Best Home Loans for HDB Flats 2019

Our team has analysed hundreds of housing loans to help you find the best financing option for purchasing an HDB flat.

Find the Cheapest Home Loans in Singapore

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Table of Contents

Best Housing Loans for HDB Properties

Public housing in Singapore has kept homeownership attainable for a higher proportion of residents compared to other major cities around the world. However, most HDB flats typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, making home financing a necessity for most households. In this guide, we outline the best housing loan options for those interested in purchasing an HDB property.

Best Fixed Rate Home Loans for HDB Flats

Our analysis found that the following banks currently offer the best fixed rate home loans for the purchase of resale HDB flats. These lenders typically charge interest rates that are 15-20% cheaper than the average fixed rate housing loan. Obtaining a loan with a competitive rate can translate to savings of up to approximately S$30,000 over the course of a loan tenure, compared to the average rate. Please note that the calculations in our table below assume a S$500,000, 25-year fixed rate loan.

BankMonthly Instalment1st Yr. InterestLock-in Period
UOB BoardS$2,1882.28%2 years
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DBS FixedS$2,2132.38%2 years
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UOB FixedS$2,2132.38%2 years
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UOB FixedS$2,1932.30%2 years
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OCBC FixedS$2,2182.40%2 years
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BankCheck Rates1st Yr. InterestMonthly InstalmentLock-in Period

UOB Board
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2.28%S$2,1882 years

UOB Fixed
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2.38%S$2,2132 years

DBS Fixed
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2.38%S$2,2132 years

UOB Fixed
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2.30%S$2,1932 years

OCBC Fixed
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2.40%S$2,2182 years

These mortgages tend to charge fixed interest rates for 1 to 5 years. Afterwards, the interest rates become "floating", meaning that they can change frequently based on market interest rates. Therefore, fixed rate housing loans are ideal for those that prefer to know exactly what their loan will cost over the next few years. This is especially attractive when interest rates are expected to rise in the next few years. When comparing housing loans, it is also important to consider the total interest cost, monthly payment burden and the length of the lock-in period. The total interest cost represents the total cost of borrowing, while the monthly payment amount is important as it is the on-going cost that homeowners are required to pay. Finally, the lock-in period is the amount of time borrowers are typically restricted from refinancing their housing loan.

Best Floating Rate Home Loans for HDB Flats

On the other hand, floating rate housing loans are never fixed and change continuously based on reference rates. The following lenders charge the most competitive floating rates. These rates usually about 20-30% cheaper than the market average and can save homeowners up to S$30,000 over the course of their mortgage. Again, please be aware that our calculations below assume a 25-year, S$500,000 loan, this time with a floating interest rate.

BankMonthly Instalment1st Yr. InterestLock-in Period
SCB BoardS$2,1812.25%2 years
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SCB BoardS$2,1932.30%2 years
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SCB BoardS$2,1932.30%2 years
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CITI TrackerS$2,1402.09%2 years
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HSBC TrackerS$2,2022.34%2 years
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BankCheck Rates1st Yr. InterestMonthly InstalmentLock-in Period

UOB Board
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2.28%S$2,1882 years

UOB Fixed
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2.38%S$2,2132 years

DBS Fixed
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2.38%S$2,2132 years

UOB Fixed
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2.30%S$2,1932 years

OCBC Fixed
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2.40%S$2,2182 years

Floating interest rates, which typically follow SIBOR, SOR or a bank-determined rate (e.g. board or fixed deposit rate), are typically lower than fixed interest rates and can offer prospective homeowners a chance to save money. However, because housing loan rates can change frequently, fixed rate loans can be attractive for those that prefer to have a set rate and monthly payment for several years.

Best Home Loans for Build-to-Order (BTO) Flats

Buying a Build-to-Order flat (BTO) gives individuals the chance to purchase a brand new home. Fortunately, there are loans specifically designed for these properties. The table below lists the rates of the best housing loans for properties currently under construction. These lenders typically charge interest rates that are 10-20% cheaper than the market average, which can save borrowers up to S$40,000 - S$50,000. Please note that our calculations assume a 25-year loan with a principal of S$500,000.

