Housing

Public Housing

Public housing in Singapore is managed by Singapore’s Housing Development Board, which aims to provide affordable and quality public housing for Singaporeans. With around 80% of residents living in HDB flats since the introduction of the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) in 1964, Singapore now has more than 1 million HDB flats spread across 24 towns and 3 estates that cater to the different needs and preferences of buyers

Types of Public Housing

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1,527 to 1,700 sq ft

From $620,000

1,442 sq ft to over 2,000 sq ft

 

From $650,000

1,238 sq ft

From $246,000

1,507 sq ft to 1,615 sq ft

From $550,000

1-room to 5-room Flats

From $394,000- $900,00+

HDB Maisonette

HDB Maisonettes are in high demand. This is mainly because they are rare, usually located in mature estates and are much larger than most other HDB flats. 

Average Size of Maisonettes

Resale Prices of Maisonettes

From data given by HDB in the past year, we saw transactions go for as high as $1.21 million in Toh Yi Drive (remaining lease 66 years, 6 months), and at the bottom end of the range, we found one that went for $468,000 in Jurong West (remaining lease 67 years, 4 months).

We also scoured property listing portals. Similarly, at the top end of the price range, we found listings for above $1.2 million, while at the lower end, there were listings for just over $620,000.

Rental Prices of Maisonettes

From data given by HDB, in the first quarter of 2022, 3-room units have been approved for rental at $1,900, 4-room units at $2,350, and 5-room units at $2,600 on average, depending on their estate's location. 

View rental statistics for maisonettes from HDB here.

Rental units on PropertyGuru.

Jumbo Flats

As mentioned above, jumbo flats can be found mainly in Woodlands, Yishun and Jurong East. These flats are made up of two flats (typically 3-room flats) combined into one. Think of them as an experimental public housing unit for the sandwiched class.

 Prices and Size of Recently listed Jumbo Flats

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Jumbo Flats Listings

View jumbo flats listings from PropertyGuru.

Rental units on PropertyGuru.

3Gen Flats, Executive Apartments & other HDB Flats

Interestingly, the 3Gen flat is not the biggest HDB flat type. The HDB Executive flat has a larger floor area, but is still one bedroom and one bathroom short compared to the 3Gen flat. HDB flats also come in other sizes, namely 5-rooms, 4-rooms, 3-rooms and 2-rooms. Below are the different flat sizes and the number of bedrooms they come with.

Average Size of HDB Flats

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HDB Flats Listings

View jumbo flats listings from PropertyGuru.

Rental units on PropertyGuru.

 
 
 

HDB Requirements

Ethnic Integration Policy

The EIP is put in place to preserve Singapore’s multi-cultural identity and promote racial integration and harmony. It ensures that there is a balanced mix of the various ethnic communities in HDB towns.

Under the EIP, there are limits on the total percentage of a block or neighbourhood that may be occupied by a certain ethnicity. When these limits are reached, no further sale of flats to the affected group is allowed, unless the seller and buyer belong to the same ethnic group. 

SPR Quota

The SPR quota ensures that SPR families can better integrate into the local community. Malaysians are excluded from this quota because of their close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans. Non-Malaysian SPR households applying to buy an HDB resale flat need to be within the SPR quota for the block (8%) and neighbourhood (5%).

Non-Citizen Quota

The NC quota at the neighbourhood and block-level for

Neighbourhood: 8%

Block: 11%

When the NC quota has reached the block and/or neighbourhood limits, flat owners will only be allowed to rent out the flat to Singaporean or Malaysian tenants. This quota does not apply to renting out of bedrooms.

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) is the time period you are required to physically occupy your flat before you can sell it on the open market. The MOP is calculated from the date you collect the keys to your flat and excludes any period where you do not occupy the flat, e.g. when the whole flat is rented out or when there has been an infringement of the flat lease. In general, the MOP for HDB flats is 5 years, with the exception of a few.

Flat Upgrading Costs

HDB has a few upgrading programmes to help enhance the living space and services in residents’ flat, block, and estate. The upgrading programmes are the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).

