In the real estate market in Singapore, the phrase “decoupling” is frequently used. Still, a lot of individuals might not fully understand what decoupling is or how it operates. Fortunately, a “divorce” has nothing to do with decoupling. In fact, while considering moving forward with their future together, the majority of Singaporean couples talk about divorcing.

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In this piece, we will dispel the myths about decoupling and explain to readers why it can occasionally be more expensive than anticipated. The article discusses the differences between joint tenancy and tenancy-in-common, how homeowners might disconnect their property, and the substantial costs associated with doing so.


Decoupling was instituted by the Singaporean government in December 2011 as one of the “cooling measures” to dissuade individuals from buying several houses and reselling them for a profit. It meant that if a couple decided to invest in many houses, they would have to pay a significant property tax, also known as ABSD.

Note: The acronym for additional buyer’s stamp duty is ABSD. It is an additional tax that is applied on residential property purchases, such as private homes or HDB apartments, in addition to the ordinary Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD).

A common practice among Singaporean couples, or co-owners, is decoupling in order to avoid having to pay this substantial cost. One of the two co-owners must give the partner their portion of the property.

By doing this, you are essentially giving your spouse exclusive ownership of the property and relinquishing title to them. As a “first-time buyer,” you can now purchase a new home without having to pay ABSD tax.

Additionally, under their existing Loan-to-value (LTV) limit, the spouse selling their property portion will subsequently be eligible for a larger loan amount for the purchase of real estate. In Singapore, a lot of husbands and wives decouple their property and purchase residences independently. Quite clever, huh?

Decoupling can happen for a number of reasons, such as divorce, however the main motive for most Singaporeans is to save money on real estate investment by avoiding paying 20% ABSD. This is intended to allow them to purchase several houses under their household’s name without having to pay hefty stamp duties.


Disconnection in favor of HDB. A portion sale between couples is prohibited by HDB, with the exception of divorce. The HDB apartment cannot be divorced by married couples as of May 4, 2016.In a same vein, “gifting of ownership” between HDB couples who owe money on their loans is prohibited by banks.

HDB decoupling is only possible under specific circumstances for each case at a time. There should be no outstanding debt on the HDB apartment, and gifting is the only way to make payments. That being said, HDB must validate this. Decoupling for HDB is, in essence, prohibited.

Note: Since April 1, 2016, owners of HDB flats are not permitted to transfer their ownership to a family member without certain medical circumstances, a renunciation of citizenship, financial difficulties (such as bankruptcy), an owner’s death, a divorce, or a marriage. Decoupling is often restricted to private homes.

Disconnection for Private & EC Properties. Legally, decoupling for EC and private properties is permissible. Nevertheless, EC properties that are owned during a ten-year period cannot be separated. This is a result of the EC currently having the status of “HDB.” However, you are only able to separate jointly held private properties.


If a bank loan or CPF funds are needed to transfer the acquisition, the decoupling procedure in Singapore typically takes ten to twelve weeks to finish. Decoupling will take two to four weeks if there isn’t a bank loan or CPF money involved.

It should be noted that the co-owner does not have to wait for the procedure to be finished in order to transfer their portion of the property. They are free to buy their new second home as planned.

Homeowners mistakenly believe that decoupling is a less complicated and expensive alternative that is practically identical with the notion of avoiding ABSD costs. It’s not, at all. Decoupling entails a legal process and associated expenses. In many cases, decoupling might end up costing homebuyers far more than the ABSD.

But first, let’s examine the two approaches to decoupling for private properties before talking about the many elements that raise the price of decoupling. You might refer to it as a sale or a gift.

passed forward through a gift. You can give your spouse your portion of the private property as a gift—that is, without getting paid—if your private property is debt-free, meaning there are no outstanding loans. Recall that the property you wish to separate from will be thoroughly examined to ensure it is paid for in full.

If there is an outstanding debt on the property, additional money would be needed to pay it off in order to complete the ownership transfer of the CPF funds and/or the existing loan. In this instance, the property might not be able to be sold for a few years.

