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Buying Property in Singapore: 21-Point Checklist (First-time Buyers for Private Properties)

  /  New Condo Launch   /  Buying Property in Singapore: 21-Point Checklist (First-time Buyers for Private Properties)

Buying Property in Singapore: 21-Point Checklist (First-time Buyers for Private Properties)

“Oh, really, I didn’t know that!” This would be one of the most commonly heard remarks in our daily conversations, be it property related or not. But that would be the last statement you would want to be saying, just before or after purchasing an asset. Don’t you agree?

To assist you in achieving your dream of owning a private property, we have listed 21 important factors that you will need to understand and consider first before committing, so you can change that to “Yes I am aware of that.”

Here goes…


Firstly, do you currently own any properties?

If you own a HDB flat or are the first owner of a EC (Executive Condominium), check if you have crossed the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

MOP commences from the date you collect your keys to your flat. Do take note if you have rented your whole unit out during MOP, e.g. due to deployment of work overseas, that whole period is excluded from actual MOP. Check with HDB (Housing and Development Board) for the accurate date.

If your flat is still within MOP, you are not allowed to rent out the entire flat, sell it in the open market or purchase any private properties in Singapore and overseas.

If your flat has exceeded the MOP, move on to the next tip or click on this link for Guide for Selling HDB flats


If you have full cash for your next purchase, you can totally skip this section 🙂

If you would need some financing, do take note of Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) used by banks to determine your loan amount.

TDSR limits the amount borrowers can spend on debt repayments. The combined monthly loan servicing, including car loans, credit card balances, education, outstanding existing mortgage loan and personal loans should not be more than 60% of your combined gross monthly income.

Therefore, if your fixed income is $8000 with a monthly car loan of $500, your monthly loan instalment for your new property purchase should not be more than $4300. Take for example, if you are 35 years old, with the above scenario, you would be able to take up a loan of approximately $957,000.

For borrowers with variable income, e.g. self-employed, there will be a 30% reduction on the gross monthly income. In other words, instead of taking $8000 as full income, it will be reduced to $5,600.

If you would need higher financing, you would either have to pay off your car loan and/or provide proof of rental income, bonds, structured deposit statements and/or cash statements, etc. to the financier.

Other than accessing based on income, banks do evaluate individual’s credit ratings too. Borrowers with no history of late or default payments will have no issue with that.

Therefore, always contact a mortgage loan officer to obtain an In-Principal Approval (IPA) to know the actual amount of lending rather than to calculate on your own.

Monthly bank loan instalments can be paid by cash and/or CPF.

Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)

Loan to Value determines the maximum amount property buyers can loan from the Bank. Loan will be based on valuation or purchase price, whichever is lower (𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙘𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙖s 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙤𝙤)). Any amount above valuation would have to be paid in cash therefore the term Cash Over Value (COV).

For new launches, LTV ratio will be calculated against the purchase price.

LTV will have an impact on resale properties where the valuation does not match the purchase price. Example, if the purchase price is $1million and the valuation is $900,000, the COV difference of $100,000 will have to be paid in cash by the buyer. LTV will then be calculated from the $900,000.

In short, if you have no properties or your current property is fully paid up, your next property is entitled to a maximum 75% LTV. In other words, if your next property’s valuation is at $1million, you can lend up to $750,000.

If this is your second property and you would like to take a mortgage loan, the maximum will be 45% LTV, which translates to a $450,000 loan amount for a $1million property. It falls even lower to 25% LTV for loan tenures going beyond 30 years and for those aged 65 years old.

However, if you qualify for a $900,000 loan, it does not mean that by purchasing a $1million property, you only need to pay $100,000. All properties in Singapore are still subjected to the LTV ratio.

