askST: Focus on needs when buying first HDB home

Housing Correspondent Rachel Au-Yong fields a question during a Q&A session at National Library, on Oct 26, 2018.
Housing Correspondent Rachel Au-Yong fields a question during a Q&A session at National Library, on Oct 26, 2018.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Before Ms Rachel Au-Yong bought her first home, she and her husband viewed 43 Housing Board (HDB) flats.

After much consideration, they settled on a four-room unit in a mature estate, which they moved into in August this year.

"Go in with your eyes open so you don't end up spending money buying a flat you do not like," said Ms Au-Yong, a housing correspondent with The Straits Times.

"Do your homework and be upfront about the amount of money you have, so you can buy what you can afford, " said the 28-year-old.

Ms Au-Yong was speaking to about 300 people on Friday (Oct 26) on what to look out for when buying their first HDB home.

The talk at the Central Public Library, part of the askST @ NLB sessions, was organised by The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB).

During the 90-minute session, Ms Au-Yong took the audience through the different steps in buying a flat, whether it is a Build-To-Order (BTO) or a resale unit.

She also touched on factors to consider, such as location, surrounding amenities and tenure of the unit.

She said she would not recommend that people buy flats with the assumption that the units might go through redevelopment programmes.

"It's an expensive gamble for something that we do not know for sure will happen," she added.

Financial consultant Angela Tan was one of those who found the talk useful. She said it shed light on the option to purchase a resale flat which she and her boyfriend, landscaper Joe Ng, 25, had not considered previously.

"We were mainly looking at BTOs, but now that we know more about buying a resale flat, it has opened up options for us," said Miss Tan, 24.

Ms Au-Yong also highlighted the different financing options, such as using money from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Ordinary Account, HDB grants, as well as HDB or bank loans.

Healthcare administrator Karthigesan V. who is planning to purchase a flat with his girlfriend, said the financing options were well explained. The 27-year-old said: "Now we are more confident in choosing a way to purchase our flat."

The talk also covered planning of renovation and furnishing costs. Ms Au-Yong said the priority should be what home buyers "absolutely need" and additional appliances and furniture can be bought slowly even after moving in.

She ended the talk with one piece of advice: "Don't get locked into the idea that your first home must be your forever home.

"Focus on what you need in the horizon of five years."