“Can a Singapore Permanent Resident buy an HDB flat?” is one of the most frequently asked questions that we often get asked.
The short answer is, yes, a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) can buy an HDB flat in Singapore but only if they meet certain criteria. If you’re an SPR looking to buy an HDB resale flat, or if you want to know HDB’s resale eligibility conditions, this article is for you.
This September 2023, we are also revving up Property TourTalks, a series of exclusive bus tours around Singapore showcasing some potential homes for different property seekers.
From the New Beginnings tour for first-time homebuyers to the Wealth Building tour for investors, there is a tour this month that anyone looking for updates on the latest market trends and insights will love. More on Property TourTalks 2023 later.
Table of contents:
Watch our Video on HDB Resale Flat Eligibility For SPRs
You will be informed of your eligibility for an HDB flat purchase when you apply for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter. But here are some things to take note of for each respective scheme.
Can a Single Singapore Permanent Resident Buy an HDB Flat?
The answer is, unfortunately, no. Single PRs cannot buy a new HDB flat or a resale flat alone.
Under HDB rules, an SPR may qualify to buy an HDB flat under two schemes: the HDB Public Scheme, which is buying with a family unit (i.e. spouse, children, siblings, parents), or the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, which is well, your fiancé or fiancée.
If you’re just two SPRs (i.e. no Singapore citizen in the marriage or family unit) who form a household, you are not allowed to buy new, subsidised HDB flats sold by the government such as BTO flats or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) units. But you can buy a resale flat with another SPR (with certain conditions fulfilled, of course!).
Let’s talk about buying a new HDB flat for SPRs first.
For SPRs Buying New Flats Directly from HDB
HDB New Flat Eligibility: HDB Public Scheme
Under the HDB Public Scheme, an SPR is only allowed to buy a new HDB flat (e.g. BTO flat) if they are married to a Singapore Citizen or PR. They are only allowed to buy up 2-room Flexi, 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats. For each type of flat, there is also an income ceiling to abide by. Some other HDB flat eligibility conditions that SPRs must fulfil for buying new HDB flats include:
You’ll need to be at least 21 years old
You can’t sell or lease out your entire flat during the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)
You’ll also need to meet the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) or SPR quota for your block/neighbourhood when submitting the resale flat application
All buyers in the HDB resale flat application cannot own any private property in Singapore or overseas. You also must not have disposed of any private residential properties at least 30 months before your HFE letter application.
For first-timer households which comprise one Singapore Citizen and one or more SPR(s), there will be a $10,000 premium when they buy a flat. But you could apply for the Citizen Top-Up Grant when you obtain Singapore citizenship or when you have a child who is a Singapore citizen.
HDB New Flat Eligibility: Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
For those applying under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, the conditions you’ll need to abide by is similar to that of the HDB public scheme. The only difference is you are yet to be married.
You will need to solemnise your marriage within three months after completing your HDB flat purchase. If your would-be spouse is below 21 years old but above 18 years old, they will require written consent from their parents/guardians. If they are below 18 years old, they will need a Special Marriage License. This document must be presented during the flat booking appointment.
Can an SPR Receive CPF Housing Grants to Buy New HDB Flats?
Yes! Eligible families may be eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Families) and/or Step-Up CPF Housing Grant (Families).
For SPRs Buying HDB Resale Flats
An SPR can only buy a resale HDB flat with another SPR or SC under the HDB Public Scheme or the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme. The conditions for buying a resale flat are similar to that of buying new HDB flats, save for several differences:
When buying resale flats, you can buy all flat types except 3Gen flats
The good thing about buying a resale flat is that there is no income ceiling to abide by
If you’re buying as an SPR household, all SPR occupiers (family or co-owners) must have had SPR status for at least three years
All buyers in the HDB resale flat application cannot own any private property in Singapore or overseas. If you are buying a non-subsidised resale flat, you must not have disposed of any private residential properties at least 15 months before your HFE letter application if you are buying a resale flat with CPF housing grants and/or applying for a housing loan from HDB, this time period is extended to at least 30 months before your HFE letter application.
HDB Resale Flat Eligibility: HDB Public Scheme
There must be at least one listed occupant who is either an SC or SPR. If there is no SC in the family, all owners and essential occupiers must all be SPRs for at least three years.
An SPR buyer needs to form a family nucleus with one of the following groups:
Under the HDB Public Scheme, an SPR must form a family nucleus with a spouse and children (if any) or with his parents. If widowed or divorced, there must be at least one child under his legal custody.
For divorcees, if the child is below 21 and the former partner shares in the responsibility of taking care of the child, you need her written permission before you are allowed to list that child as an occupant when applying for an HDB resale flat.
We’ve also received multiple queries on whether two SPR siblings can buy an HDB resale flat. For SPRs purchasing a resale flat with their orphan siblings, they would need to ensure that all siblings listed in the same application are not applying, owning, or renting a flat separately. Additionally, one of your deceased parents has to be an SC or SPR.
So whilst a single SPR is not allowed to purchase a resale HDB flat alone, he/she is allowed to do so with his or her parents. A divorced SPR with children can also purchase an HDB resale flat, likewise for soon-to-wed couples consisting of an SPR and SC, or two SPRs.
HDB Resale Flat Eligibility: Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
HDB resale eligibility criteria
You and your soon-to-be spouse must either be an SPR or SPC. If there is no SC in the family, all owners and essential occupiers must have been SPRs for at least three years
Your fiancé or fiancée must be listed in the application as either a co-applicant if 21 years old or above, or an occupant
Under this scheme, you are set to create a family nucleus with your soon-to-be spouse, and it is expected that both of you will be tying the knot. Hence, you need to officially get married in Singapore within three months of completing the purchase of an HDB resale flat. If the marriage is done overseas, submit a copy of the marriage certificate to HDB.
