Buying a Condo in Singapore

Buying a Condo in Singapore: How Much is the Downpayment?

 Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic due to countrywide lockdown, Singapore’s housing market remains healthy. Because of this, developers may launch around 30 projects comprising 7,940 units for sale this year.

According to CBRE, the residential sales transactions will still be dominated by Singaporeans. However, foreigners and permanent residents are likely to invest again as Singapore continues to recover from the pandemic.

If you’re planning on acquiring a condo in Singapore, you’re in the right place. We’ll discuss the initial cost of buying a condo, like the downpayment. Plus, the factors that affect the cost of a condo.

 

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Condo in Singapore?

1. Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) is a tax charged on top of Buyer’s Stamp Duty. Expressed in percentage, it is based on the valuation or the condo’s selling price – whichever is higher.

Take a look at the current ABSD rate:

Type of Buyer ABSD Rates
Singapore Citizens buying 1st residential property
Singapore Citizens buying 2nd residential property 12%
Singapore Citizens buying 3rd and subsequent home 15%
Permanent residents buying 1st residential property 5%
Permanent residents buying 2nd and subsequent residential property 15%
Foreigners buying any residential property 20%
Entities buying any residential property 25%

 

Singapore Citizens, who are buying their first residential property, don’t have to pay ABSD. However, those buying their second and subsequent residential properties must pay between 12% and 15% in ABSD.

On the other hand, Singapore Permanent Residents buying their 1st property are liable to pay 5% tax. And for their second and subsequent home purchases, they need to pay 15% in ABSD.

Lastly, foreigners and entities have to pay 20% to 25%. So, for instance, if they purchase a condo in Singapore worth S$1 million, foreigners will need to pay S$200,000 ABSD.

 

2. Buyer’s Stamp Duty

Another cost you need to take into account when purchasing a condo in Singapore is the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). The BSD is a tax paid on documents signed when you buy or transfer residential property located in Singapore. 

No one is exempt from paying BSD.

Take a look at the table below to see how BSD is calculated:

Purchase Price or Market Value BSD (residential) BSD (non-residential)
First S$180,000 1% 1%
Next S$180,000 2% 2%
Next S$640,000 3% 3%
Remaining Amount 4%

 

The BSD is calculated based on the purchase price or the property’s market value – whichever is higher. Before 20 Feb 2018, the BSD rate was up to 3%. But since 20 Feb 2018, there have been differentiated BSD rates between residential and non-residential properties.

Today, the BSD rate for buying residential properties is up to 4%.

Note: If the selling price of the property is discounted, it must be stated in the document to be stamped. The discount will be considered when computing the tax.

So how is BSD calculated?

Let’s assume that you’re purchasing a condo in Singapore at S$1,000,000.

Purchase Price or Market Value BSD Rate Calculation
First S$180,000 1% = S$1,800 ( 1% x S$180,000)
Next S$180,000 2% = S$3,600 ( 1% x S$180,000)
Next S$640,000 3% = S$19,200 ( 3% x S$640,000)
BSD Payable (rounded down to the nearest dollar) =S$24,600

 

3. Loan-To-Value Limit (LTV) and Minimum Cash Downpayment

On top of the selling price, another factor that affects the total downpayment for a condo in Singapore is the loan-to-value limit (LTV).

LTV is the maximum amount that you can borrow from a bank loan or any financial institution. It is expressed in percentage and is based on the property’s value. The LTV limits for each individual vary depending on the outstanding home loan the borrower has.

Take a look at the table below to understand the particulars:

Outstanding Housing Loans LTV Limit Minimum Cash Downpayment
0 75% or 55%* 5% (for LTV of 75%)

10% (for LTV of 55%)

1 45% or 25%* 25%
2 or more 35% or 15%* 25%

 

*Note: Apply the lower LTV limit if the loan tenure is more than 30 years (or 25 years for HDB flats). Or if the loan tenure extends beyond the borrower’s age of 65.

So let’s say your LTV is 75%. This means you need to pay a 25% downpayment in cash and/or CPF Ordinary Account savings. However, at least 5% of this 25% must be paid in cash.

 

Up Front Cost Breakdown for a S$1M Condo

You need to take into account several factors to calculate the total upfront cost of a condo downpayment.

  • BSD
  • ABSD
  • Mortgage Stamp Duty
  • Cost of property valuation
  • Legal fees

Property valuation fees may cost between S$300 and S$500. Legal fees, on the other hand, can cost around S$3,000.

The breakdown below assumes that you’re purchasing a condo unit amounting to S$1 million. Here is the cost breakdown – excluding the mortgage stamp duty, legal fees, and property valuation fees.

