Govt to help second-timers own homes

The Ministry of National Development (MND) revealed yesterday the details of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which aims to provide homes for second-timers, or households that previously enjoyed one housing subsidy but currently live in public rental flats.

Under the scheme, eligible families with school-going children will each be able to purchase a two-room Flexi flat in a Build-to-Order (BTO) or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) sales exercise.

To keep prices affordable, these units will come with short leases ranging from 45 to 65 years. They will also have a longer Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 20 years to ensure their owners’ children will have homes for a longer period.

Those who qualify will be given another HDB concessionary loan, regardless of the number of previous loans they have obtained from the Housing Board. They will also be able to use their CPF contributions as down-payment, or to service the monthly mortgage instalments.

Moreover, they will be provided with a Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to S$35,000, depending on the property’s tenure, with those applying for a 60-year or 65-year lease eligible for the maximum amount.

Of this grant, a fixed S$20,000 will be disbursed just before key collection — regardless of the chosen lease — while the remaining amount will be distributed in annual tranches over five years.

The Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which will be implemented in late 2016, is open to married, divorced or widowed parents aged 35 to 55. To qualify, each household must have a minimum of one Singaporean parent, with at least one Singaporean child below age 16. In addition, they must have occupied a public rental flat for a minimum of two years without accumulating three or more months of rental arrears in the preceding 12 months.

Finally, all such households must obtain the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Letter of Social Assessment (LSA), which proves the parents are gainfully employed and manag(s) the household finances well, and that the children attend school regularly. The LSA needs to be renewed every year for participating households to receive the annual portion of their grants’ balance.

Meanwhile, the Tenants’ Priority Scheme has been extended to second-timer families residing in public rental flats, so as to give them greater priority when applying for an HDB flat.

Previously, only first-timers living in public rental units qualified. But starting from the May sales exercise, 10 percent of the supply for two-room Flexi and three-room flats will be allocated to second-timers, and shared with those applying under the Resettlement, Relocation, and Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Cheryl Marie Tay, Senior Journalist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories, email cheryl@propertyguru.com.sg

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