Do take note of the different scenarios below, where one could be denied the full LTV:

  • Low remaining lease of property (<40 years)
  • Undesirable locations
  • Less satisfactory state of property
  • Loan tenure more than 30 years
  • Sum of your age and loan tenure exceed 65
  • Less satisfactory credit score

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

All property buyers are required to pay BSD to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) for all purchases of properties in Singapore. It is not dependent on the nationality of the buyer or the number of properties the buyer owns.

BSD is computed on the purchase price or valuation, whichever is higher. Non residential property buyers do need to pay for BSD however the computation of it differs slightly.

Below shows the BSD computation table for residential property.

Purchase Price or Valuation of PropertyBSD Rates
First S$180,0001%
Next S$180,0002%
Next S$640,0003%
Remaining Amount4%

If the purchase price is $1million, Buyer’s Stamp Duty would be $24,600.

BSD can be paid via cash and/or CPF and is payable within 14 days upon exercising your Option to Purchase or Sale and Purchase Agreement. Do note that, for resale property buyers who want to utilise CPF for stamp duty, they would need to pay cash upfront first before reimbursement from CPF.

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

ABSD is dependent on the nationality of the buyer, type of buyer and the number of properties the buyer owns. Liable buyers are required to pay ABSD on top of the existing BSD. Likewise to BSD, ABSD is computed on the purchase price or valuation, whichever is higher.

It applies to all residential properties in Singapore for buyers with the following:

  • Singapore Citizens purchasing more than one property
  • Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR)
  • Foreigners (except US Nationals or nationals and Permanent Residents from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein)
  • Entity (refers to someone who is not an individual, e.g. company, trustee-manager for business trust, unincorporated association, partnership)

Non residential property buyers do not need to pay for ABSD.

There are some cases where ABSD need not be paid for foreigner or PR:

  • If you are married to a Singaporean Citizen and am purchasing first property with your partner
  • If you have already contracted to sell your current residential property before signing the option to purchase agreement on your new purchase

Below shows the ABSD computation table for residential property.

Nationality of BuyersNumber of Residential PropertiesABSD Rates
Singapore CitizensBuying 1st Property0%
Buying 2nd Property12%
Buying 3rd and subsequent Property15%
Singapore Permanent ResidentsBuying 1st Property5%
Buying 2nd and subsequent Property15%
ForeignersBuying any property20%
EntitiesBuying any property25%
Additional 5% for non-developers

In short, if you are a single Singapore Citizen purchasing your second property with purchase price $1million, Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty would be $120,000.

ABSD can be paid via cash and/or CPF and is payable within 14 days upon exercising your Option to Purchase or Sale and Purchase Agreement. Do note that, for resale property buyers who want to utilise CPF for stamp duty, they would need to pay cash upfront first before reimbursement from CPF.

Do take note of the different scenarios below:

  • If property is jointly purchased by buyers of different profiles, the profile with the highest ABSD rate will apply. Therefore if your Singaporean spouse is the sole owner of residential property A and now both of you (Singaporeans) decide to purchase a residential property B together, the ABSD rate will be 12%, even though it is your first property.
  • If you purchase a residential property to be held on trust for a beneficial owner (e.g. your child), ABSD is charged based on the profile of beneficial owner (e.g. your child).
  • You could also apply to get your ABSD remission if you are switching homes as a Singaporean married couple. To qualify, the first residential property is to be sold within 6 months after date of purchase of second property for completed property or issue date of Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP)/ Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC), whichever is earlier, if property is uncompleted at time of purchase.

Legal Fees

For legal documents to be registered with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), documents have to be signed in the presence of a lawyer and also duty certified by buyer’s and seller’s lawyers.

Lawyers would need to check the details of the Option to Purchase agreement, apply for usage of your Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies (if any), present the breakdown of various costs (stamp duties, etc), act as the intermediary for the transfer of cash (conveyancing account) and do necessary background checks on the property.

If you are taking a bank loan, do check with your mortgage loan officer what are the law firms under their panel list as they would only deal with those in their approved list.

