HDB showroom (Photo - Terry Xu)

EC buyer will regret like me

by a forgotten PAP supporter

This is a story that goes back to 1997 when I was enticed by the Housing Development Board (HDB) to buy into a Executive Condominium (EC), Windermere in Choa Chu Kang, which I took possession in 1999.

For many, a EC is a gift from our government but in reality, we are being used as a tool to cool down the hot property market.  I borrowed money from my generous boss to pay for the deposit. I was ignorant and just dived into it.

From S$600k plus, it went down to below S$400k after 5-6 years before it slowly recovers after 15 years when I sold in 2015 for close to $900K. Please note that HDB had a share of proceed because HDB imposed a S$72K sale levy back in 1999 when I sold my 5 room flat.

My career has its ups and downs with many years working overseas. I nearly got “bankrupt” or in debt if I did not recover in time with a good paying project manager job overseas in 2004.  Had I kept my faith with my earlier 5 room flat I bought In 1982, and did not succumb to HDB’s enticement to buy EC, I would have been better off.

I now end up retiring into a studio apartment (SA) with my wife because buying into a resale flat will eat up my retirement fund.  And unlike many downgraders, I am considered as “not poor enough” to be given the HSB of S$20K for downgrading. HDB labelled me as not the target group for assistance. I have to “thank” CPF for that labelling. I had to either sell or downgrade because I am running out of cash and CPF to pay the recurring installment.

My SA of 45m2 has zero resale value and its cost of S$109k has to be paid in cash for a 30 years old lease from my proceeds of selling my EC.

It is fortunate for me and my wife that we are very happy now living in my SA despite its small size.  The neighbourhood convenience, great neighbours  and good location helps to ease the pain.  To HDB, I am just the forgotten guy who is not poor enough and to be left alone with no job, to retire, live or die.

So for all EC upgraders, be warned not to ever lose your job or face any unforeseen crisis. And EC will not make you a cash rich millionaire when you dispose your EC with proceeds upon nearing retirement age. If you are not careful, your children will not be with you, whether or not they get married because you did not upgrade but downgrade instead like me to a small SA (or resale flat of a smaller size,)  an unwarranted result of being wooed by HDB 20 years ago.

I hope and wish all EC upgraders good luck and continue to do well in career or business and never have to be like me.

I am lucky to be able to hold for 15 years and sell with a very small profit. I am debt free now because I was always prudent with my expenses even when I lived in a EC and was able to adjust to my current lifestyle with little difficulty.

Not everyone who believe in our government policy and competence benefited from it. I am the unlucky one and I am curious how many guys out there are like me.

Just sharing.

Edit: The letter writer noted that he thanks CPF for that lablleing and not HDB as the SHB scheme was managed by CPF, it is CPF and not HDB who label me as “ not the target group that need help” thus interpret by me as equivalent to saying I am not poor enough to receive the downgrading bonus.