The mandate of having to be married or above 35 years old before being able to buy public housing in Singapore is a tough one to get around. But don’t be discouraged, it is not outside the realm of possibility to own a home with your significant other even if marriage is not yet in your plans.
Types of Property Unmarried Couples Can Buy
Here are some housing options you can consider without having to tie the knot.
New HDB Flat (2-Room Flexi)
When it comes to property in Singapore, it’s an easy split between HDB flats, Executive Condominiums (EC) and private condominiums. If you are looking for the most affordable, low-cost option, HDBs are still available to those who do not get married.
Under the Joint Singles Scheme you can apply for a brand new 2-room flexi flat in a non-mature estate. You may even be eligible for an Enhance Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000 depending on the average monthly household income earned by both parties. However, the huge caveat is that you must be above 35 years old.
If you decide to buy the flat as a couple but under one person, that scheme is called the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SSCS). In this case one person is the sole owner of the flat and also has to be above the age of 35 years old.
Related article: Buying an HDB Flat as a Single: Joint Singles Scheme and HDB Single Scheme
Resale HDB Flat (All Types)
You may also consider buying a resale flat. There are no income ceiling restrictions for resale flats, which may make it more appealing for high-earning singles and couples.
Unfortunately, as an unmarried couple you will have to get married within 3 months of getting your new flat if you intend to put both names on the mortgage.
Alternatively, you may decide to put just one name on the mortgage and ownership of said property and decide the financial contributions of the mortgage payments on your own. If you decide to do so, the same rules apply, and the owner must be above 35 years old. Do note, however, that this can be tricky if you do decide to separate further down the road, as legally only one of you is the recognised owner of the property.
Browse resale flats on PropertyGuru.
Executive Condo (EC)
This option has become increasingly popular among young unmarried couples. Under JSS, non-married couples are able to purchase their new EC flat with no restrictions on size or number of rooms of the unit. The income ceiling stands at a higher $16,000 which allows for more freedom for ownership.
However, it is important to note that there are no additional subsidies for couples to own ECs under the JSS scheme and that subsidies are only applicable to singles applying for a new EC flat who are above the age of 35 years old. As far as it goes, EC flats are for higher earners who do not wish to get married and yet choose the public-hybrid property route over a private condominium.
Related article: Everything You Need to Know About Buying an Executive Condo in Singapore
This option comes without age or status restrictions. There is no marital status tied to owners of private property. Hence, you can be unmarried and own your private condo. The obvious con is that private property in Singapore is very expensive.
For starters, the price tag is higher. Everyone knows that private condos cost more than ECs and HDB flats. But not only that, when it comes to financing and making payment, banks require at least 25% downpayment, with a maximum loan of up to 75% of the property value. The maximum loan tenure only extends to 25 years. You may opt to use your CPF to pay the mortgage repayments, however, at least 5% of the downpayment has to be in cash. As you can see, financing a private property as your first property is not for the faint-hearted and will require much research.
If you are super rich or have parents who are able to foot the bill first, then sure, go ahead. This option is attractive as there are very few restrictions when it comes to private condo ownership.
But if you’re unsure about whether you’d be biting off more than you can chew, we suggest enlisting the help of PropertyGuru’s Home Finance Advisors to help you assess your finances and get you the best mortgage for your financial situation and allow you to pick a private property that best suits your needs.
Browse condos for sale on PropertyGuru.
Should Unmarried Couples Consider Renting Instead?
If you are a young couple eager to move out and live together, renting might be a favourable solution for you and your significant other. Renting can be a great way to help you save money while you save up for your dream home or wait till you turn 35 years old.
Cohabitation can also help you understand your partner better; whether you can live ‘peacefully’ together is a huge factor when considering a long-term partner. Think of this as a ‘trial run’ while working out the kinks out in your journey as future homeowners – unmarried or otherwise.
Related article: Renting vs Buying A Home in Singapore: Which Makes More Sense?
Legal Considerations When Buying Property as an Unmarried Couple
While it is possible to own property in the above ways in Singapore, as an unmarried couple it is important to note that the laws primarily protect married couples. Here are some considerations to bear in mind and discuss with your partner:
Who pays what?
If you do decide to opt for the SCSS (i.e. to have one of you be the sole owner) over the JSS (i.e. to be joint-owners) then you will have to decide who contributes what to the household on your own. There will be no lawyer’s letter if one party decides to back out of the financial contribution and this can be a tricky situation for couples if these things are not sorted out in the beginning.
It might be useful to sit down with a mortgage advisor to sort out the individual contributions and even draw out some form of legal contract between the couple to decide what happens should you decide to split. This will avoid much trouble in the future.
How much CPF is each person contributing?
When it comes to downpayments or mortgage repayments, the CPF splits are a tricky work around. Often if the property is in one person’s name, the CPF splits will be the homeowner’s responsibility and the other party does not have to make considerations. In the event of selling, the homeowner would then have to pay back the CPF contribution together with the accrued interest earned. This can resort to severe depletion of CPF savings if you are not careful.
Who is the legal owner of the home?
The easiest way to get around these tricky situations is to be realistic about the situation at hand. Deciding early on what the legal ownership for the new home is going to look like is the best possible way to ensure that everything is done fairly and easily.
Joint Tenancy: In this situation, both parties share the responsibilities of ownership and financial contributions of the flat. Things are being split 50-50 and legally, both parties, under JSS, are applicable to the rights of the home if anything happens.
Tenancy in Common: Tenancy in Common is the practice by which two people own the same property and in the event of one person’s death the other person assumes sole ownership of the property. This is the best way to protect unmarried couples and can protect those who are in a less favourable financial position if anything happens to the high earning party of the couple.
Sole Ownership: In this scenario, only one party has the legal and financial rights to the property, This might be favoured due to income ceilings or to avoid ABSD if one party already owns property, However, do note that in the case of selling or a split, this will be a tough situation to navigate if prior legal contracts are not drawn up.
What’s the Best Way Forward?
The Singapore property market is often geared towards either singles, or married couples. Being an unmarried couple puts you in a somewhat unusual situation with an atypical set of property ownership options.
Given that your position is not the “standard” Singaporean scenario, if you need help, you should always consult your agent. All properties on PropertyGuru are listed by verified agents who can advise you.
If you need guidance specifically around financing the property as an unmarried couple, then our Home Finance Advisors’ doors are always open to offer free consultation and advice. We’ll help you find the best way forward for your position and your aspirations.
For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.