 

Downpayment Cost For Foreigners

Buyer Group Foreigners Buying 1st Home Foreigners Buying 1st Home* Foreigners Buying 2nd Home Foreigners Buying 2nd Home*
BSD amount S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600
ABSD % 20% 20% 20% 20%
ABSD amount S$200,000 S$200,000 S$200,000 S$200,000
1st Loan Paid? Yes No
LTV 75% 55%* 45% 25%*
Condo Downpayment S$250,000 S$450,000 S$550,000 S$750,000
Min Cash Downpayment N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A.
Total Upfront Cost S$474,600 S$674,600 S$774,600 S$974,600

 

Foreigners don’t pay CPF and thus, don’t have OA savings to pay for their condo downpayment. This means they need to pay the full downpayment in cash.

 

Downpayment Cost For Singapore Permanent Residents

Buyer Group PR Buying 1st Home PR Buying 1st Home* PR Buying 2nd Home PR Buying 2nd Home*
BSD amount S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600
ABSD % 5% 5% 15% 15%
ABSD amount S$50,000 S$50,000 S$150,000 S$150,000
1st Loan Paid? Yes No
LTV 75% 55%* 45% 25%*
Condo Downpayment S$250,000 S$450,000 S$550,000 S$750,000
Min Cash Downpayment 5% 10% 25% 25%
Total Upfront Cost S$324,600 S$524,600 S$724,600 S$924,600

 

Permanent Residents in Singapore pay CPF. That said, they can use their OA savings to pay for the downpayment of their condo. However, at least 5% of the downpayment must be paid in cash.

So if it’s your first time purchasing a condo in Singapore as a PR, then you’ll need to pay S$50,000 (5% x S$1,000,000) in cold cash. The remaining S$274,600 can be paid using your OA savings.

 

Downpayment Cost for Singapore Citizens

Buyer Group SC Buying 1st Home SC Buying 1st Home* SC Buying 2nd Home SC Buying 2nd Home*
BSD amount S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600 S$24,600
ABSD % 12% 12%
ABSD amount S$120,000 S$120,000
1st Loan Paid? Yes No
LTV 75% 55% 45% 25%
Condo Downpayment S$250,000 S$450,000 S$550,000 S$750,000
Min Cash Downpayment 5% 10% 25% 25%
Total Upfront Cost S$274,600 S$474,600 S$694,000 S$894,600

 

Singapore citizens who are buying their first property don’t have to pay ABSD. That said, they only have to pay for the BSD amount and the downpayment.

From these illustrations, you can see that Singaporean citizens have the lowest expenditure. On the other hand, foreigners have the highest cost since they have to pay 20% ABSD. Lastly, the LTV limit also plays a huge role in your total upfront cost. 

*Apply the lower LTV limit if the loan tenure is more than 30 years (25 years for HDB flats) or if the loan tenure extends beyond the borrower’s age of 65.

 

Housing and Apartments in Singapore

Do You Have Enough Money For A Downpayment?

If you’re a Singaporean or Permanent Resident, you can use your CPF funds to pay for your condo downpayment. The funds will be taken from your Ordinary Account (OA).

Based on the assumption above, the condo costs S$1M. As a Singaporean, you have a total downpayment of S$250,000 or 25% of the condo’s price.

Of this S$250,000, you’ll need to pay at least S$50,000 in cash (5% of the property price). The remaining amount can be taken from the CPF OA. On top of that, you also need to pay the BSD amounting to S$24,600.

To summarize, you’ll need at least S$200,000 in CPF OA and S$74,600 cash on hand for a condo downpayment.

This figure will give you an idea of how much you need to save up.

 

What is the Average Condo Price in Singapore?

Type Private Condominiums ^
Studio/One-Room $600,000 to $700,000
Two-Room (Flexi) $800,000 to $900,000
Three-Room $970,000 to $1.2m
Four-Room $1.4m to $1.8m
Five-Room $2m to $2.2m
3-Generation
Penthouse Usually, a minimum price of $3mn

 

The cost listed in the table above serves as a starting point. Use it to gauge how much you need to save up for a downpayment, as well as the loan amount you’ll need. 

As you can see, the bigger the unit, the higher the prices. However, aside from the size, other factors can affect the price of a condo in Singapore.

For instance, a condo near Orchard Road or CBD will have higher prices than those in outer areas. These condominiums are considered luxury properties. Additionally, condo prices also vary with its proximity to the MRT. That said, private property costs can vary significantly.

 

What to Consider When Buying a Condo in Singapore?

1. Location

In Singapore, there is a huge difference between residential areas. For instance, the CBD area is one of the most popular areas in Singapore. A property agent can tell you that the most luxurious properties are located, plus it offers great access to the city. But with more luxury comes higher prices. So take that into account. 

