This article was first published on 3 January 2017 and updated to reflect the addition of the Enhanced Housing Grant which replaces the Additional Housing Grant and Special CPF Housing Grant, the Singles Grant and the Proximity Housing Grant for singles.
Prior to turning 35, most singles in Singapore would stay with their parents. It could be due to the small size of our island, which hardly ever requires anyone to move out of his or her parents’ place to be closer to work. It could be due to the high cost of private housing in Singapore.
Whatever the reasons may be, turning 35 as a single is a little more special in Singapore. The reason is simple. Turning 35 means you can finally buy your own HDB flat!
But before you pop open the champagne bottle to celebrate, it might be prudent to first get familiar with the HDB housing options available for you today.
Build-To-Order (BTO) Flats
Given a choice, we would usually prefer BTO flats. A BTO flat comes with tons of advantages compared to resale flats. Aside from the fact that they tend to be cheaper, you also get a fresh 99-year lease. Other advantages include lower renovation cost and more functional layouts compared to older flats.
But before you start looking out for upcoming BTO launches, do note this very important criteria – as a single, you are only eligible to apply for 2-room flats.
For those who do not know, 2-room flats are typically about 45 sqm (484 square feet) in size. It comes with a bedroom, a living/dining area, one bathroom and a small kitchen. In addition to its small size, singles can only apply in non-mature estate. Hence, your dream of organising those New Year’s Eve house parties while getting an awesome view of the fireworks from Marina Bay will continue remaining what it is…a dream.
That’s not all. As with all BTO flats, there is an income ceiling. For 2-room flats meant for singles, the income ceiling is $6,000. Additionally, you may only rent out a 2-room flat as an entire flat after the 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP). You may not rent out the bedroom of a 2-room flat.
Housing Grants For BTO Flats
Similar to couples, singles who apply for BTO flats are eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles). Actual grant amount can be as much as $40,000, depending on your income, with a higher amount given to those with lower income. The EHG is applicable to all BTO launches after September 2019.
To qualify for EHG, your gross monthly income must not exceed $4,500 for the 12 months before flat application.
For those who prefer living closer to the city centre, or want to find a place that is bigger, getting a resale flat is the other viable option.
For resale flats, there are no income, size or location restrictions. That means you can purchase any type of flat, at any location in Singapore, regardless of how much you earn. In addition, unlike 2-room HDB flats, you can rent out the flat after fulfilling the 5-year minimum occupancy period (MOP). You may also rent out the bedroom of the flat (for 3-room flats and above) during the MOP, subject to HDB’s approval.
Of course, the consideration here is that resale flats typically cost much more than BTO flats.
Housing Grants For Resale Flats
Singles are eligible for the Singles Grant, EHG and Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) for resale flat purchase, if it is their first time purchasing a HDB flat.
The Singles Grant available for singles who purchase resale flat, is $25,000 for a 2- to 4-room resale flat and $20,000 for a 5-room resale flat. The grant is only for applicable for first-timers and your gross monthly income cannot exceed $7,000.
Singles are also eligible for the EHG if their gross monthly income is $4,500 or lower.
Additionally, if you are buying a resale to live with or near your parents, you are also eligible for the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) of $10,000 for living within 4 km of your parents’ residence and $15,000 for living with your parents.
For second-timers, e.g. singles who have previously purchased from HDB (even as part of a couple), you are not eligible for both the Singles Grant and the EHG. You may be eligible for PHG if you have not received it before.
Some Important Considerations
Buying a home is always a big decision, regardless of whether you are single or married. Here are a couple of factors that you need to consider.
# 1 Your Future Plans
Buying a resale flat is a lot more straightforward if your relationship status changes in the future. If you get married, your future spouse can move in with you. For 2-room BTO flat, this would be a lot tougher due to space constraint. If you intend to start a family, chances are you would want to upgrade in the future.
The same logic also applies if you have elderly parents who may move in with you in the future. A bigger home allows for this option.
# 2 How Much Can You Afford?
As with the purchase of all properties, affordability is an area you cannot ignore. While it might be great to get a bigger resale flat at an area of your choice, you need to consider how much you can afford.
For example, a 2-room flat during the May 2019 BTO launch in Tengah costs about $106,000 before grants. For some singles, that’s an amount they may already have in their CPF Ordinary Account to purchase the flat without even requiring a housing loan.
In conclusion, there are various public housing options available for singles to consider though we do feel that BTO options are somewhat limited (for now). Singles should review these options and consider carefully which is the best possible housing option based on their requirements and affordability.
What are your thoughts of HDB housing options for singles? Discuss it in the open SG Property Discussion Facebook Group with other property enthusiasts in Singapore.
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