Wednesday, May 22

Is Decoupling Still Logical?

The idea of decoupling has gained enormous traction in Singapore since the year 2000. It’s an exquisite, yet basic, notion. Sell your current residence, whether it’s a HDB or condo. Use the money made to cover the down payment for two brand-new, private condos—one for each spouse—under one roof. One (usually larger) is for your own use, while the other (shoebox unit) is for investment or rental revenue. For middle-class people wishing to expand their own real estate holdings for retirement or legacy purposes, this was a highly alluring proposition.

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In the 2000s, most individuals believed that investing in real estate was a “sure-win” strategy. a high leverage, low risk strategy to boost their net worth. This passionate fixation with real estate led to exuberant, speculative real estate purchases. driving up prices even further until the bubble burst in 2008 in tandem with the global financial crisis. In the late 2000s, there were several causes that contributed to the “property-fever.” Do we still see the same kind of madness in the real estate markets today?

In this piece, we take a closer look at the concept of decoupling and investigate if it is a sound approach for real estate investing given the state of the economy and regulations. We look at why decoupling was so popular with investors in the 2014s and why it might not be as popular with investors again. We provide some viewpoints on how we should understand decoupling in the context of the present investing environment in order to expand on the concept of decoupling and its offspring.

The Intense Real Estate Market Prior to the Trend of Decoupling

Prior to the swift execution of cooling measures between 2009 and 2013, purchasing real estate was a distinct phenomena. You may have heard tales of condominiums selling out right away, with units going quickly to purchasers. On the day of the launch, investors rush to the showroom with their checkbooks, prepared to sign and cover the down payment for many units. These are memories from a different time. However, seasoned real estate investors and brokers still find it appealing.

There are three main challenges when developing a real estate portfolio. The first concern was how to pay for future properties without having to sell the ones you already had. The problem with cash flow that arose next was paying down two or more real estate debts. Lastly, it was the convenience of selling the property and the exit alternatives. Prior to the Global Financial Crisis, the real estate business had relatively lax restrictions. The three main challenges of real estate accumulation were not as formidable as they are now.

Prior to the introduction of SSD and ABSD, there were several advantages such as 90% Loan-To-Valuation for private homes, Interest Only Housing Loans, and Interest Absorption Schemes, which are now prohibited. Additionally, there were cheap transaction costs for property flipping. They greatly facilitated public participation in the real estate market, including occasionally speculative activity. We’ll concentrate on two elements of affordability: cash flow assistance and a smaller down payment.

First, 10% of the property value was the down payment needed for private houses purchased before 2008. Prior to the Great Financial Crisis, banks were more than willing to give an LTV of 90%. That will, after all, enable more individuals to purchase real estate, which will result in higher interest payments from them. It seems win-win, doesn’t it? The fact that from July 2005, CPF OA may be utilized to cover half of the cash down payment (or 5% of the property value) greatly sweetened the pot. This was a huge advantage for purchasers. Consider purchasing a condo for $1 million. A down payment of $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in CPF OA were all that was required. Naturally, there will be additional costs for buyer’s stamp duty and legal fees.

After making the down payment, the second challenge was being able to repay a sizable 90% LTV loan. Could middle-class workers do everything on their own? Certainly, such a large mortgage would have been too taxing on one’s own budget. They were able to afford such a loan thanks to two important cash flow assistance programs. The Interest Absorption Scheme (IAS) and the Interest Only Housing Loan (IOL). Loanees were permitted by the IOL to repay only the interest and not the principle amount. This significantly lowered the monthly mortgage payment (sometimes by nearly half). In contrast, the IAS was a plan put up by developers to cover the loan’s interest costs up until the completion of construction.

With these two foundations in place, the general public’s ability to purchase real estate improved to the point where market speculation was feasible. Middle-class families might now achieve the goal of becoming multi-property owners. But the 2008 Global Financial Crisis really flipped the script. The U.S. financial institutions were rudely awakened to the consequences of reckless lending when defaults occurred. The global financial system collapsed due to the subprime mortgage crisis.

How and Why Did Divorce Become Popular?

From 2009 to 2014, when the Cooling Measures began to accumulate, people’s hopes of becoming multi-property owners were briefly crushed. Decoupling was introduced as a tactic to emphasize the legal flexibility of homeownership in order to develop a property portfolio, and it allowed individuals to accept the ABSD regulations. By the way, divorce has nothing to do with decoupling. However, it is related to the way that couples legally set themselves up for homeownership.

The idea was straightforward. Each spouse may be able to possess one property without having to pay the ABSD, as opposed to owning one under two names. This allows one to possess two properties without having to pay for ABSD. Divorce is not required. All that has to be stated in the purchasing procedure is that just one spouse is the property’s legitimate owner. Property purchasers still had to contend with lower LTVs (which means higher down payments and mortgage payments), even if this avoided the additional costs associated with ABSD.

It is quite challenging to have enough cash on hand to cover the down payment on two houses and to make enough money to pay down the loans associated with both. Prospective homeowners would preferably obtain a BTO apartment initially in order to get beyond the first obstacle—the down payment. The money saved during the whole time and the proceeds from the sale of the BTO upon MOP would contribute to creating the financial foundation needed to cover the down payments for the two homes. Although most people agree that BTOs do make a little profit, their main goal is still to offer cheap public housing. People ought to keep it in mind. It was most common for HDB upgraders to buy a tiny shoebox apartment for the investment property (usually studio or one bedroom) and a mid-sized private condo for their personal stay (usually two to three bedrooms) in order to further minimize the down payment amount for numerous properties.