A single’s guide to buying a BTO or resale HDB flat in Singapore

single's guide to buying a hdb flat in singapore - eligibility, hdb cpf grants

Building your bachelor pad

One of the best parts of home: Being able to lounge around in roomy pants (or, better, no pants) – best if it’s a home that you can call your own.

Once Singaporeans hit the big 3-5, they’re eligible to realise that dream and buy their own HDB flat, even as a single.

You’ve got 2 options: a BTO or a resale HDB flat. Both come with their own set of eligibility criteria as well as pros and cons, so read on before you make your decision!

single's guide to buying hdb flat - can singles buy bto flat, can singles buy resale flat

How to buy a HDB flat in Singapore as a single

1. Applying for a BTO HDB flat
2. Buying a resale HDB flat
3. What if you get married?
4. To BTO or to buy a resale?
5. Once you’ve decided…

1. Applying for a BTO HDB flat

Buying your home: Flat eligibility

Don’t worry, you’re not excluded from every Singaporean’s rite of passage – you can apply for a new BTO (built-to-order) flat from HDB, although this is limited to 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates.

Tip: Non-mature estates are residential areas that are considered less than 20 years old, namely: Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong East, Jurong West, Punggol, Swmbawang, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun.

Your monthly income must also not exceed $7,000.

Oh, and there’s the thing about not owning any other home: You must not own or have disposed of any private residential property (including privatised HUDC flats and ECs), house, building, and/or land within 30 months of your application.

Financing your home: Grants eligibility

With every talk of buying a flat, there’s also talk about how to foot the costs.

BTO flats already come heavily subsidised by the government; in addition, you’re eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) for Singles as a single first-timer applicant.

The amount you receive is tiered, depending on your average gross monthly income for the 12 months prior to your BTO application:

enhanced cpf housing grant ehg for singles - hdb resale grants singapore september 2019

TL;DR: You can receive up to $40,000 of grants for your BTO flat.

2. Buying a resale HDB flat

Buying your home: Flat eligibility

Many single HDB hopefuls prefer resale HDB flats, as there are no restrictions to the size of the flat or the area it’s in.

The only thing left to note is the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), as well as the Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quota if you’re a non-Malaysian PR, to keep to. Do a quick check on the HDB website.

Tip: The EIP and SPR maintain a healthy mix of multiple ethnicities in each estate.

Neither is there any income ceiling; but if you already own a HDB flat or any private property, whether in Singapore or overseas, you must dispose of it within 6 months of your resale flat purchase.

Financing your home: Grants eligibility

When buying a resale HDB flat, you’ll most probably be eligible for more grants. Up to twice as much, to be exact. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’re eligible for 3 grants:

1. Singles Grant of $25,000 to buy a 2- to 4-room flat, or $20,000 to buy a 5-room or bigger flat, if your monthly income doesn’t exceed $7,000

2. Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) for Singles of up to $40,000, if you’ve been continuously employed for 12 months prior to applying for your flat, and your monthly income is less than $4,500.

Like the similar BTO grant, you get up to $40,000, the amount being inversely proportionate to your income.

3. In addition, the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) gets you $10,000 if you’re buying a resale HDB flat to live within 4km of your parents or child (use the Distance Enquiry for Proximity Housing Grant e-Service), or $15,000 if you’re buying a resale HDB flat to live with your extended family.

Unlike all of the other grants, the PHG is not restricted to first-home homebuyers.

So, the maximum grant amount you can receive for a resale HDB flat is $25,000 (Singles Grant) + $40,000 (EHG) + $15,000 (PHG) = $80,000. That’s twice the maximum grant amount you’ll get for a BTO flat!

resale hdb flat grants for singles - singles grant, enhanced cpf housing grant EHG, proximity housing grant PHG

Most things being equal, resale flats are often more expensive than BTO flats, but the higher grant amount could help, even just a little, to offset the premium.

3. What if you get married?

Buying a HDB flat as a single doesn’t mean you’ve resigned yourself to the single life forever.

If you’ve previously bought a BTO or resale HDB flat using the Singles Grants, and subsequently marry a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident who hasn’t received any CPF Housing Grant, you can then obtain a Top-Up Grant.

A Top-Up Grant basically, well, tops up the amount of your Singles Grants previously received to the Family Grants you’re now eligible for.

All you have to do is make your existing HDB flat your matrimonial home – meaning your spouse must be added as a co-owner of your flat.

If you bought a BTO HDB flat:

You’re eligible for a top up if your partner is also a Singapore Citizen, and you and your spouse’s combined monthly gross household income doesn’t exceed $9,000:

Here’s how you calculate how much you can get:

Top-Up Grant = (Your eligible EHG for Families grant amount according to the table below) – (The grant amount you previously took)

enhanced cpf housing grant ehg for families - hdb resale grants singapore september 2019

For instance:

Darren previously bought a BTO flat as a single. His average gross monthly income at the time of purchase was $2,500, which meant he got a grant amount of $22,500.

After marrying Sheila, also a Singapore Citizen, their combined gross monthly income is now $5,500.

Which means they’re eligible for a Top-Up Grant of $40,000 – $22,500 = $17,500.

If you bought a resale HDB flat:

In addition to the above, you’re also eligible for a Top-Up Grant if you and your spouse’s combined monthly gross household income doesn’t exceed $14,000:

If your partner is also a Singapore Citizen, the both of you get an additional $25,000 if your flat is a 2- to 4-roomer, or $20,000 if your flat is a 5-roomer or larger.

If your partner is a Singapore Permanent Resident, the both of you get an additional $15,000 if your flat is a 2- to 4-roomer, or $10,000 if your flat is a 5-roomer or larger.

4. To BTO or to buy a resale?

Price point, location and all that aside, you might also want to consider these factors:

Do you think you’ll get married in the next 10 years?

10 years?! Hear us out – we’re not being dramatic.

If you get a BTO HDB flat, it’ll take about 3 years before the flat is ready for you to move in. Then, there’s the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) of 5 years thereafter. That’s almost an entire decade you’re investing into your home.

Remember that your flat is going to be a 2-roomer, which isn’t the most spacious if you’re planning to get married and start a family.

So, if you’re looking for love, you might want to opt for a resale HDB flat instead so you have options of larger flats.

How’s your career path looking?

If you don’t have a preference between BTO or resale flats, you might want to start applying for BTO flats once you hit the big 3-5.

Otherwise, if your income continues to increase, there’s a chance you might no longer be eligible for BTO grants in time to come.

Bear in mind that applying for a BTO HDB flat doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get one, and it may take several tries before you’re successful.

Are you planning to rent out your HDB flat?

Through the BTO scheme, you’re only eligible to buy a 2-room Flexi HDB flat.

Which might be a problem because legally, 2-bedroom flats can only be rented out whole (i.e. you’re not allowed to rent out individual bedrooms).

…Um, where are you going to stay?!

Again, this is another reason to buy a larger HDB flat through the resale market. Then, you can choose to rent out individual bedrooms for spare cash and still stay in your home as a live-in landlord. Hello, passive income!

5. Once you’ve decided…

To BTO or to buy a resale?

If you’re leaning more towards applying for a BTO flat, the HDB website is a good place to start (You can apply online in 15 minutes!).

The plus points of a resale appealing more to you? Read our guide to buying a resale HDB flat on your own or browse resale HDB flats for sale on Carousell!

Pro tip: You’ve got plenty of choices available on Carousell, from both agents AND direct owners selling their homes by themselves. You can thank us later!

cheap hdb flats and condos for sale in singapore

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