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More help for low-income singles to buy new flats

Up to $30k extra subsidy if applying alone, and $60k for joint applicants

Posted on 31-Jul-2013
By: Daryl Chin Property Correspondent

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More help for low-income singles to buy new flats

LOW-INCOME singles looking for their first new Housing Board flat will now be able to get up to $30,000 in extra subsidy if they apply on their own.

The grants double to $60,000 if two or more singles apply together, pushing a two-room flat's price to as low as $16,000.

This was one of the tweaks HDB announced yesterday during a milestone launch of 4,079 Build-To-Order flats in Sengkang, Yishun and Bukit Merah.

Previously, singles could buy only resale flats.

But with this launch, first- timer singles aged 35 and up, with a monthly income of $5,000 or less can, for the first time, apply for a new two-room flat in non-mature estates.

HDB may relax its policy even further. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan told The Straits Times that offering two-roomers was just "a start", and bigger flats may be available to singles in the future.

For now, up to a third of the 519 two-roomers which have been made available in Sengkang and Yishun will be reserved for singles. Coming in 35 sq m and 45 sq m sizes, they are priced between $76,000 and $133,000.

Singles who apply on their own, however, will have to pay an extra $15,000 on top of the selling price, but the money will be returned as a $15,000 grant if they get married later.

To ensure low-income families are not squeezed out of these new two-roomers, their qualifying income ceiling has been raised from $2,000 to $5,000.

But the biggest tweak announced yesterday was HDB extending two grant schemes to singles in order to help them own their first home.

Singles who earn up to $2,500 and apply on their own can get an Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) of up to $20,000. Those who take home $1,125 a month or less get a Special CPF Housing Grant of $10,000.

The numbers are doubled for those applying under the Joint Singles Scheme, which means a new two-roomer in Yishun can be bought for as low as $16,000.

In comparison, the price tag of a four-room unit in a mature estate such as Bukit Merah starts from $430,000 with grants.

Low-income singles can also avail themselves of the AHG when they buy five-room or smaller resale flats.

Another change which kicked in was to keep first-timers who marry someone who had bought a flat in the past, for instance a divorcee, in the priority queue.

Previously, these couples would have been considered second-timers, and have a tougher time getting a new unit. Now they will be treated as first-timers, for whom the bulk of new flats are reserved.

The effect of all these changes, said ERA Realty's key executive officer Eugene Lim, could see more turn away from the resale market. "Singles and second-timers will find it easier to apply for new flats. Coupled with cooling measures earlier and a ramp-up of new flat supply, this could lead to less demand on the resale market."

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