 

The government provides subsidies for Singapore Citizen households for upgrading their flat for LUP and HIP, with up to 95% of the cost for HIP. Singapore Permanent Resident households have to pay the full upgrading cost and are charged the HDB market interest rate should they choose to pay by monthly instalments. 

 

However, SPRs can claim reimbursement for the upgrading subsidy and convert the interest rate from to the HDB concessionary interest rate by fulfilling the following conditions:

  • Any Singapore Permanent Resident flat owner who has been billed for the upgrading cost obtains Singapore citizenship within 1 year from the date of billing

  • The reimbursement claim is made within 1 year of obtaining Singapore citizenship

  • The Singapore Permanent Resident flat owner who obtains Singapore citizenship must still be the flat owner at the time of reimbursement

 

If you have trouble paying for the upgrading cost, fret not, HDB provides financial assistance for those who require it. HDB provides assistance to flat owners whose gross monthly income does not exceed $2,000, those who are aged 55 years old and above, as well as those who are facing financial hardship. Depending on your circumstance, HDB can defer your payment, or extend the repayment period to a maximum of 25 years.

Buying a resale HDB in Singapore

Buying a resale HDB flat is quite a popular option for expats relocating to Singapore. With over a million units in every corner of the island, you're bound to find a unit that checks all of your boxes!

To find your ideal HDB, HDB has an array of resources for you:

Sign up for our resale seminars to learn more about resale policies and procedures.

Check the resale statistics to get an idea of the HDB resale market conditions.

Check the recent transacted prices of resale flats in the location you are interested in. These prices reflect the market conditions at the time of the transactions. You may refer to them to set your offer price.

Use HDB Map Services to obtain details such as the commencement dates of the flat leases, resale prices, and more. 

Use the HDB Flat Portal to take a peek at the upcoming BTO projects in Singapore.

Buying a resale HDB flat takes around 11 weeks. According to HDB’s timeline for resale flats, there are 3 phases - Plan, Source and Contract, Resale Application and the Resale Completion.

Private Housing

On the opposite spectrum of HDB are private houses, which are significantly more expensive than HDB flats, but come with fewer restrictions.

For instance, private properties can be rented out for at least three months to short-term visitors, while HDB flats have a minimum rental period of six months. Most private properties can be divested to foreigners, while HDB flats can only be sold to SC and SPRs.

Private residential properties are generally divided into two types, namely landed and non-landed residences.

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Shophouse

Urban Development Company Flat

Executive Condominium (Hybrid)

Condominums

Compared to HDB flats (BTO or resale) and Executive Condominiums, a Permanent Resident can buy an off-plan or brand new private condominium and second-hand unit without any problem, as long as you can afford it.

Not only are you allowed to rent out private condos for a minimum term of six months (3 months for HDB flats), such residential properties are considered as good investments, particularly those located in prime areas close to amenities like MRT stations, malls and eateries.

prices and sizes of units can defer, depending oh the location and estate. Refer to the tables and map below to find out more!

 Prices and Size of Recently listed Jumbo Flats

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Condominium Listings

View condominium listings from PropertyGuru.

Rental units on PropertyGuru.

Landed Property

Terrace house

A terrace house is a dwelling house with its own land title that forms part of a row of at least 3 dwelling houses abutting the common boundary party walls.

Semi-detached house

A semi-detached house is one half of a pair of two houses, each with its own land title, separated by a common party wall along one side of the premises.

Bungalow/detached house

A bungalow is a detached landed house with its own land title.

Others

Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (e.g., townhouse or cluster house);

Size of Landed Property in Singapore

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Landed Property Listings

View Landed Property listings from PropertyGuru.

Rental units on PropertyGuru.

 
 

Freehold vs 99 Years

All HDB flats have a 99-year lease, while private properties are available in all three leasehold types (freehold, 99-years, 999-years). However, the government has stopped providing 999-year leases, and hence the most common lease type is the 99-year lease.

