How to Buy A HDB Resale Flat – A Complete Guide

If you are looking for a HDB flat to start a family and are unwilling to wait about 4 years for a new Built-to-Order (BTO) flat to be completed, your next option is to buy a HDB resale flat or a private property, if you can afford one (refer to "How to Buy A New Launch or Resale private property"). But the whole process of buying a HDB resale flat can be a little daunting to some, especially for first-time buyers.

Fret not though! Below is a complete step-by-step guide on the whole procedure of buying your HDB resale flat. However, if you are looking for BTO flats, please refer to our guide on “How to Buy A HDB BTO Flat”. You may also wish to find out more about investing in HDB flats and executive condominiums.

Eligibility Conditions to Buy a HDB Resale Flat

First of all, check the eligibility conditions to buy a resale flat under the various eligible schemes, such as Public Scheme, Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, Joint Singles Scheme, etc. To be eligible, you and your spouse must either be a Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident (SPR). If both of you are SPRs, you must have gained permanent residency for at least 3 years.

Married applicants must also be at least 21 years old. If an applicant is between 18 and 21 years old, parental consent must be obtained. If below 18 years old, a Special Marriage Licence from the Ministry of Family & Social Development (MSF) is required.

Singles are only eligible to buy when they turn 35 year old. However, there are exceptions, such as those who are widowed, orphaned or are single unwed mothers. You can check the full eligibility conditions here.


Income Ceiling

Although there is no income ceiling to purchase of HDB resale flats, it will determine the amount of housing grants you will qualify for. Depending on your household income level, you may receive up to $160,000 consisting of $50,000 Family Grant, $80,000 Enhanced Housing Grant and $30,000 Proximity Grant.

For the Family Grant, $50,000 will be given to those who buy a 2- to 4-room HDB flat, and $40,000 for a 5-room or bigger flat if both applicants are Singapore citizens. If one of them is a Singapore permanent resident (SPR), the grant will be reduced by $10,000. However, the $10,000 can be reimbursed later should the SPR subsequently become a Singapore citizen. The household income ceiling to receive the grant is $14,000.

For the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG), it will be based on the level of household income as indicated in the table below. The household income ceiling for EHG is lower at $9,000 though.

First-Timer Families and Singles under Joint Singles Scheme Singles under Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
Average Monthly Household Income Grant Amount Average Monthly Household Income Grant Amount
Not more than $1,500 $80,000 Not more than $750 $40,000
$1,501 - $2,000 $75,000 $751 - $1,000 $37,500
$2,001 - $2,500 $70,000 $1,001 - $1,250 $35,000
$2,501 - $3,000 $65,000 $1,251 - $1,500 $32,500
$3,001 - $3,500 $60,000 $1,501 - $1,750 $30,000
$3,501 - $4,000 $55,000 $1,751 - $2,000 $27,500
$4,001 - $4,500 $50,000 $2,001 - $2,250 $25,000
$4,501 - $5,000 $45,000 $2,251 - $2,500 $22,500
$5,001 - $5,500 $40,000 $2,501 - $2,750 $20,000
$5,501 - $6,000 $35,000 $2,751 - $3,000 $17,500
$6,001 - $6,500 $30,000 $3,001 - $3,250 $15,000
$6,501 - $7,000 $25,000 $3,251 - $3,500 $12,500
$7,001 - $7,500 $20,000 $3,501 - $3,750 $10,000
$7,501 - $8,000 $15,000 $3,751 - $4,000 $7,500
$8,001 - $8,500 $10,000 $4,001 - $4,250 $5,000
$8,501 - $9,000 $5,000 $4,251 - $4,500 $2,500
More than $9,000 NA More than $4,500 NA

For the Proximity Housing Grant, $30,000 will be given for applicants who live with either of their parents and $20,000 if they live within 4 km of them.

For singles, the income ceiling and the respective grants will be half of that for a couple.


Household Income: $7,000

Resale HDB Flat Purchased: 5-room

Parents: Live within 4 km

Total Grants Received: $40,000 (Family Grant) + $25,000 (Enhanced Housing Grant) + $20,000 (Proximity Housing Grant) = $85,000


Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP)

Buyers must also comply with the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) that specifies the percentage of ethnic groups in each block and neighbourhood. For each block, the maximum limit for Chinese, Malay and Indian/Others are set at 87%, 25% and 15% respectively. For the neighbourhood, they are specified at 84%, 22% and 12%.


Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quota

Besides EIP, there is also the Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quota. For Non-Malaysian SPRs, the maximum limits for the block and neighbourhood are set at 8% and 5% respectively. Do note that Malaysians are treated similarly to Singaporeans due to their historical and cultural ties to Singapore. Hence, they will not be subjected to the SPR quota.


Ownership of Properties

You cannot have ownership of any properties if you wish to buy a HDB resale flat. These properties include HDB flats as well as private or overseas properties. Should you own any of these, you must dispose them within 6 months of purchasing your resale flat.


Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Check that sellers have completed their 5-year minimum occupation period (MOP). This excludes the period that they did not occupy the flat. For example, within that 5 years, they have worked overseas for 2 years. These 2 years are not counted as part of their MOP and hence, they are not eligible to sell although they have owned the flat for 5 years. Similarly, after buying the resale flat, you too must complete the 5-year MOP before you can dispose of it.


Work Out Your Budget

After confirming your eligibility to purchase a HDB resale flat, you will need to work out your budget, taking into account the amount of government housing grants you will be receiving. Then find out the transacted prices of HDB resale flats in different locations. Obviously, one nearer to town will likely be more expensive than those in the suburbs.

After doing your homework, you will have a better idea of the type of flat and the location you can afford.


Decide Where to Buy Your Resale Flat

One great advantage of buying a HDB resale flat is that you can choose the location of your choice. So, decide where to buy your resale flat – one that is near your parents, a shopping centre, a MRT station or a popular school to enroll your children in?

As compared to BTO flats, most are built in non-mature estates. Of course there are built in matured estates such as the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH). However, they are not only more expensive, the chances of getting one is also slim. Perhaps, the most anticipated PLH HDB flats will be those at Telok Blangah along the Greater Southern Waterfront.

As for PLH flats, they come with additional ownership criteria, like subsidy crawl back and a 10-year munimum occupation period (MOP).


What Housing Loan to Apply

Decide what housing loan to apply for – a HDB concessionary loan or a Bank loan? For a HDB housing loan, you can get up to 80% financing of the purchase or valuation price, whichever is lower. The balance of 20% can be paid in CPF &/or cash. For a bank loan, you can only get up to 75% financing of the purchase or valuation price. The balance of 25% must be paid in cash (minimum 5%) and the rest in CPF (see below).

At the same time, do take note of the Change In CPF Usage And Housing Loan Rules as this will impact on the amount of CPF funds for your purchase.

How to Buy A HDB Resale Flat: Loan-to-Value (LTV) Chart

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Chart

HDB Resale Flat Application Process

After determining your eligibility and budget, as well as shortlisting a suitable HDB flat, below is the HDB application process you need to take note of.

Register Intent to Buy – All HDB resale transactions must be processed via the HDB Resale Portal. Both buyers and sellers must register their intent to buy/sell separately in the portal (valid for 12 months) before they are eligible to transact. The HDB resale portal will provide information such as eligibility, EIP/SPR quota, recent HDB transacted prices and HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) application (if applying for a HDB housing loan). The HLE letter is valid for 6 months. If you are getting a bank loan, you need to get a Letter of Offer.

Negotiate Price of HDB Resale Flat – You and the seller will negotiate the price of the HDB flat. At this point of time, the you must have the HLE letter ready. Once the price is agreed, the seller will grant you an Option to Purchase (OTP) after a 7-day cooling-off period. You have to pay an option fee between $1 - $1,000, negotiated with the buyer or through the property agent.

The very next day, you are required to apply for Request for Value (HDB’s valuation of the flat), which will provide you with information such as the amount of CPF savings you can withdraw, loan quantum and minimum cash payment to be made. Within 21 days of the OTP, you must exercise it or else your option money will be forfeited. If you exercise the OTP, you must pay the balance amounting to $5,000 to the seller to confirm your purchase. If you are taking a Bank loan, a Letter of Offer must be furnished.

Submit Resale Application – Once the OTP is exercise, both you and the seller will have to submit the resale application separately within 7 days. Once HDB accepts the applications, it will take about 8 weeks to complete the transaction. During this period, HDB will prepare the necessary documents for both of you to endorse, as well as to make payments such as stamp duties and conveyancing fees. Once everything is in order, HDB will grant resale approval and prepares for completion.

Resale Completion Appointment – On the resale completion appointment date, HDB will witness the following:

  • The signing of the transfer document by the seller of the resale flat.
  • The signing of the mortgage document/agreement by you, if you are taking a HDB loan.
  • The handing over of keys from seller to you (or to your lawyer if the you take a bank loan and have engaged the bank to act on your behalf).

By this time, the seller would have moved out and left the flat in an acceptable condition. Therefore, it is advisable that you arrange a final inspection with the seller prior to the completion date to prevent any unnecessary delay. For example, if the seller had carried out any unauthorized work, they must be ratified before handing over.

Besides this step-by-steop guide on how to buy a HDB resale flat, you may also wish to find out what are some of the factors to look out for when buying a property.

If you have any queries about property investment, please WhatsApp or Email us.


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Posted in Property Guides.

Hi, I'm Lance Kuan, an Associate Marketing Manager at Huttons Asia Pte Ltd, one of the largest property agencies in Singapore.

With almost 30 years of experience in banking, investment and market analysis, I now find immense pleasure helping others in property investment and asset progression.

My blog - Sg Home Investment - offers essential property reviews, research and guides to help buyers make informed decisions. Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries about the real estate market in Singapore.