There is a reason for condominiums’ solid footing in the Five Cs of Singapore. Boasting an array of amenities and nestled within lush environments, the appeal and comfort have prompted countless property buyers to consider private condos for a long-term abode.
In this article, we tackle the most commonly asked questions about buying a condo in Singapore. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a veteran property buyer, the following information could come in handy while you scout for an ideal condo unit.
Eligibility to buy a condo in Singapore
If you own a HDB flat or are the first owner of an Executive Condominium (EC), you need to fulfil the stipulated Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) before you can purchase a condo. MOP normally lasts for five years from the date of key collection. During this time, owners aren’t allowed to rent out the entire unit, sell it in the open market or purchase private properties. If the unit is rented out due to approved reasons, such as overseas deployment of work, this duration is not counted towards the MOP.
After the MOP, executive condos can be put up for sale in the open market. Only Singaporeans and PRs can purchase them for their first five years in the market, after which they become fully privatized and available to foreigners. While foreigners are mandated to obtain approvals from the Singapore Land Authority to buy private properties under the Residential Property Act, condos require no approvals.
If you’re an unmarried Singaporean 35 years and above of age, you need to apply under the Joint Singles Scheme with three other co-applicants to purchase a brand new EC. The application is not eligible for the CPF Housing Grant. Alternatively, Singaporeans and PRs can purchase a resale EC found in the open market. These properties are subjected to Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) on top of the standard Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) for single buyers.
Selling your existing HDB to buy a condo
You can sell your existing HDB to buy one or more condos, as long as it has fulfilled the MOP. Having listed your HDB, secured a buyer and found the perfect condo for yourself, the next step is to get a housing loan. Then, pay a non-refundable deposit of 1% of the condo price to the Housing & Development Board (HDB) for an Option-to-Purchase (OTP). Exercise the OTP within its validity period to buy the condo, which is subjected to Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) if you still own a HDB. The ABSD will be reimbursed if the HDB is sold within the next six months.
Do note that you’re not allowed to own both types of property simultaneously if you’re a PR. The sale of your HDB within six months of acquiring a new condo is absolutely necessary.
Paying for the condo
Unless you have a huge stash of cash lying around (we won’t ask how), you would need a bank loan to foot the bills. Bank loans cap the mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) and total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) at 30% and 60% respectively. MSR is the proportion of your gross monthly income used to service your mortgage, while TDSR is the proportion used on all monthly debt repayments. Additionally, there is a 75% cap on the loan-to-value (LTV) limit, which determines the maximum amount for your housing loan.
If the condo is your first residential property, the minimum cash down payment is only 5%. You can pay for the remaining 20% with your CPF Ordinary Account (OA). For a second residential property, the minimum cash down payment is 25% while the cash or CPF portion is 30%. For third and subsequent purchases, the minimum cash down payment remains at 25%, while the cash or CPF portion increases to 40%.
The funds in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) can also be used on monthly repayment of housing loans, stamp duty, legal fees and other related costs. The amount of CPF monies available, on top of your budget, previous residential purchases, loans and the condo’s location, would determine how you could afford the condo. But in general, a monthly income of $5,000 and above is recommended.