We are all aware that buying a house in Singapore is no simple feat. There are a multitude of processes, paperwork and housing loan schemes that need to be arranged before you can call a house yours.
However, let us first address the elephant in the room.
“Can couples financially afford both children and a house?”
The answer to this is a resounding YES! Don’t simply take our word for it though.
Mr Paul See, senior financial services director of Professional Investment Advisory Services (PIAS) who has 18 fruitful years in the financial services industry and is a father of two young children agrees with equal gusto. He was the speaker at ILC At the Movies event on Sat, 2 April talk-cum-movie event at The Cathay. Click here to view photos!
“If you want both a house and children, you can! Just make planning and saving for BOTH a priority! A baby and a house are life milestones that can be achieved concurrently if spouses have the right perspective and practice wise financial habits. The only thing couples need to really be concerned about is WHEN to start financially planning for their baby and house.” – Mr Paul See
When do I need to start financial planning for my house and baby?
Yesterday, if we were to be completely honest. But, not to worry, there is no time like the present to sit down with your partner and start having an open discussion on your finances, that should include the following questions:
- What is your Gross Monthly Income?
- What resources do you have available?
- What are your monthly debt obligations?
- What property type are you interested in?
- How much loan do you need?
- How long a repayment tenure are you comfortable with?
Get help from the experts
Apart from the list of questions above, acronyms such as MTDO (Monthly Total Debt Obligations), TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio), MSR (Mortgage Servicing Ratio), FHR (Fixed Deposit Home Rate) represent only a handful of the financial information that is required before you start making a property wish list.
Feeling stumped and overwhelmed at the sheer amount of financial questions and information that is needed to buy a house?
According to Mr See: “For a smooth sailing life, ensure that you are constantly surrounded by four professional advisors; a medical advisor, a legal advisor, a property advisor and a financial advisor.”
Engaging the professional services of a financial advisor can help make the journey of purchasing your house and having children a lot less nerve-racking. Financial advisors are not only able to walk you and your partner through the entire process of buying a house step-by-step, they are also able to advice you, based on your financial information, the type of property that you can afford and the maximum amount of loan that you are able to qualify for. Additionally, should you fail to qualify for a loan of your choice, they are well equipped to find out the reasons behind the loan failure and then offer suggestions for a successful reapplication.
“Going property shopping before you have determined what kind of property you can actually afford to buy is a bad idea. At the end of the day, chances are, you find a beautiful house that you do not have the financial capability to own.” – Mr Paul See
How do I start my financial planning?
To manage your finances wisely and better budget for your house and children, Mr See recommends using the tips below to compartmentalise your income into the different sections that you see.
- Leave 55% of your income for all essential expenditure. This includes necessities such as insurance, transport, food, lodging and housing loan repayment scheme for couples who have already purchased a house.
- However, do not incur more than 35% in Serviceable Debt. This means your housing loan repayment scheme should not be more than 35% of your income.
- Put aside 20% of your income into your Safety Net where 10% goes towards your Purpose Fund. This Purpose Fund is for you to start planning for your next purpose in life - be it for a baby for couples who already have a house and a serviceable debt or the house that has captured your heart and requires a down payment for new couples.
- The remaining 10% from your Safety Net goes towards your Financial Freedom Fund or retirement years
Available housing options and priority financial schemes
Other than the conventional and preferred route of buying a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat, there are other housing options available for first time buyers. Here, we have listed some of these options as well as given you some realistic considerations to note for each.
1) Buying a private apartment or landed property
There will be some first-time buyers who are eyeing a private apartment or landed property. However, in reality, this is a very small percentage of individuals and more often than not, these buyers come from already affluent families.
2) Renting a flat or room
If you do your calculations wisely, renting could outweigh the option of buying a HDB flat. Another benefit of renting is having the opportunity of taking your time to suss out the perfect area to live in based on your living needs. In this situation, it is best to strap on an attitude of never knowing if you do not try it once.
3) Staying with your parents or in-laws
This option is an extremely viable one that is often underestimated for its many benefits.
For couples who have just tied the knot, staying with your family could very well be the living situation that you need! It not only ensures that you can adequately save for your future house, it also means forming a closer bond with your new family.
For couples who have a child, staying with your family could also mean support that will come in handy on those days that you have a deadline at work to meet or are simply under the weather and need extra help.
Additionally, whether you are a new couple or have been married for a few years, you can rest assured that there will be daily home cooked meals and having the housework, laundry, groceries and utility bills shared, which will only serve to increase the quality of your marriage.
Below is a list of the priority housing schemes* that are available for first time buyers.
- Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)
- Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
- Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
- Third-Child Priority (TCP) Scheme
- Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/ Widowed Parents) (ASSIST)
- Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)?
- Senior Priority Scheme (SPS)?
- Fresh Start Housing scheme (FSH 2016)
- Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS)
* For more information, visit HDB's website.
Half of these priority housing schemes are family- and child-related and serve to provide first-time buyers with the privilege of improving their chances of obtaining a HDB flat.
Don’t delay having children before buying a house. Plan and build your nest egg to include both a baby and a home as there are many schemes to help young couples set up their new home. There are also financial subsidies and Baby Bonus schemes couples with family planning.
Look out for Part 2 of this feature where Mr Jerry Su, Senior Estate Manager of HDB and Mr Paul See answer questions asked during the event.