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Single Buying HDB In Singapore – Requirements & Grants!

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As the liberalisation of rules regarding singles’ eligibility to purchase resale HDB flats came in Oct 1991, the government announced that single Singaporeans will finally be able to purchase their own resale flat from HDB if they meet certain eligibility conditions.

This article is for all single individuals who aspire to buy their own flat and climb that adulting ladder without having to wait for a significant other to realise their dream.

Can I buy a HDB flat if I am single?

If you are single and want to purchase an HDB flat, the short answer is: YES, you can!

Single individuals can currently buy an HDB flat in Singapore under the two schemes:

  • Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SSCS)
  • Joint Singles Scheme (JSS)

We will discuss both eligibility schemes and how they are different in detail a little later. First, let’s delve into what HDB flat types can singles purchase and their eligibility criteria.

What type of HDB flats can singles buy in Singapore?

As a single person in Singapore, you have two choices for HDB housing. You can either apply for a 2-room Flexi BTO (built-to-order) flat from HDB in a non-mature estate or buy a resale HDB flat. However, in both cases, you must wait till you are 35 years old (unless you are widowed or orphaned).

BTO flats

Singles can buy a 2-room Flexi BTO HDB flat only in non-mature estates, such as Tengah, Punggol, Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Woodlands and others. Non-mature estates refer to residential areas that are less than 20 years old. Make sure you check the estate status (mature or non-mature) at the time of application.

Note that a 2-room Flexi flat is 36 or 45 sqm (depending on type 1 or 2). If you need more space, consider buying a resale unit.

Another thing to mention here is that singles are not allowed to buy BTO flats released under the new HDB Prime Housing Location (PLH) model, even after they go on the resale market after fulfilling the 10-year MOP (minimum occupation period). Announced in November 2021, the PLH model applies to the new BTO flats built in prime areas.

Resale flats

There are no restrictions on the flat size and the location for singles who want to buy a resale HDB flat in Singapore. Resale HDB flats are suitable for those who want more space or wish to choose their own neighbourhood. Also, there is no monthly household income ceiling for singles. Since resale flats are more expensive, you are limited only by what you can afford!

Since resale HDB flats are almost ready to move in, you don’t have to wait for the keys during the construction, as in the case of BTO flats.

What are the HDB eligibility requirements for singles?

While HDB offers the most affordable public housing options for Singaporeans, it comes with several prerequisites and criteria. Let us look at the eligibility criteria for buying an HDB flat for singles.

Eligibility criteria for singles applying for a BTO flat

CitizenshipSingapore Citizens only
AgeAt least 35 years: unmarried or divorced At least 21 years: widowed or orphan
Monthly household income ceilingFor flats with up to 99-year lease: up to $7,000 For flats with up to 45-year lease: up to $14,000
EIP quotawithin the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) quota for the block/ neighbourhood.
Property ownershipMust not own or have disposed of any properties (private residential property, privatised HUDC flats and executive condos (ECs), house, building, land) in the past 30 months
Eligible grantsEnhanced Housing Grant (Singles)

Eligibility criteria for singles applying for an HDB resale flat

CitizenshipSingapore Citizens only
AgeAt least 35 years: unmarried or divorced At least 21 years: widowed or orphan
Monthly household income ceilingNo income cap
EIP quotawithin the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) quota for the block/ neighbourhood.
Property ownershipMust dispose of owned HDB flat or any private property, whether locally or overseas, within 6 months from the date of purchase of the resale flat.
Eligible grantsEnhanced Housing Grant (Singles), Singles Grant, Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)

Note: There exists a maximum income limit for single buyers looking to qualify for a CPF housing grant or HDB loan. It means if you can pay for it, you won’t get any help to pay it off!

Can singles below 35 buy resale HDB?

A lot of young people have this query when they are exploring their opportunities to own a home.

Unfortunately, you cannot buy an HDB flat if you are below 35 years old in Singapore. The only exceptions are if you are an orphan, widowed, or a single parent. However, single buyers can purchase a private home or a resale EC.

So what are the housing options for singles below 35?

Single individuals who wish to have their own home but are below the minimum age criteria of 35 years can choose either of the two options:

i) Buy a private property, which is much more expensive than public housing, or

ii) Rent a flat in the open market.

If you are planning to get a flat on rent, make sure you refer to the CEA’s templates for your tenancy agreement and ask for the HDB’s approval letter to rent out the flat or bedroom(s) from the flat owner. Validate that you are included as an authorised tenant.

