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The Hidden Costs of Owning a Home in Singapore


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Buying a home in Singapore is a long-term commitment that requires proper planning. Knowing how much it costs and the home loan interest rate is not enough.

To avoid unwanted surprises, you should know the charges that come along with buying the property. In this article, we will debunk some myths surrounding home ownership and list the fees you can expect when you buy a house in Singapore.

Debunking myths about owning a home in Singapore

#1: Capital appreciation of property = profits

Many Singaporeans think that they will profit from owning a property as its value will go up over time. But just because housing prices are rising does not mean a huge windfall.

Buying a house requires a large upfront cost. This includes application fees, stamp duties, renovation costs, and more. There are also property taxes, interest on your loan, and maintenance fees to pay regularly.

Assume you bought a house for $500,000 25 years ago, and it is worth $1 million today. After deducting the fees and costs, you would likely be left with less than $200,000 in profit.

#2: You have to use more CPF savings than you thought

The current down payment rate is 20% for HDB loans, and 25% for bank loans. For HDB loans, if you have more than the required down payment sum in your CPF Ordinary Account (CPF OA), you can either choose to use up all your money in the account, or keep up to $20,000 in it.

For instance, if your down payment is $50,000 and you have $100,000 in your CPF OA, you cannot choose to only pay off the minimum down payment and keep the remaining in your CPF. You can only keep up to $20,000 while the rest goes towards your home purchase.

Upfront costs of owning a home in Singapore

1. Application Fees

New HDB flat applications cost $10. Applications for resale one-room and two-room flats cost $40, and $80 for larger units.

2. Option Fee

An Option To Purchase is the agreement between the buyer and seller of a home. It is used by buyers to “reserve” the property. The fee depends on the type of property you purchase.

Flat TypeOption Fee
4-room, 5-room, Executive Flat$2,000
Resale FlatUp to $5,000
Executive Condominium or Private Property5%

3. Downpayment

The down payment amount depends on:

HDB Loan:

Flat TypeOption Fee
Build-To-Order (BTO),
Resale flats
20% of the purchase price
(cash and/or CPF money)

Bank Loan:

0 mortgages1 mortgage2 or more mortgages
Minimum Cash Downpayment5% (LTV of 75%)
10% (LTV of 55%)
Rest of DownpaymentCan be paid using cash and/or CPF money

4. Stamp Duty

A stamp duty is a tax you have to pay when you buy a home. There are two main stamp duties:

Buyer’s Stamp Duty:

Fee structure based on the purchase price of propertyBSD Rates
First $180,0001%
Next $180,0002%
Next $640,0003%
Remaining amount4%

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty:

Buyer’s ProfileFirst PropertySecond PropertyThird Property
Singapore Citizens, Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland,
Nationals of the United States of America
Not Applicable17%25%
Singapore Permanent Residents5%25%30%
Trustees buying any residential property35%35%35%

5. Home Valuation Fee

For the bank to approve your loan, it needs to know how much the house you are buying is worth. If you buy a HDB flat, you can submit a Request for Value that will cost you $120. You can also get an estimated home valuation with Homer AI. If you are buying a private property, you would have to contact one of the bank’s listed valuers, which will cost between S$120 to S$400.

6. Agent Commissions

This is the fee paid to agents who help you find your home and arrange for viewing sessions.

If you buy a resale HDB flat, you usually pay 1% of the purchase price as a commission.

7. Legal Fees

When you’re buying a house, there are documents you need to process with a lawyer. Besides making sure the paperwork is in order, your lawyer also checks if the seller has the right to let go of their property.

HDB’s fees go at the following rates:

  • First $30,000: $0.90 per $1,000
  • Next $30,000: $0.72 per $1,000
  • Remaining amount: $0.60 per $1,000

This would typically cost you a few hundred dollars. If you engage a private law firm, the average fee is $2,500.

8. Survey and Lease In-Escrow Registration Fee

This is the survey fee that goes to the surveyor inspecting the condition and value of your flat. It costs between $160 and $400.

9. Caveat Registration Fee

A caveat is an official notice that you are buying the property. Filing the caveat means the house cannot be sold to anyone else. The buyer’s caveat would cost you $64 while the Title Search Fee costs $10. If you are taking on a home loan, you have to pay another $64 for a Mortgagee’s Caveat.

10. Renovation, Moving, and Furnishing Costs

This largely depends on your budget and aesthetic preferences. You will save more if you come up with your own layout, but those who hire interior designers and buy branded furniture can easily spend over $100,000.

Recurring costs of owning a home in Singapore

1. Utilities/Property Tax

Remember that you have to pay the costs of power, gas, and water you use every month. On top of that, you have to pay an annual property tax that is a percentage of the annual value of your home. This amount is an estimation of the annual rent your property fetches.

2. Home Loan Interest

Remember that a mortgage can sometimes last decades. If you dig into your monthly mortgage payment, you will see that a large portion of it goes towards paying the interest.

To reduce the amount of interest you pay, you can either try and pay off your loan as quickly as possible, or refinance your loan when interest rates slip.

Read More: HDB Loan vs Bank Loan: Which Should You Choose?

3. Fire/Home Insurance

Fire insurance, which covers structural home damages, is compulsory for all HDB flats. Fortunately, the cost ranges from $1.60 to $8.20 for five years.

You will have to buy home insurance as well. Depending on the type of coverage you opt for, a policy can cost anywhere between $50 and $350 for every $100,000 of coverage.

4. Private Property Maintenance Fees

If you buy a private home, you will have to pay monthly or quarterly maintenance fees that are used to run the facilities in your estate, such as the swimming pool and gym. The fees can cost a few hundred dollars every month, even if you do not use the amenities.

5. HDB Service and Conservancy Charges

This is HDB’s version of the maintenance fees. Other than the type of flat you own, these charges also depend on the area you live in. The money collected goes towards the general upkeep of your neighbourhood, which includes maintaining the lift, fumigating the grounds, and cleaning the estate.

TL;DR: Summary of one-off and recurring costs

One-Off CostsRecurring Costs
Application FeeUtilities/Property Tax
Option FeeHome Loan Interest
Down PaymentFire/Home Insurance
Stamp DutyMaintenance Fees (Private Properties)
Property Valuation FeeService and Conservancy Charges (HDB Flats)
Agent Commissions
Conveyancing/Legal Fees
Survey & Lease In-Escrow Registration Fee
Caveat Registration Fee
Renovation and Moving Costs

The cost of your new home does not stop at your down payment, so remember to have enough cash and CPF savings before you make your big purchase.

Ready to buy a home in Singapore?

Let Ohmyhome’s smart data-matching technology MATCH you with the right home, according to your specific needs. Submit your preferences to us and our algorithm will filter all our available listings based on those, and we’ll WhatsApp them to you once we find a match. We’ll also send you relevant content that you can use for your research and inform your home buying decision, so you no longer have to spend hours searching online for the information that you need. Because at Ohmyhome, we’re always by your side, always on your side.

Secure an appointment with any of our Super Agents by dropping us a message on WhatsApp or via our Live Chat at the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen. 

This article was originally published on Planner Bee, your handy financial planning app! Learn more about managing your money, investments and insurance on Planner Bee’s blog.

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