How much cpf should you use when decoupling ? 

how much cpf should you use when decoupling

Table of Contents

Introduction – How much cpf should you use when decoupling ?

There are a few key considerations to be made when decoupling or making plans to decouple your property in the future.

Typical factors to consider includes;

But a factor that is often overlooked is how much CPF should you use when purchasing a property in view of future decoupling.

And being aware of the challenge of negative cash proceeds and how to prevent it when decoupling.

The problem – Negative cash proceeds due to CPF refund, after decoupling

This is a problem that is often experienced by property owners that have structured their property purchase using a 99-1% tenancy in common share split.

The unique challenge is faced when the minority 1% shareholder contributes an outsized proportion of CPF.

When decoupling the cash proceeds that is received by the 1% shareholder for his or her sale of share is insufficient to cater for the refund of CPF contributed.

This results in additional cash required to cater for the CPF refund.

Example – 99-1 Tenancy in common but 50-50 cpf contribution

Reference the example below for further clarity.

John and Sally purchase a private condo.

They plan to decouple their property to purchase a 2nd property in the future. 

Hence they structured their ownership in a 99-1 tenancy in common structure. With Sally owning 1% share, John owning 99% share.

Having said that, instead of proportioning their use of CPF in similar proportion, Sally and John both contributed an equal percentage in terms of CPF.

  • Sally CPF contribution plus accrued interest – $300k
  • John CPF contribution plus accrued interest – $300k

At the point of decoupling, their property is valued at $2.0 mil.

Sally will receive $20k cash proceeds for her 1% share.

Assuming there is no outstanding loan, the $20k cash proceeds that Sally receives from John is insufficient to cater for the refund of $300k cpf that she will need to refund back into her OA account.

In this case John and Sally will need to top up $280k in cash to make this decoupling transaction happen.

Is there a solution for this problem ? 

Unfortunately, the only remedy for this problem is to have sufficient cash savings to cater for the CPF refund.

Note for property owners currently facing this challenge, the issue is more of a cash flow issue. The cash to be infused for CPF refund will resurface in your spouse OA account, available for use in the 2nd property purchase.

But having said that, coming up with another 100k to 200k cash is no easy feat. We have seen many readers putting their decoupling plans temporarily on hold due to this issue.

Quick intro – Decoupling Expertise

Quick introduction, before you decide to commit the next 5 mins reading this article.

We are decoupling expertise, a team of specialist realtors that specialise in helping Singapore property owners derive the best strategy to purchase their second investment property without ABSD.

While decoupling property is often the go-to strategy that property owners adopt. We pride ourselves for helping our client explore and evaluate other alternatives that best suit individual circumstances and objectives. 

Drop us a text to explore the best strategy to minimise ABSD on your next property purchase.

Preventive Solution #1 – Adjusting CPF usage in proportion to share allocation

To avoid the issue of negative cash proceeds or cash deficit during decoupling, the solution revolves around how much CPF should you be using when decoupling.

In essence, you should always be aiming for a proportional utilisation of CPF in relation to your share holding. Or you could 

Example – 50-50 share split decoupling

For a 50-50 joint tenancy structure seek to keep both you and your spouse CPF contribution close to a 50-50 cpf contribution as well.

Example – 99-1 share split

To fully maximise the cost saving by reducing buyer stamp duty incurred when decoupling.

The rule of thumb in terms of CPF contribution for a 99-1 share split is to minimise the CPF contribution from the 1% shareholder.

Keeping it to the minimum not only helps avoid the issue of negative cash proceeds when decoupling but also reduces the accrued CPF interest to be accounted for during refund.

As a side note, for more details on decoupling 99-1 refer to the article as follows.

Preventive Solution #2 – Adjust share allocation in proportion to CPF utlisatoin

Reference the following example. 

A couple John and Sally are looking to purchase a private condo. 

And they have got plans to decouple the property in the future to purchase a second property.

In order to minimise the cost of decoupling, by minimising the buyer stamp duty to be incurred, they are looking to have Sally take up a minimum share in the property.

But from a CPF usage perspective. John is looking to utilise $200k in CPF and Sally is looking to utilise $150k in CPF.

The question is what proportion share split should they adopt to both minimise cost of decoupling while avoiding the issue of negative cash proceeds.

In addition to that, let’s assume that the couple intends to purchase a $2mil property, with a loan of $1.0 mil

What is the optimal share split to be adopted base on CPF input for decoupling ?

To calculate that let’s run through the following thought process

Key Pointer – The value of shareholding allocated to Sally must be greater than $150k (Sally’s intended CPF contribution) after factoring payback of Sally’s share of outstanding loan.

Working on the prudent assumption that the property appreciates from $2.0 mil to $2.3 mil in 3 years.

Let’s simulate for the optimal share split by keying in the following inputs into our decoupling calculator.

Input to key into decoupling calculator

  • Property valuation – $2.3 mil 
  • Outstanding loan – $1.0mil 
  • Selling party’s CPF to be utilise, in this case Sally – $150k 

Test Variables

By playing around with the input of 1) Buying party share split or 2) Selling party share split. 

Monitor the output of “Net Cash Proceeds Received by Selling Party”

Optimal Share Split for John and Sally 

  • Sally – 10% 
  • John – 90%

After some testing, by using the share split above. 

Sally would be avoiding the negative cash flow situation with a further take back of $30,000 cash proceeds.

Both cash proceeds and CPF refund would then be used for second property purchase. 

The objective of minimising buyer stamp duty incurred is also minimised with a BSD of only $2,800 incurred. 

Decoupling calculator output

More relevant reads relevant to decoupling property

Related to decoupling cost and processes

Related to decoupling lawyers and legal concerns

Decoupling FAQ

Alternative to Decoupling 


  • Jue Wen

    Jue Wen is the content marketing lead. This means he spend his waking hours researching and writing all things real estate. He believes life is a hustle and there is no joy in grinding away daily in our little rat races. He believes making wise moves in real estate investment can be a game changer. Aside from writing all things real estate, you can find him in your nearest bouldering gym.

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Jue Wen


Jue Wen is the property analyst and content marketing lead at decoupling expertise.
He specialises in helping clients overcome the complexities involved in owning their second private property in Singapore.
He had over 10 years of experience in real estate investing and have written over 40 detail guides on decoupling and minimising ABSD. He is a licensed real estate consultant and holds a Bachelor degree in Business Management from the Nanyang Technological University.



Kenji is the Group Division Director of ERA Realty Network.
He have got over 20 years of experience in real estate and have successfully helped over 50 couples purchased their second property. He specialises in helping client achieve the best approach towards acquiring their ideal investment properties while minimising ABSD.