HDB Flats: BTO Eligibility, Resale Criteria and the Available Schemes

·12-min read

BTO eligibility and resale HDB flat criteria are things that pop up when the topic of housing and homeownership comes up in Singapore. When it comes to housing, most of us will immediately think of HDB flats—the ubiquitous public housing blocks that 3.04 million Singapore residents (or almost eight in 10 residents) live in.

And to qualify for these HDB flats, individuals must meet eligibility criteria requirements and other regulations set by the government, which are in place to ensure that these flats go to those who need them most.

HDB flats come in a variety of configurations to cater to the needs and requirements of citizens. These range from 2-room Flexi units popular among the elderly to larger 5-room units and executive apartments. Then, there’s also 3-Gen units and jumbo flats, which cater to multi-generational families who live together.

Read on to learn more about BTO eligibility and resale flat criteria

So, Who Can Buy an HDB Fat? BTO Eligibility and Resale Flat Criteria

HDB flats are, first and foremost, subsidised public housing meant for Singaporean Citizens, so not everyone is eligible to buy one. There are multiple eligibility criteria that need to be met beforehand.

General Eligibility Criteria for BTO Eligibility

Eligible Applicant/ Family Nucleus

You qualify for at least one of the following schemes: Public Scheme, Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, Orphans Scheme

Citizenship

At least 1 of the applicants for the flat must be a Singapore Citizen, and at least 1 other is a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident

Age

At least 21 years old

Income Ceiling

You are within the income ceiling of the flat you want purchase

Property Ownership

But if you're buying a resale flat, there is no limitation on property ownership, and previously owned properties have to be sold/disposed of within 6 months of your purchase. For resale flats, there is also no income ceiling you have to abide by.

If you're thinking of how to own an HDB flat and condo apartment at the same time, here's how to do it.

Which Eligibility Scheme Do I Fall Under?

In order to apply for an HDB flat, you’ll first need to check whether you fall under one of the three eligibility schemes.

Public Scheme

To qualify for this scheme, you’ll need to form a family nucleus with any of the following:

  • Spouse, and children (if any)

  • Parents, and siblings (if any)

  • Children under your legal custody, care and control (if widowed/divorced)

Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme

Under this scheme, you’ll form a family nucleus with your spouse-to-be, and if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to solemnise your marriage within three months of getting the keys to your flat. HDB will require a photocopy of your marriage certificate.

If you’ve solemnised your marriage before collecting the keys, you can submit the photocopy when you visit the HDB sales office to get the keys.

If you’ve done it after key collection, then you’ll make the submission to your managing HDB branch.

Orphans Scheme

For this scheme, the applicants are orphans and single, and cannot buy/rent flats separately. Furthermore, one of the deceased parents will need to have been a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident.

What If I Don’t Fit into Any of the above Schemes?

Perhaps your spouse isn’t a Singaporean Citizen or Permanent Resident, or you’re not planning to get married for a good while yet. There are a few other schemes that you might be eligible for, however, the choice of flats you’re limited to will be 2-room Flexi flats.

Single Singapore Citizen Scheme

To qualify for this scheme, you’ll need to be:

  • A first-time homebuyer

  • Are at least 35 years old

  • Single (unmarried, divorced or widowed)

Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme

This scheme is applicable if you:

  • Are a first-timer applicant

  • Your spouse is neither a Singapore Citizen nor a Permanent Resident

    • Your spouse must hold a valid Visit Pass or Work Pass at the time of your flat application

If you and your spouse have children from the marriage, and they are either a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, you can apply for a flat under the Public Scheme instead.

Read more about buying a home together as a Singaporean-Foreigner couple and get more information on the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme.

Joint Singles Scheme

Under this scheme, you and up to 3 other co-applicants can apply for a 2-room Flexi, provided all of you fulfil the following criteria:

  • All of you must be Singapore Citizens

  • Be at least 35 years of age

  • Apply together as co-applicants

A new HDB housing estate.
A new HDB housing estate.

One of HDB’s biggest factors for BTO eligibility is the income ceiling

First-timers Versus Second-timers

If you’re a first-timer applicant, it means you’ve never received any form of housing subsidy or a similar benefit.

If your spouse is a second-timer, but you’re a first-timer, you’ll both enjoy first-timer benefits if you apply as a couple.

Here are the privileges for first-timer applicants when applying for HDB flats, DBSS units and executive condominiums (EC), respectively.

Privileges for first-timer applicants

HDB

DBSS

EC

Check here for more information about priority schemes you’re eligible for if you’re a first-timer.
Check here for more information about priority schemes you’re eligible for if you’re a first-timer.

Buying

Check here for more information about priority schemes you’re eligible for if you’re a first-timer.