BankMonthly Instalment1st Yr InterestLock-in Period
SCB BoardS$1,9112.25%0
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UOB BoardS$1,9192.28%2 years
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SCB BoardS$1,9242.30%0
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SCB BoardS$1,9242.30%0
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SCB BoardS$1,9372.35%0
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BankCheck RatesMonthly Instalment1st Yr InterestLock-in Period
SCB Board
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S$1,9112.25%0
UOB Board
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S$1,9192.28%2 years
SCB Board
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S$1,9242.30%0
SCB Board
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S$1,9242.30%0
SCB Board
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S$1,9372.35%0

Additionally, some mortgages for property under construction do not have lock-in periods, making it easier to refinance at a lower interest rate as soon as the property is complete. This is worth keeping in mind, as loans for BTO units sometimes charge higher interest rates following the first few years of the loan.

Best Home Loan Refinancing for HDB Flats

Home loan refinancing is a great option for many homeowners in Singapore. In an attempt to attract new customers, lenders typically offer competitive refinancing rates to borrowers with existing home loans. For this reason, it is common for borrowers to refinance every few years. Many will find that refinancing offers are cheaper than their existing housing loan rates, which can result in significant savings.

BankMonthly Instalment1st Yr. InterestLock-in Period
UOB BoardS$1,6412.28%2 years
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CITI TrackerS$1,6192.09%2 years
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SCB BoardS$1,6442.30%2 years
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SCB TrackerS$1,6362.24%2 years
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HSBC TrackerS$1,6482.34%2 years
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BankCheck RatesMonthly Instalment1st Yr. InterestLock-in Period
UOB Board
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S$1,6412.28%2 years
CITI Tracker
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S$1,6192.09%2 years
SCB Board
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S$1,6442.30%2 years
SCB Tracker
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S$1,6362.24%2 years

In the table above, we list the best housing loan refinancing options currently available. We estimate that a borrower with a S$250,000 loan refinancing could save approximately S$35,000 over 15 years by switching to one of these rates. Please be aware that our calculations below assume a loan of S$250,000 with a tenure of 15 years.

How to Find the Best HDB Bank Loan

Obtaining an affordable home loan can be a complex process. First, rates are constantly changing, making it crucial to monitor the best loan rates available. Additionally, loans vary by rate structure and lock-in period duration, which can further complicate matters. Finally, after identifying attractive loan offers, the application process requires completion and submission of up to 20 documents.

Therefore, we suggest working with a home loan broker in order to ensure a more seamless process. To get the most out of a broker, and to make sure consumers can find a great loan, our site provides up-to-date loan rates and a short guide (below) to help understand the complexities of mortgages in Singapore.

Comparing Home Loan Costs

The most important aspect of finding an affordable home loan is identifying a competitive interest rate, which has the most significance on the total cost of borrowing. We recommend that prospective borrowers compare interest rates for the first few years of a housing loan, as some lenders will offer great introductory rates and then raise rates after a few years. In addition to the total interest cost, it is essential to understand the monthly payment required by each loan. One way to decrease the monthly burden is to apply for a mortgage with a longer tenure. However, this will increase the total cost as interest will accrue over a longer period of time.

Lock-In Periods & Refinancing Costs

When comparing loans, it is important to consider the lock-in period. This is the period in which homeowners are unable to refinance their loans. A shorter lock-in period can be advantageous to those that might want to refinance soon their loan begins.

While refinancing is a great option, it is also important to understand its costs. For example, legal fees, valuation fees and fire insurance premiums, can diminish the potential savings from refinancing. Take for example, S$500,000 housing loan. Borrowers can save about S$1,400 annually by switching from an interest rate of 3% to 2.5%. However, legal and valuation fees can reduce these savings by about S$2,500 and S$1,000 respectively. This highlights the importance of finding a home lender that charges low fees, or even provides subsidies for legal and valuation fees. The list below outlines typical fees as well as banks that subsidize these costs.

