CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire

CPF Accrued Interest Trap: Can You Downsize and Retire?

“My plan is to downsize my house to use the (capital appreciation) money for retirement.”

I was walking past a coffee shop and I happened to hear the above statement. The man who looked like he was in his 50s seemed to radiate confidence about his statement. I wonder if it was possible. While we are going to explore that today, do check out my most popular blog post in 2020 so far: 5 mistakes people make using their CPF.

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire

Context Setting

To buy a home in Singapore, I would say a good majority of us will take a loan. As we are able to take up to 90% (HDB loan) or up to 75% (Bank loan) of the property prices, this means we have to put a down-payment. To illustrate, a $400,000 HDB property would require us to fork out at least $40,000 as down-payment.

To pay for this down-payment, I know most people would use their CPF-OA to pay for it. At the same time, most people will also use their CPF-OA to service their home loans.

This means that our CPF-OA might be wiped out throughout our loan bearing years.

What most people fail to recognized is that we are charged interest for using our CPF-OA, this is known as accrued interest.


CPF Accrued Interest

Accrued interest is the interest amount that you would have earned if your CPF savings had not been withdrawn for housing. The interest is computed on the CPF principal amount withdrawn for housing on a monthly basis (at the current CPF Ordinary Account interest rate) and compounded yearly.

(Source: How does the Board calculate the accrued interest on the amount of CPF used for my property?)

As CPF is meant for our retirement in our planning of Wealth Management, to safeguard the “loss of interest” during the years the monies are used for property, we need to refund the CPF-OA the following.

  1. The down-payment that was used
  2. The monthly installment that was used
  3. The accrued interest (interest that we would have received from our down-payment and installment if we didn’t withdraw from CPF)


Will the plan work? Let’s put it to the test

Let’s fixed a few reasonable assumptions to form an illustration. We will looking at downsizing from a 4 bedded HDB to a 3 bedded HDB after the loan tenure of 25 years.

HDB 4RM Value: $400,000

Down-payment: $40,000 (10%). Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD): $6600. Legal Fee: $3000.

Loan amount: $360,000. Monthly Installment: $1634. HDB Loan: 2.6%

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire Calculations

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire Calculations

In month 1, we add the down-payment, BSD, legal fee and the first monthly installment of $1634 to get $51,234. From day 1, the accrued interest would already be $106.74. In 25 years time (300 months), the total accrued interest would have already accumulated to $184,698!

Assuming the property market grows at 3% annually, your $400,000 property will now be worth $837,511. Isn’t that great? Your profited $437,511!! Before you think that your profit will be $437,511 and can be used for retirement, here is when the accrued interest trap comes in.

When you sell your house, you have to return back to your CPF the down-payment, the monthly installment and also the accrued interest. This would mean that you have to return $724,498 ($539,800 + $184,698) into the CPF. Your cash proceeds will only be $103,013.

Wait there’s more! 

Because you are downsizing, you can use your existing CPF-OA to acquire a HDB 3RM. Using time value of money, a HDB 3RM wroth $300,000 now will be worth $628,133 in 25 years time if it grows at the same 3%. You have to make sure that you have enough money to acquire that HDB 3RM.

Wait there’s even more!

You have to pay the HDB resale levy of $30,000 (as of 2020), agent fee of $8,375 (1%) and also legal cost of $3000.

Wait there’s even some more!

After the age of 55, you have to set aside your Full Retirement Sum (FRS) which is a combination of your Ordinary Account and your Special Account. This might post some problems to use your CPF-OA to acquire a HDB 3RM if you are unable to reach your Full Retirement Sum.

And lastly..

Assuming that you can acquire the HDB 3RM without problems, would $113,013 be enough for retirement?

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire

CPF Accrued Interest Trap Can You Downsize and Retire: Oh Damn



Retirement planning is often more than a single solution. There are many caveats that stumble the best of us. To ensure your retirement is secure, work together with someone that you trust and exhibit good expertise in this matter.

In my experience helping people plan for retirement, I realised those that retire in comfort usually have a combination of retirement tools ranging from properties, stocks, annuity and also insurance.

Thank you the uncle at the coffee shop who inspired me to write this article. Please help to share this article so that this article may find its’ way to him.


No one will care about your money as much as you do.

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Check out my most popular blog post in 2020 so far: 5 mistakes people make using their CPF.

