HDB resale: How to buy a HDB flat in Singapore on your own

guide to buying a hdb flat in singapore without an agent

We’ll put this out there: Resale HDB flats in Singapore receive much less love than they deserve. To many Singaporeans, the resale option the “plan B” for when they’ve simply got no luck in the BTO game. But it could very well be the better choice for your lifestyle – less waiting time, more options in more locations… Just to list a few advantages.

If you’ve decided on the resale option, here’s a step-by-step guide to walk you through the HDB flat-buying procedure, from confirming your eligibility to obtaining an Option to Purchase (OTP) to finally sealing the deal.

Most of this can actually be completed on the HDB Resale Portal on your own, so it’s a lot more simple than you might think! And also super exciting – honestly, it’s so much fun browsing homes for sale and trying to imagine yourself in them.

How to buy a HDB resale flat in Singapore?

  1. Login to HDB Resale Portal to register your intent to buy
  2. Plan your finances
  3. Shortlist the HDB flat you want
  4. Receive the HDB OTP (Option to Purchase) from the seller and exercise it
  5. Submit resale application to HDB

guide to buying a hdb flat in singapore without an agent

Pre-purchase checks for home seekers

Before you start your HDB resale flat hunt,  double-check whether you’re eligible to buy a resale flat and the eligibility schemes unique to you:

  • Public Scheme: If you’re buying a HDB resale flat with a family member – this could be your spouse, children, parent, etc
  • Fiancé/ Fiancée Scheme: If you’re buying a HDB resale flat with, you guessed it, your fiancé/ fiancée
  • Single Singapore Citizen Scheme: This one’s for the single pringles! To qualify, you have to be a Singapore citizen, above 35 years of age
  • Joint Singles Scheme: Single pringles… who want to join forces with other single pringles. Again, you have to be a Singapore citizen, above 35 years of age
  • See the complete list of schemes here.

A few tips about your eligibility:

  • Income ceiling: Unlike BTO flats, there are no income ceilings for the purchase of HDB resale flats. This is also why some Singaporeans earning too much have “no choice” but to go for resale HDB flats rather than BTO. So yeah, we guess there’s actually such a thing as too much money… However, note that your income level will affect the CPF housing grants that you can apply for.
  • Ownership of additional properties: When purchasing a HDB resale flat, you cannot have any other HDB flats, private or overseas property under your name. If you do own one, dispose of them within 6 months of your resale flat purchase transaction.

Now, you’re ready to start your home-buying journey:

1. Register your Intent to Buy

Log in to the HDB Resale Portal via your Singpass to register your “intent to buy” a HDB resale flat. 

If you’re buying the flat together with a partner or family, only one of you needs to register your Intent to Buy.

Note that even if you engage a property agent for the buying process, they’re not allowed to register the Intent to Buy on your behalf, but they can guide you through it.

Your Intent to Buy will be valid for 12 months, after which you’ll have to re-apply before taking any other steps to buy your HDB flat.

2. Plan your finances

When buying a HDB resale flat, you’ll most probably be paying for it in 3 main components:

  • Cash and CPF savings
  • Housing loan (either a HDB loan or a bank loan)
  • CPF Housing Grant Scheme

Use these HDB financial tools to get a gauge of your current financial position and how much you can borrow if you were to take up a HDB loan.

Read more: How Much Must I Earn to Afford a HDB Flat in Singapore? (2019) »

Cash and CPF savings

Here’s what you can only pay by cash:

  • A deposit to the seller (a maximum of $5,000, paid in 2 stages: the option fee in the first stage, and the deposit in the second stage)
  • Part of the initial payment (if you take a bank loan, or have insufficient CPF savings)
  • Amount not covered by CPF savings and eligible housing loan amount
  • Cash proceeds from disposing of the last flat if you are taking a second HDB loan*

Part of the cash proceeds from the disposal of your existing or previous home will be set aside if you are getting a second HDB loan. This amount determines the loan amount for your second loan.

How can you use your savings in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA)?

