Singles BTO and Resale Options: 3 Single Singaporeans React to NDR 2023

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
Singles BTO and Resale Options: 3 Single Singaporeans React to NDR 2023
Single Singaporeans, rejoice! At the National Day Rally 2023, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a new BTO classification alongside expanding housing options for Single Singaporeans.
While the 35-year-old age HDB eligibility criteria remains unchanged, the new HDB housing policies have made acquiring public housing easier for singles.
If you’re single and looking specifically to buy an HDB resale flat, check out our video guide for a quick introduction.

HDB Singles Scheme: How Can Singles Buy HDB Resale Flats?

Note: The single HDB options in the video above will be expanded after the NDR 2023 property announcements kick in from H2 2024 onwards.

Singles BTO and Resale Updates: NDR 2023 Summary

Flat typeWhat single Singaporeans can buy
New BTO flats for singlesSingles can apply for any 2-room Flexi flats under the Standard, Plus, and Prime BTO categories
Resale flats for singlesSingles can purchase any size of Standard and Plus flats (with the exception of 3Gen flats), only 2-room Prime HDB flats
From H2 2024 onwards, BTO flats will be launched under the Standard, Plus, and Prime BTO categories. Each category comes with its own restrictions and eligibility criteria.
For example, BTO flat owners who want to sell their homes after fulfilling their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) under this new classification will be subject to subsidy clawbacks.
An income ceiling will also be imposed on resale flat buyers. For singles, the income ceiling is $14,000 for resale Plus HDB flats and $7,000 for 2-room resale Prime HDB flats.
But what do single Singaporeans think of these changes? To find out, we asked three single Singaporeans at varying stages of their homebuying journey for their thoughts.
But first, let’s dive into the history of housing policies for singles in Singapore.

Singaporean Singles BTO and HDB Resale Flat Options: A History

Singles BTO options are limited to 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates. And if you have more urgent housing needs, didn’t want to wait out the BTO completion times, or simply wanted more space, you had to buy a resale HDB flat.
You may also have been frustrated when the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model was released and excluded singles from buying resale PLH flats. But did you know that when the Home Ownership for the People Scheme was set up in 1964, singles were not allowed to buy public housing at all?
We’ve come a long way since. Aside from increased housing options, supporting singles in financing their home purchase has been key too. Here’s how the housing policy for singles has gradually evolved over the years:
  • 1964: The Home Ownership for the People Scheme was launched. But singles were not allowed to purchase these flats
  • 1974: The now-discontinued Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) flats were introduced. Singles could buy these flats but couldn’t pay for these flats using their CPF savings.
  • 1980: Singles could use their CPF savings for their HUDC flat purchase
  • 1981: Singles under 40 were again restricted from buying a HUDC flat. Singles under 40 years old were put on a waitlist, only being able to purchase said flat when they formed a family nucleus
  • 1991: The Single Singapore Citizen Scheme was introduced, singles aged 35 and above could buy but only 3-room and smaller resale flats at limited locations
  • 1998: Eligible first-time single homebuyers who were earning less than $7,000 and looking to purchase a resale flat could qualify for CPF Housing Grants
  • 2001: The Single Singapore Citizen Scheme was expanded to allow singles to purchase 3-room and smaller resale flats in any locations
  • 2004: Singles could now 4-room and larger resale flats in any location
  • 2013: Singles BTO options expanded being able to apply for 2-room Flexi flats
  • 2019: Under the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), eligible first-time single homebuyers who were earning less than $4,500 could get a housing grant of up to $40,000
  • 2022: The 2-room Flexi single BTO flat quota was raised from 50% to 65%
  • 2023: At the Budget 2023 announcement, the CPF Housing Grant for Singles was raised from $25,000 to $40,000 (for 4-room flats or smaller)

Singaporeans Respond to the NDR 2023 Singles BTO and Resale Options

Note: Interviewee names have been edited for anonymity.

1. Easier to Be Closer to Elderly Parents in Mature Estates

It’s August 2023 and Hazel is about to exercise the option for a 3-room HDB resale flat in Tampines. Turning 35 was a long-awaited milestone for the graphic designer as she was eager to get her own place.
Just then, the NDR 2023 housing policies were announced. While the new changes will not affect her current home purchase decision, she was “really happy” and found it “great for other singles buying a home in the future”.
“Even though the age limit was not lowered, singles now have many more choices with this new Standard, Plus, and Prime BTO/HDB flat categories. They’ll be able to more easily afford a home in a desirable place, especially if they don’t mind a smaller place and can wait for their BTO flats to be built.
One big challenge for me when househunting was I couldn’t apply for a BTO 2-room Flexi flat near my parents and brother’s family. We live in Tampines, a mature estate, and surrounding neighbourhoods such as Pasir Ris and Bedok were also classified as mature. So I had no choice but to look at resale flats.”

