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BTO vs Resale Price Cost Breakdown: Which HDB Flat Type to Buy for Singles in Singapore (2023)

Eugenia Liew
BTO vs Resale Price Cost Breakdown: Which HDB Flat Type to Buy for Singles in Singapore (2023)
Perhaps one widely known fact among singles in Singapore is that, under most circumstances, singles are only eligible to buy an HDB flat when they are age 35 and above.
Of course, an alternative housing plan is private housing, which can be purchased at any age, but for most, Build-to-Order (BTO) or resale flats are usually the most accessible financially.
But what HDB flats can singles purchase in Singapore? In this article, we’ll be weighing the pros and cons of buying a 2-room BTO flat vs a resale flat in Singapore. We’ve picked these flat types as they are likely to be the most affordable options for most singles. Read on to find out more.
Find out what conditions are there for singles to purchase an HDB flat in our video above.

1. 2-Room BTO Flat in Non-Mature Estates

BTO flats are newly built flats that are subsidised by the Government and are ideal for those who prefer brand-new flats at an affordable price.
However, while each BTO project will offer different types of units, singles are only eligible to ballot for 2-room BTO units in non-mature estates.
When it comes to BTO flats, it’s important to know who your ‘competitors’ for a unit might be, so you can better weigh the odds of successfully balloting on your first try.

Almost Half Are for Senior Applicants

BTO exercises are largely popular among young couples and families, but there is not so much competition there for 2-room flats. That said, 2-room flats are also open to seniors who may wish to apply for a unit to be nearer to their married children.
About 40% of 2-room Flexi flats in a BTO project are set aside for seniors, and they will be able to purchase the new flat on a shorter lease.

Not Every BTO Launch has 2-Room Flexi Flats

To top it off, not every BTO project offers 2-room flats in their unit mix. For instance, in the November 2022 BTO launch, only four out of the five projects had 2-room Flexi flats (Bukit Batok, Queenstown, Tengah and Yishun) available. Of which, singles could only ballot for the 2-room Flexi flats in Bukit Batok, Tengah, and Yishun.

2-Room BTO Flat Vs Resale Flat Prices

But say you found a suitable BTO project you like. What then? How much cheaper are they compared to resale flats?
Tengah
Garden Waterfront I & II @ Tengah, from $111,000
$230,000 to $350,000 (Jurong West)
Yishun
Vanda Breeze @ Yishun, Miltonia Breeze @ Yishun, Aranda Breeze @ Yishun, from $84,000
$280,000 to $335,000
Bukit Batok
West Glades @ Bukit Batok, from $105,000
$328,000 to $350,000
Choa Chu Kang
Keat Hong Grange, from $102,000 (Aug 2022 BTO)
$282,000 to $318,000
The resale prices were taken from the past six months’ transactions recorded on HDB’s resale portal (as of 12 December 2022).
Looking at the recent 2-room BTO flat prices in non-mature estates and that of their resale counterparts, it’s apparent BTO flats are much more affordable.
The main downside to getting a BTO flat is the long waiting time. The best-case scenario is if you get the flat on your first try, and you only need to wait for three to four years for the flats to be completed. If you need to ballot multiple times, it could be longer.
So, if you don’t mind waiting for a BTO project to be completed, a 2-room Flexi unit might be a good option for you.

2. 2-Room or 3-Room HDB Resale Flat

Say, waiting years for a new home is out of the question. Then your next consideration would be either 2-room or 3-room HDB resale flats.
Meanwhile, the situation is vastly different when it comes to resale flats. Singles are allowed to choose from units with any number of rooms, including larger 5-room flats and executive apartments. But due to affordability concerns, many singles often opt for 2-room or 3-room resale flats.
Here’s a comparison of 2-room and 3-room resale flat prices across the estates in Singapore, according to HDB resale transactions in the past six months (June 2022 to December 2022). The data is accurate as of 12 December 2022.