  • Initial payment in whole or in part (depends on whether you use an HDB or bank housing loan)
  • Partial or full payment for the flat purchase
  • Monthly mortgage instalments

Tip: The CPF withdrawal limit may only allow you to use a certain amount of your CPF savings for the flat purchase. Check here for limitations regarding flats with less than 60 years lease. 

Housing Loan

You can take on a housing loan with HDB or a financial institution:

  • If you’re planning to take on a HDB housing loan, the HDB Resale Portal will guide you through the application for your HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. Getting a HLE letter doesn’t mean you’re contractually bound to this HDB loan (it’s just the first step), but it acts as a guarantee of sorts that you’re financially able to purchase the flat. Thus, you’ll need this HLE letter for sellers to grant you the Option to Purchase, a document giving you the option to purchase (Captain Obvious speaking).
  • Similarly, if you’re taking on a housing loan from the bank, you must obtain a Letter of Offer (LO) from them before you exercise the Option to Purchase.

CPF Housing Grant Scheme

You can use the CPF Housing Grants – there’s up to $160,000 of it! – to offset the cost of your HDB flat.

hdb resale grants - family grant, singles grant, enhanced cpf housing grant ehg, affordable hdb resale flats in singapore

Payments involved

Too much to digest? Here’s a summary of the payments you have to make for a resale HDB flat purchase:

3. Shortlist the HDB flat you want

Time to start your resale HDB hunt!

Carousell Property, for one, has listings of HDB flats for sale by both property agents AND direct owners themselves (whereas some other portals only have listings by agents), giving you even more options to browse:

carousell resale hdb flats for sale singapore

Plus, the good thing about getting a resale (instead of a BTO) is that you’re free to pick from flats in any location in Singapore, including areas like Marine Parade or Serangoon where there just aren’t any BTO developments. So that’s even more options.

P.S. Choosing an HDB flat near to your parents’ place means that you can apply for the HDB Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) of up to $30,000!

Read more: Mature VS Non-Mature Estates in Singapore: Which is Better? »

4. Receive the HDB Option to purchase (OTP) from the seller and exercise it

Once you’ve reached a consensus with the seller regarding the sale price, they’ll then offer you an Option to Purchase (OTP).

This may also come with an Option Fee of no more than $1,000 – think of it as a sum of money you’re using to chope the flat.

Apply for a valuation of the flat, once again via the HDB website, by the next working day after you’ve been granted the OTP.

This is basically a calculation of how much you’re eligible to withdraw from your CPF savings, how much housing loan can be granted to you, and the minimum cash payment you must make.

You’ll need a valid valuation report if you’re taking a HDB or bank loan, or using your CPF monies to buy your flat or service your loan instalments.

Seal the deal by exercising the OTP within 21 days, up to 4pm on the expiry date. Accompanying this, pay a deposit of no more than $5,000, inclusive of the Option Fee.

For instance, if you paid $300 as an Option Fee, the seller can request no more than $5,000 – $300 = $4,700 as a deposit.

Otherwise, once the 21 days have lapsed, the seller can offer the flat to anyone else, and you lose your chance to purchase the flat (and the seller gets to keep your Option Fee!). 

5. Submit resale application to HDB

Once that’s out of the way, both you and your seller will now have to submit your respective portions of the resale application separately, within 7 days of either submission.

What’s next? Attend the HDB Appointment with the seller and get the keys to your new home!

480 Lor 6 Toa Payoh
Singapore 310480
Mon-Fri: 8.30AM – 5PM
Sat: 8.30AM – 1PM
Sun: Closed 

Tip: Here are some conditions for your information after buying your resale flat, such as the resale levy, requirements for renting out your new flat and more.

Purchasing your resale HDB flat in Singapore

That’s really it to your home-buying journey!

It takes about 8 weeks from the time you submit your resale application on the HDB Resale Portal till the time the entire transaction is completed And then, congratulations! You’re now a proud owner of your new home.

Here’s a pro tip: Buying your flat via the HDB Resale Portal is a lot easier for the buyer as compared to the seller, as they will be doing most of the work. *wink

If you’ve made it through this article, you should have no trouble purchasing your resale HDB flat all on your own!

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