3 more costs for your very first home in Singapore


This is part three of our first home series; click to read parts one and two.

We have finally arrived at the last part of our three-part article. In our first article, we went over the different ways to pay for the house, and in our second part of the article series, we mentioned the different types of insurance you can (and should) get for your home. .

Look where we are; you have come so far, but there is not a very long way to go! Here is the last article about renovation, furniture and stamp duty!

Renovation loan

Renovation costs are usually the second highest cost of your first home after mortgages. There are many types of interior design: from electrical to carpentry to light fixtures and even changing the layout of the house by hacking or installing walls. On average, Singaporeans spend up to 20% of their home’s value, or about $50,000 to $60,000, on home renovations.

The renovation style can also differ depending on the current trend and the amount of work and materials needed to create the look of the apartment.

Most experts recommend setting a budget first and taking 15% of that total. If your renovation budget is $50,000, you should aim for $42,500 or less, with the remaining 15% (or $7,500 in this example) expect some things not to go as planned. By creating a 15% buffer, you will be sure that the project can be done at your cost and will not put financial pressure on you or your family.

Home improvement loans are available as personal loans; on average, home improvement loans in Singapore charge around 5.33% interest and a one-time upfront processing fee of 0.75% to 2%, for a total cost of around 6-7%. Unlike other standard installment loans offered by banks, the interest rate for a home improvement loan is called the “rest rate”. This means that you pay an interest payment on your outstanding loan balance.

Also Read: Average Home Renovation Cost in SG 2022 and Average Home Renovation Loan Cost 2022.


Lendela allows users to have an easy way to find the cheapest personal loan by providing personalized offers. These offers are tailored to the profile of a potential borrower to be the best rates available from lenders and banks.

Personal charges for furniture

inside a warehouse

Furniture and appliances are the last expenses of your first home, just like the last piece of the puzzle. There is a balance to be struck between price, aesthetics and quality of their homewares.

First, finding the right furniture budget is crucial. Even though IKEA provides the best quality furniture with a simplistic and minimalist aesthetic, there are cheaper alternatives you can choose from, such as local or vintage bespoke furniture. You can even sign up for credit cards that reward high spending, wait for good sales with the best deals, and keep your horizons open for alternatives.

Read also: IKEA: the cheapest way to buy furniture?.

When choosing appliances, on the other hand, you need to consider the long-term costs associated with electrical consumption of appliances (and water consumption for washing machines and dishwashers). Try to balance the initial cost of electrical appliances against their potential savings through their energy efficiency.

Citi Cash Back+ Card
Citi Cash Back+ Card

The Citi Cash Back+ Card is a good card choice for big spenders who want to avoid reward caps. Cardholders earn 1.6% unlimited cashback on every purchase with no minimum spend requirement. Although there are cards with higher refund rates, they are limited by reward caps. The downside to this reward structure is that to get the most out of it, cardholders need to spend S$7,000 per month. However, if you manage to meet that spend threshold, this card offers an easy way to maximize rewards without having to worry about restrictions or artificial limits.

Stamp duty

Night shot of HDB apartments with a basketball court in the middle

Stamp duties are cooling measures put in place by the government to regulate the growth of property prices in Singapore. There are several types of stamp duty: Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) and finally, for private property, Buyer’s Additional Stamp Duty (ABSD) .

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) is a tax levied on every home buyer. Whenever you buy a property, BSD is always payable. It is calculated based on the price of real estate, so the higher the price of your new home, the higher the BSD you will have to pay.

On the other hand, Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) is a tax levied on most door-to-door sellers. The SSD is calculated based on the year of sale. If we wish to sell our property within three years from the date of purchase or acquisition, we must pay 4% to 12% of the actual price or market value of the property, whichever is greater.

There are exceptions to the seller’s stamp duty, which are mainly legislative in nature:

  • Owners whose property is acquired by the government (Land Acquisitions Act)
  • Owners declared bankrupt and required to liquidate their assets
  • Foreigners (Residential Property Law)
  • SERS identified apartment owners who sold their apartment before HDB claimed the apartment
  • Repossession of apartment by HDB due to SERS or other refund reasons
  • If we inherit an HDB apartment / marry another person who owns an HDB apartment while owning one and is bound by HDB to dispose of the inherited apartment

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) is a tax levied that applies to the greater of the purchase price of a property or the market value of private properties. It was introduced in 2011 as a housing cooling measure by pushing up prices to moderate housing demand. It is levied in addition to the BSD and only applies to buyers who meet specific criteria, including residential status and number of properties owned.

Since May 2022, the ABSD has increased to 35% for any transfer of residential property in all living trusts.


sunset image with HDB apartments in the foreground

Now that you’ve come to the end of the last article in our three-part series (If you haven’t read the previous two articles on mortgages and insurance, don’t miss them!), you’re finally ready to plan your first home. It can be daunting at first, but you’ll find the step-by-step journey rewarding.

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