The biggest hurdle to most Singaporeans hoping to purchase property isn’t the hefty loan repayments each month, but the gigantic downpayment, a sum that exceeds the lifetime earnings of the average person in many neighbouring countries… especially as we’re not exactly known for being the biggest savers, thanks to the existence of Orchard Road.
Even if you’re earning a healthy enough salary to sustain mortgage repayments, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically in the running for a roof over your head. Here are four questions to ask when saving up for that downpayment.
How much exactly do you need to pay?
Just because your friend paid a 10% downpayment for her HDB flat doesn’t mean you can assume you’ll be paying the same proportion for your condo. How much you need to save for your downpayment depends on several factors, including:
- Property type: For BTOs, you’ll need to pay at least 10% downpayment, 5% up front and 5% when the property is completed. For HDB resale property, you might be eligible to pay 10% if you’re taking an HDB loan, otherwise budget for 20% if you’re taking a bank loan. Private property buyers must be prepared to pay at least 20%.
- Type of loan: Those who are eligible for HDB loans can get away with forking out for a 10% downpayment, while everyone else who takes a bank loan pays at least 20%.
How much needs to be paid in cash?
Many Singaporeans tend to assume that when the time comes to buy a home, they’ll be able to rely entirely on their CPF savings to foot the downpayment bill.
Those who are taking an HDB loan and are eligible to pay a 10% downpayment can breathe a sigh of relief, as they’ll be able to use their CPF savings to pay for the whole hog.
On the other hand, if you’re purchasing private property or taking a bank loan to pay for your HDB flat, you’d better get used to eating instant noodles for dinner, because at least 5% of your 20% downpayment needs to be paid for in cash. The remaining 15% can be paid for using your CPF savings… if you have enough, that is.
Obviously, you’ll need to retrieve your Singpass from the abyss and check how much you actually have in your CPF Ordinary Account. If you’ve spent the last couple of years dealing drugs and have no CPF savings to speak of, you’ll need a larger cash amount.
How much money will the bank lend you?
So you’ve managed to scrape together the 20% downpayment after robbing a few banks. Great! Now all you have to do is get the bank to loan you the remaining 80%, right?
Unfortunately, thanks to the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework, the lower your income and the more debts you have, the less banks will lend you. The maximum proportion of your monthly income that must go into paying back your loans is 60%–and we don’t just mean housing loans, but all loans.
That means that if you earn $4,000 a month, you can make repayments of a maximum of $2,400 per month on all the loans you’ve taken out including housing loans, student loans, renovation loans, personal loans and credit card debt. If you’ve already got $2,400 worth of personal loans to pay back each month, that effectively means that no bank is going to lend you a single cent.
If you’ve got quite a bit of cash or CPF savings but a relatively low income, you should aim to take out a smaller loan from the bank and cough out a larger sum in cash.
The less you can borrow, the more you have to pay in cash, so make sure you have enough before you commit to something. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about this all on your own. MoneySmart’s mortgage specialists will help you sort out the details in a matter of minutes. Just head over to their Home Loan Wizard and get all your loan needs sorted.
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to purchasing property? Tell us in the comments!