What is a Bridging Loan? Everything You Need to Know

In our lifetime, many of us will own and live in more than one property. For example, when you get married, you may buy an HDB BTO flat as your first home. In a few years, as your income increases and your family welcomes new members, you may decide to sell your HDB flat and upgrade to a more spacious property. 

This is where bridging loans come in, to ease the financial transition when you buy and sell property. 

Note: This article covers property bridging loans, which help homeowners and buyers when they sell and buy property simultaneously. This not to be confused with the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP), which is an initiative to help enterprises access working capital. 

 

What Is A Bridging Loan?

A bridging loan is a short-term loan that you can take from the bank to “bridge” the gap between the time you need to pay the downpayment for your new property and when you receive the sales proceeds from your previous property. 

Say you’re looking to upgrade your property and have already proceeded all the way up to the signing of the Sales and Purchase agreement. This means you’ll need to remit the downpayment. But what happens if you don’t have the cash on hand and you’ve yet to receive the funds from the sale of your old property?

That’s where you could get a bridging loan from the bank (likely the same one that you’re getting your home loan from) to bridge this gap. Here are the basics of bridging loans in Singapore:

 

Bridging Loan

Maximum Amount

Amount is limited by the net proceeds and CPF balances from the approved sale of your old property.

Maximum Tenure

Mandatory to be settled within 6 months.

Interest Rates

Varies depending on bank, but generally range from 5% to 6% p.a.

 

You may have read elsewhere that bridging loans have a maximum amount of 20% of the property value (being the non-cash downpayment portion of a non-HDB loan). That is indeed the most common scenario in practice. 

But in actuality, as long as the sales proceeds from your previous property can cover it, you can get that limit approved – and even use it to get a lower LTV ratio as well.

 

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How to Use A Bridging Loan to Lower Your LTV Ratio

Consider this scenario for a private bank loan.

  • New property price: $1,000,000
  • Maximum loan quantum: $750,000 (75% LTV)
  • Non-cash downpayment: $200,000
  • Total net sales proceeds from old property: $500,000

Remember, you haven’t received the $500,000 yet. But you do need to pay the seller of your new property. In this case, you can take a bridging loan of $200,000 to cover the non-cash downpayment, add in $50,000 of your own funds for the cash downpayment, and the bank loan of $750,000 will cover the rest. But you’ll still have an excess $300,000 left over after you repay the bridging loan form the sales proceeds. What if you want to put that $300,000 toward your new property as well?

You have two options. The first is to take the full $750,000 loan, wait until the prepayment penalty period is over and then repay $300,000 of the loan in a lump sum payment.

Option two is to increase the quantum of the bridging loan to $500,000 instead of $200,000. Now, you only need to take a home loan of $450,000 (45% LTV). Once you receive the sales proceeds, you can repay the bridging loan, which in this case is to bridge both the downpayment and a part of the home loan as well. Of course, you will have to bear additional bridging loan interest costs because of the higher quantum.

Capitalised Interest Bridging Loan Vs Simultaneous Repayment Bridging Loans 

Now, you may have also read elsewhere that there are two types of temporary bridging loans in Singapore – the capitalised interest bridging loan and the simultaneous repayment bridging loan. While these exist in theory, you have no need to worry about them in practice.

Why? Because in Singapore, you are mandated to repay the bridging loan amount within six months – making the difference between the two structures irrelevant. In practice, you only need concern yourself with the two options presented above: do you want to bridge just the downpayment or include a portion of the home loan as well?

 

Is a Bridging Loan a Good Idea? 4 Important Considerations

Now, it might seem that whether you should take a bridging loan is a simple open-and-shut case. If you have enough funds to cover the downpayment on your new property, you don’t need a bridging loan. If you don’t have enough cash, then you need one.

That is indeed true from a high-level perspective. But it doesn’t help you answer:

  • Whether a specific bridging loan is a good idea for you
  • Whether you should be considering other options (even if you don’t have enough funds to cover the downpayment)

But by asking yourself the below questions, you will hopefully gain a better understanding of how to evaluate your options – and make a better decision.

Why Am I Taking a Bridging Loan?

