News: Many Singaporeans facing difficulty paying housing loans amidst the pandemic

Nov 25, 2020

The survey revealed that about one third or 31% of the respondents encountered difficulties with their housing loan payments, with 9% indicating that they need to downgrade or sell.

OCBC’s latest survey showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on the financial well-being of Singaporeans, with many saying that they are finding it hard to pay their housing loans, reported The Straits Times (ST).

First published in 2019, the OCBC Financial Wellness Index fell to 61 this year from 63 previously, reflecting the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the bank.

For this year, OCBC polled 2,000 working adults within the city-state aged between 21 and 65. Respondents were assessed based on 10 pillars of financial wellness as defined by OCBC’s wealth management experts, noted the ST report.

The survey revealed that about one third or 31% of the respondents encountered difficulties with their housing loan payments, with 9% indicating that they need to downgrade or sell.

Recommended article: 4 Financial Tips for Managing Your Property Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Of the three age groups, millennials – or those aged between 21 and 39 – appeared to be the most worried of their finances as 49% of those surveyed are preoccupied by financial matters. This compares with the 37% from those belonging to Generation X and 26% from the baby boomer group.

Wanting to increase their wealth quickly, millennials prefer to do their own research and are less inclined to seek professional advice.

In fact, only 26% indicated that they would seek advice when making investment decisions, even as 42% of them admitted that they do not know how to best grow their wealth.

Notably, 48% of millennials spend mainly “to keep up with their peers”, 38% are having difficulty making timely payments for their housing loans and a similar percentage often pay only the minimum amount on their credit card.

With this, OCBC’s Head of Wealth Management Tan Siew Lee advised millennials, especially the younger ones, “to start small” when planning for retirement.

Suggested read: Home Financing Strategies For Managing Cash Flow Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

“Your runway is very long. Start with a regular savings plan, and get an appropriate insurance policy. You can benefit from the power of compounding,” she said as quoted by ST.

In general, the survey showed that 78% of Singaporeans underestimate the amount needed for retirement by over a third or 32%.

Nonetheless, Singaporeans “are being prudent and saving regularly, while also putting aside adequate emergency funds” amidst the pandemic, said Koh Ching Ching, Head of Group Brand and Communications at OCBC. 

“If these habits stick and lessons are learned from the crisis, we expect to see a rise in the Index next year – perhaps even surpassing 2019’s result,” she added as quoted by ST.

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