Housing Fund Scheme to Achieve Your Dream House 12


So you’ve read my post about whether you should buy or rent your home and decided, “Hey, I want my own place! YOLO!” Next comes the part where you research more into buying a house. That’s when you realise that there’s a lot of money that has to go into this aspiration. So what can you do?

As we’ve covered before, there are many ways to finance a house: particularly saving up and taking a loan. Recently I learned of a scheme which, without knowing it was a Government Scheme, I would have thought it was a scam. Seriously, the benefits seemed too good to be true! So what is this magical scheme? It’s the…

Housing Fund Scheme

Also known as “Skim Tabungan Perumahan“, this voluntary scheme is managed under the people behind TAP – our Employees’ Trust Fund. It aims to assist Bruneians towards buying a house of their own; especially for the lower income earners.

This scheme was born from His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei’s royal speech on his birthday on 15th July 2012. The result was exactly as decreed: a housing fund scheme with superb benefits.

Who qualifies for this scheme?

Remember that this scheme voluntary so if you never applied for it, you’ll never get it. And, it is only available to people who fit ALL of these criteria:

  1. Current members of TAP
  2. Citizens of Brunei (Yellow IC only)
  3. Below 55 years of age
  4. Not owning a house under them or their spouse’s name
  5. Not receiving any pensions for their service from the Government

Benefits

Since I started talking about benefits, you must have wondered what they were. The housing fund scheme’s benefits are two-fold:

1. Guaranteed Dividends

This benefit pays a guaranteed 3% per annum on your balance. These dividends come from the TAP investment funds and if the payout is less than 3%, the Government will top it up to reach 3%.

And as far as I understand, this is a compounding benefit. Meaning you can earn the dividends on the the previous year’s dividends.

Eligibility

To be eligible, your salary cannot be more than BND6,000 per month.

2. Financial assistance for home ownership

When you want to purchase a house and meet the requirements, the Government will give you financial assistance of a maximum of BND25,000 (basically free money). There are 2 scenarios which may play out:

  1. You’re married and get BND25,000, or
  2. You’re single and get BND12,500. You will be able to “top-up” the other half if you get married.

Eligibility

There are many criteria to meet to get this benefit. Come on, nothing worthwhile comes for free!

  1. Your income cannot be more than BND2,000 per month, OR your household income (you + spouse) cannot be more than BND4,000 per month. This applies to up to 24 months (2 years) from before your application.
  2. At least 25 years of age
  3. Do not have real estate under you or your spouse’s name
  4. Voluntarily contributed consistently for 48 months (4 years) to the fund
  5. Contributions are at least 5% of your income
  6. Never withdrawn from TAP using the Housing benefit

Maximising the benefits

There are some ways I’ve heard people maximised the housing fund scheme’s benefits. Some ways you can consider include:

1. Savings

3% is an amazing rate! Savings accounts in banks mostly give you 1.5% so use this to your advantage and get double the returns!

2. Applicable to Government Housing Scheme

If you’ve applied for the Government Housing Scheme, it usually takes around 10 years to reach “your turn”. So why not take advantage of contributing a bit towards much lower monthly payments?

Concerns

One concern I have regarding this scheme is simply: Is it sustainable? We’re talking about 3% guaranteed returns per year and BND25,000 free money! These funds are also tied to TAP’s other withdrawal schemes. The fund manager needs to perform exceptionally well on the markets and investments for this to work smoothly.

Otherwise, this money is simply going to be tapped (hah) from the country’s already weakened economy and reserves. Nonetheless, most of us are not paid enough to think about this too much so enjoy the benefits while it’s around!

Conclusion

The Housing Fund Scheme is an awesome (almost too good to be true) plan for Bruneian citizens of the lower to middle income bracket planning to buy a house. The criteria are strict but if eligible, it’s best to take advantage of this vehicle. This is one of the perks that citizens really should thank His Majesty the Sultan and his Government for implementing; sustainability aside.

Sadly, I only found out about this scheme after I bought a house and I’m only a little bummed about it. It’s best not to think about it. :'(

Just get a bag and drop a dream in it, and you’ll be surprised what happens.

– Charles Nelson Reilly

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About Fox

Founder of The Savey Fox. I am interested in how money works and makes the world go round. Borne from picking up a personal finance book when I was unemployed after University, I strive to continually learn and share about finance. Other than the big $ signs, I am an avid gamer, coffee lover and seasonal gym rat.

