Monday, January 22, 2018

1.55% Interest On The Singapore Savings Bond

I have been monitoring the Singapore Savings bonds for quite some time now since its launch in 2015. The interest was not that attractive to me in the past until now when I notice the first year interest for this month's SSB is at 1.55%. This is higher than most fixed deposits currently and definitely a good place to park extra cash in.

The attractiveness of the SSB

What is so attractive for the SSB is that it is capital guaranteed so there is no risk of losing your capital. There is also the flexibility to redeem the bond every month so we do not have to lock in our money inside for one year like what is required for fixed deposits. This presents a very good opportunity to get higher interest while still maintaining the flexibility for our money.

The below table shows the interest for February 2018 SSB which will be issued on 1st Feb 2018. As we can see, the 1st year interest is already at 1.55% and if we keep our money inside longer, the interest steps up as well.


Details and buying the SSB

Some details of the SSB are as follows:

  • The 1st interest payment will be made on 1 Aug 2018, and subsequently every six months on 1 Feb and 1 Aug every year. 
  • You can invest a minimum of $500, and in multiples of $500 up to $50,000 for this issue. The total amount of Savings Bonds held across all issues cannot be more than $100,000.
  • Application starts from 2 Jan 18 and closes on 26 Jan 18 (9pm)
  • Apply through DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB ATMs and Internet Banking, OCBC Mobile Application from 7.00am - 9.00pm, Mon - Sat, excluding Public Holidays. On 2 Jan 2018, these channels will be open from 6.00pm to 9.00pm. CPF and SRS funds are not eligible.

How to redeem the SSB?

As mentioned earlier, there is a flexibility of redeeming the SSB every month just in cash you need the money. Similarly to buying the SSB, you can also redeem the SSB through the DBS/POSB, OCBC or UOB ATMs, or online through DBS/POSB’s Internet Banking portal. 

The redemption period opens at 6pm on the 1st business day of each month and closes at 9pm on the 4th last business day of the month. Redemption proceeds will be paid by the end of the 2nd business day of the following month.

Do note that the SSB pays interest every 6 months. If you redeem your bond when there is a scheduled interest payment, you will receive the scheduled interest together with your redemption amount. If you redeem before the scheduled interest is paid, you will receive a pro-rated amount, called the accrued interest, which is the interest you have earned but have not been paid. In essence, even if you redeem the bond early before the interest payment, you will still get pro-rated interest. 


I will be investing some of my money in the SSB for this month as the interest is quite attractive. Nowadays, the stock market valuation has been quite high and I will be looking to re-balance my portfolio to sell some of my stocks which are already overvalued. 


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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Beware Of Mortgage Reducing Term Insurance From Private Insurers

When we buy an insurance policy, we hope that we can activate the policy and make claims when situation arises. However, there are times when we realise that actually the insurance we buy cannot be claimed as fast as we hope for or could not be claimed totally at all because of some terms and conditions which were not made known to us when we had bought the policy.

It has been brought to my attention that the reducing term insurance from AIA is not easily claimable in the event of total permanent disability (TPD) or even terminal illness. I'm not sure if this is the case for other private insurers but in this post, I will focus on the reducing term insurance from AIA and its limitations. This is shared based on my own experience claiming for the benefits of this policy and the policy contract which I have managed to obtained. 

If you're using CPF to pay for your HDB flat currently, it is compulsory to be insured under the home protection scheme (HPS). You can opt out of the HPS if you have other term insurance from private insurers to cover your mortgage in the event if something happens. The HPS is a mortgage reducing term insurance to cover your outstanding mortgage on your HDB flat in the event of death, TPD or terminal illness. 

This mortgage insurance takes 2 years to payout for TPD

Some people would buy a private term insurance and opt out of the HPS as premiums are normally cheaper for private insurers. However, it is important to note the fine prints as it can be difficult to claim. I will take the AIA reducing term insurance as an example and have reproduced the policy summary of the product benefits below:



AIA reducing term insurance contract in 2017


The first image is the old contract from AIA for its decreasing term insurance which was bought back in 2003. The second image shows the new contract which is obtained in 2017. If you notice, the contract terms are the same. The red box in the image above shows the total and permanent disability benefit. If you notice, 10% will be pay out on the first policy anniversary and the policy can only pay out the full insured amount at the second policy anniversary as indicated by the green line. This means that if you are claiming for this policy due to TPD, you have to wait as long as 2 years before you can get the payout. 

The problem is if you have an outstanding mortgage which cost thousands of dollars a month and you had some illness or accident that caused disability, most likely you will not be able to work and lose your income. Your family remembered you had this mortgage reducing term insurance but only to find out that they have to struggle to continue paying for the outstanding mortgage for another 2 years before they can claim from this policy. This is going to cause a lot of problems later. 


Is HPS a better choice if you own a HDB?

For the HPS, which is a mortgage reducing term insurance administered under CPF board, it might be a better choice for HDB flat owners. If you own a private property, you'll have to get a term insurance from a private insurer so make sure you check the terms and fine prints before you purchase one. The term insurance I bought from Aviva doesn't need to wait for the second policy anniversary to payout for TPD. It just need a standard 6 months continuous TPD to claim for the benefit and the assured sum will be paid out in one lump sum. 