2. Proximity from the MRT Station

A condominium located next to an MRT station is around five times more expensive than those in the outer areas. In fact, with the addition of the Downtown line in 2007, private property prices near the designated stations rose by approximately 80%. So take this into account when purchasing a condo in Singapore.

3. New and Old Condo

New condos have more modern structures, high-tech security, and have a more contemporary building design. However, older condos in Singapore are known to have more space. Plus, old condos have an established community.

The price may vary depending on the amount of space and the level of privacy each condo offers, regardless of whether it’s new or old.

4. Amenities

Not all condominiums offer the same amenities. Although it may not hugely affect the prices, such as location and proximity to the MRT, it may still impact the price. For instance, condos near schools, universities, or shopping malls are in higher demand and may have higher prices.

5. Property Facings 

Which direction is the condo unit facing? Most condo buyers prefer south-east facing units because it provides the most desirable lighting.  That said, it’s best to visit the unit at different times of the day. This is especially true if the unit is facing the sun – you may not like the glare of the afternoon sun.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Condos in Singapore

1. Who Can Buy A New Condo In Singapore?

 Singapore citizens and permanent residents can purchase a new private condo in Singapore. Foreigners can also purchase private apartments and condominiums. However, foreigners can only purchase Executive Condominiums (ECs) that are at least 10 years old.

Additionally, condo buyers must provide proof of financial capability and must be able to submit all the necessary documents.

Note: Foreigners can also purchase a landed residential property, but they are required to seek the approval under the Residential Property Act.

 

2. What are the main categories of condominiums available in Singapore?

There are three main categories of private condos in Singapore. Depending on their price, location, and facilities, condominiums can be classified as:

  • Mass Market Condos: These are the most affordable type of condominiums. Mass market condos are located in the suburbs and usually start at S$600 per square foot. It is perfect for buyers who are on a budget. In terms of amenities, most mass-market condos have the basics, such as a swimming pool, gym, and 24-hour security.
  • Mid-Market Condos: These condominiums are located near prime districts, such as Upper Bukit Timah, East Coast, and Novena. In terms of facilities and amenities, they have more to offer than mass-market apartments. For instance, some condos have a tennis court, sauna, or function room.
  • High-End Condos: As the name suggests, high-end condos are much more expensive than mid-market and mid-market. This is primarily because they are located at the heart of prime regions, such as Marina Bay. Prices may vary depending on the developer, but it may cost at least S$1,000 per square foot.

 

3. Can I Buy A Condo If I Already Own An HDB Flat?

If you’re a Singapore citizen, you can purchase a condo even if you already own an HDB flat. However, there are certain conditions you must meet.

For instance, if you purchased a BTO unit directly from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) or a resale HDB flat, you are required to stay in the HDB for 5 years – the minimum occupancy period (MOP).

Within the MOP, you are not allowed to do the following:

  • Rent out the HDB flat
  • Dispose of the BTO unit or resell the flat through the open market
  • Purchase any private property, either in Singapore or abroad

Lastly, if you have a condo in Singapore first, you’ll need to sell the unit within 6 months if you purchase an HDB flat.

 

4. Can A Single Permanent Resident Buy A Condo?

There are no restrictions for single PRs and foreigners to purchase a condominium or apartment in Singapore. However, they are liable to an ABSD and BSD.

 

5. Can I Use CPF To Pay Condo Downpayment?

Yes, you can use your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) savings to pay for the condo down payment. If your CPF OA savings is insufficient, the outstanding balance must be paid in cash. Remember, you need to pay the 5% minimum cash down payment which depends on your LTV ratio.

 

Conclusion

Key Takeaways:

  • There are several factors that affect the cost of a condominium in Singapore. For instance, you need to take into account the LTV, minimum down payment, and the size of the private condo.
  • On top of the condo down payment, condo buyers also need to pay BSD. And as a permanent resident or foreigner, you also need to pay ABSD, which can be between 5% and 20%.
  • A Singapore citizen has the lowest upfront downpayment expenditure. On the other hand, foreigners have the highest cost since they have to pay 20% ABSD.

Another factor that has a substantial impact on your downpayment is your LTV limit. This factor will mostly depend on whether you have an existing home loan. 

Lastly, you can use your CPF OA to pay for your condo downpayment. However, if it falls short and you need extra cash, you can consider taking a personal loan from licensed moneylenders. 

Use a loan comparison tool, like Instant Loan, to compare loan packages from Singapore’s top lenders and find the best one that suits your needs. Instant Loan will help you secure the best loan tenure, interest rates, and terms and conditions.

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