Read more here!

What housing can Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Foreigners purchase in Singapore?

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Data taken from PropertyGuru.

Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner

Here are some things you should take note of and know before purchasing your first property in Singapore as a foreigner!

Property Taxes

Restrictions 

Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD)

You are required to pay BSD for documents executed for the transfer or sale and purchase of property located in Singapore. BSD will be computed on the purchase price as stated in the document to be stamped or market value of the property (whichever is the higher amount). 

You’ll have a higher tax rate when the property is more expensive. Right now, residential properties are taxed at 1% for the first $180,000; 2% for the next $180,000, 3% for the next $640,000; and 4% for the remaining amount.

Read more about BSD here.

Restrictions 

Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD)

Additional Buyer’s Stamp is another kind of tax on top of BSD. However, it only applies to Singapore Permanent Residents and foreigners, or Singaporean Citizens intending to buy more than one residential property in Singapore.

 

Unless you’re a Citizen or Permanent Resident of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, or USA, you need to pay an additional 20% for each property that you buy. 

On top of Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), buyers are required to pay an Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). The ABSD rates differ from foreigners to Permanent Residents.

 

For foreigners, buying any residential property subjects you to 30% ABSD on the purchase price or the market value of the property, whichever is the higher emount.

 

Meanwhile for PRs, buying your first, second and third residential property subjects you to 5%, 25% and 30% respectively.

 

Let’s say you have a residential property in mind, a condominium. The price is at SGD 1 million.

 

A 30% ABSD will be incurred on foreigners buying any residential property.

30100$1,000,000 = $300,000

 

Meanwhile, A 5% ABSD is incurred on PRs buying their first residential property.

5100$1,000,000 = $50,000

 

The difference is a whopping $250,000!

Property Loans 

Property loans can help manage your housing payments better. However, to apply for a property loan, you will first need to understand these terms.

Property Loan Terms

Restrictions 

In-Principle Approval (IPA)

An In-Principle Approval (IPA, sometimes referred to as AIP or Approval In-Principle) is an agreement with a bank. Based on your credit history and financial health, a bank can assess your eligibility and pre-approve your home loan. There is no actual loan that takes place when you get an IPA; rather, it’s a guarantee that the bank will extend you the loan when you need it.

 

IPA is similar to what HDB makes you apply for prior — the HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter.

 

An IPA is not a commitment that you’ll take up a loan from that bank, so if the interest rate is revised upwards and/or you find a better rate or suddenly inherit a house, you can let the IPA lapse or apply for your home loan from another bank.

Restrictions 

Loan-to-Value Ratio

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio is defined by the maximum amount an individual can borrow from a financial institution for a housing loan. LTV Ratio is calculated based on the loan amount as a percentage of the property’s value.

For example, if an individual borrows $800,000 to purchase a property valued at $1,000,000, the LTV is 80%.

If an individual does not have an outstanding housing loan, he/she can borrow up to 75% of the purchase price. If he/she already has 1 outstanding loan, only 45% will be granted. For 2 or more loans at a time, 35% will be granted.

Meanwhile, if you get a housing loan from HDB, the LTV Ratio is up to 85% of the flat purchase or resale price.

Restrictions 

Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR)

Total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) refers to the portion of a borrower’s gross monthly income that goes towards repaying the monthly debt obligations, for example, home loans and car loans.

A borrower's TDSR should be less than or equal to 55%.

Restrictions 

SIBOR Pegged Mortgages 

SIBOR stands for the Singapore Interbank Borrowing Offer Rate and is a transparent interbank borrowing rate that allows consumers to know exactly what the interbank market interest rate is and the interbank cost of borrowing. The rate is publicly available in Business Times, Teletext and the web.

The Sibor rate comes in tenor terms of 1/3/6/12 months with most banks in Singapore offering home loans or commercial industrial mortgages in either the 1 month or 3 months tenor. A longer term tenor typically comes with a higher interest rate.

