First Time Buyers

What First timers should know before buying that HDB flat. (Resale or HDB BTO)

Congratulations on the decision to purchase your first home!  Its a huge milestone and given the steep prices of flats, its no wonder you are extremely cautious as first time buyers. The HDB website is a useful place to start but in addition to the tons of information they provide, there are certain bits of information that you might want to take note of as you start your journey of being a homeowner.

First timer HDB


1)   If you have your heart set on a certain type of décor in both a Resale flat or a brand new flat, just be aware that the renovation costs of a resale flat would be significantly more than that of a new flat, because of the removal of existing deco. Hacking (costs) kills.


2)   When buying a resale flat, the first timer HDB grant (currently $30 000) is actually an option.  If you choose to utilize it, that flat would be considered your first subsidized flat. If you choose not to utilize it, as a Singapore Citizen,  you will still be eligible for 2 subsidized flats – which mean you can later purchase 2 other new flats from HDB.

3)   If you decide to purchase a resale flat, flats that is in the same neighbourhood or within 2km of either parents, you are eligible for an additional $10 000 grant. Be aware that claiming this grant comes with additional conditions for example, the parents would

i)              Not be able to move out of the neighborhood for the next 5 years

ii)             Not be able to apply for a HDB BTO, DBSS or EC during the 5 year period.

iii)           Subletting of the entire flat would not be considered to be part of the 5 year period.


4)   Regardless if you purchase a BTO or a resale HDB with Grant, you would be considered to have purchased a subsidized HDB flat.  Upon the subsequent purchase of a flat direct from HDB (including ECs as of 9th Dec 2013), you would need to pay a resale levy. According to HDB, the resale levy is meant to reduce the subsidy on the second subsidized flat so that there is a fair allocation of subsidies between first and second timer citizen families.

The Resale levy range from $15 000 to $50 000 depending on the size of your flat.


5)   If you are taking a HDB loan , all the money from your CPF account will be deducted, even if it more than the required 10 % for downpayment .If you are considering investing some of your CPF, its advisable to put some aside in an investment account, prior to purchasing the flat.

Do your calculations before shopping for homes

In addition to deciding between the type of loans to take up, its also crucial for first timers to do their calculations to determine what type of flat to purchase. Apply for your HLE ( Home Loan Eligibility from HDB) or IPA ( In Principal Approval) from banks before you set out looking for homes.

If time is not a factor, first time buyers would often prefer the ease and affordability of a new flat directly from HDB. Read more about the difference between HDB BTO and DBSS here.

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Zubz Kadir is the founder of PropertyRocking.SG She believes that real estate is the biggest purchase one can make and such a decision should not be taken lightly. Knowledge can make or break a purchase. Zubz graduated from National University of Singapore (NUS) Bachelors with a Degree in Informations Communications and Sociology from the and a Masters of Mass Communications from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).