Loans

Knowing the Costs of Buying a Home in Singapore

Jan 20, 2021

Purchasing a home in Singapore takes a lot of planning, but it’s essential to go through all those details. Just imagine spending weeks to find the right home for you and your family.

You apply for the HLE letter, the loan goes through, and you’re happy as a clam. You’ve spent all of your savings, but now you have a fantastic place to move into.

Except there’s a problem.

The bills keep rolling in even though you think you’ve thought of everything. And the explanation is simple: you haven’t thought of everything.

But that’s okay.

That’s why we’re here for. Many new home owners-to-be will neglect some expenses because they get carried away with all the big stuff, so they forget the small stuff.

If you want to avoid the hassle that comes from all that, keep reading below.

Upfront Home Costs

These upfront costs include:

  • Option fee
  • Downpayment
  • Legal fees
  • Agent’s commission
  • Buyer’s stamp duty
  • Additional Buyer’s stamp duty if this isn’t the first property you’re buying, and you’re a Singapore citizen
  • Extra fees

1. Option Fee

The option fee is a charge that you’re paying to book the property you want. Each type of property comes with a specific option fee based on the number of rooms and whether it’s new or resale.

Here’s the bad news:

It’s not cheap.

And more bad news: you have to pay it in cash and be prepared to lose the money if you’re not ultimately getting that apartment.

Unfortunately, that happens more often than you’d like because your HLE letter expires after six months, and that period sometimes brings with it a price increase. So, if you want to keep the apartment you’ve booked, you may need to pay a specific cash difference or be prepared to forfeit that option fee.

Here’s what you can expect to fork out according to Money Sense:

If you’re getting an HDB flat:

  • New with four or five rooms or Executive apartment: $2,000
  • New with three rooms: $1,000
  • New with two rooms: $500
  • Resale flat: Maximum of $5,000:
    • $1,000 tops before you sign the OTP (Option to Purchase)
    • Up to $4,000 when you exercise the OTP

If you’re getting an Executive Condominium/ private property:

  • New: 5%
  • Resale: 5%:
    • 1% to get the OTP
    • 4% to exercise the OTP

2. Downpayment

The advance payment you’ll have to fork out depends on:

  • Your future property’s price
  • The type of property you’re purchasing
  • If you already have another housing loan
  • The new loan’s term, which is a maximum of 25 years for HDB flats and 30 years for private properties
  • The loan-to-value limit (LTV)

HDB Loan

Apartment Downpayment (cash/ CPF)
Build-To-Order Flats (BTO)10% of purchase price
Includes booking fee and balance (both only in cash and/or CPF)
Resale10% of purchase price
Includes booking fee and balance (both only in cash and/or CPF)

 

Bank Loan

First housing loan Second housing loan Third housing loan
The minimum sum you have to pay in cash
  • 5% (for LTV of 75%)
  • 10% (for LTV of 55%)
25%25%
The rest of the down paymentYou can pay this either with cash or using your CPF.

 

Notice how the private bank loan comes with a disadvantage because the advance payment is 25% instead of the 10% down payment with HDB. But if you choose this option, you’ll have a lower overall loan to repay, with smaller instalments and a shorter tenure.

Basically, there’s no perfect option, just the right choice according to your financial power and needs.

With that in mind, third party costs include:

  • A valuation fee. You’ll pay this to a professional appraiser to write a valuation report on your future home, basically appraising its current cost.
  • Legal fee. This legal fee that you’ll pay to your lawyer is so they can process the mortgage that you’ll take for your future property.
  • Stamp duty. This stamp duty is a tax you pay to the Government of Singapore to register your mortgage officially.
  • Insurance premium. This insurance tax is paid to the insurance company, and it’s mandatory. Your lender (the bank or the HDB) will need you to protect your future assets against fire or further damage.

Pro tip: Check HDB’s Staggered Downpayment Scheme. If you qualify for this programme, you can split the advance payment into two instalments. You’ll pay the first 5% when you sign the agreement and the other 5% when you get your keys.

