Sunday, August 5, 2012

50-year home-loan a 'gimmick': Khaw

SINGAPORE - For those thinking of taking up long-term loans in order to buy their dream home, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has this message for you: Don't do it.

Instead, Singaporeans should exercise prudence, especially amid the uncertain global financial climate, he said.

He advised against taking up 50-year housing loans, which at least one bank here began offering recently.
Mr Khaw said: "There is now some gimmick, a bank offering 50-year loans. Please don't fall for that. It doesn't make sense."

He was speaking to reporters in Woodlands Drive yesterday, during the launch of the National Community Emergency Response Team (Cert)-on-Patrol Week for Sembawang GRC.

Last month, The Straits Times reported that United Overseas Bank had introduced a 50-year home loan. The report said that borrowers above a certain age are not eligible.

Other banks, such as OCBC, offer a maximum loan period for private and HDB homes of 40 years, or up to the age of 75, whichever is earlier.

Mr Khaw said it is important that people live within their means and buy only what they can afford.

He said that he first rented a room in a flat when he moved from Malaysia to Singapore. He then bought a small 30-year-old house in a private estate and upgraded subsequently.

Mr Khaw said: "If you want to immediately come out of school and think you want a five-room flat, and...a 50-year loan will help you achieve that, I don't think that is very wise."

Take-up rates for the loan have been low, a "good sign that Singaporeans know we should always be prudent", he said.

Yesterday's event marked the launch of the pilot project, and saw 238 Cert members trained in emergency preparation going door-to-door to give out leaflets and spread the fire-safety message.

Sembawang GRC has one of the highest rates of bin chute fires here, with 74 such fires recorded from January to March.

It is expected that the project - which began last Wednesday and ends on Thursday - will reach out to some 75,000 households in Sembawang GRC and the Cert-on-Patrol Week will be rolled out islandwide within a year.

At the event, Mr Khaw also tried his hand at riding a bicycle - one of 47 sponsored by French consumer-product company Bic to aid Cert in its work.

Bic will provide another 53 of the Aleomakino Italy bicycles - which cost about $200 each - to West Coast GRC.

Yesterday, he reiterated that foldable bikes are a good choice for the National Parks Board's (NParks) field officers.

Last month, an NParks officer responsible for the $57,200 purchase of 26 Brompton folding bicycles was suspended from duty, after an internal-audit team discovered "discrepancies".

Mr Khaw said he recently joined an NParks officer on a tree inspection and found that the job would be more challenging with a normal bicycle.

He said: "I'm convinced that, in the case of NParks, (for) the type of work that they do...foldable bikes are not wrong.

"But how they acquire them is a different story."

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