SINGAPORE: Many first-time homebuyers choose between Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats and condominiums in Singapore. However, Daniel Heng, 25, a financial advisor and undergraduate, chose a condo over HDB.
So, what made him choose a condo over an HDB? Daniel told his story to Yahoo Finance Singapore:
“I only spend what I need to, and invest the rest of my money as discipline savings,” Daniel shared. He recently committed to purchasing a $1.27 million condominium unit, a significant departure from the traditional choice of HDB flats. The low-rise condo in the central region is scheduled for completion in 2027.
Daniel made the substantial investment with some financial support from his mother, who loaned him $100,000 for the downpayment of $354,000, which he shared he’s determined to pay back with interest.
He grew up in a modest family led by a single mother who worked as an accountant to support him and his two sisters. He was motivated to take charge of his financial future. His ambition led him to start working as a financial advisor while still a university student, earning over $20,000 monthly to fund his education.
Daniel’s financial prudence extended to his investments, which included equities, fixed-income assets, and cryptocurrency.
Daniel Heng’s Decision
Initially, Daniel considered buying an HDB flat, a common choice for first-time buyers in Singapore. However, his monthly income exceeded the eligibility limits for BTO flats and Executive Condominium (EC) units.
Additionally, his work required him to be centrally located, making the central region a more attractive choice.
Daniel shared: “Central is really the most efficient place, and I don’t mind paying a space premium for being efficient. I don’t mind getting a smaller unit within my budget if I’m more connected.”
He recognized that opting for an HDB flat in the central region or a Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) project would mean a more extended Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 10 years, five years more than a regular HDB flat.
This, he said, was an opportunity cost, as it would delay his ability to “upgrade” for a decade.
One unique aspect of Daniel’s decision was his desire to inspire his team members through his purchase. He wanted them to see the potential rewards of hard work and ambition by witnessing his achievements firsthand.
Condo as an Investment
While Daniel intends to live in the condo for approximately two years, he also views it as an investment. He strategically chose a first-floor unit, anticipating a better resale in the future, as lower-floor units tend to be more affordable and in higher demand.
Rachel Chan, Daniel’s property agent, commended his forward-thinking approach. She believes there’s a misconception that HDB must be the first property for everyone and that it must be purchased with a spouse. She emphasized that the choice ultimately depends on individual preferences.
HDB vs Condo
If you are making a decision now, just like Daniel Heng, how about we learn the differences between HDB flats and condominiums in Singapore? Here’s a quick rundown of the key distinctions and considerations.
- Affordability: HDB flats are designed to offer affordable housing for Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs).
- Variety: They come in various types, from two-room flexi flats to five-room apartments, although maisonettes are no longer built.
- Government Subsidies: Subsidies are available based on factors like marital status, household income, and proximity to parents’ homes.
- Price Trends: Some resale HDB flats have exceeded $1 million, reflecting rising prices in the public housing market.
- Rental Options: Non-Singapore Citizens and non-permanent Residents can rent HDB units with specific permits.
- Privacy and Facilities: Condos are private residences with added facilities like pools, gyms, and playgrounds.
- Unique Features: Some condos offer unique amenities tailored to their location, increasing their appeal.
- Price Range: Condos with high monthly maintenance fees can range from millions to tens of millions of dollars.
- Investment and Status: Condos are seen as a status symbol and a better investment for many buyers.
- Short-Term Rentals: A minimum rental period of three months makes condos attractive for expats and short-term renters.
Even if HDB and condos are identified as mentioned, we need to know that contrary to belief, both types now offer similar amenities and are increasingly well-connected due to urban development plans.
While condos provide an extra layer of security and privacy, HDB neighbourhoods have their own security measures.
The perception that condos are inherently more pet-friendly is not entirely accurate, as some HDB restrictions do not apply within condo premises, allowing residents more flexibility when owning a pet.
Remember, as Daniel shared to aspiring homeowners: “Make sure you do your math properly and talk to your financial consultant. Also, do a lot of research, and don’t be desperate to buy.”
Also, if you’re not ‘there’ yet, take this advice from the comments of Yahoo Singapore’s Facebook post.
Imran MD Ali said: “I think is exemplary- he worked hard; got what he wanted, and the loan from mom isn’t the bulk, only 100 k from deposit amount. It means his mom thinks he is a responsible son that will pay back on time, based on past experience. He’s also smart to invest early than late. I can only see positives here. Am I jealous that I didn’t do the same when I was much younger? A little. But do we celebrate his success together? We must.”