Income Ceiling for HDB BTO Eligibility

This is one of the most important criteria to be eligible for an HDB flat in Singapore. You'll be pleased to know that if you wish to purchase a resale flat, there is no income ceiling cap you have to adhere to. However, to quality for CPF Housing Grants and HDB housing loans, you cannot earn more than a certain amount.

Regarding BTO eligibility, if your household income each month exceeds the ceiling for the flat you want to apply for, you won’t be able to purchase it, even if you fulfil the other criteria such as citizenship and family nucleus.

The monthly household income will include the income of all occupants you’ve listed in your flat application.

Flat type

Income ceiling for BTO Eligibility

4-room flat or larger

3-room flat

2-room Flexi

Income Ceiling for Extended or Multi-generation Families

If you’re applying for a flat with your extended family, say a 3Gen, the income ceilings are calculated slightly differently. It’s based on the combined income of 2 groups within your family.

Household type

Income of Group A

Income of Group B

Parents with single children

Parents and 1 of the single children

Remaining single children

Parents with married children

Parents and remaining working children (if any)

The married children and their children (if any)

An example calculation would look something like this:

You, your spouse, and your 3 working children want to buy a new flat. Individually, your average gross monthly income is:

  • You: $5,000

  • Your spouse: $6,000

  • Child A: $4,000

  • Child B: $3,000

  • Child C: $2,000

Income of Group A: Parents and 1 of the single children

Cannot exceed $14,000

Income of Group B: Remaining single children

Cannot exceed $14,000

Extended Family Income Ceiling

Group A + Group B must not exceed $21,000

Total: $13,000

Total: $7,000

Total: $20,000

What Counts Towards My Household’s Monthly Income?

HDB takes into account the following types of income for assessment:

  • Allowances (fixed/variable) received on a regular basis (e.g. allowances for food, transport, laundry, uniform, etc.)

  • Sustenance allowance

  • Stipend

The following won’t be factored into your monthly household income:

  • Alimony allowance

  • Bonuses

  • Director's fee

  • Income from ad hoc overtime work

  • Interest from deposit accounts

  • National Service Allowance

  • Rental income

  • Scholarship overseas allowance

  • Overseas cost of living allowance

  • Pension

HDB Loan Eligibility

Most first-time homeowners will have to take out loans to pay for their flat, and have the option to choose between an HDB loan or a bank loan. Should you be planning on taking a loan but are puzzled by the difficult bank jargon, approach one of our home finance advisors for help. They'll provide you with their expert opinion and make the process smoother, all for free!

If you’re planning on taking out an HDB loan, you'll first need to get an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. The requirements are as follows:

Citizenship

At least 1 buyer is a Singapore Citizen

Household Status

Income Ceiling

Average gross monthly household income does not exceed:

Property Ownership

How much you can get in the loan will also depend on the flat’s remaining lease.

Remaining lease of flat >20 years and covers the youngest buyer to a certain age

HDB Housing Loan approval

≥ 95 years

Allowed, but subject to:


Loan tenure is the shortest of:

< 95 years

Allowed, but subject to:

Loan tenure is the shortest of:

Use our affordability calculator to get better estimates on how much you can afford and what your monthly instalments will be.

Are PRs Allowed to Buy HDB Flats?

If you’re a Permanent Residents (PR) looking to buy an HDB flat, you can only buy resale ones, as you do not meet BTO eligibility requirements on your own.

This means you can purchase an HDB resale flat only under the Public Scheme or the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme. You can’t apply for the flat on your own, and will need to have a family nucleus for the application.

You’ll also need to meet these 4 main requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age

  • You must have been a Permanent Resident for a minimum of 3 years.

  • Upon purchasing the resale flat, you cannot sell the unit or lease it out entirely within the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

  • You can’t own any private property locally or abroad. Any private property owned will have to be disposed of within 6 months of purchasing the HDB resale flat

    • However, once the 5-year MOP has been fulfilled, you can acquire private property without having to sell the flat.

Learn more about how a Singaporean PR can buy an HDB flat in Singapore.

More FAQS about BTO Eligibility and Buying an HDB Flat in Singapore

How Do You Qualify for BTO?

Depending on the scheme you're buying the flat under, you have to be at least applying with at least one other citizen or PR as a family nucleus, apply with parents and siblings, or children under your custody.

Can a Single Buy a BTO?

Yes, only if you're above 35 and only for 2-room Flexi Flats in non-mature estates.

Can a Single PR Buy an HDB Resale Flat?

No, they cannot. PRs can only buy under the Public Scheme (buying with family) or the Fiance/Fiancee Scheme (buying with a spouse).

How long does it take to buy an HDB resale flat?

Typically, it takes about eight weeks for a successful resale flat transaction to occur. Read more about the process on HDB's website.

For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.

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