Many Singaporeans look forward to a happy married life in a BTO of their own as a goal for their future, where their home is their castle and everything is stable. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way. If your marriage has unfortunately foundered on the rocks, you may find yourself without a home if your spouse is granted custody of your current flat.
In such a situation, your options may feel rather limited, but there are still ways forward. We look at some of the options open to you, and their criteria.
Rent a Home
The most immediate interim option available to you is to rent a flat, or at least a room. This is especially pertinent if your income is not high, or you have been financially drained for whatever reason prior to the divorce.
At least as a temporary port in the storm, renting may make more financial sense in the near term as you assess a more financially stable option. However, it does depend on what rental you pay. There are generally three kinds of rental available—renting from the HDB, renting a HDB on the open market, and renting private property.
Renting from the HDB is extremely affordable, but most people would not be eligible for this as the income ceiling for that is $1,500 a month, with higher incomes only considered on a case-by-case basis. Renting privately or on the HDB open market gives you a surer bet of finding a place to stay, but that would be subject to market forces and depends on the price agreed between you and your landlord—which would be higher, in some cases unaffordably so.
Buy a Second-Time BTO
As a divorcee, you may qualify for HDB’s Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (ASSIST), which is a priority scheme for divorcees. This would entitle you to apply and ballot for a BTO immediately after your divorce, following the same standard procedure as couples and singles over 35.
However, the only flats that would be available to you in this case would be a selection of 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates. Furthermore, to qualify under this scheme, you would need to fulfil certain criteria, most important of which is that you have to have at least one child under or at the age of 18.
Alternatively, you can ballot in your own right for a new BTO as a single if you are over the age of 35 and have only owned one BTO before.
If you have successfully booked a BTO, you can then rent a 3- or 4-room flat under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS).
Buy a Resale Flat
If you are not eligible for a second-time BTO, you may have to purchase a resale flat on the open market. Of course, this would tend to cost a bit more, as well as still having restrictions on residency.
Although a resale flat does not consider custody of children, meaning you could apply for it if you have no children or do not have custody of them, it still does have the 35-year-old age requirement, and you will need to take that into consideration.
Even if you can buy a resale flat, you will need to plan your finances carefully, as you will only have your own income to base your purchase on. Getting a good mortgage is absolutely crucial for the long term.
Buy a Private Property
Buying from the HDB as in the options above can be trammelled with a lot of restrictions. Of course, the simplest way to get around them would be to go out of the HDB system and buy a property from the private market—but we hardly need to tell you that this involves a significant cost.
If you have done a calculation with our affordability calculator and your finances can support a private property, this is an easy way out. Otherwise, unless you find a good mortgage that suits your financial situation, a private property may be out of your reach.
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Move In With Your Parents
If none of these options are immediately open to you, then the only thing you need is time. All things, including your financial situation and eligibility, changes with time, so if all else fails, the most sensible thing you may be able to do is to move back in with your parents for the time being, for those who are able to do this—at least until you’ve saved up more, or until you pass the age requirement.
Don’t Do It Alone
Being uprooted as the result of a divorce can be greatly disorienting, even assuming it was an amicable parting. It’s understandable that, alone once more, the need to find a new place to sink your roots and call home again can be overwhelming.
It isn’t going to be easy, finding a home as a divorcee—all the options have drawbacks that may be a deal breaker for you. Nevertheless, we hope that this can help you find a way forward. Whatever path forward you find, remember to do it practically and prudently, and plan your financial moves to ensure you remain in a good position yourself, and don’t undertake any rash decisions. Your situation may have been set back right now, but remember that your situation will change. Go for something you can afford and manage now and work your way towards your new property goal over time.
If you’re looking at obtaining a new property to live in during this period, our Home Finance Advisors at PropertyGuru Finance would be glad to advise you on your options and help you settle down quickly so you don’t have to worry about a place to stay at least. We’re also always available to help you find the best ways to finance your new home to minimise the strain on your newly-tightened finances. Help is always just one click away!
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