The banks charges a certain bank margin spread above the prevailing Sibor Rate for the final aggregate mortgage rate (example 3M SIBOR + 1%).

Restrictions 

SOR Pegged Mortgages 

SOR stands for Swap Offer Rate. The Swap Offer Rate is a US dollar funding mechanism and as the name “swap” suggest, in layman terms, it basically implies the swapping of SGD funds for USD dollar funding at a certain cost (which is the SOR rate) for a certain tenor (1/3/6/12 months).

There might be certain funding advantages given the current United Sates Federal Reserve FED Fund Rate is at between 0 – 0.25%, however given that the funding is USD based, volatility in the foreign exchange (FX) market can play a part in influencing the movement of the SOR rate. In comparison to the Singapore Interbank Borrowing Offer Rate (SIBOR) which is SGD funding, the foreign exchange (FX) will have minimal impact on it.

The banks charges a certain bank margin spread above the prevailing SOR Rate for the final aggregate mortgage rate (example 3M SOR + 1%).

Restrictions 

HDB housing loans are offered by the statutory Housing & Development Board for the financing of HDB properties. Current HDB housing loan interest rates are at 2.6%

Housing Bank Loans 

The interest rates vary across different Financial Institutions regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). However, they are generally lower compared to HDB’s interest rate, ranging from 1.18% to 2.46% (as of 7 Jun 2022).

 

For HDB’s comparison of FI interest rates, please refer to HDB’s website, under Financing considerations.

 

There are two main types of bank mortgage packages: fixed rate and floating rate loans. The agreed rates are typically good for 2 to 3 years before they revert to another rate determined by the bank.

Housing Bank Loans

Restrictions 

Fixed Rate Bank Loans

As its name suggests, fixed rate home loans apply the same agreed rate throughout the contractual period. For example, if you signed up for a fixed rate package at 2.1% p.a., it will remain so for the 3 years you signed for.

Restrictions 

Floating Rate Bank Loans

Floating rate home loans are slightly different. These are pegged to some sort of index, and will move upwards and/or downwards along with it. Generally, these are considered more volatile while the fixed rate packages are considered more stable. The most popular type of floating rate loan is the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR) packages.

 

For the downpayment rate for banks, a minimum 5% cash payment of the purchase price is required, while the remaining 20% can be paid using CPF Ordinary Account or cash.

Data taken from CPF.

Rental of Property in Singapore

If you're not looking to purchasing a property in Singapore for your stay, consider renting! Most expats turn to renting their first units locally to have a feel of the local landscape and explore Singapore before settling down for good.

Popular Portals

On the opposite spectrum of HDB are private houses, which are significantly more expensive than HDB flats, but come with fewer restrictions.

For instance, private properties can be rented out for at least three months to short-term visitors, while HDB flats have a minimum rental period of six months. Most private properties can be divested to foreigners, while HDB flats can only be sold to SC and SPRs.

Private residential properties are generally divided into two types, namely landed and non-landed residences.

PropertyGuru

The mother of all property portals in Singapore, started in 2007, when the only way to find property is through The Straits Times classified ads.

PropertyGuru has grown in leaps and bounds since then. It has now become an indispensable online tool to search for resale and rental homes in Singapore.

99.co

When choosing a home, there are so many factors to consider and so much data to go through that it becomes overwhelming. 99.co helps you focus on the most important item on your checklist by letting you filter the listings by district, area, or HDB town. You can also search based on the proximity and accessibility of MRT stations and schools, or travel time from your most frequented places.

Carousell

You may know Carousell as a popular shopping site for bargain hunting, but it also has a robust collection of property listings from both real estate agents and homeowners. The casual layout makes it less overwhelming to browse through.

EdgeProp

More often than not, cost is the primary concern when purchasing a home. If you’re looking to cover all the bases when it comes to cost, Edgeprop is the website to check out. Edgeprop offers the most extensive list of tools including a fair value calculator which can help you determine how much your home is worth. You can also research a property you have got your eye on, figure out how much cash and loan you will need to purchase it, and check whether or not it could be up for an en bloc sale soon. 

