How long does it take for a sale and purchase of a property to be completed?
Have you ever wondered how long it takes for sale and purchase agreements to be completed? Does it frustrate you in situations where delays cost you late payment interests as a Purchaser? Before purchasing a property, you need to consider the time frames involved in the sale and purchase agreements in order for you to plan accordingly for payments and take vacant possession of the property.
There are 3 ways in which a property may be purchased namely:
- through a developer directly;
- through a sub-sale; or
- through an auction.
A standard sale and purchase agreement usually takes 3 months to complete. This is usually for straightforward cases where it is freehold property, individual title has been issued and there are no encumbrances on the property.
For leasehold properties this timeframe however may vary depending on other factors such as fulfilment of condition precedents like obtaining consent from the relevant State Authority. If consent is required, time starts to run upon you obtaining the consent thus it may take around 6 to 9 months for the completion of your sale and purchase agreement. The same applies for purchases made by foreigners whereby consent would also need to be obtained.
For strata type properties, the time frame it takes is usually the same for properties with individual title provided strata title has been issued. Where strata title has not been issued and the property is still under Master Title that is where delays may occur.
For the discussion on the various methods in which you may purchase a property and the estimated timeframe it takes for completion, please see below.
It is always easier if you are purchasing a house with cash instead of loan. For properties that are purchased directly from the Developer, you would usually need to pay a booking fee to secure your unit. This payment will usually be the initial payment of your 10% deposit. The remaining balance of the 10% deposit will be paid upon the execution of the sale and purchase agreement with the Developer whereas the remaining 90% shall be paid upon presentation of the claim by the Developer to you. The stages of claim also known as progressive payments shall be in accordance to the Third Schedule which can be found in the executed sale and purchase agreement. Bear in mind that every notice for claim presented by the Developer for the installment due shall be paid within 30 days from such notice failing which a late payment interest of 10% per annum shall be charged on a daily basis.
With regard to vacant possession to the property, for any landed property, the Developer shall deliver the same within 24 months from the date of the sale and purchase agreement whereas within 36 months for strata type property.
In cases where you have obtained a loan to finance the purchase of a house, a lawyer will be engaged by the Financier for the preparation of loan documents. The Developer’s and/or Landowner’s consent has to be obtained in order to assign your property as collateral to the Financier (in cases where no strata title has been issued and property still under Master Title) or otherwise to present a charge at the land office where strata title has been obtained to ensure the interest of the Financier is secured before the loan can be released.
This process will usually take some time to be completed, it is therefore wise to apply for your loan at an earlier stage or promptly after you have executed your sale and purchase agreement to avoid any unforeseen circumstances which may result in costly delays for you.
In sub-sale cases, each party, the Vendor and the Purchaser, would have their respective lawyers engaged for the transaction, each acting in the best interest of their own clients. A sale and purchase agreement will be drafted spelling out all your rights, obligations and liabilities which you as the Vendor or the Purchaser will need to fulfill. For example, when should the Purchaser pay the balance of the purchase price or how will delivery of vacant possession take place in order to avoid any conflict and misunderstanding.
Normally a 2% booking fee or earnest deposit must be paid upon making an offer to purchase the property and the remaining 8%) to be paid upon execution of the sale and purchase agreement. The balance of purchase price will normally be paid within 3 months from the date of execution of agreement (in cases where strata title has been issued) or 3 months from obtaining the Developer’s/ Landowner’s consent (in cases where no strata title has been issued and property still under Master Title).
The Purchaser will need to deposit the balance of purchase price to his/her lawyer before the presentation of the transfer at the land office or before the application of consent with the Developer/Landowner. The Vendor’s lawyer will ensure that quit rent, assessment, utility bills are paid by the Vendor and is up-to-date and redemption statement (if property is under charge with Vendor’s Financier) is submitted to the Purchaser’s lawyer in exchange for the balance of purchase price.
Only upon the successful registration of the transfer of the property or obtaining the consent from the Developer/Landowner will the Vendor’s lawyer be entitled to release the balance of purchase price to the Vendor whereupon the Vendor shall deliver vacant possession of the property to the Purchaser within a specified time frame.
The same time frame shall apply to the Purchaser who is purchasing by loan. As such, it is best if you are able to keep tab of all the time frames even though you lawyer is doing their job.
There may be some cases where you may be interested in purchasing an auctioned property either by a Financier or by the Court. If so, you must obtain a copy of the Proclamation of Sale (POS) and Condition of Sale (COS) to the property and understand all the terms and condition contained therein.
Normally upon successful bidding, you would need to pay a deposit of 10% in the form of bank draft/cashier’s order. There may also be situations where there has been an increment to the successful bidding price and the difference will also need to be paid on the day itself. The balance of the purchase price must be paid within 90 days to 120 days from the date of the auction.
Please note that the time frame for the payment of the balance of purchase price shall apply to both property with title and property without strata title. As such, you would be running on a tight timeline if you are purchasing an auctioned property.
Although all Purchasers would like a smooth process for the completion of their sale and purchase agreements, there may be instances where the Developer has abandoned its project or went into liquidation. When this happens, a Liquidator, an officer appointed by the High Court or the Creditors of the Developer will step in and is empowered to act on behalf of the Developer. There may be some delay as a result but as a Purchaser, you may refer back to your rights under the Sale and Purchase Agreement to claim against the Liquidator for any liquidated damages calculated at the rate of 10% per annum on a daily basis. Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint and claim at the Tribunal for Homebuyers Claims.
If however, the delay has been prolonged or the Developer refuses to carry out work or cease to carry out work for more than 6 months without any progress or outcome, with the new amended law, a Purchaser is entitled to terminate the sale and purchase agreement at any time provided that the Housing Controller has certified that the project has in fact been abandoned.
In all situations, it is best to consult your lawyer for all matters relating to the completion of your sale and purchase transaction. Your lawyer will be able to help you keep track of the time frames to be adhered to and ensure that your interest is well protected.