When I first heard about the new HDB classification for BTO projects, my first thought was, It’s been a long time coming.
Truthfully, the old system of mature estates and non-mature estates, which has been used to classify BTO projects since about 1992, has been outdated for quite some time.
As an innovative nation, towns have rapidly grown well past the “non-mature” definition of being disconnected from the city and fewer amenities nearby housing estates.
If you visit non-mature estates such as Punggol, Sengkang, or Woodlands today, you’ll find well-connected public transport systems, malls, parks, food centres, entertainment establishments, and housing concepts that reflect the lifestyle and culture of Singapore as we know it today.
This is a big reason why some BTO projects in these less central, though more connected, areas are gaining higher demand than those in mature estates.
However, you can hardly call these towns prime areas, so they still don’t really belong to the new Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model, which was introduced in October 2021 to classify BTO projects built in prime, central locations such as the city centre and the future Greater Southern Waterfront.
Introducing the new HDB classification: Standard, Plus & Prime
To mirror the change in the housing landscape and reflect the shift in buyer behaviour, the government has announced a new HDB classification.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at his annual National Day Rally speech that BTO projects will now be classified under Standard, Plus, and Prime categories, to take effect on H2 2024. They will be differentiated by their location appeal such as proximity to transport links, nearby amenities, and distance to the city centre.
Existing BTO flats or flats that have already been booked will not be affected by the changes.
What are the differences between Standard, Plus, and Prime BTO projects?
The Standard category will make up the bulk of supply. They will be located islandwide and will follow the regular subsidies and standard MOP rule of 5 years.
Prime projects, which refer to BTO flats under the existing PLH model which took effect in Nov 2021, will be located in the “choicest”, most central locations. That said, they will also have the tightest restrictions for buyers and sellers: a 10-year MOP and a subsidy recovery of 6% for buyers when they sell their home on the resale market for the first time. You can read more about the PLH model here.
What the new Plus category means
The newest addition to the BTO categorisation is the Plus category, which sees BTO projects located in areas more attractive than the Standard projects — near MRT stations, malls, and other favoured amenities by buyers — but less central than Prime projects.
Plus flats will also have a 10-year MOP, just like flats under the PLH model, though they will have a lower subsidy recovery rate.
Speaking of which, subsidy recovery rates vary according to the BTO project, but don’t worry. HDB will provide it before you make a property purchase.
Resale restrictions for Plus flats
#1: Plus flats can only be resold to Singapore citizens
On 22 August 2023, MND also announced that Plus flats, upon reaching the 10-year MOP, can only be sold to Singapore Citizens on the resale market. (There is a chance for this rule to be applied to Prime projects as well, but there is currently no confirmation on this at the time of writing.)
#2: 30-month waiting period for private property owners
Private property owners will also have to wait 30 months after selling their home to be eligible to purchase a Plus flat on the resale market.
#3: $14,000 income ceiling
Additionally, the Government will gradually provide more housing grants, especially grants that are means-tested such as the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG), in order to keep costs low while still providing maximum support to the lower- and middle-income households in Singapore.
The new HDB classification also benefits Singles
The new HDB classification comes with some good news for single buyers.
Starting H2 2024, eligible first-time singles who are at least 35 years old will be able to:
- 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
The $7,000 income ceiling will still apply.
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.
To stay updated in under 3 minutes, here’s our guide to the 3 key HDB changes announced at the National Day Rally 2023.
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