You have to be a Singapore citizen, aged at least 35 years old to apply as an unmarried or divorced individual. The only exception is if you are an orphan with no siblings; you may apply for your own flat upon turning 21 under the Orphan's Scheme.
Unrelated singles citizens who are 35 years or older can also jointly apply for an HDB flat, up to 4 such individuals can co-own a flat this way under the Joint Singles Scheme.
The other eligibility requirement is the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quota. However, this is more likely to impact your flat’s location, rather than act as a hurdle against your eligibility to apply for one.
What HDB Flats Can Singles Buy?
As a single buyer, you have 2 choices when it comes to HDB apartments - a 2-room flexi HDB BTO flat in a non-mature estate, or a resale HDB flat.
The biggest advantage of getting a BTO flat is a financial one - BTOs are priced significantly cheaper than those on the resale market. However, unmarried individuals are restricted to 2-room flexi units in non-mature estates only, even if there are multiple co-applicants.
With 1 bedroom and 1 living room, the total floor space of such units range from 35 sqm to 49 sqm.
Clearly, a 2-room flat is small, but if you apply for one under the BTO scheme, you’ll be getting a brand-new apartment that you can renovate to suit your needs.
If you’re lucky enough to be successful in your HDB BTO ballot, you’ll need to wait around 4 to 6 years for your flat to be built before you can move in, with some up to 8 years, particularly during the pandemic.
If balloting (and waiting) for a 2-room flexi HDB BTO unit doesn’t appeal to you, you can try looking for a suitable apartment on the resale market. Singles—whether individually or jointly—can purchase any type of HDB resale they desire, provided they can afford it.
The main disadvantage of buying a resale flat is the cost. At present, and reasonably for the next 30 years or so, the smallest resale HDB you can probably buy is a 3-room unit. (HDB flats have a minimum occupancy period of 5 years or 10 years under the Prime Location Housing (PLH) model, and with current supply not yet meeting demand, it is unlikely you’ll find any 2-room units on the resale market anytime soon.)
If your resale flat has less than 60 years remaining on its lease, you’ll be limited in how long you can use your CPF to pay for your mortgage. The latest update in May 2019 stipulates that the amount of CPF you can use to pay for your home is pro-rated based on whether or not the remaining lease can cover the youngest homeowner till age 95. However, as of the January 2022 CPF updates, you can now leave up to S$20,000 in your CPF OA as a safety net. Also, the CPF can only be used to finance your property if its remaining lease can cover the youngest buyer till age 95. If these criteria are not met, the use of CPF will be pro-rated.
This means the lease should ideally cover the youngest buyer until age 95. A buyer can then use CPF to pay for a property up to its valuation limit if the criteria are met. If not, the use of CPF will be pro-rated. No CPF can be used if the remaining lease is less than 20 years
After you’ve located and purchased your own HDB resale flat, you’ll most likely have to carry out some major renovation work. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you should budget S$30,000 for a 3-room flat, S$40,000 for a 4-room flat, and S$50,000 for a 5-room flat for renovation.
As a single homeowner, you’ll undoubtedly find a resale flat more expensive to own. However, a resale unit offers you one financial advantage that a 2-room BTO does not.
If you don’t need the extra rooms, you can rent them out to generate some additional income. Granted, there are pros and cons to sharing your home with renters but don’t underestimate the financial possibilities that leasing can open up.
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