The Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Guide to Buying an HDB Flat

By Dawn Chew The Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Guide to Buying an HDB Flat | Updated 04 Mar 2024 3 minutes

pr-eligibility-singapore-overview

At a glance

Singapore has become a popular destination for foreigners seeking Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) status. This allows them to buy public housing like HDB flats and enjoy tax savings. However, there are some restrictions for instance, they must form a family nucleus with at least three years of SPR status and must not own private properties. In addition, they are restricted only to resale flats with few exceptions. Due to the many guidelines, SPRS must understand what type of schemes they qualify for and how they can purchase a resale flat. Due to the high demand for HDB resale flats, they should secure their purchase as quickly as possible. Loan financing via HDB loans, either from HDB or through banks, is possible, so SPR must compare rates before applying for a loan that best fits their needs.

Introduction

Singapore is a global destination for living and has attracted many foreigners who apply for Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) status annually. This status not only allows you to live in the city state but also provides an avenue to purchase public housing known as HDB flats, executive condominiums (ECs) and other private properties. It also leads to significant savings on property taxes. Public housing purchase guidelines are governed by the Housing Development Board (HDB), which oversees all matters related to these estates.

Yet, there are some eligibility restrictions when SPRs aim for public housing, unlike the broad options available to Singapore citizens based on their financial capacity. So, as an SPR, you need to know the essential points when purchasing an HDB property and your eligibility for HDB grants.

Ownership of HDB housing by SPRs: Is it possible?

Singapore PRs can indeed own an HDB flat, just like Singapore citizens. However, there are some stipulations. Only resale HDB flats, i.e. flats resold in the open market, are available to them. There is no income limit for these flats.

Many homebuyers prefer resale units despite their higher costs because they don’t have to wait 3 to 5 years for a new project to complete, or they want a flat in a mature neighborhood.

Vector

Important Info

When buying residential properties in Singapore, SPRS are categorised as foreigners. According to the Residential Property Act, a foreigner is not a Singapore citizen, company, society or a Singapore limited liability partnership. However, while SPRs fall under this category, there are different rules for them(for example, the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty amount is different). Most importantly, while SPRs have more purchasing options than non-residents, they have fewer choices than Singapore citizens.

What are the eligibility criteria for SPRs to purchase resale HDB flats?

An SPR can buy an HDB resale flat if they purchase with another SPR or a Singapore citizen. This means marriage to a citizen isn’t a prerequisite. They can also buy an HDB resale flat through the Public Scheme or, if married, through the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. These schemes allow non-citizen families to qualify if they have held SPR status for at least three years.

HDB Resale purchase criteria for SPR under HDB Public Scheme

Here are the eligibility criteria for SPRs purchased under the HDB Public Scheme.

1. Citizenship: There should be at least one Singapore citizen or SPR among the occupants. For families without citizens, all key occupants and owners must have held PR status for at least three years.
2. Family nucleus: An SPR should form a family nucleus with their parents or spouse and children. For divorcees or those widowed, at least one child must be under the homebuyer’s custody. For those who are single, they can also form a family nucleus with their single orphan siblings.

HDB resale purchase criteria for SPR under HDB Fiance / Fiancee Scheme

The HDB Fiance/Fiancee Scheme is for SPRs who are not yet legally married and would not qualify for the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. These are the eligibility criteria to fulfill:

1. Citizenship: The applicant or the fiance/fiancee should be a Singapore citizen or SPR. However, if neither the applicant nor the spouse-to-be is a Singapore citizen, then note that for SPRs, the applicant and the main occupants must have attained an SPR status for at least three years.

2. Family nucleus: The SPR must form a family nucleus with the soon-to-be spouse. Within three months of HDB resale purchase completion, you must get married and submit the marriage certification to HDB. Your soon-to-be spouse must also be a co-applicant or an occupant in your flat application.

Other eligibility conditions for SPRs

  • Must be over 21 years old at the time of application.

  • Must have held SPR status for over three years. For couples, this applies to both you and your spouse.

  • Neither the applicant nor their spouse should own private properties in Singapore or internationally.

  • A Minimum Occupation Period(MOP) restricts selling or renting the property for five years post-purchase.

  • Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP): The EIP states that all potential buyers should share the same ethnicity or racial background as the seller of the resale flat, ensuring the racial block within the HDB block or precinct is maintained. HDB’s e-services offer up-to-date quota details on the first day of every month. All SPRs must comply with this policy, which aims to foster racial harmony and maintain the unique cultural diversity of Singapore.

  • Singapore Permanent Resident(SPR) quota: For households with at least one Singapore citizen or one Malaysian Permanent Resident, you only need to check the EIP quota. However, for non-Malaysians, you must check both the EIP and SPR quota. The intent behind the SPR quota is to integrate SPR families seamlessly into the local community. To satisfy the SPR quota guidelines, non-Malaysian PRs must not exceed 5% of the entire neighborhood’s population. Furthermore, within each HDB block, the ratio of non-Malaysian PRs to the total residents must not surpass 8%.

What about Build-to-order (BTO) flats?

In Singapore, only citizens can buy Built-to-Order (BTO) flats directly from HDB. BTO flats are new public housing flats. As an SPR, you can acquire a new BTO flat (or a Sale of Balance flat ) only if you buy it with a citizen through the Public Scheme or Fiance/Fiancee scheme mentioned above. Additionally, you must meet all necessary conditions HDB sets for property acquisition.

