Singapore Public Housing, has been built and managed by Government's Housing Development Board (HDB) since independent. More than 80% of Singapore's population live in HDB flats, with 95% of them owning their HDB flat. Whether you are Singapore citizen, Singapore permanent resident, or working expatriate considering to buy a HDB Resale flat to start new family or relocating in your preferred housing estate, you need to understand some of the important rules and regulations before looking for an ideal roof over your head.
HDB basically govern buyers' eligibility to buy the huge pool of HDB resale flats. You need to be qualified under one of HDB eligibility schemes before your are allowed to purchase a resale flat from the open market. For instance, one of the criteria set in all the HDB eligibility schemes, require the buyer must be at least 21 years old, and together with all co-applicants must not be undischarged bankrupts. Hence you are not eligible to buy a resale flat, say if your falls below 21 years old.
Besides the qualified age, the prerequisites for the eligibility conditions to be met are that, you must be a Singaporean citizen, or Singapore permanent resident. There are various HDB Eligibility scheme available for buyers who meet the criteria such as age and citizenship. For example, you can choose to apply under the Public Scheme, together with yours family nucleus, which comprise at least another permanent resident or Singapore citizen. If you are planning to get married, you can apply to purchase a resale flat under the Fiance/Fiancee Scheme.
For Singapore citizen buyers, they enjoy more flexibility to take advantage of HDB Eligibility schemes design for single, with age 35 and above. If you meet these criteria, you are eligible to buy the resale flat by yourself as a single (defined as unmarried, divorcee, widowed person, or an orphan) under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. As an alternative, you can also purchase the resale flat with another related or unrelated single, up to maximum 4 applicants, under the Joint Singles Scheme.
With your age exceed 35 years old and you subsequently married to a non-citizen who has less than 6 months social visit pass, you can apply for Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. Under this scheme has a flexible condition for your age limit - if your non-citizen spouse has more than 6 months social visit pass, your age limit is then minimum 21 years old. Another variation to this scheme is the Non-Citizen Family Scheme, where it allows a single citizen at least 21 years old, with non-citizen family members to buy a HDB resale flat from the open market. The condition is the non-citizen spouse must has more than 6 months social visit pass.
There are other schemes available to cater for different buyers group where you can find more detail from the official HDB websites, such as Ophans Scheme allows 2 or more orphans who are unmarried siblings, to buy a HDB resale flat from the open market. Citizen / Permanent Resident Siblings Scheme allows 2 or more singles siblings to buy a HDB resale flat from the open market, and Conversion Scheme allows the current flat owner to buy 2 units of 3 rooms or smaller flat or buy an adjoining 3 rooms or small flat with family nucleus.
Having done your homework to understand on the HDB resale rules and regulation, even you are qualified to buy a resale flat under one of the HDB Eligibility Schemes, your final application are still subjected to the proportion limit of your ethnic group and Singapore Permanent Resident quota. This is known as ethnic integration policy, uniquely set to promote racial integration and harmony while preventing the formation of racial enclaves by ensuring a balance ethnic mix among the various ethnic communities living in public housing estates.
The last important HDB resale ruling is that, you need to live in the HDB resale flat after you've purchased. This requirement however, out weighted by the long term advantage where you can rent out your private property to generate rental income while enjoying capital appreciation. Also there is no income ceiling to purchase a resale flat unless you are applying for CPF housing grant and/or HDB loan. To take advantage of the Government subsidies, you may also apply for CPF housing grant and/or HDB loan if you meet all the eligibility conditions under those schemes.
Comparing with private residential properties, HDB resale flats remain attractive with amenities and more affordable for living. Before you decide to go for cheaper public housing, understanding your eligibility status is very crucial at the initial stage. You may consult reliable realtor for further advice. A professional property agent should furnish you the latest Government, HDB and CPF rulings and transparent information such as recent transaction and current market trend to help you be well informed so that you can buy a HDB resale flat safely and at fair or subsidized price using CPF housing grant if you are further eligible.