With effect from the second half of 2024, single Singaporeans will now have more public housing options, from non-mature estates to islandwide options.
In his address, Prime Minister Lee highlighted the growing trend of a higher proportion of Singaporeans choosing to be single, and acknowledged the desire of these individuals to have their own homes and a wider range of housing choices.
What is the new Standard-Plus-Prime BTO framework?
The new classification system will now classify new BTO projects into three categories: Standard, Plus and Prime, to differentiate projects and better reflect their locational attributes, while keeping them affordable.
Standard flats remain largely unchanged and make up the bulk of supply of new HDB flats which can be found islandwide and follows the standard MOP rule of 5 years.
The new Plus flats are built at more attractive locations, but still remain less central than Prime projects.
Prime flats are those in the choicest and most central locations, which will be the most heavily subsidised, but will also be subject to the tightest restrictions.
Both Plus and Prime projects are subjected to the 10-year MOP rule.
More housing options for singles
Previously, first-timer singles can only apply for new 2-room Flexi BTO flats in non-mature estates and are not allowed to buy Prime flats, an attempt by the Government to prioritise the limited supply of flats. However, by doing so, they have restricted singles’ choices greatly.
In line with the new reclassification of HDB projects, eligible first-time singles who are at least 35 years old will be able to (starting from H2 2024):
- Apply for two-room Flexi BTO flats in all locations, across all types of projects – Standard, Plus, and Prime
- Buy a Standard or Plus flat of any size in the resale market (except 3Gen flats)
- Buy a two-room Prime flat in the resale market
For BTO flats, the household income ceiling for singles is set at $7,000.
First-time singles buying a resale flat may also be eligible for CPF Housing Grants of $40,000 for the purchase of a 2- to 4-room resale flat or $25,000 for a 5-room resale flat. They can also apply for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) and the Proximity Housing Grant (Singles) if they meet the eligibility conditions. (Read our CPF Housing Grant Guide here.)
Timeline of the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
In today’s generation, changing lifestyle and aspirations have resulted in a growing number of singles who prefer to buy and live in their own flats instead of with their families, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and Housing and Development Board (HDB) shared in a joint statement.
Drawing reference to the 2022 Population in Brief report, the proportion of singles among adult Singaporeans have increased for most age groups, except for males aged between 44 and 49, and females aged 35 to 39.
“During our Forward Singapore engagement sessions on public housing, some singles reflected their preference for flats in mature estates to be nearer to their elderly parents for mutual care and support,” they added.
Over the decades, there have been progressive changes made for singles who wish to purchase an HDB flat. A turning point was reached in 1991 when the Government introduced the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme that allowed singles aged 35 and above to buy resale flats that were limited to three-room and smaller flats at selected locations.
|– Introduction of Home Ownership for the People Scheme
– Eligible buyers had to be a part of a family with at least 2 people
|– Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) set up for flats that were typically larger and equipped with better amenities than public HDB flats
– Singles allowed to purchase
|Singles allowed to use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) to purchase an HUDC flat
|Restriction on singles for the sale of HUDC flats – singles under 40 placed on waiting list and can only buy a flat when they form a family
|HDB took over management of HUDC flats
|– Single Singapore Citizen Scheme introduced
– Singles aged 35 and above can buy resale flats (limited to three-room and smaller flats at selected location)
|CPF Housing Grants extended to singles (first-time home owners buying resale flat with monthly household income < $7,000)
|Singles allowed to buy three-room and smaller resale flats in all locations
|Singles allowed to buy four-room and larger resale flats in all locations
|Singles allowed to buy new 2-room Flexi BTO flats directly from HDB
|– Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) introduced with housing grant of up to $40,000
– Eligible first-time flat owners with monthly household income < $4,500
|HDB increased quota for singles applying for new two-room Flexi BTO in non-mature estates from 50% to 65%
|CPF Housing Grant for singles increased from $25,000 to $40,000
|– Introduction of new framework (Standard, Plus, Prime flats) with different subsidies and restrictions
– Singles can apply for two-room Flexi flat in all locations
– Singles can buy Standard or Plus flat of any size, or buy a two-room Prime flat from resale market
HDB has also continuously rolled out measures to better support singles, such as the CPF Housing Grants, which were first extended to singles in 1998. In 2004, singles were allowed to buy four-room and larger resale flats in all locations.
Singles were then allowed to purchase new 2-room Flexi BTO flats directly from HDB in 2013.
Even earlier this year, the CPF Housing Grants for singles increased from $25,000 to $40,000.
With the introduction of the new framework in the second half of 2024, eligible first-time singles now enjoy a wider range of housing options.
What do these changes mean?
Increasing numbers of Singaporeans have already begun to move away from the traditional mindset of having to get married and start a family, and instead are content with being single, so there is no doubt that there will be a shift among more singles aged 35 years and over.
As the Government works towards a more inclusive, affordable and fair system for all, these individuals are not to be neglected. They too should enjoy equal opportunities in homeownership and housing choices.
With more options to buy Government housing, singles will not have to incur high rental or purchase costs. As the population ages, the relocation of singles to different parts of Singapore can also help to foster a more diverse landscape within the neighbourhoods. Providing support for these singles as they age will likely become a necessity in the future.
Demands may also be drawn away from the resale market as singles are attracted to the newly subsidised housing options they previously do not have.
However, individuals who are looking to have their house urgently or do not wish to wait for the long wait time for their house to be ready may still continue to look at the resale market.
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Meanwhile, we have broken down the 3 key HDB changes announced at the National Day Rally 2023 and the new HDB classification of Standard, Plus, and Prime flats.