Types of HDB’s singles schemes

Only unmarried or divorced Singapore citizens aged 35 and above can apply for both schemes discussed below. Those widowed or orphaned can apply for a flat purchase as soon as they turn 21.

Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SSCS)

Introduced in October 1991, the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, also known as HDB Single Scheme, is the more straightforward of the two schemes.

This scheme allowed single Singapore citizens aged 35 and above who don’t want to get married for some reason to apply to purchase their HDB flats instead of running after high-priced condominiums. Singles who are widowed, orphaned, or a single parent can apply under this scheme from age 21.

However, under SSCS, there is only one legal owner of the flat. It also means the non-owner partner will not be able to use their CPF funds to pay for the home loan.

In the beginning, this scheme allowed single buyers to buy more affordable 3-room or smaller resale flats in most estates, except some estates like Outram Park, Geylang, Mountbatten, Kallang, Tanjong Rhu, Farrer Road, Beach Road, Queenstown, Bukit Merah and Whampoa.

Joint Singles Scheme (JSS)

The Joint Singles Scheme allows up to 4 single Singapore citizens to apply for an HDB flat together. The single applicants could be unmarried couples or best friends who are at least 35 years old.

When buying a home under JSS, you must decide whether to register the applicants’ names as joint tenancy or tenancy-in-common.

SSCS Vs Joint Singles Scheme

The main difference between the two HDB singles schemes is that the SSCS is for individual applicants, which means a single applicant is the sole owner of the HDB flat. This means even if both parties decide to contribute to the mortgage repayment, the non-owner partner will not have any legal right over the flat.

On the other hand, the Joint Singles Scheme is intended for joint ownership that can include up to 4 single co-applicants, with a minimum of 2. Under the joint singles scheme, all applicants must fulfil the eligibility criteria and be listed as co-owners in the application. Note that all the single applicants need not be related to each other when applying under this scheme.

What housing grants can I get under HDB’s singles schemes?

Thankfully, single buyers have access to some housing grants to help them finance their flat purchase, depending on what type of HDB flat they choose to buy. For a BTO flat, you are eligible for only one housing grant, i.e., EHG. When you are buying a resale flat, you can get up to three housing grants if you meet the eligibility conditions.

Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG). A first-timer applicant purchasing a flat on their own or with their non-resident spouse may apply for an EHG (Singles) of up to $40,000 to help their new or resale flat purchase regardless of flat type and location. If you are buying with other first-timer single(s), up to 2 singles may be qualified for an EHG (Singles) of up to $40,000, i.e., a total of $80,000.

Singles Grant. A first-timer Singapore Citizen (SC) buying a resale flat on their own or with their non-resident spouse may be eligible for a Singles Grant of $25,000 for purchasing a 2- to 4- room resale flat or $20,000 when buying a 5-room resale flat.

Proximity Housing Grant (PHG). A first-timer applicant purchasing a resale flat to live with or near their parents/ child may apply for PHG (Singles) of up to $15,000 if living with their parents/ child and up to $10,000 if living near their parents/ child within 4km).

BTOPossible GrantsResale
$5,000 – $40,000Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG)$5,000 – $80,000
Eligibility: $4,500 income ceiling. Must be employed for 12 continuous months at the time of application.
NoneSingles Grant$25,000 (4-room and under); $20,000 (5-room)
Eligibility: $7,000 income ceiling (for SSCS); $14,000 (joint singles scheme)
NoneProximity Housing Grant (PHG)$15,000 (live with parents/child); $10,000 (live near parents/child)
Eligibility: Resale flat must be within 4km of the parents’ home

If you don’t apply to buy an HDB flat as soon as you turn 35 and while your income is still low, there is a possibility that you won’t be eligible for certain housing grants later because your income may increase as you grow older.

Knowing about these grants can help single buyers find a way to cushion the costs of purchasing their own homes.

If you need more help regarding your eligibility for HDB housing grant(s) for BTO or resale flat, please contact Dollarback Mortgage’s team of expert mortgage consultants for a free consultation. Our team will help assess your eligibility for purchasing a BTO/resale flat, HDB bank housing loan and housing grant(s).

Can a single PR buy HDB in Singapore?

