Option To Purchase (OTP)

7 min read

Every day, 99.co picks a piece of property jargon to explain it. Today we look at the Option to Purchase (OTP). Here’s how it works:

Option to Purchase (OTP)

Moneybag that says "deposit" next to a house
The OTP is a non-refundable deposit used to “book” your house.

The OTP allows a buyer to “lock down” the property they’re interested in, while also protecting the seller (they don’t want to turn down other prospective buyers in favour of you, and then find out later you’ve changed your mind).

When you secure the OTP to purchase a property, the seller is legally obliged not to sell it to anyone else. The OTP almost always consists of 1% of the purchase price, for private property.

For example, if you’re buying a condo worth S$1.5 million, it would cost you S$15,000 to secure the OTP.

If you’re buying an HDB flat however, then whether the flat is S$350,000 or S$800,000, the cost to secure the OTP caps at a maximum of S$1,000 to be paid in cash.

Once secured, you have a time limit to exercise the OTP (i.e. complete the purchase) before it lapses. For private properties, this is usually lasts 14 days.

For HDB properties, the duration is 21 days, with a standardised expiry time at 4pm.

If you don’t exercise the OTP before it lapses, the money you put down is forfeited. So we’re going to emphasise this point: Only secure the OTP when you are 100% sure you’re going to buy the house, and that you can get the bank or HDB loan for it.

Intending to take a HDB loan? You need to have a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter in hand when the sellers grant you the OTP. That eligibility letter will be valid for 6 months from the date of issue, so make sure you’re well within the time period when pulling the trigger on your flat.

Read this: HDB concessionary loan – How to apply for HLE

Taking a bank loan? You need to have a Letter of Offer from a bank or financial institution when you exercise the OTP.

Neither HDB nor bank loan? If you’re not taking any housing loans, you won’t need HDB’s Loan Eligibility letter or the bank’s Letter of Offer. However, you’ll have to indicate that you’re financing your flat purchase fully with your CPF savings and/or cash when submitting your HDB resale application to HDB.

Is the OTP amount fixed by law?

people arguing about OTP
You can negotiate (nicely) against high deposits.

No. For private property purchases, it can range between 1 to 5%. Some sellers set it at 5% because they really don’t want you to back out at the last minute. This happens more often than you would imagine. However, you can try to negotiate it down to 1%.

For HDB properties, the amount can be less than S$1,000 (it can range from S$1 to S$1,000). But unless you’re buying from your parents or siblings or something, sellers have no real incentive to set it below S$1,000.

Can the home loan cover the OTP?

No, banks are not supposed to lend you money for it, as it’s part of the downpayment for your house. You always have to pay for the OTP in cash (and you can’t use your CPF for it either).

What’s the process of drafting and signing the OTP?

The OTP is prepared by the seller’s law firm, in which all sellers involved must sign to give their consent. A copy is then sent to your law firm, where they’ll review it and explain it to you.

It’s possible for the document to be sent back for amendments, if the law firm finds terms that are disadvantageous to you; note that there’s no “standardised template” for an OTP.

Once you’re satisfied with the OTP, the seller will sign the it. You can then pay the Option Exercise Fee for it, and exercise it any time before it lapses.

Make sure to do it well within the time limit, as delaying the timelines for endorsing, paying or fulfilling the approval conditions may end up with the sale completion being postponed or even cancellation of the application, in which you’ll lose your OTP altogether.

What happens if you’ve signed the OTP, but the seller backs out, or sells the property to someone else?

Tearing a contract
If the seller backs out, you can take legal action

You can pursue legal action if this happens. In most cases, you’ll receive a refund of the OTP at the very least. However, you may also be able to push for specific performance (i.e. force the seller to sell the property to you) – you’ll have to discuss that possibility with your law firm.

What’s up with all the “reservation schemes” in which the OTP lapses?

A reservation scheme is not uncommon for new launch condos. Under this scheme, the seller collects the deposit for the OTP as per normal. However, rather than just pocket the deposit when the OTP period lapses, they will automatically renew it for you (this is not free, it’s often around S$300).

But this does allow you to “book” or “reserve” a desired unit, while giving you more than the usual 14 days to secure financing.

Is Offer to Purchase and Option to Purchase the same thing?

The Offer to Purchase and Option to Purchase are sometimes both referred to as the OTP, which happens quite close together in the property transaction process, so it’s not uncommon that buyers sometimes mix up these two bits of jargon.

It’s important to know the difference, because the wording in the Offer to Purchase can later affect the Option to Purchase. We’ve written an article on it, so do check it out to ensure you don’t get the two terms confused.

The most important thing to remember before signing the OTP

It’s not just being absolutely sure that you can buy the house. You also need to be sure that a bank (or whatever financial institution you use) will lend you the amount you need. For this reason, always secure In-Principle Approval (IPA) from a bank before you sign the OTP.

Otherwise, you may end up in a situation where you’ve signed the OTP, but then discover the bank won’t lend you the amount you need.

The full terms and conditions can be found here.

[Additional reporting by Jamie Wong]

What bit of property jargon confuses you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Option to Purchase?

Option to Purchase (OTP) is a fee you pay to seller of a property you’re interested in to reserve it. This is counted towards the downpayment of the house once you exercise the option.

How much is the OTP?

For private property purchases, it can range between 1 to 5%. For HDB units, it can range between S$1 to S$1,000.

Can I use my CPF to pay for the OTP?

No, you have to pay for the OTP in cash.

I've paid for my OTP but changed my mind. What happens now?

If you’ve paid the OTP and backed out of the transaction, the seller reserves the right to keep the full amount.

The seller accepted my OTP but changed their minds. What happens now?

You can pursue legal action if this happens. In most cases, you’ll receive a refund of the OTP at the very least. You may also be able to push for specific performance (i.e. force the seller to sell the property to you), which you’ll have to discuss with your law firm.

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto 99.co’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co.

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

Join our social media communities!

Main Facebook page
Facebook #All Things HDB page
Facebook #Condo-Maniacs page
Facebook #UHNWIs Luxury Homes page
Instagram Main
Instagram #HouseInsights
Instagram #HouseTips
TikTok Main
TikTok #HouseTips

Reader Interactions

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.