Examples:

  • You want to purchase a $200k 3-room HDB flat. The advance payment is $20,000, and you can pay it with cash, your CPF OA account or a mix of both.
  • You want to purchase an $800k two-bedroom condominium. In this case, you can only choose a bank loan where the advance payment is $200k. Remember: you should pay $40,000 out of this sum in cash, though you can use your CPF for the remaining $160k.

Legal Fees

These legal fees have to do with processing your paperwork so that you can take ownership of your dream home. These charges include:

  • Stamp duty for Agreement for Lease:
    • 1% for the first $180k
    • 2% for the next $180k
    • 3% for the following $640k
    • 4% for the rest of the sum
  • Conveyancing fee:
    • $0.9/ $1,000 for the first $30k of your home’s value
    • $0.72/ $1,000 for the following $30k
    • $0.6/ $1,000 for the rest of the sum
  • Caveat registration fee: $64.45

Just looking at these numbers can give you a headache, but luckily you don’t have to do the math yourself. Simply use:

Pro tip: Private condos come with steeper conveyancing fees compared to BTO flats. If you want to save money, you can pick a more affordable law firm than the one your bank works with.

Pro tip 2: If you go with HDB’s in-house law firm, you can pay these conveyancing charges from your CPF account. Otherwise, other law firms may require you to make this payment in cash.

Recurring Home Costs

Apart from the upfront home costs, you’ll also have to consider the recurring payments for:

  • Insurance
  • Renovation
  • Maintenance
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage

Insurance Premiums

Fire insurance is cheap in Singapore. Look at the primary option provided by Etiqa:

Flat Type5-Year Premium (Including 7% GST)Sum Insured
1-room$1.62$29,000
2-room/ 2-room Flexi$2.71$48,700
3-room$4.87$60,400
4-room/ S1$5.94$82,000
5-room/ S2/ 3-Generation$7.13$97,300
Executive/ Multi-Generation$8.10$106,200
Studio Apartment (Type A/ B)$2.71$48,700

 

However, this insurance covers fire damage to:

  • Internal structures
  • Fixtures
  • Areas built/ provided by the HDB

So, you may want to look at a premium fire insurance that covers other fire damages, such as your furniture or assets, or third-party coverage if the fire was your fault and your neighbour’s place was damaged.

In this case, you can expect to fork out $50-$700/ year for foolproof insurance, which covers various accident plans.

Warning: Home insurance policies are more expensive compared to flats.

Renovation and Furnishing Costs

If you take a renovation loan, you can only borrow up to six times your monthly income or $30,000 – whichever is lower. These loans have 3-5% interest rates per year, so do your research before choosing the right provider. Also, remember that your tenure will stretch for about five years as well.

Warning: Renovation loans don’t allow you to buy furniture and decorations. If you need some money for these things, too, consider a personal loan that offers you more flexibility.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs represent conservancy charges, and they’re usually:

  • $20-$90/ month for HDB apartments
  • $200-$350/ month for condominiums
  • $400+/ month for luxury apartments

Note: These fees are just for Singapore citizens, and non-citizens will have to pay higher costs.

Property Taxes

Property taxes depend on your property’s Annual Value, which sum represents how much you’d cash in if you were to rent this property.

Pro tip: The government offers an intuitive calculator that you can find here to gauge these taxes.

Mortgage Repayments

The mortgage interest rate for HDB flats is the prevailing CPF OA rate + 0.1%. Currently, this rate is 2.6%, which means the mortgage interest rate is 2.7%/ year for HDB flats.

The mortgage interest rate for private property isn’t fixed. However, it stayed pretty much around 1.8%/ year for the last 13 years.

Home Costs in Singapore Conclusion

Purchasing a home in Singapore isn’t cheap, but it’s perfectly doable if you carefully plan all of your expected expenses. The HDB loan option is the most affordable, especially if you choose the standard insurance package. Apart from the down payment that can get to 10-25% of your home’s value, the renovation costs may be pretty high too.

On the other hand, private condominiums come with much higher overall charges, especially luxury flats. That means you can expect to fork out a ten times larger sum.

These numbers may scare you at first – it’s only natural.

But you shouldn’t compromise on your dream home just because of these extra costs. GS Credit features highly affordable loan packages for property owners. Whether you want to furnish your home or pay a more considerable advance, we’ll tailor the best-suited loan for your needs.

Apply here.

 

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