Marriage is a beautiful bond that brings two people together for a lifetime. However, for many Singaporeans, marriage has become a means to an end – homeownership. While owning a home is a dream come true for many, the insidious effects of getting married for (just) homeownership cannot be ignored. Here are some of the effects that come with this trend:
1. Buyers’ remorse
Picture this: You’ve spent countless hours scrolling through property listings, trying to find the perfect place to call home. But as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, you start to feel the pressure mounting. You want to settle down, to have a place to call your own. And so, in a moment of desperation, you pick a home that doesn’t quite fit the bill. Maybe it’s too small, too old-fashioned, or too far away from your friends and family. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ve finally found a place to call your own.
However, as time passes, you begin to realize that you may have made a grave mistake. The home you thought you loved doesn’t actually suit your lifestyle needs at all. Maybe you’re struggling to find storage space for all your belongings, or perhaps the layout of the house just doesn’t flow the way you had hoped. It’s as if you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and it’s not working out at all.
On the other hand, maybe you went all out and splurged on a large marital home, only to find that you don’t have spare funds for your renovations. The dream of owning a beautiful, spacious home is quickly turning into a nightmare as you realize the cost of making it truly yours. The flooring needs replacing, the walls need painting, and the kitchen needs an entire overhaul. The reality of your financial situation hits hard, and buyer’s remorse sets in.
And all of this could have been caused by one thing: rushing into marriage just to own a property. Buyer’s remorse can hit you in many forms, and it’s important to consider the long-term implications of such a monumental decision. So before you make any rash decisions, take a deep breath, think things through, and remember that a home is more than just a piece of property – it’s a reflection of your hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Pro Tip: Be clear on your motivations. Are you rushing into marriage just to own a property? Or is there a genuine desire to build a life together with your partner? Make sure you’re honest with yourself about your motivations and desires. Buying property is a big investment, so it’s important to also think about your long-term goals. Do you plan on starting a family? Do you want to travel or pursue other interests? Make sure your property purchase aligns with your long-term goals.
2. Financial stress
Rushing into marriages without proper financial planning can lead to significant financial stress. Couples who are financially unprepared for the responsibilities of homeownership may struggle with mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. In some cases, they may end up sacrificing their financial stability or even their marriage in order to keep up with the financial demands of homeownership. In order to make your property-related payments on time, you may have to relinquish the financial flexibility you once enjoyed, including the freedom to dine out frequently, and to party, shop, or travel at a moment’s notice.
Throwing a large wedding reception, whether out of choice or family obligation, may set them back even further and rack up more bills before they even commence their homeownership journey.
With various policies in place that favour married couples when it comes to buying and owning a home, this puts additional pressure on singles to get married in order to take advantage of these policies, even if they are not financially ready for marriage.
Pro Tip: Don’t let the pressure of owning a home lead you to rush into marriage. Start saving early to avoid unnecessary financial stress on your relationship. Develop a realistic financial plan that includes the cost of homeownership, such as mortgage payments and maintenance costs, before tying the knot. This also gives you time to date and gauge compatibility as life partners before making a significant investment.
3. Financial incompatibility
Financial incompatibility is a sneaky little monster that can creep up on you unexpectedly. You might think it’s no big deal at first, but if one partner is raking in significantly more income than the other, resentment can rear its ugly head when it comes to splitting expenses. It’s also crucial to have similar financial values so that you can make harmonious joint decisions about managing your money in a way that works for both of you. To help you assess your financial compatibility, keep these four key aspects in mind.
Affordability: It is essential to determine whether the couple can afford the HDB flat they plan to purchase. Couples should consider their combined income, current expenses, and any outstanding debts they have. Being financially compatible means that both partners can contribute to the home purchase and manage mortgage payments and other expenses comfortably.
Debt management: Couples should also discuss their debts, including credit card debt, car loans, and student loans. This conversation is crucial because it helps each partner understand the other’s financial obligations and how it impacts their ability to make mortgage payments. If one partner has significant debt, it may affect the couple’s ability to get a mortgage or make monthly payments.
Long-term planning: Buying a home is a long-term investment that requires financial planning. Couples should discuss long-term financial goals, including retirement savings, children’s education, and emergency funds. They should also plan for unexpected events, such as a job loss or health crisis, and how they will handle them.
Credit scores: Financial compatibility also means understanding each other’s credit scores. Good credit is essential when applying for a mortgage, and a low score can lead to higher interest rates or even disqualification from getting a loan. Couples should work together to improve their credit scores and maintain good financial habits.
5. Losing more than just love
If you rush into marriage just to snag a BTO flat, but things don’t work out, it can leave you in a sticky situation when it comes to buying a flat again. In Singapore, second-timers have lower priority in the allocation process, which means a longer waiting time for a new flat. And to make things worse, they’re not eligible for the full housing grants that first-time buyers get, which can make it harder to afford a new flat.
If you’re planning to get subsidised housing again and have already received the grants before, you’ll be considered a second-timer. However, if you didn’t take any subsidies or grants when you bought your first home, you’ll still be eligible for CPF housing grants as a first-timer applicant.
Besides the financial implications, rushing into marriage without considering compatibility can lead to a strained relationship and even divorce, causing emotional and financial turmoil. And in cases where the split is due to non-consummation, annulment, or break-up of the fiancé/fiancée relationship, neither party can keep the HDB flat. The only way to retain the flat is if either of your parents was listed in the application to buy the flat. If that’s not an option, the flat may have to be returned at the prevailing compensation price. That’s why it’s crucial to take the time to build a healthy and compatible relationship before making a significant financial commitment like buying an HDB flat.
6. Driving up property demand
The trend of getting married for the sole purpose of homeownership can have broader economic implications, as it can contribute to rising property prices. If more couples and families are seeking to buy homes at the same time, it drives up demand. When demand outstrips supply, it can result in inflated home prices, making it even more challenging for aspiring homeowners.
Therefore, couples in higher income brackets or the “sandwich class” can consider other housing options, such as investing in Executive Condominiums, which can offer greater investment potential. This can help to free up the supply of HDB flats for those with tighter budgets. This approach not only promotes a stable and accessible housing market for everyone, but also allows more people to benefit from potential capital gains as homeowners.
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