Home Loans

How To Choose Your Home Loan in Singapore

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Vinod Nair

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A home loan can help you buy a property that you otherwise cannot afford to purchase. With truckloads of home loan schemes in the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Here’s a quick guide on how to go about selecting your home loan.

 

Choosing the best home loan can be a daunting task. Interest rates are not the only thing to look out for when choosing a home loan.

A simple tool you could use to help you is the MoneySmart Home Loan Calculator (for new purchases) or the Mortgage Refinancing Calculator (for refinancing). The Calculator is a step by step wizard that guides you through the points to consider and gives you a snapshot comparison between all the latest home loan rates available in Singapore based on your criteria.

 

1. Fixed or Floating Rate?

First you need to decide if you want a fixed interest rate home loan or floating interest rate home loan.

Fixed rate home loan consists of fixed interest rates that do not fluctuate during the period that you are locked in at. The rates remain the same despite the changes in economy and market conditions. Fixed rate home loans usually have a higher but stable interest rate than floating rate home loans. Eg. 1% fixed for 3 years.

Floating rate home loans (aka variable rate home loans) typically consist of very low interest rates and in Singapore, they are usually pegged to SIBOR (Singapore Inter Bank Offset Rate) or SOR (Swap Offer Rate). SIBOR and SOR are transparent indexes, that the banks have no control over adjusting (You can think of this as the “cost price” for the bank). These rates fluctuate according to the market conditions, so you will need to keep tabs on them occasionally.

Banks will add a spread % (which can be thought of as their “profit margin”). Eg. Sibor + 1% (where 1% is the spread). Banks are currently offering very low spreads for floating rate packages to entice home buyers.

2. How long should you stretch your loan tenure for?

The longer you stretch out your loan, the more you end up paying in interest to the bank (because interest is charged annually). However, stretching out your loan over a longer period makes your monthly payments more affordable.

Think about what you are comfortable with affording monthly, and work from there. You don’t want to be paying so much for your mortgage that you have no money for anything else! The MoneySmart Home Loan Calculator allows you to calculate your monthly payments and then you can adjust your loan tenure accordingly to see what suits you best. Generally, banks will be able to give you a loan until you’re 70-75.

 

3. Other points to be aware of

Beware some gimmicks that banks use. Low rates may have a catch

High rates from year 4 onwards
Banks might give you low rates for the first 3 years to reel you in, but they might increase the rates from the 4th year onwards. Low initial rates work well for investors who are planning to sell soon after the 3 years. However, if this is for your own stay, you should consider the impact over the entire loan tenure.

Floating rates that are not pegged to SIBOR or SOR
Banks may hike up the rates at their discretion if your package is not pegged to SIBOR or SOR. I would strongly advise against taking loans which are pegged to the banks internal board rates.

 

A final note: Do your homework

Do your research before committing to any home loan. MoneySmart makes it easy for you with all the latest Singapore home loan rates published online. If your loan amount is more than $500k, you might also qualify for lower deviated rates (which are not published).

Keep updated with all the news!

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Vinod Nair

I'm the founder & CEO of MoneySmart.sg. I'm obsessively passionate about entrepreneurship and the Internet. I started MoneySmart to un-complicate your money matters, and make it simpler and easier for you to understand. Because let's face it, Singapore isn't getting any cheaper to live in.