Buying HDB Resale Flats in Singapore (2023): Guide to Eligibility, Grants, and Financing

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
Buying HDB Resale Flats in Singapore (2023): Guide to Eligibility, Grants, and Financing
Buying HDB resale flats offers several advantages over patiently applying and waiting for a brand new Build-to-Order (BTO) flat to be built. For one, you can move in quickly and this is especially useful for those with more urgent housing needs.
In this article, we’ll cover the pros of buying HDB resale flats, the available schemes, eligibility, how to buy an HDB resale flat on PropertyGuru, and more. Let’s get started!

Watch Our Video on Financing an HDB Resale Flat

What is an HDB Resale Flat?

Resale flats are HDB flats that are currently owned by someone else. They have already been lived in for at least the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), which is typically five years.
When buying HDB resale flats, the buyer is taking over the property from the previous owner. That also means you can collect your keys as soon as the transaction is completed.
Unlike when purchasing brand-new BTO flats, buying HDB resale flats means you are getting a property that does not come with a fresh 99-year lease. The older a flat is, the fewer years will be left on the lease. So when buying HDB resale flats, it is important to consider how many years there are left on the lease to determine if purchasing the property is worth the price.
Another thing to note is that the cost of renovating resale flats tends to be higher than that of renovating BTO flats since you will have to remove or modify renovations carried out by the previous owner.

HDB BTO vs Resale Flats: 7 Benefits of Buying HDB Resale Flats

Waiting Time
3-5 years
Chances of Obtaining a Unit
Based on luck. Balloting is required and the chances of successfully getting a flat is slim especially if the location is a popular one.
Very high, as it is just a matter of reaching an agreement with the seller.
Income Ceiling
Max household income is $14,000 for couples, $21,000 for extended/multi-generation families, and $7,000 for singles.
No income ceiling limit.
Limited, dependent on the launch.
No restriction of location, you have the freedom to choose a resale flat anywhere.
Flat Size
You’ll find most 4-room BTO units at 92 sqm, and 5-room units at 110 sqm.
If you’re lucky, some older 4-room HDB units are at 100 sqm, and 5-room units at 130 sqm.
Eligibility Criteria
At least one of the applicants must be a Singaporean.
PRs are allowed to buy resale HDB flats.
Housing Grants
Under the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), first-time BTO flat buyers can receive up to $80,000.
On top of the EHG, resale flat buyers are eligible to apply for the Family Grant ($50,000), and a Proximity Housing Grant ($30,000).
There are some clear advantages to buying HDB resale flats over BTO flats.

1. Shorter Waiting Time for Resale Flats

You can move into a resale flat immediately after the sale is completed. The resale procedure typically takes under three months. By contrast, the waiting time for a BTO flat is typically 2.5 years from the date of application.

2. No Need to Ballot for Resale Units

Getting a BTO flat is largely a matter of luck. First, you need to successfully ballot for a flat in a development. When you have successfully been selected, your ability to pick a unit you like will depend on your queue number.
When buying HDB resale flats, there is no balloting process. As long as you and the seller come to an agreement, you can buy the unit, provided of course that you satisfy HDB’s eligibility requirements.

3. No Income Ceiling When Buying HDB Resale Flats

Unlike BTO flats, which have a monthly household income ceiling limit ($14,000 for families, $21,000 for extended/multi-generation family flats and $7,000 for singles), there’s no income ceiling limit for those buying HDB resale flats.

4. More Locations to Choose from When Buying HDB Resale Flats

BTO flats tend to be launched in non-mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang, typically far from the city centre. While there are some BTO launches in mature estates, these are always highly sought-after and therefore difficult to successfully ballot for. Buying HDB resale flats gives you the freedom to get a flat in the location you want, especially if you want to live closer to your parents.

5. Resale Flats are Usually More Spacious

New BTO flats tend to be smaller than older flats of the same type. Resale flats tend to be more spacious with bigger bedrooms.

6. PRs Can Buy Resale HDB Flats

While BTO flats are only reserved for Singaporeans, PRs can buy resale HDB flats (see the full requirements for PRs here).

