The cost of breaking up

The cost of breaking up

So the wedding's off - but the damage goes beyond your broken heart.

Aretha Loh investigates how much soon-to-wed couples have to cough up if they part ways.

*Names have been changed.

Sarah*, 28, had only been dating Mike*, 33, for six months before they decided to tie the knot last September.

"There wasn't a lot of love between us, but he was a nice, stable and caring guy. Our families also pressured us to get married," says Sarah.

But three months before the wedding, she realised they were incompatible and decided to call it off. As the one initiating the break-up, she offered to bear the cost of their wedding banquet, favours and home renovations of his studio apartment. The total sum? $17,000.

"I'm still recovering from a failed business, so paying back a huge sum is definitely not easy. But he's agreed to let me pay him in monthly instalments," says Sarah.

A break-up inflicts blows to your heart, mind and ego - but the most severe blow of all may be the one to your wallet, regardless of whether you were dumper or dumpee. Here's a breakdown of what a break-up might cost you.


"Want to buy a flat?" are the four words synonymous with a marriage proposal. But they may land you in a financial quagmire if you split after paying the down payment and legal fees for your future home.

Cheryl*, 26, bought an HDB resale flat with her ex-fiance Sean*, 26, in November 2010, and this set her back by a hefty $23,500 when they broke up. She ended the relationship in 2011 after she caught him cheating on her.

"When we bought the flat, he had just completed his National Service and didn't have much savings, whereas I had been working for a year. So, I paid for all of the house-related expenses," says Cheryl.

These included $20,000 for the cash over valuation (COV), $3,000 for the property agent's commission, and about $500 for the fire insurance, utilities and town council fees.

The cost of breaking up:

If you bought a resale flat with your man, you'll have to return the property to the Housing Development Board (HDB), which will buy it back at a price that may not be the same as what you paid.

If you have signed the Sale and Purchase Agreement under HDB's fiance/fiancee scheme:

  • For a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, you will lose 5 per cent of the cost of the house, deducted from your down payment.

  • For an Executive Condominium (EC), you will lose 20 per cent of the cost of the house, deducted from your down payment.

For a private property, you will have to sell the unit. Once you find a buyer, you'll have to pay an agent's commission - 2 per cent of the cost of the property. You'll also have to pay additional stamp duty fees for selling a property that is less than four years old, on top of the usual stamp fees.

You will also lose:

1) solicitor's fees, which are typically 0.3 to 0.6 per cent of the purchase price of the property;

2) administration and valuation fees for the mortgage, totalling between $200 and $300 $500 to $3,600 in stamp fees to the Iras.

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