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Going solo: A guide to buying an HDB flat for singles

23 Aug 2017 
SOURCE: CPF Board

​"I like the freedom that comes with living by myself. It does take a little more time, but that moment will be worth the wait."

 

Rather than keeping her age a secret, 31-year-old Cheryl actually looks forward to celebrating her birthday every year. Her 35th birthday, in particular, is the one she can't wait for – when she will be eligible to buy her own HDB flat.

 

Single by choice (or not)

 

Cheryl's story is not an uncommon one in Singapore, with figures from the latest General Household Survey showing 70% of those between 25 and 29 are single.

 

Young Singaporeans are staying single for a variety of reasons, be it a focus on career advancement, not meeting the right one yet, or a conscious decision to enjoy the freedom of singlehood. One thing is in common though – they will only be able to purchase an HDB flat from the age of 35.

 

"I think you'll definitely need even more time to prepare when you're doing it alone."

 

Having seen her friends struggling with their loans even with partners to rely on, Cheryl knows she's not quite ready yet. Handling the financial commitment of a home on her own will require more planning, and she has a few more years to work on it.

 

If you're reading this article, you are probably intending to purchase your own HDB flat as well. Not to worry though, we'll take you through everything you need to know so you're more than ready when the time comes.

 

What are my options?

 

There are two types of public housing you can choose from as a single Singaporean aged 35 and above.

 

You can apply for a new BTO flat from HDB, but this is limited to 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates.

 

The other option would be to get a resale flat from the open market; there are no restrictions to the size of your flat or the area it is in.

 

What are some things to consider?

 

At a glance, you may already have a preference between the two options. Making your final decision is not as straightforward as you think though; here are some things you will need to factor in:

 

Grants

Heard from your married friends how CPF Housing Grants subsidised the cost of their home purchase? As a single applicant, you can benefit from these grants as well!

 

Depending on your monthly income and whether you're applying under the Joint Singles Scheme or Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, you may be eligible for up to $80,000 in Additional CPF Housing Grant (Singles) and Special CPF Housing Grant (Singles) if you're getting a BTO flat.

Going solo1.pngOn the other hand, you may receive up to $110,000 in Additional CPF Housing Grant (Singles) and Special CPF Housing Grant (Singles) if you're opting for a resale flat under the Joint Singles Scheme or Single Singapore Citizen Scheme.

 Going solo2.png

After taking these grants into account, the price difference between your options may change and affect your decision to go with one over the other.

 

Read more:

A Single's Guide to BTOs & Grant Eligibility

A Single's Guide to Resale Flats & Grant Eligibility

 

Urgency 

If the process of sourcing for and buying your resale flat goes smoothly, you could be moving in within a year. On the other hand, you will need to ballot and wait for your BTO flat to be ready – a process which can take approximately three years.

 

How urgently you need to move into your own apartment would therefore affect your decision between the two.

 

Lease 

Typically, a BTO flat comes with a fresh 99-year lease*, and there are no limits to the amount of CPF you can use from your Ordinary Account (OA) to pay for it if you take an HDB loan.

 

*Shorter leases are also available under the 2-room Flexi Scheme for buyers at least 55 years old at the time of application.

 Going solo3.png

 

Read more:

How Much CPF Can I Use for My House?

 

Meanwhile, the amount of lease remaining on your resale flat varies and could affect how much you can finance it using CPF if the remaining lease is less than 60 years.

 Going solo4.png

 

Working out the finances 

Now that you have made a decision to get either a BTO or resale flat, it's time to figure out how to pay for it. Handling the full cost of a home can be intimidating, but a little financial planning goes a long way to ensure you are up to the task.

 

For starters, work backwards to calculate how much housing repayments you can afford to make every month. Deduct your monthly expenses from your take-home pay, and come up with a comfortable estimate.

 

Next, use the CPF Monthly Instalment Calculator to determine how much your flat options (after grants) would set you back every month. If the monthly instalments are taxing on your finances, you may wish to reconsider your choice of flat.

 

You can make use of the CPF savings in your Ordinary Account (OA) for your monthly housing repayments, but it's important to check whether you will reach the Valuation Limit or Withdrawal Limit for using CPF before your loan tenure ends.

 Going solo5.png

You may refer here for the current BRS applicable to your cohort.

 

After this, don't forget to factor in the other recurring costs which come with your home.

 Going solo6.png

These include your Housing Protection Scheme premiums, which can be paid from your OA. You would have to be remain insured under HPS if you wish to use your CPF for your monthly repayments.

 

Lastly, try to set aside savings of at least 6 months' worth of monthly repayments as an emergency fund. This acts as a buffer for any prolonged periods of unemployment, since you still need to pay for the flat during this time.

 

You're now one step closer to becoming a proud homeowner! Who says you can't do it by yourself?

 

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