A huge amount of flyers have been mysteriously appearing at my doorstep in recent days. Ah, 5-years is up, no wonder!

Remember in earlier post about finding our first pot of gold? Many of us have been generously provided with the chance to obtain one, in case we don’t have it.

The key idea is that my HDB BTO apartment was bought from HDB at subsidized, lower-than-market prices. In Singapore context, this is as good as a sure-win scenario. Plus, every Singaporean is entitled to two such opportunities. The only criteria is that you must have one mandatory resource – time. The HDB flats requires time to be built.

I did a check at HDB’s website and the first apartment in my estate that was sold happened in March 2016. The interesting thing about my estate is that all apartment types are 4-roomers, with the exception of a handful of high-floor units having balconies. This makes comparisons rather easy – price differences can mostly be attributed to low-floor vs high-floor (good view?), and perhaps which direction the HDB apartment is facing. Many of the newer flats in Punggol are oriented in northeast/southwest so you don’t really too much of the direct east/west sun.

As of today, the resale price ranges from $408,000 to S495,000.

punggol-resale-price

My unit is a high-floor without balcony. Let’s assume that I can obtain a resale price somewhere that represents my percentile at $475,000. Compared to what I had paid for it ($236,900), this would represent an almost 100% gain. I will explain why the price is conservative later.

Simple Mathematics

First, let’s do some basic Maths.

We would still need a roof over our heads and therefore, would still require accommodation after selling our apartment if we wish to do so. What’s the point of being asset-rich and cash-poor? To make and keep our first pot of gold comfortably, the only option is to apply for another HDB apartment as a second-timer to take advantage of the subsidized pricing.

If I were to sell my HDB flat and purchase another one, we would still need to pay back the following items. By doing so, it would return my accounts to the state whereby not a single cent has been used for housing. Yes, the original intention of CPF. The figures are combined for my wife & I.

  • HDB resale levy = $40,000
    The resale levy maintains a fair allocation of public housing subsidies between first-timers and second-timers by reducing the subsidy enjoyed for the second HDB flat.
  • Outstanding HDB loan = $150,000
    The remaining portion of HDB loan (2.6%) that I have not yet repaid. I took a 30-year loan and that is why this figure is still quite substantial, as only 5 out of 30 has gone by. On the flip side, my monthly repayment is really small, and my CPF-OA is now quite substantial as well.
  • CPF used = $110,000
    The combined amount of CPF that was wiped out when we received our keys, plus the CPF that has been used for monthly HDB loan repayments.
  • CPF accrued interest = $13,500
    This is the interest that I would have earned if my savings had remained in my CPF account –  many people just can’t wrap their head over this item but I have no issue with this. If this number seems small to you, remember that I had taken a 30-year loan and I have utilized a relatively lesser amount of CPF for housing. This unused CPF is sitting in my Ordinary Account earning interest (either 3.5% or 2.5%) as intended, and therefore not contributing to the accrued interest.

Finally, we have –

  • Net gain
    = $475,000 (sale price) – $40,000 (resale levy) – $150,000 (HDB loan) – $110,000 (CPF used) – $13,500 (accrued interest)
    = $161,500 (pot of gold)

Well, not so bad huh? The first pot of gold is now within reach. I did the calculation above during my daily commute (sleepy, tired, etc) so if there are any major items missed out (the veterans should have a keen eye) please let me know!

Assuming you have reach this stage, then the next step could be the really important one. Well, we still need a place to stay in, so the first pot of gold is still vulnerable to desires.

Money That Can Never Be Touched

Over a lunch conversation one day, my colleague lamented that CPF money can “never be touched” anyway – why not just “go all out” and stretch it to upgrade our accommodation to perhaps an executive condominium? With the cash proceeds, it could be possible. Indeed, many flyers we received actually taught us how to go about doing it!

I smiled but didn’t comment much. Topics like HDB and CPF are very divisive by nature and I have pretty much learnt not to harbour much hopes of getting others to understand my views. Often, it isn’t a matter of right and wrong since each and everyone of us has unique backgrounds, upbringing and circumstances. I do have a very good idea of what I would do if the opportunity comes along.

