Single and 35 years old? Here are your HDB options (BTO + resale affordability calculations)

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The Singapore public housing market, while often regarded as one of the most successful in the world, comes with one little glitch. A common complaint is that for single Singaporeans – or couples who can’t be legally married for some reason – it’s much harder to secure a flat.

First batch of BTO for singles.
PHOTO: BTO

Well before you sigh in resignation and start renting, you should know there are some avenues of HDB ownership open to you. Here’s what you can buy from HDB, as a 35-year-old single:

What can you buy as a 35-year-old single?

Can you buy: Single Singapore Citizen Scheme Joint Singles Scheme
BTO flats? Only if they’re 2-room flats Only if they’re 2-room flats
Resale flats? Yes, with no restriction Yes, with no restriction
New ECs? No Yes
In mature locations? Only if it’s a resale flat Only if it’s a resale flat
With grants? Yes (see below) Yes for flats, but no for ECs (see below)

Option 1: Buying under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SCCS)

You can buy under this scheme if you are a Singapore Citizen, and at least 35 years old (unless you are an orphan or widowed, in which case the minimum age is lowered to 21 years). You must also have an income not exceeding $7,000 per month.

If you want to buy a Built To Order (BTO) flat, you are restricted to 2-room flats in non-mature estates. At present, these are the HDB estates generally defined as non-mature (less than 20 years old):

  • Bukit Batok
  • Bukit Panjang
  • Choa Chu Kang
  • Hougang
  • Jurong (East & West)
  • Punggol
  • Sembawang
  • Sengkang
  • Tengah
  • Woodlands
  • Yishun

Note that these may change over time. The HDB website will always specify whether an estate is considered mature or non-mature, for each sale exercise.

If you are willing to settle for a resale flat though, there’s no restriction on size and location. You may buy any kind of resale flat, in any location, under the SCCS.

Other requirements to remember:

  • You must not own another property at the time of application. If you just sold a private property, you must wait 30 months before you can apply for a BTO flat (this restriction doesn’t apply for resale flats).
  • You must still meet the requirements for the ethnic quota / Singapore Permanent Residents quota for the area.

(You can find out more about the quota on the HDB website).

Grants for the SCCS

There are two possible grants under the SCCS: the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG), and the Singles Grant.

The EHG is as follows:

Monthly income Grant amount
Below $750 $40,000
$751 to $1,000 $37,500
$1,001 to $1,250 $35,000
$1,251 to $1,500 $32,500
$1,501 to $1,750 $30,000
$1,751 to $2,000 $27,500
$2,001 to $2,250 $25,000
$2,251 to $2,500 $22,500
$2,501 to $2,750 $20,000
$2,751 to $3,000 $17,500
$3,001 to $3,250 $15,000
$3,251 to $3,500 $12,500
$3,501 to $3,750 $10,000
$3,751 to $4,000 $7,500
$4,001 to $4,250 $5,000
$4,251 to $4,500 $2,500
Above $4,500 No grant available

All housing grants are disbursed into your CPF Ordinary Account, or CPF OA, and they are never provided in cash.

Other grant requirements to remember:

  • You must be working for 12 consecutive months prior to application; and you must still be working at the time of application.
  • The flat must have at least 20 years of lease remaining. In addition, the remaining lease must last until you are 95 years old to secure the full grant; otherwise the grant amount will be pro-rated.

The Singles Grant

The Singles Grant is only available to first-timer singles buying a resale flat . The Singles Grant is straightforward:

  • $25,000 for 2, 3, and 4-room flats
  • $20,000 for 5-room flats

Other requirements are similar to the EHG, as described above.

A quick note about upgrading from a 2-room flat later

It’s possible that you’re single now, but will get married later. If this happens, you can upgrade from your 2-room to a larger flat as a First-Timer / Second-Timer (FT/ST) couple.

As this article is meant for singles, we’ll discuss this in a future piece; but do bear in mind you can get your own flat first, and upgrade if your situation changes.

Option 2: Buying under the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS)

The JSS allows for two to four singles to jointly purchase an HDB property. Note that all the singles involved must be Singapore Citizens, who are at least 35 years old. As there are more co-applicants involved, the income ceiling for the JSS is higher, at $9,000 per month instead of $7,000.

As with SCCS, you are restricted to 2-room flats in non-mature neighbourhoods, if you want a BTO flat (see above). If you want a resale flat, there is no restriction on size and location.

The biggest difference between SCCS and JSS is that, with JSS, you can purchase a new Executive Condominium (EC) unit. At present, this is the only way for singles to purchase a new EC unit. There is also no size restriction on the EC unit.

There is, unfortunately, no housing grant if you purchase an EC under the JSS.

