Buying an HDB resale flat or BTO unit are the best-priced options when looking to buy property in Singapore. For the former, you have to look for a readily available HDB flat for sale that fits your budget, location and other criteria; and for the latter, you have the option to ballot and apply, wait for a few years (and deal with COVID-19 related construction delays) before getting your new home.
Simply put, an HDB resale flat is a unit that was owned by someone else. You buy it from someone who has lived in the flat for at least 5 years, the typical Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). For example, if you and your spouse successfully apply for a BTO, wait for it to be built, and move into it, you can sell the flat to a buyer as a resale HDB flat after the MOP.
Why Buy an HDB Resale Flat?
HDB resale flats are a good option for those who don’t want to ballot or wait for a BTO flat. Firstly, there’s also no guarantee that balloting for an HDB BTO flat will guarantee you a unit in the estate. Take it from these first-time homebuyers: sometimes the available BTO projects aren’t in the buyer’s ideal location, which might be a familiar neighbourhood, close to their parents’ home, or near to school or work.
Thus, HDB resale flats are a good option if you don’t want to waste time waiting or renting. Although you don’t get the full 99-year lease, almost brand new HDB resale units should have at least 90 years left—which is more than enough. However, do consider if the price you’re paying is worth it based on the remaining years left on the lease.
If you're not fussy about the design of your home, you may even save money on renovation costs since the first owner would already have done up the place. If you have a specific theme, however, a BTO (i.e. a 'blank canvas') may be better because hacking walls and removing existing structures from a resale unit can be expensive.
HDB Resale Flat Prices in Singapore
Here’s an overview of the HDB resale flat prices in Singapore by estate, based on the de facto 4-room unit:
Estate — 4-room resale flat price (median)
Ang Mo Kio — $432,500
Clementi — $560,000
Punggol — $480,000
Bedok — $435,000
Geylang — $540,000
Queenstown — $790,000
Bishan — $550,000
Hougang — $420,000
Sembawang — $399,000
Bukit Batok — $419,000
Jurong East — $420,300
Sengkang — $450,000
Bukit Merah — $728,400
Jurong West — $400,000
Serangoon — $450,400
Bukit Panjang — $438,900
Kallang/Whampoa — $577,500
Tampines — $450,000
Bukit Timah — Nil
Lim Chu Kang/Tengah — Nil
Toa Payoh — $603,500
Central Area — $910,000
Marine Parade — Nil
Woodlands — $380,000
Choa Chu Kang — $435,000
Pasir Ris — $451,000
Yishun — $412,000
Source: HDB resale price index portal, median transaction prices for 4-room resale flat in 2020 Q4
About the HDB Resale Price Index Portal
If you’re shopping around for an HDB resale flat and you’re not sure how much you should pay for a unit in your chosen estate, one handy tool is the HDB resale price index portal.
Search by HDB town, flat type and resale registration date, plus you can even drill down into finer details such as street name, block number and even the range of the transacted resale prices.
Quickly check the transacted prices for resale flats within the past 2 years, based on registered resale applications. The HDB resale price index portal is also updated daily.
After setting your budget, you browse for resale flats via our PropertyGuru sales listings. It’s easy to search by estate, number of bedrooms, price and more.
Have There Been Changes to the Resale Market since the COVID-19 Outbreak?
Yes, but probably not the way you think.
Many assume that resale flat prices are dropping, especially since physical house viewings were not permitted during Singapore’s circuit breaker period. In addition, the HDB Hub and its branches were closed until recently.
However, HDB resale flat prices remain more or less steady, and there’s no panic selling of flats. This is probably because HDB flats are usually bought for staying, and not investment purposes. Although HDB data for Q1 2020 showed that total resale volume fell 7% quarter-on-quarter to 5,893 units, on an annual basis, resale volume actually increased by 21.9%.
In fact, work from home is changing the way we buy homes. People are looking towards resale units due to their desire for bigger and more spacious homes.
HDB Resale vs BTO Prices in Singapore
Here’s a quick look at some of the grants available to HDB resale and BTO flat buyers:
HDB Resale flat
HDB BTO flat
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) for first-timer applicants
Up to $80,000
Up to $80,000
Step-Up CPF Housing Grant for second-timer applicants
$15,000, only for eligible applicants
Up to $50,000
Proximity Housing Grant
Up to $30,000
Up to $25,000*
That’s quite a lot of available HDB grants for potential resale flat buyers. Actually, more than what is available for an HDB BTO flat buyer if you fulfil more than 1 criteria. Of course, all grants come with their individual terms and conditions so head to the HDB website for more information.
*Aside from the Singles Grant, singles can get up to $40,000 for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant and up to $15,000 for the Proximity Housing Grant.
Let’s also take a look at the prices for the recent HDB BTO launches for 4-room launches:
Price (excluding grants)
Bukit Batok (non-mature) — West Hill
Tengah (non-mature) — Parc Woods
Kallang/Whampoa (mature) — McNair Heights
Toa Payoh / Bidadari (mature) — Bartley GreenRise, ParkEdge @ Bidadari and Alkaff Breeze
Tengah (non-mature) — Garden Bloom
Woodlands (non-mature) — Woodgrove Ascent
Bukit Merah (mature) — Telok Blangah Beacon
Geylang (mature) — MacPherson Weave
In addition, based on the latest prices for HDB resale and BTO flats, the former, while generally still more expensive, is not necessarily that much more pricier.
Let’s take Sembawang (non-mature) and Ang Mo Kio (mature) as examples. Prices for a 4-room HDB BTO flat in Sembawang start at $260,000, while median prices for a 4-room HDB resale flat in Sembawang are about $370,000. It’s also quite interesting to note that for Ang Mo Kio, prices for a 4-room HDB BTO flat there start at $423,000, while the average price for a 4-room HDB resale flat is $405,400 (lower!).
So you may not necessarily be paying much more for your HDB resale flat, even in a mature estate. After deducting all the grants, you might even be paying less for your chosen unit.
More FAQs Related to HDB Resale Flats
How Much Do You Need to Buy an HDB Resale Flat?
You will need at least $5,000 in cash for your deposit.
Do I Need to Be Married to Buy an HDB Resale Flat?
Yes, you will need to show proof of marriage (your wedding certificate) three months after collecting your keys, should you apply for an HDB resale flat under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.
Can I Use CPF to Buy a Resale HDB?
Yes, you may use your CPF to fund some parts of your resale HDB. Read here to find out more: How to Pay for a Resale HDB Flat: A Step-by-Step Guide.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she's learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she's not writing, she's usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.