Buying a Flat as a Single vs Married Couple: Is it Really Double the Financial Burden?    

Eugenia Liew
Buying a Flat as a Single vs Married Couple: Is it Really Double the Financial Burden?      
Many of us consider buying our own home as a rite of adulthood. It used to be a step taken in tandem with marriage by default, since it is the start of a new life stage where many move into a new home to start their own families.
Additionally, timing your home purchase with marriage often also makes financial sense, since combining two incomes (and ostensibly, CPFs) would make it more tenable to afford a home.
But not everyone gets married in their 20s, or even at all. So how does staying single affect your plans to move into your own flat? Is it really double the financial burden?
Let’s explore the differences in how a single versus a couple may finance an HDB flat home.

Buying an HDB Flat as A Single vs Married Couple

First, let’s calculate the payments required when purchasing an HDB flat. To keep things simple, the 3-room resale flat in this example costs $300,000.
HDB 3-room resale flat price$300,000
If taking an HDB loan (at 90% LTV)Downpayment: $30,000, Monthly mortgage: $1,225 ($270,000 loan at 2.6% p.a.)
If taking bank loan (at 75% LTV)Downpayment: $75,000, Monthly mortgage: $910 ($225,000 loan at 1.5% p.a.)
* Note: Assuming maximum LTV of 90% for HDB loans and 75% for bank loans respectively.
As you can see, buying property in Singapore is a huge financial commitment. You can expect to fork out tens of thousands upfront (in cash, CPF or a mix), and continue repaying the mortgage for many years.
Although we’ve left out these expenses for simplicity’s sake, in addition to the price of the property, there are other costs to consider, such as stamp duties, agent commission, renovation and furnishing costs, and more.

CPF Housing Grants for Singles vs Married Couples

Now, let’s look at the CPF Housing Grants available. Here’s an estimate of what grants a single buyer versus married couple will be able to get for this $300,000 resale flat.
For this, we will assume an income of $3,500 per pax and per month, and that neither side has any other loans or debts to service.
3-Room resale flat price
HDB Eligibility scheme
Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
CPF Singles or Family Grant
$25,000 Singles Grant
$50,000 Family Grant
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant
Proximity Housing Grant
Flat price, after factoring above CPF Housing Grants
$205,000 per couple; $102,500 per spouse
In this example, we assume that the buyer is eligible for the Single/Family Grant, the Enhanced Housing Grant, and Proximity Housing Grant (live within 4km of family). The grant amounts shown are based on the assumed income of $3,500 per pax ($7,000 per couple).
As you can see, the CPF Housing Grants offered to singles and couples are slightly different, but the amount per pax is about the same. The couple gets to benefit more and have more offset from the flat’s price because there are two peoples’ share of grants.
CPF Housing Grants are typically used to cover the downpayment first, but if the grant amount is significant, it could still apply and lower the eventual ‘price’ and loan amount.

So, is it Really Double the Financial Burden for Single Homebuyers?

It’s hard to say if it’s exactly ‘double’, but looking at the comparisons above, buying a property as a single is definitely more demanding.
Even if everything else is the same – i.e., the property price, home loan chosen, etc – because of the difference in CPF Housing Grants, the ‘price’ of the flat can be more expensive for singles.
Not to mention, the financial burden will undoubtedly be more manageable for dual-income buyers. The main concern for singles is that all these costs will be borne on their own.
Let’s revisit the above examples: A $30,000 or $75,000 downpayment will be much easier for two people to cough up, as opposed to for a single person. Same goes for the mortgage repayments. $1,225 (HDB loan) or $910 (bank loan) per month is no small sum for an individual, but if you can halve it and split between a couple, suddenly $612.50 or $455 seems very manageable.
If you’re thinking of getting a BTO (build-to-order flat), there are even more hoops to jump through. It is much easier to buy a new flat directly from HDB as a couple under the Fiancé-Fiancée scheme. If you are single, you must either be at least 35 years old or a divorcee, widow/widower or orphan who is at least 21 years of age in order to be eligible for a HDB flat.
(There are no such restrictions when it comes to private property, but HDB flats are the more common preferred choice, especially among the budget conscious. 80% of our population live in flats!)

Which is Better?

Most times, there is no one better than the other. It depends on your personal situation and finances. Even if we do say it makes more sense to purchase your first home as a married couple, it may not be feasible if you are not at that stage in your relationship yet, right?
Single buyers can also explore other ways to lower their financial burden, such as buying a property with other singles (Joint Singles Scheme for HDB flats).
At the end of the day, regardless of whether you’re single or married and looking to buy a home, purchasing property is a big investment. We hope this guide has given you a rough idea of some considerations when deciding to buy a home as a single versus a couple.
If you need more guidance or have a unique case and would appreciate more help in working out the sums, the PropertyGuru Finance home loan advisors can help. Our mortgage experts have years of experience helping homeowners like you, and can offer free, personalised recommendations and advice.
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