Remember that, depending on the arm’s length sale, the IRAS tax on the property is still due. As such, you are unable to understate the worth of your gift. Furthermore, an impartial appraisal is required.

transferred through a contract for sale and purchase. You can disconnect by selling your portion of the property to your spouse, regardless of whether you own a private residence or a HDB apartment. That will, however, rely on how much ownership you have in the property. Tenancy-in-common (separate stakes; often 99-1 split) or joint tenancy (50/50 split) are the two options available to you. We’ll talk about Keep in mind that there must be a real monetary transfer in both situations.

partial acquisition of the property with a balance due on the loan. Part-purchase, sometimes called “part-sale,” with an ongoing bank loan is the most popular decoupling strategy for private homes. It is an arm’s length transaction requiring an independent appraisal. Part acquisitions are often disliked by Singapore’s current banks as they don’t distribute fresh loans. Part-purchasing with an outstanding debt is actually additional labor for the banks at no profit. Due of the high objectives they must reach, the majority of banks willfully disregard such a request.

partial purchase of a paid-in property. Another arm’s length transaction that calls for an independent appraisal is the decoupling approach. It requests that any CPF funds utilized to purchase your portion of the property be returned to the CPF member’s account, together with any interest that has accumulated.


Overdue mortgage payments

Decoupling comes with expenses, one of which being outstanding home loans. You have to secure a new mortgage from the bank and pay off any existing house loans. Be aware that there are additional, hidden charges involved with a new home loan.

Duty stamp fees

We are aware that couples separate in order to avoid having to pay the ABSD. On the portion of the property being transferred, however, additional stamp charges apply. The Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) comes first. It is paid when one of you or your spouse purchases the other partner’s property portion.

Property transfer costs

Transferring ownership and overseeing property purchase are two aspects of the decoupling process. This calls for legal documentation, which you will want a conveyancing lawyer’s assistance with.

In order to handle the transfer and sale of their piece of the property, the spouse transferring their share will also need to employ an attorney. As a result, conveyancing expenses for divorcing spouses can range from $5,500 to $6,500. Contacting a licensed mortgage broker is a smart move as they can assist in locating the best deals without adding to your expenses.

Penalties for early payback

For people who want to pay back their house loan early, there are typically penalties associated with early redemption or prepayment. When decoupling your property, you may be subject to a prepayment penalty, which is typically 1.5% of the remaining loan amount, if the current house loan is redeemed or paid off before the lock-in term expires.

Please take note that depending on the home loan package you select, this may or may not apply. Prepayment penalties usually last for the duration of your lock-in term, which is three to five years.

The Ultimate Show Flat Guide for Novices: 11 Things to Watch Out for in Singapore Show Flats

A wonderful method to get more information about the characteristics of a condo and the range of apartments available for purchase is to visit a condo show flat. Show apartments typically have stunning theatrical furniture and interior designs that are in excellent shape.

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It’s easy to buy into the ultimate ideal of what may be, even though the majority of us are aware that what we see at show flats is different from the vacant apartments we’ll eventually get if we decide to buy.

How can we purchase homes with greater discernment? Continue reading to discover 11 things to watch out for while seeing a Singapore display apartment.

11 Things Condo Show Flat Visitors Should Watch Out for

1. Verify the window sizes and the orientation of the unit you are considering.

Show apartments are constantly artificially lighted and have a constant brightness.

“You will need to access the type and sizes of its windows if you want to access the amount of natural light and ventilation a space will receive,” stated Dr. Tan Tee Khoon, PropertyGuru’s Country Manager for Singapore. “For example, large windows will not only allow more light into a room, they can also help to facilitate air flow.”

Don’t forget to contrast it with the unit’s face to determine if it will receive the majority of the scorching sun.

2. Watch Out for Floor Tape: Some Builders Take Down Walls for Decorative Effects

A few barriers may be knocked down by developers in order to improve the visual flow. Developers are required by government decree to disclose the location and thickness of barriers.

The majority of developers will mark this area on the floor with tape. Therefore, when you’re admiring the vastness of the room, glance down to see if the unit will still seem the same once you have the keys. If you want to remove any walls, make sure you know which ones can be taken down by looking at the floorplans.

3. Examine the Interior Doors’ Quality

Costs are frequently economized and shortcuts used at the doorways leading to the restrooms and bedrooms. When you knock on a door, it should feel solid, swing smoothly, and not sound especially hollow.