On the surface, this seems obvious – it’s to cover the downpayment of a new property, of course. But if we dive deeper, there are nuances that could make a bridging loan a better (or worse) idea. Examples:

  • En bloc sale: If you are lucky to have your property sold as part of an en bloc sale, you may need to secure a new property quickly. A bridging loan can help – and since en bloc sales are quite lucrative, the higher interest rate will be less of a burden.
  • Selling newly renovated property: In such a case, the renovation costs may have depleted your cash reserves, creating the need for a bridging loan. However, another option to consider would be taking a renovation loan for the property instead, which may be cheaper than a bridging loan, and also help preserve your cash reserves.
  • Upgrading your property: This is the “classic” bridging loan scenario. In most cases, bridging loans can help. But be sure to evaluate all the details first, which we will cover in the subsequent questions.

How Much Cash on Hand Do I Have?

Obviously, if someone is considering a bridging loan, they do not have enough cash on hand to service the downpayment. However, there may be scenarios where someone would prefer to take a bridging loan to “preserve” their cash (e.g. for emergencies) and take a bridging loan instead.

Of course, this only makes sense if you are preserving your liquid “cash on hand” balances, rather than the funds in your CPF OA (which have strict withdrawal conditions). Further, the interest rates on your CPF funds are much lower than a bridging loan. This means that if you have the funds in your CPF to cover the downpayment, you should use the CPF funds instead of taking a bridging loan.

Now, preserving your “cash on hand” and taking a bridging loan instead is not wrong (it all depends on your own psychology and risk tolerance). But do keep in mind that by doing so, you will have to incur the interest costs of the bridging loan. This brings us to the next question, which is…

What Are the Total Costs I Will Incur From Taking This Bridging Loan (on Top of My Mortgage)?

The good thing about bridging loans is that, although the interest is high, the tenure is short. This means the total amount of interest you will pay is relatively small (especially when considering we’re talking about property here).

For example, let’s say you were buying a $1,500,000 property and took out a bridging loan for the full 20% downpayment – $300,000. Even assuming a 6% interest rate and a 6-month tenure, the total interest incurred would be $9,000. Not a trivial sum, but relatively small compared to the value of the property. 

That said, whether this is a significant amount or not will vary from person to person. The important thing is to do the calculation beforehand to make sure you know exactly how much the additional interest will cost you. Don’t forget to also check for any miscellaneous fees on top of the interest costs.

What Is My “Plan B” if the Sale of My Old Property Doesn’t Go Through?

This can be a nightmare scenario. But it’s always better to be prepared. Before taking on a bridging loan, make sure you check with your banker what the “exit clauses” are if, for whatever reason, the sale of your old property doesn’t go through. Will there be any penalties?

As we mentioned, the terms and conditions will likely vary from bank to bank. So make sure you double check with your banker and incorporate these into your loan selection decision.

 

Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is a Bridging Loan?

A short-term loan to cover the downpayment of a new property pending the sale of your old property and receipt of the funds.

How Much Can I Borrow With a Bridging Loan?

Typically, you can use a bridging loan to cover the non-cash portion of the downpayment – 20% in the case of private bank loans. However, you can actually get a bridging loan up to the amount of the net sales proceeds from your old property if you want to. In that case, you can even use the bridging loan for a portion of the home loan itself.

Can I Use CPF to Pay for a Bridging Loan?

Yes. As soon as the sale of your old property is completed and your CPF savings are refunded, you can use the funds to repay the bridging loan. However, interest needs to be serviced with cash.

Which Banks Offer Bridging Loans?

Most banks which offer home loans will likely also offer bridging loans as a supplemental offering. In Singapore, the “Big 3” banks all offer bridging loans. That means you can choose from a DBS bridging loan, an OCBC bridging loan, or a UOB bridging loan.

Can I Get a Bridging Loan?

As long as you qualify for a home loan with a bank and have an exercised option for the sale of your old property, you will likely be approved for a bridging loan. 

How Quickly Can I Get a Bridging Loan?

This will vary from bank to bank and also depend on what stage you are currently in your home loan approval process.

 

Still Unsure About Your Various Home Loan Options?

If you’re still unsure about which home loan option is best for you, you may need more personalised advice. In that case, our friendly and professional Home Finance Advisors are standing by. All you need to do is fill out a short form on this page and one of them will get in contact. In the meantime, please check out the rest of our Home Financing guides for any other questions you may have.

 

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This article was written by Ian Lee, an ex-banker turned financial writer who hopes to use his financial background and writing skills to help raise people’s financial literacy levels – a necessity in our modern world.

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