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  • Writer's picturechloekks

What should you consider if you want to move to private property?



16 Feb 2024 onward, SINGLE Singaporeans aged 55 and above will now be able to claim a refund of Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) when they purchase a lower-value private property to replace their existing residential property.

  1. Who else can claim a refund of ABSD?Singaporean married couples with an existing residential property can enjoy an ABSD refund on their replacement private property, under the ABSD concession for Singaporean married couples.

  2. What if I don't fall into either of these categories?The easiest way is to sell your existing property first before buying the next one,  which would eliminate the need to pay ABSD initially. . However, many property owners are concerned about the gap between selling and buying, as they may not have a place to stay during this period. For those with an existing HDB property, an extension of up to 3 months can be granted, while private property owners can negotiate an extension or rent back from the buyers for any mutually agreed-upon period.

  3. Buy first or Sell first? Even if you qualify for the above categories and choose to buy before selling, you most likely have to come up with additional cash to pay the ABSD. While ABSD can be paid using CPF OA, most of your CPF OA funds will still be tied up in your existing property until it is sold. The ABSD for a second property for Singaporeans is 20% of the purchase price or valuation, whichever is higher. For example, for a $1 million condo, the ABSD alone would be $200,000, on top of other costs such as the deposit, renovation, agency fees, and legal fees. Not many owners will have so much cash on hand.  

  4. Risk of buy first and sell laterAdditionally, if you buy first and then sell within 6 months, you may face pressure to lower your current property's price, especially if it doesn't sell within the first 3 to 4 months. This situation could result in either a significant price reduction or the loss of the 20% ABSD if the property remains unsold after 6 months.

  5. Loan to Value LimitABSD is not the only concern when buying before selling. If your current property still has an outstanding loan and you plan to get a housing loan for your next private property, your loan limit will decrease from 75% to 45%. This means your cash and CPF must cover at least 55% of the property price, the 20% ABSD, the 3-4% normal stamp duty and legal fee.

CONCLUSION

For those not prepared for the above scenarios, the most suitable option is to sell first and then buy. However, for cash-rich and CPF-rich owners who prioritise the next home over the selling price of their current property, then buying first and selling later might be worth considering.

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