• Published Date: 10 Jul 2018

    HDB's Reply

     

    Seniors looking to right-size to smaller flats have several options
    Date: 10 Jul 2018

     

    We thank Mr Bernard C G Law for his letter (Improve ways for older folk to move into smaller flats; June 30). 

    Under the two-room Flexi Scheme, seniors aged 55 and above can choose a lease period of between 15 and 45 years, in five-year increments, as long as the lease can cover them and their spouse up to the age of at least 95 years. 

    This requirement offers seniors greater assurance that the flat can last them for the rest of their life, and minimise any concerns that they may outlive their flat leases. 

    As these flats are meant for our seniors to age in place, they are not eligible for resale. 

    However, should seniors decide to take up alternative housing arrangements and no longer need their short-lease two-room Flexi flat, they can return it to the Housing Board and receive a refund of the value of the remaining lease. 

    Seniors who wish to apply for a two-room Flexi flat can do so through the quarterly Build-To-Order sales launches, or through the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises. 

    Since August last year, they have also been able to do so through the Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises. 

    The ROF exercise pools together all flats unsold from previous SBF exercises, so applicants can have quicker access to a flat. 

    Together, the SBF and ROF exercises take place about four times a year, or once every three months, so applicants who are unsuccessful in one exercise can submit their application in another exercise in the next quarter. 

    Details of upcoming sales launches are available on the HDB InfoWeb. 

    Besides buying a two-room Flexi flat, seniors who wish to right-size to a smaller flat could also consider buying a three-room or smaller flat from HDB or the resale market, with the option of applying for a Silver Housing Bonus of up to $20,000. Those buying an HDB resale flat to live near their children can also apply for the Proximity Housing Grant of $20,000. 

    There are a range of monetisation options for seniors to unlock the value of their flats. They can choose an option that best meets their individual needs, preferences and family circumstances. 

    To support our seniors in their decision-making process, we also offer one-to-one consultations at the HDB Hub and our branches. 

     

    Lily Chan-Wong (Mrs) 
    Director (Policy & Property) 
    Housing & Development Board 

     

     

    Letter to The Straits Times

     

    Improve ways for older folk to move into smaller flats
    Date: 30 Jun 2018

     

    From: Bernard C G Law

     

    The option of right-sizing, where those above 55 years old choose to move out of bigger flats to smaller ones, is becoming popular. 

    However, there some ways to help this group of older Singaporeans ease into this arrangement. 

    Many people prefer to right-size to a two-room flexi-lease flat as these are often newer and more affordable. 

    Currently, they have only two ways to opt for the two-room flexi-lease flat. One is via the Build-To-Order option, which can take about three years. The other is via a Sale of Balance Flats exercise, which happens only twice a year. 

    Would it make more sense for those who are opting to right-size to be given the option to choose from all the estates available rather than to have to wait six months if they fail to get a unit at their estate of choice? 

    Furthermore, the applicants of two-room flexi-lease flats are subject to the same conditions as those applying for bigger units. 

    There is however a critical difference: the former cannot resell their flats in the open market. Effectively, it is a direct-leasing arrangement. There is, therefore, no gains from buying these flats, unlike bigger ones. 

    Also, applicants of two-room flexi-lease flats have to choose a lease period that will cover them till at least the age of 95. Perhaps this should be reduced to 85 years instead. 

    Realistically, many people in their 80s or even 70s require some form of assisted living - many move in to live with their children or may need nursing care arrangements. 

    This would also mean that less money would be tied to the two-room flexi-lease flat, freeing up more for one's retirement needs.