2-room vs 3-room Resale Flat Prices

Ang Mo Kio
$218,888 to $300,000
$300,000 to $710,000
Bedok
$250,000 to $350,000
$285,000 to $580,000
Bishan
$295,000 to $495,000
Bukit Batok
$328,000 to $350,000
$250,000 to $542,000
Bukit Merah
$230,000 to $550,000
$260,000 to $800,000
Bukit Panjang
$265,000 to $324,000
$330,000 to $440,000
Bukit Timah
$368,000 to $490,000
Central
$266,000 to $420,000
$365,000 to $590,000
Choa Chu Kang
$282,000 to $318,000
$305,000 to $463,000
Clementi
$290,000 to $398,000
$309,000 to $696,000
Geylang
$223,000 to $255,000
$240,000 to $580,000
Hougang
$300,000 to $312,800
$290,000 to $529,000
Jurong East
$265,000 to $300,000
$280,000 to $445,000
Jurong West
$230,000 to $350,000
$245,000 to $510,000
Kallang/Whampoa
$255,000 to $328,000
$250,000 to $958,000
Marine Parade
$328,000 to $518,000
Pasir Ris
$325,000 to $345,000
$325,183 to $570,000
Punggol
$280,000 to $350,000
$385,000 to $528,000
Queenstown
$238,000 to $428,000
$268,000 to $930,000
Sembawang
$255,000 to $358,000
$380,000 to $470,000
Sengkang
$263,000 to $376,000
$382,000 to $509,888
Serangoon
$263,000 to $275,000
$330,000 to $460,000
Tampines
$318,000 to $338,000
$335,000 to $570,000
Toa Payoh
$242,000 to $280,000
$270,000 to $750,000
Woodlands
$245,000 to $340,000
$277,000 to $490,000
Yishun
$280,000 to $335,000
$310,000 to $525,000
Note: The empty fields mean that there were no transactions, and no data was published.
Let us first say this – this is not an apple-to-apple comparison because, well, 2-room and 3-room HDB flats are different altogether. However, from the above, we can spot some trends.
Unsurprisingly, since 3-room flats offer more space, they tend to cost more than 2-room flats. But in some rare cases, 2-room flats could even be more expensive than 3-room flats (Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah).
Usually, this is because the remaining lease on the flat is likely to have affected the price of the property. Typically, the newer the flat, the higher the price.
A good example of this is in Kallang/Whampoa, where you can get an older 3-room flat for $250,000+, but the newer flats with 90 years and more cost as much as $958,000.
That said, for some less popular estates, the remaining lease may not make such a big difference.
If you really want to know which gives you more value for the price, you may want to calculate the price per sqm. According to HDB, 2-room flats are either 36 or 45 sqm, and 3-room flats are 60 to 65 sqm. This means that 2-room flats are about 31% to 45% smaller than 3-room flats, suggesting that generally, 3-room flats may be more value for money.
If you’re thinking of investment potential, you may want to steer clear of the older flats as their value may depreciate with the decaying lease.
3-room flats may also be more popular as they are spacious enough for not just singles, but couples and small families too, widening your network of buyers. You may also want to consider city fringe or central area locations where buyers may be more open to compromising on space for a convenient location.

CPF Housing Grants for 2-Room BTO vs Resale Flat

There are several grants available to single occupants when it comes to purchasing HDB flats, but the grants you can tap into will depend on the type of flat you purchase. For instance, while only the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) is applicable for a BTO flat, singles looking to purchase resale flats are eligible for an additional Singles Grant and Proximity Housing Grant.