Good quality doors are essential to maintaining privacy and preventing noise from entering the bedrooms, especially in smaller homes. Should the doors prove to be insufficient at your eventual move-in, the expense of replacing them may be substantial.

4. Determine Whether the Space’s Flow Pleases You

Make sure the unit’s layout accommodates your way of living. This involves taking into account the orientation of doors and windows, the height of appliances, and the location of the stove and kitchen sink, according to Linda Yang, Associate Division Director of Propnex Realty.

The exquisiteness of the décor might easily divert one’s attention. But consider the way the room will flow and how you and your family will utilize it. Consider your kitchen’s cooking routine and whether the existing arrangement would be practical for you. It might be costly to rearrange the kitchen’s design.

These days, open layouts—where the kitchen, living room, and dining area are all incorporated into one area—are quite popular. Nonetheless, some individuals might want distinct areas in order to keep odors like cooking oil from permeating the entire flat.

5. Spot Design Techniques for Hide Unusual Corners

Regular patterns are often preferred by Singaporeans because they provide better furniture arrangement and flow more naturally. A barrier or some plants and vases may be used to hide up dead corners, which can be minimized using a variety of design techniques.

Always go to the official floor plans when making a purchase to make sure there are no strange corners. Sharp triangle corners are especially regarded as poor feng shui. Future resale value may be impacted by feng shui even if you are not a believer.

6. Determine How Many Pocket Sockets the Unit Will Include

“Verify with the developer the quantity and placements of power points, which may not always be showcased in show flats,” Linda Yang added.

Our current possession of gadgets and appliances will only grow in the future. Buyers should always make sure there are enough power outlets in places where televisions may be installed, such as the kitchen, bedroom, and walls. Even though you could always add more power outlets once the project is finished, doing so would cost more money and cause you to move into the apartment later.

7. Examine the package of kitchen appliances.

It’s important for buyers to constantly confirm which kitchen equipment are included; not every gadget on show may be part of the finished product. Refrigerators and washer-dryers, which can cost thousands of dollars, are sometimes omitted by developers.

If the purchasers’ current appliances don’t fit, they will need to be replaced. In addition, the majority of condominiums have policies prohibiting the hanging of clothing to dry on the balcony, making a washer-dryer unit—which is more expensive than a standard washing machine—a requirement.

8. Explicate the Type of Surface and Degree of Maintenance Needed for Each

Every surface has been flawlessly polished. Astute purchasers, however, should always ascertain the materials utilized and get acquainted with the benefits and drawbacks of each. For example, solid surface is a popular and inexpensive material for kitchen countertops.

Placemats or trivets should be used to shield it from hot pots and pans even though it is stain-resistant and simple to clean. Marble, on the other hand, is more expensive and takes more upkeep, but it is also attractive and resistant to heat.

Additionally, Dr. Tan Tee Khoon says, “Look for telltale signs of the developers’ meticulous craftsmanship.” Be aware that some installations have the label “ID” on them. The specs of your item will not include these installations.”

9. Examine the bathroom fixtures that will be included with the unit itself.

The majority of bathrooms are styled to resemble opulent spas. But make sure to look at what’s offered. Wall cabinets are frequently either not supplied at all or may arrive in a simpler design than what is shown. High-quality fixtures should also be included in the bathroom, including the sink, faucet, and shower.

In order to stop mould growing due to our humid weather, make sure the bathrooms have windows. A ceiling ventilation fan is a good idea for bathrooms without windows, but it needs additional upkeep.

10. Pay attention to what’s being said when agents emphasize how much space they can provide.

Although bedrooms tend to be smaller, there are a few design tips that might help them appear larger. Removing or reducing the closet to provide additional floor space is a popular solution. Keep an eye out for the tape that developers are supposed to use to demarcate this.

Additionally, real estate brokers will inform you that each bedroom has space for at least a queen-sized bed. That may be the case, but it would be a tight fit if you had less than a meter or so to walk around the bed.

11. Pay attention to the unit’s fit and finish

Look for the little things that indicate a developer’s attention to detail and quality. Show apartments serve as a showcase for everything a developer has to offer. It might be a reason for concern if you notice indications of poor fit and finish, including badly glued or peeling laminate on the woodwork or improperly closing cabinet doors.

A developer’s pride in the project is evident in even the smallest details, such as the cleanliness or neatness of the bed linens.