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Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

How to Benefit from the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

When the government announced the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant, it was a mixed reaction. Those in the sandwich generation cheered, some were disappointed. The question is, how do you benefit from the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant?

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

Let’s first start by asking ourselves, what is the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant all about? (Read more: Make The Most Of Your CPF)

HDB Eligibility

The Enhanced CPF Housing Grant that is going to streamline current Additional and Special CPF Housing Grants as an attempt to make public housing affordable and available for everyone.

Firstly, the income ceiling for buying the HDB has increase to $14,000. This means that HDB will be available for more people to buy. Currently, those that are “earning too much” is not eligible to buy a HDB. To put it really simply, if your average gross monthly household income is less than $14,000, you are eligible to buy a HDB.

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant Income Ceiling

Source: HDB Website

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant Eligibility

Now that you know you are eligible to buy a HDB, the question is how much grant are you entitled to for the new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant. The answer is, it depends. It will depend on the followings.

  • Average Monthly Household Income (The higher your Household Income, the lower the grant)
  • Lease Coverage (To get full grant amount, the flat must have enough lease life until you and your spouse is 95)
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant Table

Source: HDB Website

Typically, the average monthly household income in Singapore for First-Timer Families (Assuming a couple who graduated from an University and working now) will be around $5000, this brings the grant amount to $40,000.

There are many permutations as to how this new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant will affect people. There will definitely be people who will compare between the old scheme and the new one. For Wealthdojo, we believe that it is better to well understand your own situation rather than compare your grant to everyone else. You could always consult the HDB Board to better understand your situation.

How will this affect Property Prices?

In Wealthdojo, we are a platform for people to make informed financial decisions. We want to understand how this Enhanced CPF Housing Grant will impact our financial journey as a whole. The below are my personal opinions and strictly my own.

  • There will be an increase in property prices. A grant makes buying the property affordable for a selected group of people. It doesn’t mean the price has dropped. Loosely speaking, we are not taking into account location and various other consideration for buying a property. An isolated trend table for Punggol shows that over the years, there has been an increase in price for BTO flats.
    Enhanced CPF Housing Grant BTO Price Changes

    Enhanced CPF Housing Grant BTO Price Changes

  • Private Property Prices will increase. A simple chart like this show that there a simple positive correlation between private and HDB prices. Logically, if we compare a similar size HDB and a Private Property in the same area, the price of a private property will be higher.
    Correlation HDB Private Properties

    Correlation HDB Private Properties

Insurance for Properties

Buying a property might be the biggest purchase for most people, it is also important to plan for insurance for your properties. (Read more: Insurance for Investors). In a simple nutshell, these are the 3 insurance that you have to get for your property.

  • Fire Insurance

If you are living in a HDB, it is compulsory to get a fire insurance. As the name suggest, it covers for fire BUT the scope of the coverage is very small. HDB fire insurance compensates for damage to the building (ONLY). As a general rule of thumb: If it wasn’t already there when you got your house keys, then it’s not covered by HDB fire insurance. That’s why we need to have content insurance.

  • Home Content Insurance

In a fire, naturally the items in the house will get damaged. This will include items like Air-Con, the fridge, the television, the sofa, the bed, etc. Not only do you need to purchase these items again, you will need to renovate the house again to bring it back to living conditions. Most home content insurance covers for renovation and also home content.

  • Mortgage Interest Insurance

Most people will get a loan from a bank to finance their property. For banks, they will need an assurance that you will be able to pay for the loan. That’s why they assess the loan amount from your salary. The biggest risk a bank (and yourself) will take is if a person is unable to finance the loan. What happens in an event of a critical illness (Read More: Life Insurers to change definition of Critical Illness) such as heart attack and it robs away the ability for a person to earn money? Would this be extra burden on your partner? The bank has the right to claim back the property leaving your family on the streets. Would you want that to happen?

In summary, there will be new changes in the future too. Some things will change while others will remain the same.

In Wealthdojo, we believe in bespoke financial planning. Whether it is money maximization, insurance or investing, we believe that everyone is different and the planning should be suited for you.

All opinions above are my own. Please view our disclaimer page to understand more. 

I hope to nurture genuine relationships with all of my readers. Please feel free to contact me on my Instagram (@chengkokoh) or Facebook Page

Now that you’ve read about learnt about how to benefit from the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant , I challenge you to read this article (Careshield Life: Disability Insurance Singapore) to push your understanding further!

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