CPF Housing Grants for Singles

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant
Up to $40,000
Up to $40,000
$4,500 income ceiling
Singles Grant
Up to $25,000
$7,000 income ceiling
Proximity Housing Grant
Up to $15,000 or $10,000
Must live with parents or within 4km of parent’s place
Let’s look at how that plays out in this sample scenario.
For the following comparison, we assume the buyer has a monthly income of $3,500, qualifies for the maximum 80% Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio on HDB loans, and also receives grants at maximum value or according to the income tier.
Mortgage and interest rates are calculated using the PropertyGuru Mortgage Calculator and the HDB Payment Plan Calculator.
Selling price
$100,000
$200,000
$300,000
Down payment (15%)
$15,000
$30,000
$45,000
Total CPF Grants
$12,500 (EHG only)
$52,500 (EHG, Singles Grant and Proximity Housing Grant)
$52,500 (EHG, Singles Grant and Proximity Housing Grant)
HDB Loan Amount, less grants
$85,000 – $12,500 = $72,500
$170,000 – $52,500 = $117,500
$255,000 – $52,500 = $202,500
Mortgage (2.6% p.a., 25 years)
$72,500 (principal) +$26,173 (interest)
= $98,673
$117,500 (principal) +$42,421 (interest)
= $159,921
$202,500 (principal) +$73,107 (interest)
= $275,607
Total paid
$113,673
$189,921
$320,607
Note: In this example, we did the calculations for an HDB loan for the full 25 years for simplicity, assuming no change in the interest rate. However, the actual cost may differ depending on how you manage your home loan in the long run. For example, refinancing your HDB loan to a bank loan with lower interest rates several years down the road is a popular way to save on interest costs.
As seen, the 2-room resale flat seems to find a good balance between having a low selling price and being eligible for more grants. 3-Room flats are also eligible for the same grants as 2-room resales, but due to the significantly higher price tag, the final cost is almost double what a 2-room BTO flat would cost.

Do 2-room HDB Flats Make the Most Financial Sense?

If You Plan on Remaining Single

Pragmatically speaking, 2-room Flexi BTO units and 3-room HDB flats are most practical for singles living alone. Not only are they more affordable compared to their 4-room and above counterparts, but also the upkeep and maintenance of a smaller apartment are also easier.
Bearing in mind that single buyers will need to shoulder the costs alone if the total square metres is not the biggest deal-breaker, a smaller unit makes for a more financially accessible purchase.
From an affordability point of view, BTO flats are clearly an economical option. The 2-room BTO flat prices stated above are excluding any grants, and even then, resale flat prices are double or twice that. This means that these make potentially great investments too if you intend to eventually sell off your home.
If you have your heart set on a brand new 2-room HDB flat, be prepared for the wait. If you urgently need a home and may need to rent in the interim, do also factor that into your costs. Renting for three or more years will cost you a significant sum, and it may just be more affordable (and not to mention, less hassle) to buy a resale flat.

If You Plan on Living with a Partner Eventually

Singles whose longer-term plans involve getting married and/or living together with their partner may find the smaller 2-room flats too cosy or may prefer a 3-room flat for more storage space.
A mid-career executive planning to move out yet remain close to their parents may find a $200,000 2-room resale flat with all the applicable grants affordable but might find $300,000 for a 3-room resale flat unwieldy and shy away from it altogether. Yet another single may prefer 2-room flats to 3-rooms in general, simply because the upkeep and maintenance could be easier.
Worthy investments thus depend on your preferences, as well as your financial situation. Whatever you choose, purchasing a property within your financial means is always a more prudent choice. Check out our Affordability Calculator for a good estimate. For personalised recommendations and expert mortgage advice, reach out to Property Finance mortgage experts.
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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 BTO vs Resale Flats in Singapore:

No, singles can only buy 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates. However, they face no restrictions on resale flat types.

PropertyGuru is the leading property portal in Singapore and home to the most property listings. There's a good chance you'll be able to find your dream home on our site.

This depends on preference. Generally, new flats (like BTO flats) bought directly from the Government are cheaper as they're subsidised housing. However, they take a few years to build. HDB resale flats are often more expensive, but if you need a home urgently, they're already fully built and ready for move-in within months. There are also more choices when it comes to resale flats as new flat launches are limited.