Unfortunately, a single PR can’t buy an HDB alone – neither a BTO nor a resale flat. As per the HDB guidelines, a Singapore PR can only buy an HDB flat with another Singapore PR or citizen under two schemes:

  • HDB Public Scheme (buying with spouse, children, siblings, parents), or
  • Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme (buying with your fiancé or fiancée).

If you are a single SPR and buying with parents under the HDB Public Scheme, at least one of them must be an SC or SPR.

Here are other eligibility conditions that SPRs must fulfil:

AgeNeeds to be at least 21 years old
StatusMust be an SPR for at least 3 years
MOPCan’t sell or lease their flat out during the 5-year MOP
EIP or SPR quotaMust meet the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) or SPR quota for their block/neighbourhood when submitting the resale flat application.
Property ownershipAll buyers in the HDB resale flat application cannot own any private property, whether locally or overseas.Need to sell their property before or within 6 months of buying the resale HDB flat.

If you are single but not legally married or unable to form a family nucleus, your only option is private housing.

Can you buy an HDB in Singapore without getting married?

It is quite common to hear young Singaporeans asking whether an unmarried couple can own an HDB flat together.

Here is some good news: if you are not married yet but have plans to get married at some point in life, you can still buy an HDB flat with your significant other.

For a 2-room Flexi flat

Under the Joint Singles Scheme, you can apply for a new HDB 2-room Flexi flat as a couple if you both are above 35 years. Depending on the average household income of the couple, you may be eligible for an Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000.

Under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, you can buy a brand new 2-room Flexi flat as a couple, but only one person will be the sole owner. The sole owner has to be above 35 years of age.

One thing to take note of here is that BTOs come with a much longer waiting time. It can easily take 3 to 5 years for the construction, and then you have to fulfil the 5-year MOP. This means, for at least 8 to 10 years, you and your spouse will need to stay in a 2-room Flexi flat with just one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen and a storeroom or apartment shelter.

A couple could still manage to live in a small 2-room BTO flat, but it could be problematic from the space standpoint if they are planning to have kids soon after marriage. Therefore, it might not be a great idea to constrain yourself to a 2-room BTO flat as soon as you are eligible if getting married is on your mind in the next 10 years.

For a resale HDB flat

High-earning singles and to-be couples may also consider buying a resale flat as the rules are more relaxed, with no restrictions on flat type and size and no income ceiling. Even if you own another property at the time of purchase, it is fine; just remember to sell it off within 6 months of purchasing your resale flat.

But there is a caveat. You must get married within 3 months of getting your new resale flat if you want to put both names on the ownership and mortgage of the said property. Sometimes not putting the name of both owners can get tricky later if they decide to separate further down the road.

Which type of HDB flat should singles get – BTO or Resale flat?

Buying an HDB flat as a single is not so straightforward. There are a lot of options with big variations in price points. Single buyers must carefully consider what they can afford and what type of home fits their long-term financial aspirations.

If you don’t want to wait and want a flat in an area of your choice, then you must choose an HDB resale flat over the more affordable 2-room Flexi HDB BTO flat.

Also, resale flats allow you to rent out rooms to generate additional income. But with the smaller 2-room Flexi flat, you can only choose to rent out the whole apartment (quite obviously!) – and that too after meeting the 5-year MOP.

Let’s look at the table below providing a quick summary of the pros and cons of BTO vs HDB Resale flat options.

Brand-new apartment; Restricted to 2-room Flexi flatFlat TypePre-owned apartment; No restrictions in flat type
Non-mature estatesLocationNo restriction
More affordablePriceMore expensive
$7,000 (SSCS) or $14,000 (JSS)Income CeilingNo restriction
Full 99-years leaseLeaseRemaining (less than 99 years)
Must dispose of at least 30 months before the date of applicationProperty OwnershipMust dispose of within 6 months of purchase
Longer waiting time (average 3 to 5 years)Waiting timeShorter waiting time (as little as 1 to 4 months)
Lower availabilityAvailabilityHigher availability
Cannot rent out initiallyRentCan rent out rooms

Final Thoughts

Turning 35 is a pretty big deal in Singapore, and now we clearly know why! No more living with parents or renting a space to live alone because you can finally buy your very own HDB flat as soon as you turn 35. Although slightly more restricted in some aspects, there is much more leeway to kick-start your my-very-own-HDB journey for singles.

We hope this article will enable you to make a better HDB flat buying decision and understand how these HDB singles schemes will help you in flying solo!

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