Where do you begin on your journey to find a brand new house? Here's the 101 on buying an HDB flat in Singapore.
Everyone wants a place to call their own. You probably can’t wait to build the most gorgeous dining room to host house parties, or that gaming room you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid. But if you’re a first-time homeowner, the application and buying process can be confusing. To help you out, here’s a quick guide on how to buy a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat in Singapore.
What to know about buying an HDB flat in Singapore
1. Who’s eligible to buy an HDB flat?
To buy a flat, you must be a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident (PR) who has lived in Singapore for at least three years. If you’re a PR, you’ll only be eligible to buy a Built To Order (BTO) flat if your spouse is a Singaporean citizen. This means it’s not possible for two PRs to buy a new flat. Your only options are a resale HDB flat or private property. Single PRs cannot buy an HDB flat, including resale flats.
If you’re a foreigner and want to buy an executive condo, you’ll need to wait 10 years after the date of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). This is when all restrictions to selling the flat are lifted.
2. How do I buy an HDB flat?
HDB buyers have a variety of grants to help with the purchase of the flat. But they come with terms and conditions, ranging from joint income to the distance from your parents’ home. There are several schemes available as well, including the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme and the Orphans Scheme. However, similar to grants, these have a list of conditions. For example, single citizens in Singapore can purchase their own flats under the Singles Scheme, but they have to be aged 35 and above to qualify.
Financing your flat may be beyond your means – but don’t fret. You have loans for that. HDB provides concessionary loans for HDB flat buyers. And you can seek a bank loan as another option. Like everything else in Singapore, there are restrictions, so make sure you’ve checked your eligibility before applying for an HDB flat.
3. Types of HDB flats to choose from
So you’re ready to make a long-term, almost forever (or rather, 99 years) commitment to the Housing Development Board? Well, you have options. The most popular types of residential units are Build To Order (BTO) flats, Design, Build and Sell Scheme flats (DBSS), executive condominiums (EC), Sale Of Balance flats (SBF) and resale flats. We break it all down for you…
Build To Order (BTO)
For young couples and people looking for a starter home, applying for a BTO flat is the way to go. It’s almost the most affordable of the lot. The BTO scheme is a responsive system that offers flexibility in location and timing for those looking to buy a new HDB flat. Eligible buyers can choose their preferred location from specific sites launched four times a year. We recommend subscribing to the HDB eAlert service to stay up to date with the latest launches, announcements and policies.
Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS)
For something in between a BTO and an executive condominium, try an HDB flat under the DBSS scheme. First introduced in 2005, these flats are developed by private developers and agencies. They’re usually spiffier than a typical HDB flat – which means they cost more because they come fully furnished with cabinets, bathrooms and air-conditioning.
Executive Condominiums (EC)
Got the moolah to spare? Consider spending your dollars on an executive condo. The EC combines the best of public and private housing. They usually resemble private condominiums and are enclosed within a gated compound with security. You’ll get access to amenities like a swimming pool, clubhouse, playground and the works. Though built and sold by private developers, they come at a lower price than private homes because the land is subsidised by the government.
Sale Of Balance flats (SBF)
Know any couples who got a BTO flat and gave it up at the last minute? Well, under this scheme, forfeited flats are pooled together and resold to new couples or families. This is a great option if you don’t want to wait a couple of years for a new flat to be built. There are typically two launches a year: in May and November. But take note that if you apply for an SBF flat, you won’t be able to apply for a BTO at the same time. So weigh your options carefully.
Prefer a roomier flat, or want to stay in a mature estate? Get a resale. This is a great deal, especially if a brand new flat isn’t your priority. Resale flats are older and most have less than 99 years left on their lease. They’ll probably come with a higher price tag as well. But they’re often much bigger, with rooms that are far more spacious than newer BTOs. Plus, resale flats usually have established infrastructure and amenities nearby.
Got all your questions answered? We hope this guide makes buying an HDB flat in Singapore a cinch for you!