Popping the question “Ai BTO mai?” has almost become a custom in this day and age, after all, settling into your very own dream pad is pretty much the fairytale ending in every Singaporean couple’s book of life.
But even so, many of us have heard horror stories or witnessed first-hand how engaged or BTO-ed couples call it quits and walk out on their relationships. The emotional costs of breaking up whilst holding onto a BTO flat are aplenty, but the financial ones can bite you in the back too. Depending on how deep you’ve sunk your feet into the application process, the losses might be heavy on your heart and your bank statement.
If you’re wondering what exactly happens in a BTO break up, and the costs after you’ve called-it-quits, here’s a quick guide to the costs at each stage.
Level 1: After registering for a BTO via HDB InfoWEB
First steps are usually deemed hardest in whatever challenge you undertake, but losses at this stage are actually easiest to tank. This only includes your $10 online application fee for the BTO project you’ve laid your eyes on and balloted for.
If you’ve not bequeathed the balloting crown after waiting three weeks for your results, literally nothing else is at stake. Rinse and repeat: you’re free to try applying again in the future without sacrificing any of your golden first-timer privileges.
Winning the BTO lottery game, on the other hand, is quite a different ball game. While you can emerge quite unscathed after turning down a flat once, rejecting twice or more could land you on HDB’s little blacklist temporarily. At this point, your first-timer perks – which include higher flat supply and extra ballot chances – could be revoked for a year.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed. Unless your queue number hits the jackpot in multiple BTO projects that you have applied for, you might not have reason to experience this slightly sinister side. The 1-year buffer period could also work in your favour in terms of finding your footing after a rough patch.
With all this in mind, those who haven’t ventured beyond this stage can catch a breather because risks here are relatively mild.
Losses so far: $10
Level 2: After booking your flat
Undoubtedly, here’s where most of us BTO-ers mentally scream ‘I choose you!’ at our first HDB appointment. This is where you’ve browsed and booked your favourite unit before having to present your get out of jail card halfway through. Although not the worst, the bars are raised a little higher at this bailout stage in terms of your accumulated costs.
Depending on the flat type you’ve picked out, you could lose up to $2,000 max in the form of option fees. Think of this as choping half your flat, because this amount makes up half of your total downpayment at Level 3.
Some extra figures on your bill could be a bummer, not to mention the complete ban of balloting or buying any home for one year. But similar to the temporary banishment at Level 1, this wait-period could actually lend a hand in reworking your relationship blueprint – before you set foot in the home arena again.
And for most of us who still stay with our parents, clinching a new home now shouldn’t be super pressing. Applying for a home after one year is still possible, although without those bonus ballot chances that were part of your first-timer package deal.
On these new grounds, the risks go up a notch but aren’t too threatening.
Losses so far: Up to $2,010
Level 3: After signing the Agreement of Lease
Where losses were conveniently below the $2,010 mark before, here’s a quick PSA because things take quite a sharp turn after signing this holy deed. To avoid racking our brains with notorious numbers, let’s use a 4-room Punggol BTO priced at $320,000 as our referral point.
A. Remaining downpayment
This is where you chope the remaining half of your flat, meaning you also lay the rest of your downpayment on the table. Depending on your methods of gathering this sizable amount, you might be looking at different figures on your bill.
- For uni kiddos: There are chances that you’ve applied for a BTO under the Staggered Downpayment Scheme at Level 1. While this scheme does wonders for workforce rookies just beginning to save up, it also thankfully bolsters your financial blow during a breakup because the amount lost is 5% of your flat price.
- For HDB loan or non-loaners: Folks who ventured into the housing scene under different schemes have to dish out twice the amount at 10% instead. Regardless of whether you’ve veered towards the HDB loan route or plopped down on fairly decent cash savings to check off this amount, the rate remains pretty much unchanged.
Whipping out the Punggol BTO example again, Staggered Downpayment peeps can expect about $16,000 due while HDB loaners are looking at $32,000 instead.
B. Stamp Duty
Whilst halfway through the storm at Level 3, stamp duties are the next wave to brace yourself for. From our Punggol BTO example from before, this adds up to roughly $4,600.
There’s still some light at the end of the tunnel, though. It’s quite possible to request a refund for your stamp duty fees and provide yourself some solace. This handy tool from IRAS to double-check how much you could get back depending on your flat price.
C. Conveyance Fees
If you’ve called-it-quits at Level 3, conveyance fees are thankfully the final amount that you’ll have to fork out. Essentially, it’s something you give out to your lawyers for handling all your HDB paperwork without dealing with that hassle by yourselves.
Your flat price and number of rooms are the ultimate manipulators of these figures – but for 4-roomers, this might add up to roughly $220.
Cha-chings lost so far: Up to $36,830
Level 4: After key collection
Tying the knot before breaking up, unfortunately, doesn’t grant you immunity against the final onslaught of costs. Although you’d have rightfully presented your ROM cert within three months of your BTO completion date and made your home fully yours at this stage, HDB yanks it away once you’ve cancelled your application.
Image credit: Jessica Lai
The salvageable part, though, is that you can pay most of these fees with your CPF Savings if you have a sustainable amount.
A. Registration Fees
Luckily, this isn’t a percentage-based fee that creeps up on you in instalments. Neither the cost-price of your BTO nor its number of rooms determine what you shell out, meaning that your losses are fixed at $38.30 here.
B. Survey Fees
The survey fees, on the other hand, take room size rather seriously. For calling down a pro inspector to go over your home’s condition with a fine-toothed comb, you might be looking at anywhere between $150 – $325.
C. Home Protection Scheme (HPS)
We’re not new to the whole world of insurance – having experienced it from our parents to premium-selling friends. Likewise, the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) is an effort from the CPF Board to protect you from losing your flat amidst terminal illness, death or permanent disability until your housing loans are paid up.
Yes, you end up forgoing your flat either way. But unfortunately, it’s a necessary bill to toss onto the mound.
This sum is quite subjective and depends on things like your age, desired coverage and loan repayment period. This tool from CPF will help you check those numbers.
D. Fire Insurance
Fire insurance is a must-have in your list of costs, as long as you’ve sought the HDB loan in Level 3.
This sum is under $10, but the caveat is that you can’t use your CPF savings to pay it off.
Breaking up at Level 4 can be super taxing. But assuming you’ve got the luck of a four-leaf-clover, you can lessen your heart pain slightly because HDB offers some compensation for cancelling your flat after key collection. Don’t bank too much on it though: the likelihoods are unpredictable and can vary from person to person.
Losses lost so far: Up to $37,400
BTO Break Up – What To Do In The Midst Of Application
These costs are mostly rough estimates, but it doesn’t discount the fact that they can be tough on your wallet. For those thinking of ending your relationship at Level 3, you might want to be extra cautious as total losses take a particularly huge hike at this stage.
Nevertheless, breaking up is sometimes a difficult but necessary choice for some couples. Financial drains are mostly temporary setbacks that are surmountable with time – but commitments like marriage are for life.