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Singapore PR (SPR) Buying A HDB Flat? Here Is Everything You Must Know!

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Singapore is one of the best places in the world to live, and therefore, it is not surprising to know that thousands of foreigners apply for Singapore PR (permanent resident) status every year. Getting Singapore’s permanent residence enables individuals to purchase HDB flats, executive condominiums (ECs), and private condos in Singapore as well as save on property taxes.

However, government housing (HDB flats & ECs) purchase comes with certain restrictions for Singapore PRs.

Unlike Singapore citizens who are limited to what they can financially afford, PRs must meet the eligibility criteria to buy different property types.

This article will mainly focus on the eligibility criteria for HDB property purchase for Singapore permanent residents and the various CPF housing grants they are eligible for.

But before we dive into the details, let’s us understand who is a foreign individual and if a Singapore PR is a foreigner.

Is SPR a foreign person?

Singapore PRs are regarded as foreigners when buying any restricted residential properties in Singapore. Under the Residential Property Act, a person who does not meet the following requirements is classified as a foreign person:

  • a Singapore citizen,
  • a Singapore company,
  • a Singapore society, or
  • a Singapore limited liability partnership.

Please note that non-citizens and foreign entities cannot purchase any restricted residential property without approval from the authorities. Even though Singapore PRs are regarded as foreign persons, they have a slightly different bunch of regulations compared to foreigners, for example, PRs pay a different ABSD (Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty) rate compared to foreigners who do not have a PR status.

It is important to note that although PRs have fewer property purchase choices than SCs, they are less restricted when compared to non-residents who can only purchase a few types of private property.

Can Singapore PR own an HDB property?

Both Singapore citizens and PRs are allowed to purchase HDB units. But only citizens can buy HDB housing at heavily subsidised prices. Singapore PRs are only allowed to buy HDB units being resold in the open market. There is no income ceiling for this. So, in other words – yes, an SPR can own an HDB property in Singapore, but only resale HDB flats, subject to some restrictions.

While resale units tend to be costlier than new BTO flats, they are often the preferred choice for homebuyers who do not wish to wait for 3 to 5 years required for BTO completion or want to own a flat in a mature estate.

Different eligibility criteria for an SPR to buy a resale HDB flat

Singapore PRs can only purchase a HDB resale flat with another Singaporean PR or citizen. This means someone with a PR status does not need to marry an SC to quality for an HDB resale purchase. There are other ways too.

PRs can purchase an HDB resale flat through a less stringent version of the Public Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme wherein even a non-citizen family can qualify as long as they have attained PR status for no less than three years.

HDB Resale Eligibility for SPR under HDB Public Scheme

Under the HDB Public Scheme, an SPR must meet these two criteria:

Citizenship

In any case, there needs to be one listed occupant who is either a Singapore citizen or PR.

For families with no SCs, all homeowners and essential occupants must have attained a PR status for a minimum of three years.

Family Nucleus

A Singapore SPR must establish a family nucleus with their parents or with their spouse and children (if any).

If you are a single PR buying a resale HDB unit with parents, then at least one of them should be an SC or SPR.

If you are divorced or windowed, at least one child should be under your legal custody.

Single PRs can also create a family nucleus with single orphan siblings.

HDB Resale Eligibility for SPR under HDB Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme

If you are not legally married, you can apply for a resale HDB purchase under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.

Citizenship

Under the HDB Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, you or your to-be spouse must be a Singapore citizen or PR.

If neither you nor your to-be spouse is SC, then all owners and essential occupants must have attained a PR status for a minimum of three years.

Family Nucleus

A Singapore SPR must form a family nucleus with the to-be-spouse. You both must get married (and register the marriage) within 3 months of completing the HDB resale purchase. Submit a photocopy of the marriage certificate to the HDB if the marriage happened in another country.

Your fiancé or fiancée must be registered in the HDB application as either a co-applicant (if 21 years old or above) or as an occupant.

Other HDB resale eligibility conditions for Singapore PRs

  • You need to be at least 21 years of age at the time of application.
  • Your Permanent Residence status must exceed three years before buying a resale public flat. If you are buying as a couple, it applies to both you and your spouse.
  • You or your spouse must not own any private property in Singapore or overseas.
  • The Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) further restricts the sale or lease of such properties within 5 years after the purchase.

If you pass the introductory conditions for an HDB resale purchase, there are two other obstacles you, as a PR, would need to get through.

  • As an SPR, you must fulfil the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) or SPR quota (used to boost and uphold social cohesiveness) for your block/neighbourhood when submitting a resale application.

Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP). Through the EIP quota, HDB wants to promote racial integration and preserve Singapore’s multi-cultural identity.

Under the EIP quota, homebuyers must belong to the same ethnic group or race as the resale flat’s seller and need to be within the ethnic limits of the HDB block or neighbourhood. You can find the quotas online via HDB’s e-service, updated on the first day of every month. All SPRs need to adhere to this quota.

Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quota. If there is at least one SC or one Malaysian PR in your household, you will need to qualify for the EIP quota only. On the other hand, if none of the buyers is Malaysian PRs, then you must qualify for both the EIP and SPR quotas.

The SPR quota ensures that Singapore PR families mix up properly into the local community. To qualify for the SPR quota, no more than 5% of the total proportion of the neighbourhood estate are permissible to be non-Malaysian permanent residents.

