Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 02 November 2020

Reply to Parliamentary Questions on Flexibility to Refinance Private Properties arising Due to Medical Emergencies for Those Aged over 70 Years

QUESTIONS NO 178

NOTICE PAPERS 144 OF 2020

FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Date: For Parliament Sitting on 2 November 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Christopher de Souza, MP, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

Question:

To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider introducing more flexibility for those aged over 70 years to refinance their private properties so that they can invest more or tide over cash flow problems that may arise due to medical emergencies.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1.     The Government has introduced several measures over the years to help Singaporeans monetise their housing assets so as to meet their financial needs.

2.     In March 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that mortgage equity withdrawal loans need not be subject to the total debt servicing ratio framework if the loan amount is less than 50% of the market value of the property. This measure is particularly relevant to retirees who wish to monetise their housing assets.

3.     MAS has also not set any age limit on borrowers who can apply for mortgage equity withdrawal loans.  However, like all loans, financial institutions will conduct credit assessments and, in some cases, they may request for a joint borrower or guarantor to be named. To facilitate such loan arrangements, MAS does not require that a joint borrower of a mortgage equity withdrawal loan be the owner of the underlying property.

4.     We encourage individuals facing cashflow pressures to discuss with their financial institutions the possible relief options.

5.     Besides mortgage equity withdrawal loans, there are other ways for older Singaporeans to monetise their housing assets, such as renting out the property or a room for rental income, right-sizing, or applying for the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme.

6.     The Government will continue to review how monetisation of housing assets can best be facilitated to support the retirement needs of Singaporeans.

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