Back to those who own a HDB, the HPS protects us and our families against losing our HDB flat in the event of death, terminal illness or total permanent disability. The HPS does not payout in cash like how private term insurance does. The HPS will offset whatever outstanding mortgage loans instead. The claim criteria has also widened where CPF members with terminal illness and total permanent disability but are still able to work will qualify for claims under the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) and Dependants’ Protection Scheme (DPS), after Parliament passed changes to the definition of “incapacity” under the CPF Act on 29 February 2016. This was also reiterated by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister of Manpower, on 8 May 2017 in a written reply to a question in parliament

No matter what, having a mortgage term insurance which can only payout in full in 2 years is really a long time. Most TPD benefits just require 6 months of continuous permanent disability to claim the benefit. I am disappointed that the AIA reducing term insurance can only payout fully on the second policy anniversary. If you're considering to get a mortgage insurance for your property, do take note of the contract policy. If you already have a mortgage insurance, you might want to take a look at the contract terms too.

*Disclaimer: I am not recommending or advising on any insurance from any companies. This post is only a sharing of my personal experience and the facts which I manage to find

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Rising Property Market And Interest Rates

Most of us would know that housing prices is rising again in Singapore. The sales of new private homes are also going up where we see more and more people getting interested to buy properties now. This seems to be the right time to purchase a property at the right price and also when loans are still cheap.

The following chart shows the SRX non-landed private property index from January 1995 to December 2017. We see a dip in the property market after the high in February 2013. The lowest price recorded was in December 2014 and November 2016. At current prices, it has almost reached the high back in February in 2013. It seems like the property market may breakthrough that level and continue to go higher soon. This explains why many people are entering the private property market now hoping that prices will continue to go higher.


For HDB, it is a totally different picture. Resale prices of HDB seems to be continuing on a downtrend after falling from the high in March 2013. The regulations for HDB flats such as the 5 years minimum occupation period, the limitation of loans to 30% of your gross monthly salary, the maximum loan tenure of 25 years as compared to 30 years for private properties and the restrictions of not being able to rent out your HDB flat even if you purchase a private property makes it hard for the prices to go up.

This is in line with the government's push for affordable public housing in Singapore. I don't see HDB as an investment at all because the main use of it is still for personal accommodation. However, I do foresee that private home prices should continue to go up moving forward with better economic outlook.


For those who already own a property

On the other side, many people would have already bought a property previously. If you've bought your private property at a high back in 2013, the good news is that prices are going above that soon. For HDB, its a different story.

With better economic outlook and rising property prices, interest rates are rising as well. If your housing loan is still currently on a floating rate package, its time to take a look at it before it creeps up. The SIBOR, which is the Singapore Interbank Offer Rate is the most commonly used benchmark for housing loans in Singapore. The 3M SIBOR now stands at 1.42% and the 12M SIBOR is at 1.66% as at 5th January 2018. You can refer to the official SIBOR rates here. The 3M SIBOR has increased more than 0.5% from the previous low.

Interest rates will surely go higher from here. There is no doubt about that. Its just a matter of time interest rates will increase. With the US Federal Reserve hinting on more rate hikes and stock markets across the globe rising to record levels, interest rates should not be remaining low forever.

How Much Your Loan Instalments will Rise? 

If you have a $300,000 loan, a 1% increase in interest rates will result in your monthly instalment increasing by close to $150/month. That is additional $1800/year. For a $500,000 loan, an increase in interest rates of 2% will result in your monthly instalment increasing by about $500/month. This is $6000/year. The higher your loan amount, the greater the impact it will be.

Don't forget that the norm for interest rates were about 3%-3.5% in the past. We should always be prepared for this to happen.


Refinance Your Home Loans to Lessen the Impact now

Fortunately, before the rates rise even higher, we can always refinance our home loans to lessen the impact at least for the next few years. I have worked with banks in Singapore for many years now and always on the lookout for the best loan packages for everyone.

It is recommended to go for fixed rates now and the best I can get is as below:

For both HDB and private property (Min loan amount $200,000)

2 years fixed rate

Year 1: 1.65% (Fixed)
Year 2: 1.65% (Fixed)
Year 3: SIBOR + 0.70%
Thereafter: SIBOR + 1.00%

3 years fixed rate

Year 1: 1.85% (Fixed)
Year 2: 1.85% (Fixed)
Year 3: 1.85% (Fixed)
Thereafter: SIBOR + 1.00%

For the above 2 packages, you can get cash rebate and shopping vouchers as below:

Isetan Shopping Vouchers







* Shopping vouchers applicable for both new purchase and refinancing


Cash rebate







*Cash rebate for refinancing only


If you're interested, click on one of the options below to fill up a form for me to contact you back:
Alternatively, you can email me directly at sgyi@homeloanwhiz.com.sg

I'm not sure when this fixed rate package will be revised as many banks have already adjusted their fixed rate package upwards in the last few weeks. This is the last one which still has attractive rates.

For those looking to buy a HDB flat or a private property, now is a good time to look at it. If you need assistance in your property purchase such as knowing your loan eligibility or not sure what's the process, you can email me as well. Any other questions you have, I'll try to help as much as possible too.

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