Choosing your Home

The property scene can be confusing, especially for first time home buyers, and the multitude of different housing types available can lead to information overload or an entire lack of information for the choices available to you. It’s not always easy to figure out what you can afford, or what you’re eligible for, and you may even get buyer’s remorse if you don’t think you made the best decision possible. Here, we’re going to break down the 3 most common types of public housing schemes, so you know what property best suits you.

Build-to-Order (HDB)

The build-to-order (BTO) scheme is probably the most commonly applied for scheme. Applicants would apply for a home which is not yet built, ballot for slots and wait 3-5 years for their new home to be built.

Eligibility:

Applicant Applicant with spouse and childrenApplicant with parents and siblingsApplicant with spouse-to-beApplicant with siblings (if both are orphaned and unmarried)
Citizenship At least 1 Singapore Citizen Applicant
At least 1 other Singapore Citizen or 1 Singapore Permanent Resident
Age 21
Income Ceiling 3-room flat (non-mature estate): $6,000/$12,000 (Depends on project)3-room flat (mature estate): $12,0004-room flat or bigger: $12,000
($18,000 if applying with extended or multi-generation family)
Property Ownership You do not own other property overseas or locally, and have not disposed of any within the last 30 monthsYou have not bought a new HDB/ DBSS flat or EC, or received a CPF Housing Grant before; or, have only bought 1 of those properties/ received 1 CPF Housing Grant thus far

Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) Flat

Under the DBSS scheme, properties sold would be developed by private developers, but maintained by HDB. The purchase of the flat is also direct with the developer, and not through HDB. While this scheme is currently suspended, there are a few existing DBSS projects which are still available, including Centrale 8, and others which have yet to launch.

Applicant Applicant with spouse and children Applicant with parents and siblings Applicant with spouse-to-be Applicant with siblings (if both are orphaned and unmarried)
Citizenship At least 1 Singapore Citizen Applicant
At least 1 other Singapore Citizen or 1 Singapore Permanent Resident
Age 21
Income Ceiling $12,000
($18,000 if applying with extended or multi-generation family)
Property Ownership You do not own other property overseas or locally, and have not disposed of any within the last 30 months You have not bought a new HDB/ DBSS flat or EC, or received a CPF Housing Grant before; or, have only bought 1 of those properties/ received 1 CPF Housing Grant thus far

Executive Condominium (EC)

An executive condominium is meant to be an in-between of private and public housing. The development would have more facilities available than a regular public housing option (such as swimming pools, gyms, private security), but still be applicable for subsidies and regulation by HDB. The property is developed and sold directly by the private developer. This housing type would be the more expensive of the 3 option. 

Applicant Applicant with spouse and children Applicant with parents and siblings Applicant with spouse-to-be Applicant with siblings (if both are orphaned and unmarried) Applicant with up to 3 other co-applicants (unmarried, divorced or widowed)
Citizenship At least 1 Singapore Citizen Applicant
At least 1 other Singapore Citizen or 1 Singapore Permanent Resident
Age 21 (35 for Joint Singles Scheme)
Income Ceiling $14,000
Property Ownership You do not own other property overseas or locally, and have not disposed of any within the last 30 months You have not bought a new HDB/ DBSS flat or EC, or received a CPF Housing Grant before; or, have only bought 1 of those properties/ received 1 CPF Housing Grant thus far

Cost

The table below is the upper and lower limit of flats sold under each scheme in 2018

  3-room 4-room 5-room
BTO (HDB) $90,000 – $281,000 $191,000 – $426,000 $322,000 – $550,000
DBSS $389,000 – $445,000 $595,000 – $800,000 $685,000 – $778,000
EC $660,000 – $1,130,000 $827,000 – $1,300,000 $1,340,000 – $1,470,000

Wait times

Wait times for all 3 types of housing are similar. The launch would usually commence even before construction starts, and you could be waiting 3-5 years before you get the keys to your new home. With DBSS and ECs, the property is also developed by private developers, meaning your wait time for completion could vary from developer to developer.

With HDB built flats, the wait time can vary as well, but following the launch last November, HDB is cutting down on the wait time to 2-3 years for certain projects. The Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) scheme has also been updated this month. Under the new ROF scheme, you can apply for unsold flats all year round, and get the results of your application within a day. The ROF covers existing and past projects, meaning you may be applying for an almost-completed (or already completed) home which you can move into even sooner.

Priority Schemes

HDB DBSS EC
Higher proportion of flat supply set aside for first-timer applicants Additional ballot chances for unsuccessful attempts   95% of flat supply is set aside for first-timer applicants during 1st month 70% of flat supply is set aside for first-timer applicants during 1st month

Grants

Eligibility HDB DBSS EC
Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) First Time ApplicantUp to $40,000 Yes Yes No
Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) First Time ApplicantUp to $40,000 Yes No No
Step-Up CPF Housing Grant Second Time ApplicantUp to $15,000 Yes No No
Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) Staying within 4km of parents/children (including shared occupancy of DBSS)Up to $30,000 ($20,000 if not living together)   No Yes No
Family Grant Up to $50,000 ($30,000 for EC) No Yes Yes
Half-Housing Grant One applicant is a first-timer, and co-applicant is a second-timerHalf of Family Grant No Yes Yes
Staggered Down payment Scheme First-timer couples5% payment using CPF Ordinary Account at Signing of Agreement for Lease5% payment using CPF Ordinary Account at collection of keys Yes No No

Conclusion

While there are many other factors to consider when purchasing, or applying for your future home, this article is just the first step in making a comparison between the types of public housing options available.

Keep in mind that all 3 types of housing come with a 99-year lease, so a more expensive EC may have a greater depreciation than a cheaper HDB. It is also important to note that launches are not always available year-round, so depending on when you’re looking to apply for a flat, you may be limited by the options available then.