Singapore’s housing landscape has come a long way. Since the introduction of the Home Ownership Scheme in our early years of independence to solve the housing shortage, we now have more than a million HDB flats spread across 24 towns and 3 estates.
Land-scarce Singapore needs a sustainable model to house our citizens. Beyond ensuring that our citizens have a roof over their heads, the Government also strives to create a quality living environment through innovation and upgrading.
Helping Singaporeans afford their own flat
Today, first-time homebuyers can buy subsidised new flats from the HDB. These flats are priced at a discount to comparable market prices, and eligible buyers may receive housing grants on top of this. Alternatively, they can also purchase a resale flat from the open market with a housing grant.
A wide range of flats in different locations are available to suit the different needs of families and individuals.
A host of grants are available to families looking to purchase a flat, regardless of whether it is a BTO or a resale flat. First-timer families can get up to $80,000 (for new flats) on top of the market discount, or $160,000 (for resale flats).
Singles aged 35 and above can buy resale flats of any size in any estate. Since 2013, if they are first-timers, they can also buy new 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates. First-timer singles aged 35 and above can get grants of up to $40,000 (for new flats) or $80,000 (for 5-room or smaller resale flats).
In addition, the income ceilings for HDB flats have been raised to $14,000 for families and $7,000 for singles.
As a result, 80 percent of new flat buyers today can afford their first flat without paying any cash out-of-pocket for mortgage instalments.
Reducing waiting time for flats
To help Singaporeans secure their first home, at least 95% of the 4-room and larger flat supply are set aside for first-timers. From May 2019, ballot times for BTO flats have been halved to three weeks. Since Nov 2018, the Government has also launched some BTO flats with a shorter waiting time of 2 to 3 years, compared to the normal 3 to 4 years.
Furthermore, priority is given to the following groups:
i. First-timer married couples;
ii. First-timer married couples with children;
iii. Families with three or more children;
iv. Elderly parents who wish to live near their married children;
v. Second-timer divorced or widowed persons with children below 18 years old; and
vi. Families living in HDB public rental flats.
How public housing schemes have evolved
From providing basic housing and amenities to estate renewal and upgrading, Singapore’s housing policies have evolved along with the changing lifestyles and needs of Singaporeans.
It is these needs that have shaped certain schemes – take, for instance, the Ethnic Integration Policy, or EIP.
The EIP was introduced in 1989 to ensure a balanced mix of ethnic groups in HDB estates. Under the EIP, there are limits on the total percentage of a block or neighbourhood that may be occupied by a certain ethnicity.
As announced by then-Minister for National Development S Dhanabalan, the EIP’s purpose was to nip the problem of ethnic enclaves in the bud before it became serious. The EIP has helped to maintain racial and social harmony in Singapore by providing opportunities for social mixing among Singaporeans of different races.
Helping the vulnerable
More is also being done to help Singaporeans who live in public rental flats.
For instance, improvements are being made to rental blocks and flats, and the Home ownership Support Team (HST) has been set up to help rental families through their journey towards home ownership. The HST will advise the families on their housing budget, and the relevant grants and schemes that they can apply for.
For more information about HDB grants and schemes, go to www.hdb.gov.sg.