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Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories: 4 Top Things to Know About the New BTO Classification in Singapore (2024)

Cheryl Chiew
Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories: 4 Top Things to Know About the New BTO Classification in Singapore (2024)
Standard, Plus, and Prime are the new HDB classifications for BTO projects that will take effect in H2 2024. First announced at the National Day Rally 2023 speech on 20 August 2023, we’ll likely see the Standard, Plus, and Prime labels in the September 2024 BTO launch.
We don’t know what BTO projects will be launched during the September 2024 BTO launch or whether they fall under the Standard, Plus, or Prime flat categories. But we know two Bayshore BTO projects will be launched in 2024, likely under the Plus model. If you intend to apply for a BTO flat in the coming months, here are three top things about the Standard, Plus, and Prime flat categories.

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1. Why the New Prime, Plus, and Standard HDB Flat Classification from H2 2024 Onwards?

From H2 2024 onwards, the days BTO flats will be launched under the mature or non-mature HDB estate label are gone. Instead, the new BTO projects will be classified as Prime, Plus, or Standard flats, as revealed during the National Day Rally 2023. This new classification will not affect existing flat owners and those who have already booked their BTO flats.
Currently, certain BTO projects in mature neighbourhoods with attractive locational attributes have been launched under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model. Only four neighbourhoods are considered ‘prime’ under the PLH model: Central Area, Queenstown, Kallang/Whampoa, and Bukit Merah.
As PM Lee jokingly pointed out during his National Day Rally 2023 speech, the “[Prime Location Public Housing model] is a lot of words, so let’s just call them ‘Prime’ projects”. One less acronym to memorise aside, these three categories will more accurately reflect the realities of the HDB flat landscape.
This change comes as Singapore becomes more built and more BTO projects are launched in or close to existing HDB estates. Additionally, non-mature HDB estates have developed more over time, with more amenities and improved transport infrastructure. Under the Prime, Plus, and Standard categorisation, the attributes of each new BTO project can be more accurately assessed.
The goal is to keep homeownership affordable, maintain a good social mix, promote inclusivity within neighbourhoods, and keep the system fair.

2. What Are the Differences Between Standard, Plus, and Prime BTO Projects?

What
Most of the HDB flats across the island
Choicer locations within regions (e.g. near MRT stations and town centres)
Most central, choicest locations
Cost
Most affordable with standard subsidies
Pricier than Standard flats but less expensive than Prime HDB flats

More subsidies provided
Most costly but also with the most subsidies of all flat categorisations
Duration of Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)
Five years
10 years
10 years
HDB resale restrictions
Most lenient resale flat restrictions among the three categories

Owners can rent out the entire flat after MOP is fulfilled

No income ceiling for resale buyers; and other existing eligibility criteria

Some resale flat restrictions

Subsidy clawback upon resale, but lower than Prime HDB flats

Resale buyers will have an imposed income ceiling of $14,000 for both families and singles

Owners cannot rent out the entire flat, even after MOP is fulfilled

At least one buyer must be Singaporean when buying a resale Plus flat

30-month wait-out period for private property owners buying resale Plus flat; and other eligibility criteria

Tightest resale restrictions

Subsidy clawback upon resale; renting of whole flat not allowed (after fulfilling MOP)

Resale buyers have to meet full BTO eligibility criteria; imposed income ceiling of $14,000 for families and $7,000 for singles

Owners cannot rent out the entire flat, even after MOP is fulfilled

At least one buyer must be Singaporean when buying resale Prime flat

30-month wait-out period for private property owners buying resale Prime flat; and other eligibility criteria
Most of the supply will fall under the Standard category. Located islandwide, these flats will follow the regular subsidies and have a five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). Plus and Prime flats will have stricter conditions, with rules such as a 10-year MOP, tighter resale restrictions (only Singapore citizens can buy resale Plus and Prime flats), and a subsidy clawback upon resale. Most notably, Plus and Prime flat owners cannot rent the entire flat even though their MOP is fulfilled.
Prime projects will be located in the “choicest”, most central locations. As compared to Standard and Plus flats, Prime flats will be the most costly but also have the most subsidy of the three flat categorisations.

3. Where Will the Standard, Plus, Prime Flats Be Located?

  • North and North-East regions (e.g. Ang Mo Kio, Punggol): mostly Standard and some Plus flats
  • West region (e.g. Tengah, Bukit Batok): mostly Standard and some Plus flats
  • Central region (e.g. Kallang/Whampoa, Bukit Merah): mostly Plus and Prime HDB flats
  • East region (e.g. Bedok, Pasir Ris): mostly Standard and some Plus flats
While the exact classification for each BTO project will only be revealed during the launches, we can make a pretty good guess.
According to Dr Lee Nai Jia, Head of Real Estate Intelligence, Data and Software Solutions, PropertyGuru Group, the revised housing classification system provides substantial advantages. It “bridges the gap for lower-income groups to reside closer to their workplaces and transportation nodes”.
While he acknowledges that the restrictions that come with the Prime and Plus BTO flats may not be popular among buyers, he highlights these restrictions would help slow down future price appreciation of the flats and reduce the lottery effect.
“Beyond affordability, these stipulations also facilitate community growth and deepen social ties within the district. A swift turnover of residents may inadvertently disrupt the community’s fabric, necessitating inhabitants to rebuild social connections continually. Furthermore, these measures reinforce the core ethos of public housing, emphasizing their role as primary residences and curbing tendencies to view them as mid-term investment avenues.”

