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Buying a HDB Flat: A Guide for First-Time Buyers

Buying a home can seem like a daunting task especially for first-time buyers. HBD flats are the safest bet for first-time buyers in Singapore, whether as a single individual or as a married couple.

They are a popular and ideal choice for first-time home buyers as they provide a comfortable and affordable alternative, and can be acquired through grants that ease the financial burden. There are some things that first-time buyers should consider before they make the final decision.

HDB Requirements

  • Age limit

There are some HDB requirements that first-time buyers need to know about before they proceed. Applicants have to be above 21-years-old if they apply as an orphan without siblings or as a couple.

The minimum age limit is also set at 35-years-years-old for divorced or unmarried applicants.

  • Income limits

Singapore first-time home buyers must have a S$6,000 maximum monthly income in order to qualify for a 3-room flat purchase. This limit is set for non-mature estates while other estates have a S$12,000 monthly income ceiling.

Anyone looking to buy a 4-room flat and up will be subject to a S$12,000 gross monthly income ceiling. Those purchasing as an extended family will be subject to a S$18,000 gross monthly income ceiling.

Financial Readiness

Keep in mind that buying a home is a big engagement and one that requires financial stability. Evaluate your financial situation to determine whether buying a HDB flat is the right move for you.

The purchase decision might be straightforward for those who are single. However, couples need to consult each other to determine whether they are ready for the leap both financially and mentally.

Couples are required to have a marriage certificate three months before they collect the keys to their new home. Also, consider planning ahead so that you avoid making expensive mistakes that will negatively affect your finances.

In this case, you should ask yourself some important questions.

  • Which is the better option: buying a resale flat or a BTO?
  • Do you have sufficient cash savings?
  • How much will a CPF housing grant give you?
  • How will you service your HDB housing loan?
  • How much can you borrow?

Is Paying Cash a Better Option?

Paying cash is always a better option as it reduces the overall cost. There are numerous costs that are associated with credit card payments especially when purchasing HDB flats.

For example, credit card purchases attract a $10 administrative fee. There is a cash portion required as the downpayment and an option fee. Some of these fees are small enough to be easily paid in cash.

Available Grants

First-time flat buyers should also be well acquainted with the grants they are eligible for. The CPF Housing Grant for HDB flats has provisions such as the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG).

The CPF Housing Grant (AHG) targets buyers looking for 2-room flexi or larger with a $5,000 monthly income ceiling. The grant for this criteria goes as high as $40,000 based on the income. The Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) is also ideal for the 2-room flexi but it also extends to a 3 or 4-room flat located in a non-nature estate.

Its income ceiling ranges from $2,250 to $8,500 and the grant goes all the way up to $40,000.


First-time HDB flat buyers in Singapore may have to deal with some lengthy formalities to get to their goal but they should be better equipped once they follow the above guidelines.

*The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified adviser.

Sim Kwang Meng

Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Sim has more than 40 years’ of experience in General Insurance. He joined Pana Harrison since 2003, and specialised in Property and Casualty. Prior joining Pana Harrison, he was AGM for Commercial Union Assurance Pte Ltd.