Owning a home—that is everyone’s dream and basic need. But how can one settle down in Singapore based on his or her current condition? To give new immigrants and Singaporeans alike a basic understanding of property ownership in Singapore, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) held a fourth talk entitled “How to Better Settle Down in Singapore” as part of the “New Immigrants and Singapore Society” talk series to answer questions about the system and procedure of buying and selling property in Singapore. The talk was held at 2:30pm on 28th July (Saturday) and attracted 150 people.

The Vice President of the Mortgage and Loan department in OCBC, Mr Chen Leqin, first shared basic information about purchasing a house in Singapore, factors to be taken into consideration when buying a new home as well as the interest rate. He said that the first down payment can be paid in either cash or with one’s Central Provident Fund (CPF). The loan ceiling is 80% and 60% for the first and second property respectively, but it varies across different banks. Also, the owner will have to pay 4% to 16% of the stamp duty and other expenses should he or she sell the property within four years of purchase. Mr Chen emphasised that we should purchase property based on our own financial abilities, because factors such as changes in the interest rate and loan period will affect the sum to be repaid.

Another speaker was Mr Chung Ting Fai, an experienced lawyer in settling housing disputes. He analysed various problems people may face during the process of buying and selling property and renting property. He pointed out how it would take at least eight to ten weeks to settle the contracts for the purchase and sale of the property and how the contracts will be written in English. He advised new immigrants to seek for help should they not understand the details of the contract because once the contract has taken effect, they cannot make a case in court based on their inability to understand English.

Mr Chung also said that the rental, period of lease and the deposit will usually be included in the terms of lease for the rental of rooms or houses. However, the deposit cannot be used that the rental for the last month of lease because the owner has the authority to deduct maintenance fees from the deposit should any damage be incurred by the occupant. As for the purchase and sale of HDB apartments, the Housing and Development Board will help in sorting out the various procedures. Housing agents will also arrange and follow up with the purchase or selling process.

The audiences were very interested in this topic, as seen from the many questions asked during the Q&A session. These questions included topics like the period of loan, legal fees, income cap for those buying second-hand HDB flats and insurance etc. The event ended at 4:30pm.

The next talk will be held on 24th November 2012, with the theme “Investment and Wealth Management”.