4. How Will the New Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories Affect Singles?

Another National Day Rally 2023 announcement was the housing options available to unmarried citizens. Previously, these Singaporeans who were single and unwilling to mingle – as well as LGBTQ+ individuals – had to wait till 35 if they wanted to buy an HDB flat. Even then, they could only apply for a 2-room Flexi flat in non-mature estates or buy a resale HDB flat from the open market. Much to the ire of singles, they were also excluded from buying PLH flats.
However, at the National Day Rally 2023 speech, it was announced that singles will have more housing options. They are no longer limited to applying for 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates. Now, they can buy any 2-room Flexi BTO flat under the Standard, Plus, and Prime categories. For singles buying a BTO flat, the BTO income ceiling of $7,000 remains unchanged.
Regarding resale flats, singles can purchase any size of Standard and Plus flats (except for 3Gen flats). However, they will only be eligible to purchase 2-room Prime HDB flats. Additionally, singles wishing to buy a 2-room Prime HDB flat from the resale market will have to earn less than $7,000 monthly.
Dr Lee Nai Jia points out that this shift comes as the Singapore government acknowledges the needs of this growing Singaporean demographic.
“Given the comparatively lower subsidies allocated to singles, a substantial number find themselves priced out of the current market, more so if their familial homes are in prime locales. In light of these challenges, the newly introduced policy is poised to alleviate demand pressures for BTO flats among this group of Singaporeans.
We project a discernible uptick in application rates for residences within the Prime and Plus category. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a disruption for the broader HDB resale market. The influence of the Prime category’s popularity among singles may manifest in specific micro-markets but is unlikely to cascade into overarching market volatility.”
Though the housing policy changes announced during the National Day Rally 2023 for singles Singaporeans are welcome, some singles say that more can still be done.

National Day Rally 2023 Summary Table for Property-related Announcements

New classification for HDB flatsThe ‘mature’ and ‘non-mature’ HDB estate classifications will be replaced; from H2 2024 onwards, BTO flats launched will be labelled as Prime, Plus, or Standard flats
More BTO and resale flat housing options for singlesSingles aged 35 and above can apply for 2-room Flexi BTO flats under the Prime, Plus, and Standard categories. When buying from the resale market, they can buy any flat size of Plus and Standard flats; for Prime flats, they are limited to 2-room flats only
HDB flats and estates to be more senior-friendlyEnhancements to the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme; more shelters and resting points built, barrier-free ramps and raised zebra crossings will be constructed; longer green man signals; lifts to more overhead bridges; larger, more colourful signs and familiar symbols installed around HDB blocks, etc.
Aside from the introduction of the Standard, Plus, and Prime flat categories, HDB estates and homes will be transformed to become more senior-friendly. The goal is to keep current and future seniors active and socially integrated, allowing the elderly to age in familiar surroundings with comfort and dignity.
Enhancements to the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme will be made to create even more elder-friendly homes. The existing EASE programme allows seniors to install ramps to their front doors, grab bars, and slip-resistant flooring in their toilets. EASE 2.0 will allow seniors to select from more fittings, such as foldable shower sets or widened toilet entrances, to improve home convenience, mobility and safety.
Various improvements will be made to the neighbourhood. They include:
  • Street and linkways often used by seniors will be updated; aside from more shelters and resting points built, barrier-free ramps and raised zebra crossings will be constructed
  • 3D road markings and narrowed roads to slow traffic
  • Lifts to more overhead bridges for greater convenience
  • Longer green man signals and raised zebra crossings to help wheelchair users
  • Larger, more colourful signs and familiar symbols are installed around HDB blocks to aid seniors in finding their way home
More Community Care Apartments will also be launched to prepare for an ageing population. These flats will have care services that cater to the needs of elderly residents. Parallel to these public sector initiatives, Dr Lee Nai Jia has observed trends in the private housing market which underscore the evolution of homeowners’ preferences as they age.
“Many are transitioning, or ‘rightsizing’, to residences that align better with lifestyle needs. This natural progression, coupled with the continued residence of many seniors in their long-term homes, suggests an impending increase in demand for specialised home maintenance and cleaning services, particularly in mature private estates.”
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Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. PropertyGuru Pte Ltd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

More FAQs About the Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories

HDB flats that fall under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model (which moving forward, will be known as Prime flats) are new public housing units built in prime, central locations. The heavily subsidised flats have tighter resale restrictions and a longer 10-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) to ensure homes in these areas remain affordable and accessible for all Singaporeans.

From H2 2024 onwards, non-mature and mature categorisation for BTO launches will be removed. In place, BTO flats launched will be labelled as Prime, Plus, or Standard flats.

Prime flats are in the choicest locations in Singapore and come with more subsidies and tighter restrictions such as a 10-year MOP and strictest resale conditions out of the three BTO classifications..

The income ceiling for buyers purchasing resale Prime flats is $14,000 for both singles and families

The income ceiling for buyers purchasing resale Plus flats is $14,000 for families and $7,000 for singles.