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Buying Your First HDB?

Check out the various schemes and grants available to you.

Owning a home is a national dream in Singapore. With 82% of our population living in HDB flats, an impressive nine out of 10 own their flats. Even though resale flat prices have been dipping for five consecutive quarters, buying a subsidized new flat from HDB – especially in a non-mature estate – is still the most affordable option.

First-timers – defined as those who have never owned or sold a HDB flat, Design Build and Sell Scheme flat or an Executive Condominium, and have neither received grants from the Housing Board, nor benefited from housing subsidies due to the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme or the privatisation of Housing and Urban Development Company estates – benefit from a slew of HDB schemes and Central Provident Fund (CPF) housing grants.

To start with, for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, at least 85% of four-room and five-room units, and 70% of two room and three-room units, are reserved for first-timers as they require a home more urgently. First-timers also get two chances at the ballot instead of just one. CPF Housing grants are offered to eligible buyers of new flats that have a remaining lease of at least 30 years. Given in the form of CPF monies (not cash), it helps pay for the initial payment or to reduce the mortgage loan.

 

Which schemes do you qualify for, and how much of a grant can you get?

For Singles: Since July 2013, HDB has allowed singles who qualify to book a new BTO two-room flat in non-mature estates under the Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) Scheme, or pair up with another person to buy under the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS). Applicants must be aged 35 and above, unmarried, divorced or widowed (and not applying for a HDB flat with any child), and earn no more than $5,000 monthly.

Singles can also apply for grants such as:

Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) for Singles: A one-off grant that varies in amount, depending on your income level. To qualify, you must be a Singaporean (Singapore Permanent Residents are not eligible) and have been employed continuously for a year, earning not more than $3,250 per month. SSC applicants earning $2,500 and below can receive between $2,500 – $10,000. If you apply under the JSS scheme, your combined household income cannot exceed $6,500. JSS applicants with a combined income of $5,000 and below get $5,000 – $20,000.

Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) for Singles: This is extra financial help for lower-income Singaporeans who earn $2,500 or below (or a combined household income of $5,000), on top of the SHG. Applicants must be currently employed and have worked for the last 12 months at the time of submission for the flat application. SSC applicants get between $2,500 and a generous $20,000 (if they make $750 and below). JSS applicants with a combined income of up to $1,500 get $5,000 – $40,000.

 

For Couples and Families

Staggered Downpayment Scheme for First-timer Couples: This is good news for young married or engaged couples. If you’ve booked a new two-, three-, four- or five-room flat under construction in any of HDB’s sales exercises and submitted your flat application on or before either of your 30th birthdays, you can use this scheme to settle your down payment in two stages.

Tenants Priority Scheme (TPS): If you or your spouse had been living in a flat rented from HDB for at least two years and are first-timers applying to buy a two- or three-room flat, apply under the TPS to enjoy a 10% allocation quota during the BTO or Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) exercises. You’ll share the pool of allocated units with applicants under the Resettlement, Relocation and Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme. To qualify, those buying a two-room flat in any estate (or a three-room flat in a non-mature estate) must not exceed the monthly household income of $5,000; those buying a three-room flat in a mature estate or a premium three-room flat should not earn more than $10,000.

Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS): Planning to buy a place in the same town or within 2km of your parents? (Note that at least one of the parents or the married child must be a Singapore Citizen or PR.) First-timers get four chances in the ballot instead of the two accorded to regular public applicants. Better still if the applicants are staying with their parents – they get six shots!

Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS): To help parents (or expecting parents) get their first family home, 30% of the BTO flat supply and 50% of the SBFs are set aside for them. Applicants must be first-timer married couples who already have at least one child (either natural offspring from a lawful marriage or legally adopted) who is a Singapore Citizen and below 16 years old. Alternatively, those expecting their first child – who is a Singapore Citizen at the time of the BTO/SBF application – also qualify.

Third Child Priority Scheme (TCP): Need an extra incentive to have more kids? Those with three or more kids (they must be Singapore Citizens or PRs who are natural offspring or adopted, with the third child born a Singaporean on or after Jan 1, 1987) qualify for this scheme. Not just for first-timers, it’s open to all families with at least one Singapore Citizen parent, who have not bought or sold a flat under this scheme previously. Up to 5% of the available flat supply will be reserved for such families. You get first dibs as your application will be included in the first round of balloting with other TCP applicants. Unsuccessful candidates still get a second shot, along with other public applicants in the PPS.

Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS): This scheme, which encourages families to stay close to each other in BTO projects with studio apartments or two-room flats integrated with other flat types.

 

FOR EVERYONE

Regardless of which scheme you and your family are using to book your new flat, you can still apply for these grants:

Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG): Enhanced in August 2013 to benefit more low-to-middle income families, this is available for first-timer families (only if the couple are Singaporeans) who book a two- to four-room standard or premium flat in a non-mature estate. Your household income must be $6,500 and below to qualify. The grant ranges from $5,000 to a maximum of $20,000 for applicants whose average monthly household income is $5,000 and below.

Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG): This is for families whose average monthly household income does not exceed $5,000. The grant value ranges from $5,000 to $40,000 (for combined household income of $1,500 and below). For both grants, if you are applying with your spouse, successful applicants will each get half of the grant. For joint applicants who are not husband and wife, such as siblings or a married child buying a flat with parents, only one eligible applicant per flat can receive the full grant.

 

By Home & Décor, December 2014

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