• Published Date: 20 May 2015

    Salespersons play a crucial role in guiding HDB flat sellers and buyers to make prudent decisions. In their dealings with the flat owners, salespersons may encounter those who wish to sell their flats because of financial difficulties. For these flat owners, selling their flats ought to be their last resort as they have other options available. 

    Options for Flat Owners in Financial Difficulty

    For flat owners with financial difficulties, salespersons could help refer them to appropriate avenues for help, as follows:
    • Flat owners who are unable to keep up with their mortgage instalments, can approach their HDB Branch for a better understanding of their options. HDB has in place various financial assistance measures to help flat owners who are unable to service their monthly loan instalments.
    • Those who need to supplement their incomes can consider subletting their spare bedroom(s) or flats (with HDB’s prior approval), instead of selling their flat.
    These flat owners can approach the HDB Housing Counsellors in the respective HDB Branches for help and advice. The HDB Housing Counsellors are trained to offer financial counselling, help assess the credit worthiness of flat owners and advise them on the best housing options in the short term and long term. A case study on the assistance offered by the HDB Housing Counsellors is shown in the Annex below.

    Financial Planning for Next Home

    Nevertheless, if flat owners in financial difficulties still wish to sell their flats, it is important that they secure their next home (to provide a roof for their families) before they commit to sell their flats. For flat sellers who are buying another HDB flat and intend to obtain a mortgage loan for the purchase, the salespersons should highlight to them the need to seek confirmation from financial institutions regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or apply for the HDB Loan Eligibility letter to find out their eligible loan amount. In other words, salespersons should help flat owners do a proper financial plan for the next home before committing them to sell their flats.

    How You Can Help

    Please refer your salespersons to paragraph 1.9 of the Professional Service Manual on vulnerable clients, including the need for higher duty of care and due diligence that shall be exercised by salespersons in carrying out estate agency work for such group of clients.
    We would appreciate it if you could disseminate this circular to your salespersons and advise them to offer the appropriate assistance and advice to their customers who may be in financial distress. 

    ANNEX (Case Study)

    An HDB Housing Counsellor recently helped a man who was a sole breadwinner for his wife and young child. The family faced more financial strains when the household size increased to four. After the counselling sessions, the HDB Housing Counsellor understood the family’s situation better and assisted the family in the following ways:
    • Allowed them to pay the mortgage loan arrears by instalments.
    • The HDB Housing Counsellor also advised him to consider subletting one bedroom to earn rental income while waiting for his wife to join the workforce, earn a stable income and be included as a joint owner of the flat to pay the mortgage instalments.
    • Subsequently, with the inclusion of the wife as a joint owner, and using her CPF monies for capital repayment, the HDB Housing Counsellor further helped the family by re-computing the mortgage loan quantum to a smaller amount.
    As the mortgage instalment is now fully paid with CPF monies, the family is able to better cope with their finances.