Other requirements to remember:

  • You must not own another property at the time of application. If you just sold a private property, you must wait 30 months before you can apply for a BTO flat (this restriction doesn’t apply for resale flats).
  • You must still meet the requirements for the ethnic quota / Singapore Permanent Residents quota for the area.

Grants for the JSS

The EHG is also available under this scheme, but the grant amount differs:

Monthly income Grant amount
Below $1,500 $80,000
$1,501 to $2,000 $75,000
$2,001 to $2,500 $70,000
$2,501 to $3,000 $65,000
$3,001 to $3,500 $60,000
$3,501 to $4,000 $55,000
$4,001 to $4,500 $50,000
$4,501 to $5,000 $45,000
$5,001 to $5,500 $40,000
$5,501 to $6,000 $35,000
$6,001 to $6,500 $30,000
$6,501 to $7,000 $25,000
$7,001 to $7,500 $20,000
$7,501 to $8,000 $15,000
$8,001 to $8,500 $10,000
$8,501 to $9,000 $5,000
Above $9,000 No grant available

The disbursement of the EHG is slightly different under the JSS. Note that only two applicants will have the grant disbursed to their CPA OA, with a 50-50 split. This is regardless of whether there are two, three, or four co-applicants.

Other grant requirements to remember:

  • You must not be buying a new EC
  • All applicants must be first-timers
  • At least one applicant must have been working for 12 consecutive months prior to application; this person must still be working at the time of application.
  • The flat must have at least 20 years of lease remaining. In addition, the remaining lease must last until the youngest applicant is 95 years old to secure the full grant; otherwise the grant amount will be pro-rated.

How much should you be prepared to pay?

For new flats, the HDB website will provide indicative prices for each sale exercise. You can also review past sales launches in the same locations, to get a sense of the price.

For resale flats, please see the table below. We’ve taken a 3-room resale flat as our example, as this is the most common flat size picked by singles (it’s affordable on a single income, and it’s more spacious than a 2-room BTO flat):

BTO Exercise Estate Unit Selling Prices Ex. Grants Selling Prices Incl. Grants
Nov-20 Sembawang 2-Room Flexi $        92,000 $      12,000
Nov-20 Tengah 2-Room Flexi $      108,000 $      28,000
Nov-20 Bishan 2-Room Flexi (40-year lease) $      121,000 $      41,000
Nov-20 Tampines 2-Room Flexi $      130,000 $      50,000
Aug-20 Choa Chu Kang 2-Room Flexi $        99,000 $      19,000
Aug-20 Tengah 2-Room Flexi $      108,000 $      28,000
Aug-20 Woodlands 2-Room Flexi $        90,000 $      10,000
Aug-20 Bishan 2-Room Flexi $      176,000 $      96,000
Aug-20 Pasir Ris 2-Room Flexi $      137,000 $      57,000

Published BTO prices from the November/August 2020 exercise

2-Room HDB Loan Bank Loan
Estate Median Price Median Lease Down Payment Monthly Instalments Minimum Income Down Payment Monthly Instalments Minimum Income
Ang Mo Kio $204,000 57 $20,400 $925 $3,085 $51,000 $754 $1,527
Bedok $215,000 64 $21,500 $975 $3,251 $53,750 $795 $1,609
Bishan NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Bukit Batok NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Bukit Merah $210,000 51 $21,000 $953 $3,176 $52,500 $776 $1,572
Bukit Panjang $235,000 93 $23,500 $1,066 $3,554 $58,750 $869 $1,759
Bukit Timah NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Central Area NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Choa Chu Kang $220,000 93 $22,000 $998 $3,327 $55,000 $813 $1,646
Clementi $310,500 92 $31,050 $1,409 $4,695 $77,625 $1,148 $2,324
Geylang $200,000 49 $20,000 $907 $3,024 $50,000 $739 $1,497
Hougang $231,500 92 $23,150 $1,050 $3,501 $57,875 $856 $1,733
Jurong East $250,00 92 $25,000 $1,134 $3,781 $62,500 $924 $1,871
Jurong West $230,000 87 $23,000 $1,043 $3,478 $57,500 $850 $1,721
Kallang/Whampoa $199,000 48 $19,900 $903 $3,009 $49,750 $736 $1,489
Marine Parade NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Pasir Ris NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Punggol $250,000 93 $25,000 $1,134 $3,781 $62,500 $924 $1,871
Queenstown $220,000 45 $22,000 $998 $3,327 $55,000 $813 $1,646
Sembawang $227,000 94 $22,700 $1,030 $3,433 $56,750 $839 $1,699
Sengkang $241,250 92 $24,125 $1,094 $3,648 $60,313 $892 $1,806
Serangoon $240,000 56 $24,000 $1,089 $3,629 $60,000 $887 $1,796
Tampines $257,500 92 $25,750 $1,168 $3,894 $64,375 $952 $1,927
Toa Payoh $198,000 50 $19,800 $898 $2,994 $49,500 $732 $1,482
Woodlands $230,000 94 $23,000 $1,043 $3,478 $57,500 $850 $1,721
Yishun $225,000 92 $22,500 $1,021 $3,403 $56,250 $832 $1,684