If you sell high and buy high (resale, EC, private condo etc), then you would diminish your pot of gold. For some of us just starting out, we want a short-cut to this pot of gold, and to do that we must resist the golden handcuffs.

By going for another HDB subsidized apartment and taking advantage of the subsidized pricing, then we can protect this pot of gold. If a good project comes by in Punggol – I actually really like this area – and I apply for it, it would probably mean another 5 years before keys collection, if I get it.

Five years is a long time. By then, our CPF accounts would have grown even more. With flexibility, we would have choices. We can utilize all of it and perhaps outright pay for our HDB flat in full via CPF. We can also choose to first deploy it partially (via investments etc) to avoid the account wipe and maintain a substantial amount in our CPF-OA as emergency funds / investment warchest.

Not forgetting, one would need to set aside some money to cater for the hassles of moving house and renovation etc. An rough estimate could perhaps be $40,000. Again, it depends on the individual wants and needs.

At the end of the day, the pot of gold left could be around $120,000 if we can control our urge to spend it. Just imagine for a moment. What is 5% yield on $120,000 to you? An awesome monthly income of $500.

Or would you prefer golden handcuffs instead?

Punggol Good Meh?

For a first home, sometimes one cannot afford to be too choosy due to timing consideration but at least do a bit of homework. URA is a good source of information, as always. Not all HDB apartments are going to double in value in 5 years. (Edit: Or 8 years, if you start counting from the date of application.)

As mentioned before, I actually really like my current home. When I first applied, people’s first reaction was there’s nothing there. That’s actually quite true, at that point in time.

To be fair, not the entire Punggol Town is created equal. It makes a world of difference as to which part of Punggol you’re living in. Take my place for example which I consider as a good location. Within a 10-minutes walking radius I have, amongst other things,

  • NTUC Fairprice x 1
  • Giant supermarket x 2
  • Sheng Siong supermarket x 1
  • Ang Mo supermarket x 1
  • Kopitiams x 5

The safest best now is probably along Punggol Central and the area around Punggol LRT East loop which is fully developed. Very few parcels of empty land left. If your estate is not serviced by the LRT, you’re pretty much disadvantaged right from the start. Always make use of the resources available to understand the selling points on how valuable your house is!

punggol-plan

Punggol Waterway Point (fully operational) integrated beside Punggol MRT in the civic and community uses area.

punggol-waterway-point

Punggol Town Square (planned) that is next to Waterway Point will provide a central focal point for the town and will serve as a gathering space for the community. In addition, Punggol Town Hub (planned – location unknown) will serve as a one-stop amenities hub with an integrated community centre, hawker centre, library and other community facilities.

punggol-town-square

Punggol SAFRA Club (fully operational) – one LRT station (Sam Kee) from Punggol MRT.

punggol-safra

Punggol Regional Sports Centre (planned) – beside SAFRA. These two facilities are located in the sports and recreation zone.

punggol-recreation-centre

Oasia Terraces (2018) at Oasis LRT station is a 5-minutes walk to my house. It will house childcare centres, the upcoming Punggol Polyclinic, a community plaza as well as retail and dining facilities, all under one roof.

oasia-terraces

Spanning Singapore, the Cross Island Line (planned) will be about 50km in length and is targeted to complete around 2030.

cross-island-line

Slightly further away in Seng Kang adjoining residential district, we have other critical infrastructure.

Sengkang General Hospital & Sengkang Community Hospital (2018) – Cheng Lim LRT Station.

sengkang-hospital

Seletar Mall (operational) – Fernvale LRT Station.

seletar-mall

Compass One Mall (2016) – Seng Kang MRT Station.

compass-one

So, back to the “conservative” valuation of $475,000. I see plenty of value in my humble concrete apartment to command a cool, half a million some time in the future.

Besides, I’m in no hurry to move.

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