For each block of flats, the maximum number of non-Malaysian PRs against the total number of residents is currently capped at 8%.

Can a Singapore PR apply for a BTO unit?

In Singapore, only Singapore citizens are allowed to purchase Built-to-Order (BTO) flats of all sizes straight from the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

If you are a Singapore PR, you are eligible to buy a new BTO flat (or Sale of Balance Flat) only if you apply with a Singaporean citizen under the Public Scheme or Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme. You must also pass all the prerequisites for the HDB property purchase.

PRs who are legally married to Singapore citizens are eligible to apply for BTO units via the HDB’s Public Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. If you are to tie the knot soon, you can apply for a BTO under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.

Your family nucleus must consist of any SCs to be able to purchase a BTO unit. Note that for all types of HDB BTO flats, the main applicant must be a Singaporean citizen.

If your BTO application is approved, you are not allowed to dispose of the BTO unit during the 5-year MOP. Also, Singapore PRs are barred from renting out their entire unit before the MOP.

Please note if you or your spouse possess any private property, locally or overseas, you will need to dispose it of within six months of getting the keys to your BTO flat.

Here are two more questions frequently asked by PRs looking to buy HDB property:

Can 2 PR friends buy an HDB together?

For two PR friends, it is not possible for them to buy a new BTO flat together. The only options are HDB resale flats or condos and landed property if they are interested in a private property.

Can 2 PR siblings buy an HDB together?

A PR can purchase a resale HDB flat only with their orphan siblings if all siblings listed in the HDB application are not already applying, owning or renting a flat separately. Also, one of the deceased parents has to be an SC or SPR.

Can a single PR buy HDB flats?

Yes, a single SPR can purchase an HDB home, but not alone – even if it is a resale flat. However, Singapore PRs can make a resale HDB purchase with another PR or SC under one of the eligibility schemes – Public Scheme or Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.

If you are a single PR, you can purchase a resale HDB flat with a family member, i.e. spouse, children, siblings, or parents, if at least one of them is an SC or PR.

If applying under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, a single PR can purchase an HDB resale flat if they are at least 35 years old if unmarried or divorced and at least 21 years old if widowed or orphan.

Here’s a quick overview of the types of HDB properties you can and cannot buy as a Singapore PR for general understanding.

HDB property single PRs can buyHDB property single PRs can’t buy
Resale executive condominiums (EC)New executive condominiums (EC)
Strata landed propertiesLanded properties
Private condominiumsResale HDB flats
 New HDB BTO flats

Please note that single PRs have to pay ABSD when purchasing residential properties.

Can a divorced PR buy HDB?

A divorced SPR with children can buy an HDB resale flat.If the child is below 21 and the ex-partner co-parent shares the responsibility of the care and upbringing of the child, then you will need a written letter of permission from the co-parent before listing the child as an occupant when applying for a resale HDB unit.

Can soon-to-wed PR couples buy HDB?

If you are engaged and wedding bells are on the way, you may apply for a new BTO unit via the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.Soon-to-wed couples can buy an HDB resale flat if the couple consists of an SPR and SC, or two SPRs.

Can Singapore PR own both HDB and private property?

If you are a Permanent Resident (PR) speculating whether you can buy a private condo if you already own an HDB flat, unfortunately, the answer is NO!

As per the HDB guidelines, PRs (even those who have fulfilled MOP) that own an HDB flat must dispose of their flat within six months of buying a private residential property in Singapore. No SPR can buy a second property in Singapore.

Only Singapore citizens can own both an HDB and private property at the same time. However, this comes with a lot of expenses involved. Also, they too need to comply with the MOP before purchasing private property.

Buying an HDB flat while owning a private property is not allowed even for SCs. They must sell their private property after completion or when you get the keys to the HDB flat.

Can a Singapore PR get CPF housing grants?

Buying a resale HDB flat at the market price demands systematic financial planning for an SPR household since they don’t qualify for any housing schemes and CPF grants.

To qualify for subsidised flats and HDB grants, your household must have at least one SC, and you both should be first-time applicants. If that is the case, you can receive a housing grant of up to $160,000. You may find the housing grants you are eligible for on the HDB portal.

Available housing grants for SC-SPR households include the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG), Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) and Family Grant.

HDB grantMaximum HDB amount
Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG)Up to $80,000
Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)Up to $30,000
Family GrantUp to $50,000

Note: First-timer households comprising one or more PRs and an SC must pay an additional $10,000 premium to acquire a new BTO flat. You can get this amount back by applying for a $10,000 Citizen Top-up Grant when you convert to an SC or have a child who is a Singapore citizen. You must submit an application to HDB for this within 6 months of being eligible for it.

Final Thoughts

Often stuck between renting and the more expensive private property, the growing number of PRs-only couples are mostly limited to resale HDB flats. Since resale flats are growing in popularity, the best time for PRs-only couples to buy a resale HDB flat is “as soon as you can”.

If you plan to apply for an HDB loan, you must secure the HLE (Housing Loan Eligibility) letter. But if you plan on taking up a HDB bank loan, you will have to meet the eligibility requirements of each bank you apply to. If you need someone to assist you in finding the most suitable housing loan, kindly contact us.

Our team of experienced mortgage consultants at Dollarback Mortgage can help you with any advice you want regarding getting a home loan if you tend to meet other eligibility conditions for buying an HDB flat as a Singaporean PR.

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