Resale 2-Room Flat Affordability

3 ROOM HDB Loan Bank Loan
Estate Median Price Median Lease Down payment Monthly Instalments Minimum Income Down payment Monthly Instalments Minimum Income
Ang Mo Kio $285,000 53 $28,500 $1,293 $4,310 $71,250 $1,053 $2,133
Bedok $280,000 53 $28,000 $1,270 $4,234 $70,000 $1,035 $2,096
Bishan $365,000 53 $36,500 $1,656 $5,520 $91,250 $1,349 $2,732
Bukit Batok $262,000 55 $26,200 $1,189 $3,962 $65,500 $968 $1,961
Bukit Merah $320,000 52 $32,000 $1,452 $4,839 $80,000 $1,183 $2,395
Bukit Panjang $310,000 64 $31,000 $1,406 $4,688 $77,500 $1,146 $2,320
Bukit Timah $397,500 51 $39,750 $1,803 $6,011 $99,375 $1,469 $2,975
Central Area $410,000 52 $41,000 $1,860 $6,200 $102,500 $1,515 $3,068
Choa Chu Kang $315,000 60 $31,500 $1,429 $4,764 $78,750 $1,164 $2,357
Clementi $310,000 52 $31,000 $1,406 $4,688 $77,500 $1,146 $2,320
Geylang $257,000 52 $25,700 $1,166 $3,886 $64,250 $950 $1,923
Hougang $286,000 54 $28,600 $1,297 $4,325 $71,500 $1,057 $2,140
Jurong East $280,000 53 $28,000 $1,270 $4,234 $70,000 $1,035 $2,096
Jurong West $263,000 54 $26,300 $1,193 $3,977 $65,750 $972 $1,968
Kallang/Whampoa $292,250 51 $29,225 $1,326 $4,419 $73,063 $1,080 $2,187
Marine Parade $360,000 52 $36,000 $1,633 $5,444 $90,000 $1,331 $2,694
Pasir Ris $380,000 63 $38,000 $1,724 $5,746 $95,000 $1,405 $2,844
Punggol $363,000 60 $36,300 $1,647 $5,489 $90,750 $1,342 $2,717
Queenstown $318,000 52 $31,800 $1,443 $4,809 $79,500 $1,175 $2,380
Sembawang $300,000 70 $30,000 $1,361 $4,537 $75,000 $1,109 $2,245
Sengkang $347,000 59 $34,700 $1,574 $5,247 $86,750 $1,283 $2,597
Serangoon $310,000 53 $31,000 $1,406 $4,688 $77,500 $1,146 $2,320
Tampines $328,888 54 $32,889 $1,492 $4,974 $82,222 $1,216 $2,461
Toa Payoh $257,000 51 $25,700 $1,166 $3,886 $64,250 $950 $1,923
Woodlands $260,000 55 $26,000 $1,180 $3,932 $65,000 $961 $1,946
Yishun $278,000 55 $27,800 $1,261 $4,204 $69,500 $1,028 $2,081

3-Room resale flat affordability

As a point of reference, an HDB loan can finance up to 90 per cent of the flat’s price or value, whichever is lower. So if your 3-room resale flat costs $350,000, you would have a minimum down payment of $35,000 (this can be in any combination of cash or CPF).

That said, do be prepared for the possibility of Cash Over Valuation (COV). This is when the seller has a price higher than the actual valuation. For example, if the seller’s price is $350,000, but the valuation is $340,000, then the excess of $10,000 has to be paid in cash.

To understand the risk of COV where you’re buying, do get in touch with us .

A quick note about upgrading from a 2-room flat later

It’s possible that you’re single now, but will get married later. If this happens, you can upgrade from your 2-room to a larger flat as a First-Timer / Second-Timer (FT/ST) couple.

As such, it may be financially beneficial to own your flat as soon as you can, and worry about upgrading later. This way, you at least won’t end up throwing away money on rent.

On a related aside, singles should think carefully before buying a private shoebox unit as a first property. If you do decide to get married later, a 500 sq.ft. unit may be too small – and you won’t be able to buy an HDB flat while holding on to the shoebox. Should you sell the shoebox, you’d then have to buy a resale flat, or wait 30 months to apply for a BTO flat.

Do talk to us directly , if you need further help on your decision. In the meantime, you can follow us on Stacked for reviews of condos new and old , as well as the latest updates on the Singapore property market.

ALSO READ: Can you afford a HDB flat when you're 35 and single?

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.