While I was looking through my Facebook news feed last week, I came across a feed by someone who said he bought a $400K+ 5 room HDB flat only to find that he was only eligible for a loan of $200K+. The thought of coming up with $200K+ of cash is scary for any young couples who will be getting the keys to their HDB flat soon. So why was the loan eligibility so low? The answer: "both husband and wife are self employed."
Being a self employed, it can be harder to prove the income that you receive thus affecting your loan eligibility. We'll discuss more on the situation and what we can do to overcome it.
Process of applying for loan from HDB
Before we dive deeper into the situation of the self employed couple who didn't manage to secure a full loan, let's look at the process in applying for a loan from HDB.
Here's how the loan process works:
- Before you apply for a BTO flat, you'll be required to submit a HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) Letter. From February 2015, buyers must produce the HDB Loan Eligibility letter when they book their flat and not at the signing of agreement which is 4 months later.
- Once your application for HLE has been approved, you can proceed to apply for your flat.
- Your HLE letter is only valid for 6 months
- Most BTO flats take 2-3 years before they are completed so your 1st HLE will no longer be valid.
- You'll be required to apply for a 2nd HLE. This is the important stage. If your HLE application does not cover 90% of HDB purchase price at this stage, you are required to top up by CPF/cash
- If you are unable to top up, you will have to either take a bank loan or forfeit your flat and lose the 5% down payment you paid plus other initial cost
Applying for HDB loan as a self employed
If you're a self employed, applying for a HDB loan can be more complicated as compared to an employed person. Self employed can mean you own your own business or you're working as a freelance such as teaching private tuition etc.
As a self-employed applicant, you'd need to prepare the following documents to prove your income for the loan application:
a) Valid Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Computer Information (Business Profile) or Valid license of business / trade; and
b) Latest Notice of Assessment from IRAS or Certified Annual Statement of Accounts from an audit firm; and
c) Credit bureau report#; and
d) Latest 12 months' bank statements/passbook.
Where is the problem?
The problem will come when you cannot prove your income to HDB accurately. By accurately, it means do you have prove of your income and that you have the means to afford that flat you're buying?
For example, you may be teaching tuition on a full time basis and most parents or your students will pay you cash. If you do not deposit the money into your bank account, there is no way to prove that you actually did make that income you declared to HDB. Let's see how we can solve this problem.
How to get the loan you required for your HDB flat?
1. Credit your income into your bank account
For an employed person with CPF contributions, it is much easier to get the loan you required as you just need to provide latest 3 months payslip and latest 15 months CPF contribution history. All these information can be retrieved easily.
For all others without a fixed monthly income, the general guideline is you need to provide latest 12 months bank statements/passbook. Therefore, always remember to credit the income you receive from any sources especially 12 months before you apply for the HLE.
2. Declare your income accurately to IRAS
Another information that you need to provide to HDB for the HLE is your latest notice of assessment from IRAS or certified annual statements of accounts from an audit firm. If you're a business owner and have proper accounts and income tax declared accurately, it won't be much of a problem securing your loan.
However, if you're doing other freelance services on an individual basis, make sure you declare your income accurately to IRAS for tax purposes. You can't be saying you earn $3000 when your income declared is only $1000.
3. Take note of your other loans
If you have other loans such as student loans, car loans or credit card debt, it'll affect the loan eligibility you'll get as well. One thing to take note of is the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). It is at 60% currently. This means you can only take a maximum of 60% of your gross monthly income to pay for all loans. This include all your other loans such as car loans, credit card debts, students loans and personal loans etc.
4. Know how much loan you are eligible for
It is easy to plan ahead and know how much loan you're eligible for so you do not get a shock later. On the HDB website, they have a enquiry on maximum loan calculator where we can key in some of our details and know the estimated loan we're eligible for.
I did a scenario test and input the employment status as employed with CPF contributions with $3000 monthly salary each for a couple. Here are the results of the maximum loan eligibility from HDB website:
The verdict? With a combined income of $6000, the maximum loan eligibility works out to be S$ 396,700. You can try out the calculator for yourself here.
If you're self employed with a combined income of $6000, the maximum loan eligibility should be the same as long as you can prove your income accurately for the latest 12 months instead of just 3 months for an employed person.
A maximum of 30% of your gross monthly income can go into home loan repayments currently. If you earn $3000, only $900 can be used to pay for your housing loan. This is known as the Mortgage Servicing Ratio(MSR). That is how the loan eligibility is calculated.
How Much Loan Can You Get For Your HDB flat? I hope this post has given you a clearer understanding of the loan process and the eligibility criteria. Now you can embark on your house hunting with a peace of mind.