Cost varies around S$2300-S$3500, depending on the complexity of your case. Also, do note of other miscellaneous fees, e.g. caveat registration fee, title search fee, mortgage-in-escrow fee, etc. While most law firms include those in the legal fees, there are some who do not. Make sure to check with your preferred law firm.

Legal fees can be paid via cash and/or CPF.

Mortgage Stamping Fee

Mortgage Stamping Fee is payable on the mortgage document where the interest in property is transferred from the borrower to the lender to secure the payment or repayment of money to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

Only buyers who are taking bank loans are liable for this.

It is computed as 0.4% of the loan amount, capped to a maximum of S$500. Mortgage Stamping Fee can be paid via cash and/or CPF.

Valuation Fee

Valuation fee typically costs S$300-S$500. Some banks will subsidise or waive this cost. Otherwise, this fee will have to be paid in cash.

Central Provident Fund (CPF)

You can use your CPF to fund your private property purchase for paying lump sum/ downpayment of your purchase, servicing monthly repayments of the mortgage loan, paying stamp duties, legal cost, mortgage stamping fees.

However, the amount of CPF savings to be used on housing are dependent on the following:

  1. Whether the remaining lease of new property is at least 20 years at time of purchase
    • If you are going to purchase a property with less than 20 years remaining lease, do take note that you will not be allowed to use CPF.
      This is not expected to affect most buyers as new launch properties have more than 20 years remaining lease.
  2. Whether the new property remaining lease can cover the youngest buyer using CPF for the property to at least 95 years old
    • If the remaining lease + age of the youngest buyer is lower than 95,
      yes you are eligible to use your CPF OA but it will be prorated. This
      is not expected to affect most buyers as new launch properties usually
      have 90+ years or more of remaining lease.
  3. Buyers’ age
  4. Properties you currently own and have used CPF on
  5. Withdrawal Limit (WL) of 120% based on the valuation limit (VL) of new property
    1. WL determines the maximum CPF you can use for the property. Once you have reached the WL, you are not allowed to use further CPF to pay for your property.

In summary, if you:

Do own properties but did not use CPF on those properties OR

do own properties but will be selling before purchasing this new property OR

do not own any properties:

AgeAllowable CPFWithdrawal LimitNote
Below 55 yearsAny amount from OA120% of VLWhen the total CPF withdrawn by all owners reaches the VL, you will need to set aside prevailing BRS in your OA + SA + Retirement Account (where applicable), before you can use the excess in your CPF OA balance for your next property.
>=55 yearsRemaining amount from OA after setting aside prevailing BRS in your RA + OA + SA120% of VL
Have used CPF on your current property, in which you do not intend to sell
AgeAllowable CPFWithdrawal LimitNote
Below 55 yearsRemaining amount from OA after setting aside prevailing BRS in your OA + SA100% of VL

*Either your first property or this new property that you are buying can cover you till age 95, else you need to set aside prevailing FRS

**If you subsequently sell the property that can cover you till age 95, you will need to set aside the FRS instead

>=55 yearsRemaining amount from OA after setting aside prevailing BRS in your RA + OA + SA100% of VL

*Basic Retirement Sum (BRS), Ordinary Account (OA), Special Account (SA), Retirement Account (RA), Full Retirement Sum (FRS)

For buyers approaching age 55 this year, you may apply with CPF Board to reserve the savings in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) so that the OA amount will not be transferred to your Retirement Account (RA) when you turn 55.

Minimum Cash Down Payment

 1st Residential Property2nd Residential Property3rd and subsequent Residential Property
Minimum Cash Down Payment5%25%25%

Cash or CPF Portion

(if applicable)


Remaining via maximum bank loan amount

(if applicable)


When you buy your first home, you are required to pay up to 5% of the purchase price down payment in cash. For your second property, you will need to pay up to 25% of your property’s down payment in cash. You can then use CPF, if applicable, for the remaining shortfall.