Refinancing FeesCostLender Subsidies
Legal FeeS$2,500DBS, POSB, Citi, UOB, Maybank, OCBC, SCB, RHB
Valuation feeS$500-S$1,000SBI, HLF
Fire InsuranceS$120/annumSBI
Partial/Full Redemption Fees1.5%Many do not charge for BUC
Cancellation Fees1.5%Only 1% @ SBI
Pricing Reset Date Penalty0.5%-1.5% of amount prepaid*Charged by Citi and Maybank

Interest Rate Structure: Fixed vs. Floating

Choosing between a fixed and floating interest rate can be a very difficult decision. Depending on interest rate trends, each option has advantages and disadvantages. A simplified way of approaching this problem is to consider how interest rates will change in the next 2-5 years (a longer perspective is less relevant as you can always refinance).

If Rates are Declining or Flat: Floating Rate Loan

In times when market interest rates are declining or stable, it's generally advisable to apply for a floating rate housing loan. This is because floating rates are typically lower than fixed rates since lenders are able to charge lower rates initially to have the chance to charge higher rates in the future. On the other hand, fixed rates guarantee a given rate for up to 5 years, so banks tend to charge a premium when market interest rates are already low. In the table below, we show the difference in average first-year interest rates of fixed and floating rate housing loans for HDB flats as of June 2019.

Interest Rate TypeAverage
Floating2.39%
Fixed2.48%

If Interest Rates are Rising: Fixed Rate Loan

When interest rates are rising, it is usually worth considering a fixed rate housing loan. While fixed rate loans tend to be more expensive than those with floating rates, they allow borrowers to save on future interest costs by maintaining a set rates if market rates rising significantly.

For example, imagine that a borrower has the option of a 2.5% fixed rate loan for the next 4 years or a floating rate that starts at 2.25%. If market interest rates rise dramatically in the next few years the floating rate could rise significantly (e.g. to 3%) and could cost significantly more than the fixed rate loan. While this difference may sound insignificant, it can amount to thousands of dollars in annual interest costs given a sizable loan principal.

Why Home Loan Applications are Denied & How to Fix These Issues

Home loan applications are rejected for a number of reasons. To successfully obtain a loan, it is important to understand the loan was rejected in the first place. After assessing the reason for rejection, it is easier to decide how to proceed.

High TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio)

In Singapore, individuals' borrowing limits are determined based on their monthly income and other debt obligations. This is measured by the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). The TDSR limit is 60%, which means that a borrower's monthly payments cannot exceed 60% of their gross monthly income. This includes all personal debt, such as home loans, car loans, student loans and credit card debt.

It is possible to calculate one's maximum monthly home loan payment by multiplying monthly income by 60% and subtracting any other monthly debt obligations. For example, if an individual earns S$8,000 per month and pays S$400 monthly for a car loan and S$200 per month for an education loan, the maximum monthly home loan payment under the 60% TDSR limit is S$4,200 (S$8,000 * 60% = S$4,800, S$4,800 - S$400 - S$200 - S$4,200). Loan applicants that are initially denied because their home loan would exceed the TDSR limit can try applying for a smaller loan or one with a longer tenure (and therefore, smaller monthly payments). While it may be disappointing, it is also worth considering a cheaper flat or waiting to purchase a home until repaying other debts.

Bad or Limited Credit History

Prospective home buyers that have filed for bankruptcy, or even have a history of making late payments, may have more difficulty in obtaining a home loan. Unfortunately, it usually takes several years to repair one's credit history. Loan applicants with limited credit histories may also be rejected for housing loans. Both groups can build credit by consistently making on-time payments for their existing utility, credit cards and loan bills.

Methodology

We are able to identify the best home loans by analysing information available online and data from our home loan broker partner. We focus on factors that are most important to prospective borrowers, including interest rates, lock-in periods, fees and subsidies. Our review consists of housing loan products offered by the lenders below.

Bank of ChinaCIMB
CitibankDBS
Hong Leong FinanceHSBC
MaybankOCBC
RHBSBI Singapore
Standard CharteredSing Investment
Singapura FinanceUOB
William Hofmann

William is a Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion Singapore, focusing on banking and SMEs. He previously was an Economic Consultant at Industrial Economics Inc.

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