2. More Options to Upgrade Home for Existing Singles

Hazel also highlighted how it gave her and other singles who already own their own home more options to “upgrade” their property. There are a few ways you can “upgrade” your home: move from an HDB flat to a private property; shift from a smaller HDB flat to a larger unit; or relocate from far-out neighbourhoods to a more central location.
“I don’t know what the future holds. But if I want to sell my current Tampines flat when the MOP is fulfilled for a unit in a more central location, it’s now an option. When 2-room resale Prime BTO/HDB flats hit the market in about 10 years or so, I can shift if it aligns with my lifestyle and goals.
Alternatively, maybe I would have earned enough cash to upgrade to a larger resale Plus HDB flat near an MRT station. Either way, I’m glad. A win is a win!”

3. Less Anxiety about Housing Affordability

Like many young Singaporeans, Charlene was concerned about her ability to finance an HDB flat, even with a spouse. The 29-year-old marketing professional had already tried applying for a BTO flat five times (all unsuccessful).
When the long-term relationship came to an end early this year, the anxiety brought on by housing affordability concerns and being unable to hit the adulthood marker of owning property was exacerbated.
“In Singapore, the reality is that it’s much easier to buy a home with a spouse. You have a bigger budget with two incomes and qualify for more CPF Housing Grants as a family. If one of you becomes unemployed, especially in this uncertain economy, it’s not as stressful as there is another person to cover the mortgage.
Being unmarried means if I want my own space before 35, I have to buy a condo or rent. Renting puts a big dent in my ability to save while buying a condo at 29 is impossible for the average Singaporean like me. Plus, I feel like if I can’t afford to take a break, because if I do, then how will I be able to buy property on my own? It’s a lose-lose-lose situation.”
Like most young Singaporeans who have the desire to marry, Charlene hopes to tie the knot one day. But she does not want to marry “for the sake of being able to afford a home”. When the NDR 2023 housing policies were announced, the 29-year-old felt her fears dissipating immensely. More importantly, it gave her reassurance that she wouldn’t have to “settle for housing scraps” and be able to live in a place she wanted.

4. Being Able to Live in a Desirable Home

Charlene admitted much of her affordability concerns also stemmed from her housing aspirations. With or without a partner, she had hoped to buy a “forever home” in a centrally-located neighbourhood or on the city fringe. Typically, homes in these neighbourhoods are much more expensive.
“Buying a home is arguably one of the biggest financial purchases a person can make in their lifetime. As a single, they either have to make lots of money to buy a home they actually want or settle for an affordable, but tiny BTO flat built in the middle of nowhere that takes such a long time to be built.”
When looking at future housing towns, plans have been unveiled to develop the Greater Southern Waterfront and Paya Lebar Air Base areas. Other neighbourhoods that will see an injection of both public and private housing are the Tanjong Rhu/Marina East/East Coast Park area, Bayshore, and land around Upper Changi MRT station.
When she is 35 in six years, she believes homes under the Standard, Plus, and Prime model will likely be launched in these neighbourhoods. With some luck, she believes she will be able to apply for a BTO flat in one of these desirable neighbourhoods, or at least buy one of these resale flats.
“Living on the city fringe and in a neighbourhood which is a 15-minute or less commute to the Central Business District (CBD) via public transport is a dream. If you add that the home is within a short walking distance of an MRT station and the property is on a high floor with an unblocked sea or city view, I do think it’s as good as it gets.
For location, I’m happy to compromise on space. I can always renovate my HDB flat to look like a condo interior or incorporate luxury interior design. That way, it’s basically the same as buying a condo studio unit but for a fraction of the price.”

5. Unable to Leverage Homes for Profit as Easily

Matthias is a 26-year-old content writer with no plans for marriage. As a gay person in Singapore, he has to apply for housing as a single due to the limited LGBTQ housing options.
For his first home, Matthias wants to purchase a 3-room resale flat near an MRT station in a neighbourhood on the city fringe such as the Kallang, Aljunied, and Dakota. Likely, he is looking at a Plus HDB resale flat. If not, he will apply for a BTO 2-room Flexi flat.
“Right after PM Lee’s NDR 2023 speech, I felt hopeful that singles would soon be able to buy BTO 2-room Flexi flats across all regions islandwide and I’m happy that I have more resale flat options”.
However, he hopes that he will be able to acquire a second property or upgrade to a private property when he is in his forties. Matthias acknowledges that while the new policies make it easier for singles like him to afford their first ‘starter’ home, the restrictions in place curb the profits they could potentially make.
“Scenario one: I hold on to my HDB flat and buy a condo. Scenario two: I sell off my HDB flat to finance a condo. Ultimately, both cases will require me to consider how to leverage the value of my first home to finance my second.
For the first scenario, I would not be able to generate passive income from renting out my entire existing property. For the second scenario, I would have to consider the subsidy clawbacks if I sell my new 2-room BTO flat in an attractive location. This is certain to make me think twice about buying a Plus or Prime resale flat.”
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More FAQs About Singles BTO

Singles who meet HDB eligibility criteria can apply for 2-room Flexi BTO Standard, Plus, and Prime flats.

Yes, singles that meet all HDB eligibility criteria can buy BTO flats after they hit 35 years old.

2-room Flexi flats are the most common type of HDB flats available for single Singaporeans.