Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lease buyback scheme leaves retiree $130k richer

The Straits Times  |  April 14, 2013

Retiree Kwek Joo Heng will get about $130,000 by selling the tail end of the lease on his three-room Ubi flat under the Enhanced Lease Buyback scheme.

Mr Kwek, 67, found out about this scheme while watching the news on television last year and thought that it would be a good way to provide himself with a steady stream of income in the coming years.

His flat, which he bought in 1985, has about 70 years left on the lease. Under the scheme, the HDB bought the unit from him for more than $300,000 and he paid about $170,000 for the 30-year lease.

"Some people have told me that I could get more money if I sold my flat on the open market, but that is too troublesome for me. This scheme is good; I get to stay in my flat where I am familiar with the surroundings," he said in Mandarin.

Mr Kwek has been the sole owner of the flat since his wife died in 2005. He has no children.
"If I had children, then I wouldn't sell my flat back to the Government. Of course, I would want to leave it to them," he added in an interview with The Sunday Times.

He used to work as a cleaner at a nearby primary school but quit to take care of his wheelchair-bound mother who is in her 80s. She moved into his flat last year. His younger brother, a supermarket worker, also lives with them.

Most of the $130,000 net proceeds will be used to top up Mr Kwek's Central Provident Fund (CPF) Retirement Account, and depending on which CPF Life scheme he opts for, he will receive a monthly annuity of about $700 for his lifetime.

This will be more than sufficient to cover his household expenses, which he estimates to be $500 to $600 a month, which mostly goes to food.

Mr Tan will also get to keep the excess of about $15,000 in cash, on top of a cash bonus of $20,000. He plans to save the money.

"Medical costs can be very expensive. Luckily I'm still doing okay," he said.

Describing an average day, Mr Kwek said that every morning from Monday to Saturday, he takes his mother to physiotherapy before cooking lunch at home.

On Sundays, he goes to a nearby temple and joins others there for different activities.
"During the weekday afternoons, sometimes I take a bus to Chinatown, just to walk around. I like to go around and look at things. Just to pass time," he said.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

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