Unlock the value of your home

Unlock the value of your home

Cashing in your fixed assets to make retirement a bit easier is a logical step but somehow property has wormed its way into a special place in our hearts and we just can't bear to let it go.

Call it perverse perhaps, but most Singaporeans would rather hold on to their real estate and live - or scrape by on - an asset-rich but cash-poor life.

Yet there are schemes that can turn the value of their homes into real spending money.

For example, reverse mortgages allow home owners to convert the savings locked up in their houses into a steady stream of income.

Reverse mortgages, which NTUC Income and OCBC Bank used to offer a few years back, met with such cool demand that both institutions have canned them.

Instead of a regular loan where the property owner pays a monthly instalment to the bank, reverse mortgages involve the financial institution paying the borrower. It is akin to a line of credit and provides a regular income stream. The main reason senior citizens shunned them is that on the mortgagor's death, the property will be sold by the bank for the deceased's estate so the parents could not bequeath it to their children.

But there are other programmes around, some offering juicy cash bonuses from the Housing Board, others involving banks, with the aim of letting people use some of the capital that has built up in their homes and now sits idle.

Mr Ong Lean Wan, chief executive of financial advisory Life Planning Association, noted that any decision to do with property is an "emotional one".

"It is not easy to advise them on what to do. Also, what if they sell now, and prices increase in the next three to five years? What would they feel about missing out on $50,000 or $100,000?" he said.

"For those who are really short of cash, this will probably be a good idea, but they just have to make sure that they do not regret their choices."

If you are open to the idea of turning your home into a cash generator during retirement or are just keen to transform bricks and mortar into dollars and cents, check out some of the options here:

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