SRX Property

With SRX Property’s advanced search function, you can take a thorough look at your desired home and its surrounding areas through 360-degree virtual tours and exclusive drone footage. They also offer financing rate comparisons and exclusive personal property services.

Popular Expat Enclaves

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Holland Village

Holland Village is best known for its long rows of restaurants, cafes, and wine bars; the mix of cuisines is diverse, ranging from local hawker fare to Mexican to Japanese. Holland V has also become, without deliberate planning, a node for creatives. Many Singaporean bands, in particular, got their start playing live music in the Holland Village area. Unlike areas like Orchard, Holland Village has a blend of both old and new buildings and businesses. This is Holland V’s “secret sauce”, as it provides a diverse mix of amenities.

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Orchard

There are bars and eateries tucked in the various alleys between malls, and Orchard gets most colourful toward the area of Orchard Towers and Ming Arcade (be aware that Orchard Towers is a red-light area, which contrasts sharply with the clean, upmarket appearance closer to the MRT). Most of the retail here consists of luxury brands, designer products, etc. This also gives Orchard a reputation as a tourist hub, as wealthier buyers from overseas tend to congregate in the area. While there are day-to-day amenities like supermarkets, even these tend to be of the more upscale variety.

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Robertson Quay

Robertson Quay is the largest of the three wharfs on the Singapore River. It’s the closest of the expat enclaves to the CBD, being just a seven-minute drive to Raffles Place. This is the same distance from the Orchard Road stretch.

Robertson Quay is also noted for being close to Clarke Quay, which is the nightlife / clubbing hub of Singapore. It’s also only 10 minutes from the Marina Bay area, with its casino and offices.

Robertson Quay itself is best known for dining (especially outdoor dining by the river), and its good mix of pubs and bars; these range from the divey to the high-end. Robertson Quay is also a common lunch spot for office workers in the CBD, resulting in brief but severe periods of congestion around noon.

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Tanjong Rhu

The Tanjong Rhu area is now home to several condominium complexes. With athletic fields and parks, as well as an entrance directly into the iconic Gardens by the Bay, this is a great neighborhood for families with children. The waterfront promenade offers unobstructed views of the reservoir and is great for runners, cyclists, or even just casual walks. Cross the Tanjong Rhu bridge and you will find yourself within the vicinity of the Singapore Sports Hub, Indoor Stadium, and shopping malls where restaurants, retail outlets, and even a microbrewery are within walking distance.

Katong

Katong remains a popular haunt of both the expatriate and local crowd for its innumerable eateries. Chic cafés abound in the area but the savoury street food is what draws the crowd. Everything from the internationally-famous Katong Laksa, to Nasi Lemak and prawn noodles can be found in this neighbourhood. If you love the sea, you’d adore Katong as it’s only a ten minute drive away from East Coast Park.

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Sentosa

Perhaps the most expensive and prestigious of all neighbourhoods, the residential enclave on this offshore island is particularly attractive to those with a strong desire for privacy and a love of the sea.

Known as Sentosa Cove, the resort-style residential area is monopolised by private property, with condominium units forming the bulk of it, and includes a yacht club and marina. Clinics, salons, grocery stores, retail stores, and restaurants are easily accessible as well. For those who drive, the Central Business District is only 10 minutes away, thereby allowing homeowners to have the best of both worlds—an engaging day at work in the busy city, and the quiet and peace of a seaside apartment at the end of the day.

Key Considerations

There are many you to take note of when it comes to looking for the right estate for you and your family. Here are some factors to bear in mind while on your house hunting journey in Singapore!

Proximity to your workplace or child's school

Picking an estate close to your workplace or school can save you a lot of time and hassle!

Amenities available in the neighbourhood

 What are the amenities and facilities you require in your daily life? Take note of how accessible these necessities are from the estate you're viewing!

The convenience of public transport

 Are there busses or trains in the vicinity that takes you to your frequently traveled places? 

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