval process is required by most realtors before working with you to find a home. It serves to give you piece of mind and a price range that you can afford based on a pre-approved amount.
To obtain a VA loan, the law requires that:
• The applicant must be an eligible veteran who has available entitlement.
• The loan must be for an eligible purpose.
• The veteran must occupy or intend to occupy the property as a home within a reasonable period of time after closing the loan.
• The veteran must be a satisfactory credit risk.
• The income of the veteran and spouse, if any, must be shown to be stable and sufficient to meet the mortgage payments, cover the costs of owning a home, take care of other obligations and expenses, and have enough left over for family support.
Your experienced VA loan specialist will be able to further discuss specific income and other qualifying requirements. According to the VA Loan Quick Guide, the VA loan limits generally do not exceed $417,000 (exception in maximum limits with VA Jumbo loans in designated High Cost counties – calculations can vary).
Step Three: Decide on a Home & Make an Offer
Select a realtor to work diligently with you to find your desired home. After finding the home based on your personal and financial criteria, you will make your offer. The offer should not be too low or too high, as you want to stay ahead of the pack in bidding but not risk overpaying for the property. After making the offer, you will be required to place a deposit down ($500.00 is customary) on the property.
In placing your offer, be aware that there are certain fees such as brokerage and lender fees, commissions or buyer-brokerage fees that the seller may have to absorb as they are disallowed by the VA to be charged to the veteran buyer. This amount may need to be factored into the offer/purchase price to be acceptable to the seller.
Step Four: Signing the Purchase Agreement
It is recommended that two contingency provisions: 1) upon financing and 2) upon inspection, are inclusive or amended to the purchase agreement. Fact: A “pre-qualification” letter does not necessarily guarantee financing so you must be covered in the event that it does not go through. However, if you have proceeded as directed in Step Two and you are “pre-approved,” you should be fine. The pre-approval process is a more extensive check performed by your VA loan specialist on your financial background and credit rating. After completion, your lender will provide a conditional commitment on the amount of your loan.
A home inspection can be a critical contingency provision, giving you the option to back out if repairs are costly and substantially decrease the fair market value of the property. Fact: VA fee appraisers are not required to step on the roof for inspection nor do they have the specialized knowledge that a certified home inspection can provide.
The VA appraiser’s job is to ensure that the home lives up to minimum property requirements. He/she establishes fair market value for the home and a Certificate of Reasonable Value is issued. However this VA appraisal does not take the place of a detailed inspection of the property. Although optional, it is highly recommended that your offer be contingent upon a detailed home inspection.
Step Five: Offer Accepted
Contact your lender immediately and let them know that your offer was accepted. Congratulations! You are on your way to homeownership! If you have not done so already, you will need to provide the last two or three years of tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. He/she will help you complete your application and submit it to processing and approval.
Subsequently, the lender will order a VA appraisal and the certified home inspection. Your VA loan specialist will complete the appraisal and perform a complete review and verification of your credit, income and assets to give a “clear to close.” This will initiate the date, time and place where you will close to sign all necessary documentation to have the title transferred to you.
Step Six: VA Funding Fees
The VA funding fee is an essential component of the VA Home Loan Program. This basic one-time funding fee must be paid to the VA by all but certain exempt veterans. First time users of the VA loan benefit program with no down payment requires a 2.15% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.5% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.25% fee.
For subsequent users of the VA loan benefit, no down payment requires a 3.3% fee and a down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.5% fee. And a down payment of 10% or more requests a 1.25% fee.
The category of Reserves/National Guard first time users with no down payment requires a 2.4% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.75% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.5% fee. For subsequent users for the category of Reserves/National Guard, no down payment requires a 3.3% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.75% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.5% fee. The funding fee may be paid in cash or it may be included in the loan.
The following persons are exempt from paying the funding fee:
• Veterans who would be entitled to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities if they did not receive retirement pay.
• Veterans who would be entitled to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities if they did not receive retirement pay.
• Surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities (whether or not such surviving spouses are veterans with their own entitlement and whether or not they are using their own entitlement on the loan).
More good news! Unlike FHA and conventional loans (with less than 20% down), VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.
Step Seven: Approval & Closing
If your lender is authorized for automatic processing under VA’s Lender Appraisal Processing Program (LAPP), upon receipt of the VA appraised value determination the loan can be approved and closed without waiting for VA review. For loans that must be further reviewed by the VA, the lender will send the application to the local VA office, which will notify the lender of its decision.
After receiving VA approval, you (and your spouse) will attend the loan closing. Your lender or closing attorney will go over the terms of the loan and its requirements and where and how to make the monthly payments. You will sign all necessary documentation and the property will be then be transferred to you. You have completed the seven steps to getting a VA loan and are now a homeowner!
VA Loan Program Benefits – Now and in the Future
The VA loan program is effectively the U.S. governments’ and the American people’s way of saying “thank-you” to those who are actively serving or have served in the military. The benefits of the VA loan program extend beyond getting a home loan, as they can also be used for refinancing and fixing up an existing home.
Another advantage of a VA loan is in the assistance offered to borrowers who might be struggling. If the borrower of a VA loan cannot make their mortgage payment, the VA will negotiate on behalf of the borrower. They have a dedicated nationwide staff committed to helping veterans who are experiencing financial difficulties. These financial counselors can help borrower s negotiate repayment plans, loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosure.
We are keenly aware that many of our troops will be returning from overseas in the near future and that there are veterans who have served our country in the past now looking for a home. Be assured that VA accredited lenders are honored to work on your behalf, in financing your home and the bright future that you and your family so richly deserve.
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