Details of Lease Buyback Scheme extension should be ready by early 2019: Lawrence Wong

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said that the process of retirement planning and unlocking value from one's HDB flat can be complex and there are many factors to consider. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The details of the Lease Buyback Scheme's (LBS) extension to all flats should be ready by early 2019, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Friday (Nov 16).

The announcement that the LBS would be extended to cover five-room and larger flats was made in August this year.

Under the LBS, flat owners aged 65 and above who meet several other criteria can sell part of their flat's lease to the Housing Board (HDB) while retaining the length of lease based on the age of the youngest owner.

The proceeds from such a sale will be used to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Account, which can subsequently be used to purchase a CPF Life plan that provides individuals with a monthly income for life.

The LBS was highlighted on Mr Wong's blog on Friday in a post where he discussed providing more help for senior HDB flat owners in their financial planning for retirement.

Mr Wong said the LBS will net flat owners a smaller amount of proceeds compared with other options such as "right-sizing" to another flat or renting out a room in one's existing home.

However, it will allow them to continue to stay in the same flat, which some may prefer.

Mr Wong also said that the process of retirement planning and unlocking value from one's HDB flat can be complex and there are many factors to consider.

Therefore, he said, he has asked HDB to see what more it can do to provide more personalised information to seniors.

Acknowledging that every individual's circumstance is different, Mr Wong said that HDB offers comprehensive one-on-one financial counselling sessions for seniors.

He also suggested that HDB could provide information on the estimated proceeds that home owners can get from the different options they have with their flats when they retire.

Mr Wong said that when planning for retirement, individuals should look at all the assets they own, including their income from work and savings in their CPF accounts, as well as other areas - and not just the value of their existing flat.

He wrote: "Financial planning for retirement is something we must all take seriously. For HDB flat owners, this process is also linked to the various monetisation options to unlock the value of their flats.

"Before deciding on any particular option, it's best to do some homework and work out the sums carefully."

He also noted that the MoneySense campaign, Singapore's national financial education programme, will be launching a series of financial planning roadshows over the coming months.

The first such roadshow will be held on Nov 17 and 18 at Our Tampines Hub (Festive Walk East), and will have a section on retirement and estate planning. Visitors can learn more about the various housing monetisation options, and determine which one best suits their needs.

Mr Wong said: "As our population ages, Singaporeans will be looking at ways to plan ahead for their retirement. We will do more to help everyone in this process, so that they can be assured of a home for life, and also enjoy financial security in their golden years."

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