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12 thoughts on “Housing Fund Scheme to Achieve Your Dream House

  • Mr Future People

    Coincidentally, I’ve attended a talk from TAP about this just last Wednesday. Even though this has been available since 2012, they don’t seem to market it much. I wish I had known about it earlier too, but I wouldn’t have match the ‘4 years minimum’ criteria. Too bad they only offer this for our 1st house. Good that you’re putting it out there and hopefully more people will benefit from this.

    • Fox Post author

      Yes! That was how I learned about it too. I believe it was poor marketing on their part but there are some “lucky” ones who learned about it during launch. Thanks for reading!

  • Sim

    Are you sure about the 3% guaranteed dividends? even now? I know I’ve skimmed through one of the BB headlines and they mentioned 2% ending at March 2017 financial year.

  • Mo

    Dear Fox,

    Thank you for such an insightful and delightful read. I do want to confirm with you however, I am a B2 scale officer working with the government and I earn more than 2k monthly. So that means im not eligible for the technically “free 25k” according to what I’ve read from your post.

    But I should be able to utilize the 3% savings scheme right?

    If I do however decide not to use this scheme to buy a house because i got a house through the perumahan scheme then all the money i voluntarily injected into TAP will be subjected to TAP’s terms and conditions on withdrawal right? such as the 50 years old, 55 years old, emigration, incapacitation & next-of-kin right?

    Hope to hear from you.

    -New blog fan

    • Fox Post author

      Howdy Mo!

      I hope you found the article helpful!

      1. You may be able to try for the housing benefit if you are married and fit the other criteria. You can try asking if you fall under the “household income” condition where both you and your spouse’s income is taken into consideration. But if you’re not married, then unfortunately your pay is “overqualified”.

      2. If you can qualify for the scheme (the five conditions early in the article), I think you should be able to apply for the 3% benefit. Your pay scale does not disqualify you at least.

      3. If I’m not mistaken, this scheme can apply to perumahan payments as well. Withdrawal is subject to the TAP housing withdrawal. But yes, your money is also subject to the same terms and conditions.

      Detailed information can be obtained from their staff at their office in Bandar. Hope this helps!

      • Mo

        Hey Fox.. Thank for the reply, buddy.

        Another concern I’ve been thinking about is whether the TAP & SCP scheme is protected. Meaning, if there’s an economy crisis or if lets say a country bankrupts, would that spell disaster for TAP & SCP users whereby the country’s funds are frozen and wont be able to pay out TAP & SCP. Cause I’ve been told before regarding a european country that went bankrupt which affected its pension scheme. That’s why I’d prefer something lucrative and able to cash out ASAP during times of crisis (Just me worrying too far into the future).

        This concern is enough to cripple me from going for the 3% scheme.

        • Fox Post author

          Hey there Mo,

          One mentality I have for TAP and SCP is that they are simply tools for asset allocation. I understand your concern regarding economic collapse and the European country (it’s Greece, isn’t it?). Total economic collapse and bankruptcy is the absolute worst fate to befall any country; the people will revolt or simply migrate, leaving it to fend for itself. I’m not saying it won’t happen; just simply, there will be controls against it but if worse comes to worst, a country runs out of money, it’s likely they will freeze any payments out of their funds.

          That being said, as I mentioned, I see these as tools towards a means. But I wouldn’t put 100% of all my money into them (partly for the reasons you mentioned). Since you’re specifically looking at it from a housing standpoint, you are eligible to withdraw through the housing scheme (TAP24) when you have “10 years of TAP membership with at least 5 years (60 months) of active contributions OR has a minimum TAP savings of B$40,000.” Mind you, the max you can withdraw is 45% (some conditions less).

          So you can take it as a medium term savings with nicer interest rates plus look to diversify into other assets too.

          Hope this helps!

          • Mo

            Hey Fox,

            Yes It’s greece. I see your point and I do agree regarding not putting all your savings into one type of investment scheme.
            I will contact TAP to ask more regarding the terms and conditions. Thanks for your advice..

            I look forward to more posts on investments.

          • Fox Post author

            Hi Mo,

            Thank you for your questions as well! It was a good mental exercise. I’ll think up some good investment posts in the near future as many people seem to be interested in that topic.

            Thank you for your support! All the best!