Can an SPR Receive CPF Housing Grants to Buy an HDB Resale Flat?
To be eligible for grants, your household must comprise at least one SC. If that’s the case, then you can receive a grant amount of up to $190,000 if you’re both first-time applicants. Depending on your eligibility, you may also be eligible for the Step-Up CPF Housing Grant (Families).
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Families)
Up to $80,000
CPF Housing Grants (Families)
Up to $80,000
Proximity Housing Grant (Families)
Up to $30,000
How Do the EIP and SPR Quota Work?
If you pass the general requirements and you are eligible for either the HDB Public Scheme or Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, there are still two ‘hurdles’ to overcome before you can purchase an HDB resale flat – namely the quota under the EIP and the SPR quota.
If there is at least one SC or one Malaysian SPR among the buyers of an HDB resale flat, you only need to qualify for the EIP. But if there’s a non-Malaysian SPR, you must pass both the EIP and SPR quota.
Also, to comply with the EIP quota, the buyer must belong to the same race or ethnic group as the seller of the HDB resale flat, and there must still be space for your ethnic group in the HDB block or neighbourhood where you intend to buy. The quotas are updated every first day of the month. To check the EIP quota of the place where you’re buying an HDB resale flat, please visit HDB’s e-Service.
The aim of EIP (which applies to all HDB flats), is to help maintain a racial mix in HDB communities to promote racial integration and harmony. For the SPR quota, the purpose is to facilitate the integration of SPRs into local communities. Malaysians are excluded from this quota given their close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans.
According to the SPR quota, non-Malaysian SPR households can’t be more than 5% of the households in the neighbourhood and not more than 8% in a block.
HDB quota policy
What it means when an SPR buys an HDB flat
Do you need to adhere to this quota?
Limit to the total percentage of block/neighbourhood for any ethnicity, which can be checked on HDB
Yes, for all SPRs
The total proportion of non-Malaysian SPR households within the block (5%) and neighbourhood (8%)
Yes – If your household does not have any non-Malaysian SPR or SC
How to Buy an HDB Resale Flat
Here are the steps you’ll need to apply for an HDB resale flat as an SPR.
1. Apply for the HFE Letter
Log in to the HDB Flat Portal by using your Singpass and retrieve your personal particulars from Myinfo. In the initial HFE preliminary check, input your information and get a general assessment of your HDB flat, CPF Housing Grant, and HDB loan eligibility. Then submit the relevant documents to apply for your HFE letter within 30 days of your preliminary HFE check.
HDB will send you an SMS within 21 working days once your HFE letter is ready. The HFE letter is valid for six months.
2. If You Are Financing Your HDB Flat with a Bank Loan, Apply for an IPA
If you’re not taking on an HDB loan, apply for an In-Principle Approval (IPA) from participating Financial Institutions (FIs) through the HDB Flat Portal. Or you can apply for an IPA with PropertyGuru Finance and receive your IPA results within seven working days.
3. Search for a Resale Flat and Ensure You Fulfil EIP and SPR Quotas
Now that you know how much loan you qualify for, you can work backwards to figure out what flats are within your budget. With thousands of HDB resale flat listings across Singapore, find your dream home on PropertyGuru now and filter by price, area, rooms, floor level, and more.
At this stage, you might also want to make sure you fulfil the EIP and SPR quota for the property you’re looking at.
4. Negotiate Price and Sign OTP
After sorting out your finances and finding your dream home, you will need to negotiate the price with the seller. To avoid overpaying your flat or cash over valuation (COV), you need to compare the price of resale flats in the estate or block.
One way to do it is via checking HDB resale flat prices of the latest transactions on HDB or finding similar flats on PropertyGuru. By considering similar transactions, you will have a ballpark figure on how much the flat you’re eyeing is going for.
After negotiating the price, you can sign and secure the OTP and pay the Option Fee. For HDB flats, the OTP can range from $1 to $1,000. This is when you’ll have to do your HDB valuation and pay the COV, if necessary. Request a valuation report from HDB here.
5. If You’re Taking a Bank Loan, Get Your Letter of Offer (LO)
If you’re taking a bank loan to finance your HDB flat, secure your LO to confirm your housing loan. Each bank has different eligibility requirements, so you must check with your preferred bank. If you need help, speak to our Mortgage Experts for free.
6. Exercise OTP and Submit the HDB Resale Flat Application
If you’re happy to proceed, you will need to pay the option exercise fee (not more than $5,000) within 21 days after signing the OTP document. Then, pay the relevant fees and taxes such as admin fees and Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) rates.
Those wondering how much down payment an SPR buying an HDB would need to pay will be pleased to know that it is the same percentage as what an SC would pay. However, SPR buying HDB without an accompanying SC would need to pay a 5% Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for their first home purchase.
7. Attend the Resale Completion Appointment and Collect Keys
If the HDB resale flat application is successful, HDB will notify you to attend the Resale Completion Appointment, and both buyer and seller will need to attend the appointment for the transfer of ownership and collect the keys to your new home!
Property TourTalks: Which Tour Should You Go For this September 2023?
If you’re a PR and looking to buy a home in Singapore, you’ll want to ensure you have as much information before making a big decision. Why not sign up for the upcoming Property TourTalks, happening across 16, 17, 23, and 24 September 2023? Each tour is designed for key homebuyer types: first-time homebuyers, investors, property upgraders, and renters.
Property experts will also be onboard these bus tours to share more about the homebuying process. If you have a home financing question you need answered, tap on our PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Experts, who can help to break down the end-to-end of paying for your next home. Best of all, the Property TourTalks tours are absolutely free! Attendees will also stand a chance to win exciting prizes (more will be revealed during the respective tours).
For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.
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