7. More Housing Grants for Those Buying HDB Resale Flats

With the new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), the maximum grant amount that first-time BTO flat buyers can receive is $80,000. However, first-time resale HDB flat buyers can receive even more grants compared to BTO flat buyers.
In addition to the $80,000 grant amount from EHG, resale flat buyers are also eligible for $50,000 (Family Grant) and $30,000 (Proximity Housing Grant) in grants. This means the total grant amount that resale flat buyers can get is $160,000.

Buying HDB Resale Flats: What Is the Eligibility Criteria and Who Can Apply?

To be eligible for HDB resale flats, you must check all the boxes:
  • At least one Singaporean citizen or two Singapore Permanent Residents listed in the flat application
  • At least 21 years and above if you’re buying in an approved family nucleus, or 35 years if you’re buying as a single
  • Within the Ethnic Integration Policy and Singapore Permanent Resident quota of the block/neighbourhood
  • Not own any other residential properties or any houses/buildings/land whether locally or overseas, or have disposed of them in 6 months before the resale flat application
In addition to the above, you’ll also need to fall under these schemes before you buy an HDB resale flat.

Public Scheme

If you’re planning to buy a resale flat with a family member, for example, wife and children, parents and siblings, and your children

Fiancé/ Fiancée Scheme

If you want to buy a resale flat with your fiancé/ fiancée

Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme

Singaporean singles who want to buy an HDB resale flat (you’ll need to be 35 years old or above if you’re unmarried/divorced, or 21 years or above if you’re widowed or an orphan).

Joint Singles Scheme

Singaporean singles who want to jointly buy an HDB resale flat together (have to be 35 years old or above if you’re unmarried/divorced, or 21 years or above if you’re widowed or an orphan)

Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme

If you’re buying a resale flat with your spouse who is either on a Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass

Non-Citizen Family Scheme

If you’re a single Singaporean looking to buy a resale HDB flat but your family members aren’t Singaporean citizens or Singaporean PRs

Orphans Scheme

If you and your siblings are orphans and single and want to buy a resale flat together

Conversion Scheme

When you and your family members want to buy adjoining flats that are 3-room or smaller and combine them into one unit

Check the Ethnic and PR Quota When Buying HDB Resale Flats

When buying HDB resale flats, you will also need to ensure that you are within the ethnic quota of that particular block or neighbourhood. If you are a non-Malaysian PR, you will also have to make sure the quota for PRs has not been exceeded.
The ethnic and PR quotas are updated on the first of every month and affect resale applications in that month. As such, you may have to check the quotas again if you submit your application in a later month. You can check your eligibility on HDB’s website.

Is There a Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) for HDB Resale Flats?

Yes. Besides the eligibility criteria, the main regulation resale flat buyers need to worry about is the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), which is typically five years from the key collection date.
During the MOP, the buyer is expected to live in the flat and is not allowed to rent out the entire unit. Rental of rooms in the unit is permitted so long as the buyer continues to live in the flat.

Financing Your HDB Resale Flat: How to Pay for Your New Home

The savings in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) can be used to pay for your flat, as well as your monthly mortgage instalments.
If you are taking an HDB housing loan, you are required to drain your CPF OA balance or opt to retain up to $20,000 in your OA. For flats with a balance lease of under 60 years, there might be withdrawal limits on your CPF OA.
The two main loan options for buying a resale flat: an HDB loan, or bank loan. Generally, those with less cash flow opt for HDB loans as the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is 85%, meaning you only need to pay a 15% downpayment upfront.
Those with more cash/CPF savings consider bank loans too: although it requires a 25% downpayment (due to the 75% LTV limit) and the interest rates are usually more attractive than HDB’s.
At the same time, you might want to speak to PropertyGuru Finance’s Mortgage Experts to plan your financial health and future.
For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.
Need help to finance your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.
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 Buying HDB Resale Flats in Singapore

HDB resale flats are sold by existing HDB flat owners. All listings and transactions are done with the involvement of the sellers and the agents. 

It is possible to do so, provided that you are very well-versed with the procedure, listing details and paperwork involved. Making any mistakes can lead to a hefty disaster. It is definitely best to have a professional to guide you along the way. 

Unfortunately, no. A single PR cannot buy an HDB resale flat as they have to make the purchase under the Public Scheme (buying with family) or the Fiance/Fiancee Scheme (buying with a spouse). Read more about it here: Can a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) Buy an HDB Flat in Singapore?

It takes roughly eight weeks for a successful transaction to occur. Read more about the process on HDB's website here.