For a first time buyer purchasing a S$1,000,000 property and taking a maximum loan of 75%, he/she will have to prepare a compulsory cash component for the downpayment of S$50,000, followed by S$200,000 Cash or CPF payment.

Property Tax

Annual Property Tax, paid to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), is calculated by multiplying Annual Value (AV) of property with the Property Tax Rates that apply to you.

AV is the estimated gross annual rent of property based on market rentals of similar or comparable properties if it were to be rented out, excluding furniture, furnishings and maintenance fees.

Owner-occupied residential properties enjoy owner-occupier tax rate (4%-16%) while non-owner occupied properties will have a higher tax rate (10%-20%).

If you co-own a property and am now purchasing another property (be it co-own or individual), do note that the owner-occupied tax rate can only be applied to one of the homes.

Property tax can only be paid via Cash. You can also opt for a 12 months interest-free instalment scheme.

Maintenance Fees

Condominium maintenance fees vary based on the share value of your unit, i.e. the bigger the size of your property, the high maintenance cost), usually ranges between S$200-S$450 per month. However, do note that luxury condos fees could go up to thousands.

Typically, maintenance fees are collected on a quarterly basis and can only be paid via Cash.

Fire Insurance

This is not compulsory however if the property is mortgaged a.k.a under a bank/ financial institution loan, the bank will require you to have a fire insurance policy in place.

Premium typically starts from S$128 per annum, depending on how comprehensive the policy is. This is to be paid via cash.

With the above finances settled, next up would be your preferences of the new property. Have all these figured out before you go shopping for houses so you won’t be wasting your time visiting showflats/properties after showflats/properties !

New Launch or Resale

Who wants to be the first owner of a brand new house? Most of us do. However, some buyers would have to get a resale unit due to their financial plans, family, retirement planning, etc. What matters is the type of property that would suit you and your family’s needs. For more info, click on link New Launch VS Resale

Freehold or Leasehold

While some believe that freehold properties hold a higher price due to the tenure, others believe in leasehold properties due to higher capital appreciation and yields. As to which to choose, it depends on your asset planning

Size and Location

Other than family size which determines living space and preference of staying near parents/friends/relatives/schools/workplaces, the final destination is largely dependent on the buyer’s budget. If the budget is limited, look for areas in the Outside Central Region (OCR) as they generally yield bigger units for the same budget.


With the above finances settled, next up would be your preferences of the new property. If you need your children to study in a particular school, ensure that the school is within 1-2km radius from the new property as it poses higher chances of getting your kids in. Apart from that, properties near MRTs/shopping malls/markets and eateries ensure convenience too.

Do note that properties with close proximity to amenities usually demand a higher price.

Lifestyle & Facilities

Some buyers prefer condominiums with countless or even specific facilities e.g. tennis courts, however it is good to take a step back and be realistic. Do all these facilities match your lifestyle, would you genuinely use all of that or is it just a nice thing to have?

Do note that condo maintenance depends on a number of factors and number of facilities are one of those.


If you have a particular facing that you prefer for your unit, do note that down so you could easily eliminate developments that do not have any units of those facings.

You may want to get in line for VIP Preview (soft launch before official launch of development for sale) and make a priority booking to increase the chances of securing your desired unit as opposed to after launch where some units would have been taken up by others.

Early bird discounts

Most developers offer discounts for buyers at new launches, subsequently they will remove the discount to maintain their profitability. The moment the developer removes the discount, your unit is automatically worth more.

Potential Capital Appreciation and Rental Yield

Even though you might be purchasing this new property for your own stay, it is always good to know the possibilities of capital appreciation and even rental yield as your plans might change over the next few years. You could do your research by making comparisons with similar properties nearby to determine the potential upside in the near future, or just engage a preferred property agent to do so for you.

With acquired knowledge above, you can go ahead to shop for your preferred home now 🙂


Note: Information above serves as a guide only. Buyers should seek advice from CPF Board, their lawyers, agents and mortgage loan officers.

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