A Beginner’s Guide For First-Time Home Buyers in 2018: HDB

Alexa Fang

Alexa Fang

Last updated 16 July, 2018

Nothing says adulting like buying a HDB flat for the first time. Growing up might seem scary, but you will master it like Harry Potter mastered wizardry, trust us. And trust yourself.  

Whether you’re a single and 35, or happily engaged and ready for married life, building your nest is the next step. The next BIG step. Big responsibility. Big money. But, no biggie if you do it right from the get-go. For first-time HDB applicants, there are grants to ease your burden. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, all the basic information you should wrap your head around before you get yourself a new home.

HDB flats Singapore -SingSaver

HDB eligibility requirements

Citizenship: Singaporeans or PRs only


  •    Above 21 years old (applying as a couple or an orphan with no siblings)
  •    Above 35 years old (applying as an unmarried or divorced individual)

Income ceiling (gross monthly household income):

3-room flat:

  •    S$6,000 or S$12,000 (for non-mature estates, depending on the project)
  •    S$12,000 (mature estates)

4-room flat or bigger:

  •    S$12,000
  •    S$18,000 if purchasing with extended or multi-generation family

Complete this three-minute quiz by HDB (how savvy!) to find out whether you can or cannot buy a HDB. Simple.

Are you mentally and financially ready?

There’s a famous saying on the internet that goes, “check yourself before you wreck yourself”, which could not ring truer if you're buying a HDB flat for the first time. Now that you know you can buy a flat, are you prepared to take the leap? If you’re single, the decision to buy a HDB flat for yourself is much more straightforward.

But if you’re a couple, remember to communicate with each other to ensure that you are both ready for it mentally and financially. Couples will have to register their marriage within three months before the key collection date because, no cert, no keys.

Try to be far-sighted in making your decisions. By doing so, you reduce the chances of bad decisions coming back to bite you where it hurts the most — your wallet. Questions you should asking yourself include:

  1. Should you buy a new flat or resale? 3-room, 5-room or executive condo?
  2. How much are you comfortable paying every month for a 25-year home loan?
  3. How much do you have in cash savings (How much do you need to buy a house?)

    a) Available CPF Ordinary Account savings

    b) How much CPF Housing Grant can you get (if eligible)

  4. How will you finance it? Will you take a housing loan from HDB or from banks? (Why are their interest rates different?)

  5. What is the maximum housing loan amount available to you? (How much you can borrow from HDB or a bank is determined by your age, income, and financial standing credit assessment)

What to pay for in cash

  • $10 administrative fee to be paid by credit card when you buy a flat from HDB. For DBSS and EC applications, check with developers on the amount required when you submit an application
  • Option fee
  • Cash portion of downpayment
  • Cash proceeds from disposing the last flat to take on a second HDB loan

For a detailed step-by-step guide and calculators, click here.

Let’s talk grants

Buying a new flat is a long-term financial commitment. But there are several schemes and grants to help you with your cash flow, or reduce your cash outlay. Here’s an overview:

1. CPF Housing Grants for HDB Flats

On top of the subsidised purchase prices for new HDB flats, eligible buyers can also receive further subsidies in the form of CPF Housing Grants of up to $80,000. There are two you might consider:

   a. Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG)

  • Eligible for 2-room Flexi or larger
  • Income ceiling: $5,000
  • Up to $40,000, depending on household income

   b. Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG)

  • 2-room Flexi, 3-room, or 4-room flat in a non-mature estate
  • Income ceiling: $2,250 to $8,500
  • Up to $40,000, depending on household income

More detailed information here.Interior Design of a Living Room -SingSaver

2. CPF Housing Grants for Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) Flats

These include:

  • Family Grant
  • Half-Housing Grant
  • Singles Grant
  • Additional Housing Grant (AHG) for Family
  • AHG for Singles
  • Proximity Housing Grant

Main CPF Housing Grants

If you're a Singapore Citizen (SC), you may be eligible for one of the following:

  • Family Grant of up to $50,000
  • Half-Housing Grant of up to $25,000
  • Singles Grant of up to $25,000

Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG)

A first-timer household may be eligible for one of the following AHGs:

  • AHG for Family of up to $40,000
  • AHG for Singles of up to $20,000

Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)

The PHG helps families who want to buy a DBSS flat to live with or near their parents, or married child. Eligible singles will also enjoy the PHG if they buy a DBSS flat with their parents'. The PHG is applicable to both first-timers and second-timers.

Amount To live with parents/ child To live within 4km of family
Families $30,000 $20,000
Singles $15,000-

Recipient may also be eligible for:

  • CPF Housing Grant for Family
  • CPF Housing Grant for Singles
  • Additional CPF Housing Grant


And then there are various downpayment schemes

  1.      Staggered downpayment Scheme

You may be able to use the Staggered Downpayment Scheme to pay your downpayment in 2 instalments. Half of the downpayment is paid when you sign the Agreement for Lease, which is usually within 4 months of booking a flat. The remaining amount is paid during the key collection for your new flat. Details here.

  1.      Deferred downpayment Scheme

The Deferred Downpayment Scheme (DDS) enables elderly who are right-sizing to defer the payment of downpayment until key collection. This will help to ease the cash flow for elderly flat owners whose funds are tied up in their existing flat, and smoothen the right-sizing process. Details here.

  1.    Temporary loan Scheme

The Temporary Loan Scheme (TLS) helps flat buyers who intend to use the sale proceeds from their existing flat to pay for their new flat, without taking a long-term mortgage loan. You can apply for a temporary loan to complete the new flat purchase first, while the sale of your existing flat is underway. The temporary loan will be redeemed subsequently, with the net proceeds from the sale of your existing flat. Details here.

Compare and apply for the best HDB home loan rates on SingSaver. 

Alexa FangBy Alexa Fang

Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.


Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.


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