For SPRs who are married to a Singapore citizen? You can apply under the HDB Public Scheme or Non-CItizen Spouse Scheme. However, note that the principal applicant for all HDB BTO flats must be a Singaporean citizen. Once you’ve got the green light for your BTO application, you need to retain the home for a minimum of 5 years under the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). Furthermore, SPRs cannot lease their entire home before the MOP ends. Note also that if you or your partner owns any private real estate in Singapore or abroad, you must sell it within half a year of receiving your BTO house keys.

Vector

Important Info

Sale of Balance (SBF) flats are leftover flats (“balance” flats) that remain unsold during previous BTO sales launches, repurchased flats, and other schemes.

Other frequently asked questions by SPRs on HDB purchases

Here are other questions SPRs have when purchasing a HDB flat:

  1. Can two SPR friends buy a BTO flat together?

No, they can only opt for HDB resale flats, condos, or landed homes.

  1. Can two SPR siblings purchase an HDB together?

Yes, but only if they are orphaned siblings. All siblings must not own or rent a flat individually. Additionally, they can do so only if one deceased parent was an SPR or citizen.

  1. What if I am single? Can I buy an HDB flat?

Yes, you can buy an HDB flat, but not alone. This applies even for resale flats. SPRs can buy a resale HDB flat with another SPR or Singapore citizen under the Public Scheme or Fiance/Fiancee Scheme.

Otherwise, you can also buy a resale HDB flat with a family member (such as your child or your parents) if at least one party is a Singapore citizen or SPR. Even if you apply under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, you can only purchase an HDB resale flat if you form a family nucleus with other single SPRs or family members. Only Singapore citizens buy a new or HDB resale flat as the sole applicant.

To summarize, here’s an overview of what SPRs can buy as a single applicant. Note that Additional Stamp Buyer’s Duty is applicable for all residential properties.
Eligible HDB’s for PR’s Non-eligible HDB’s for PR’s
Private Condominiums New HDB BTO Flats
Resale Executive Condominiums (EC) New Executive Condominiums (EC)
Strata Landed Properties Landed Properties
Resale HDB Flats
  1. What about those who are divorced?

A divorced SPR with children can purchase an HDB resale flat as a family nucleus if the child is below 21. In addition, if the ex-spouse also jointly takes part in the child’s welfare and growth, a formal letter of permission is required before the applicant can list the child as an occupant.

  1. What about those who are engaged but not legally married?

Those unmarried but engaged can buy an HDB resale flat if the couple is an SPR and a Singaporean citizen or two SPRs.

  1. Can an SPR have ownership of both an HDB and private property?

It’s not possible. Following HDB guidelines, SPRs who buy private property must give up their HDB flats in six months. SPRs are not allowed to own two properties in Singapore. This privilege is reserved solely for Singapore citizens. This rule applies even if SPRs have met the Minimum Occupancy Period of 5 years. It’s also worth noting that even Singapore citizens cannot buy an HDB flat if they own a private property.

  1. What about CPF housing grants?

For SPRs, they will need to plan well when they buy an HDB resale flat. CPF grants and other housing schemes do not apply to SPRs. To qualify for HDB subsidies and grants, your household must have at least one Singapore citizen, and both must be first-time applicants. Then, you can get a housing grant of up to $160,000. Further information can be found on the HDB portal. Other grants include the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG), Proximity Grant (PHG) and the Family Grant. Also, note that first-time applicants whose spouse is an SPR who wishes to buy a new BTO flat must pay a $10,000 premium. This amount will be awarded back to you under the Citizen Top-up grant when your spouse obtains Singapore citizenship or if your newborn child is a Singapore citizen. Note that the application for the top-up grant must be done within six months of being eligible for it.

HDB Grant Maximum HDB Grant Amount
Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) Up to $80,000
Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) Up to $30,000
Family Grant Up to $50,000

Latest HDB loan interest rates

The most recent HDB home loan interest rates, for both fixed rate and floating rate loans, are provided below.

Fixed Rates (HDB Properties)
Bank Lock In Period 1st Yr Interest
Promotion 2 years 3.00%
Standard Chartered 2 years 3.00%
OCBC 2 years 3.00%
Maybank 2 years 3.00%
DBS 2 years 3.00%
Promotion 2 years 3.05%
Standard Chartered 2 years 3.10%
DBS 2 years 3.10%
Promotion 2 years 3.25%

*Today's Mortgage Rates - 04 March 2024

Floating Rates (HDB Properties)
Bank Lock In Period 1st Yr Interest
SBI 2 years 3.95%
Maybank 0 year 4.10%
OCBC 2 years 4.20%
Maybank 1 year 4.20%
DBS 0 year 4.20%
DBS 2 years 4.20%
Promotion 2 years 4.25%
Standard Chartered 2 years 4.25%
Standard Chartered 0 year 4.30%
Maybank 0 year 4.37%

*Today's Mortgage Rates - 04 March 2024

Conclusion

SPRs are mostly limited to buying resale flats. However, resale flats are also high in demand amongst Singapore citizens. Therefore, for SPR couples who need to find a flat, it’s best to purchase an apartment as quickly as possible.

Vector

Important Info

You can apply for a loan to help you finance your dream home. The applicants must apply for the Housing Loan Eligibility Letter if they choose to take up a loan from HDB. However, if you decide to take up an HDB bank loan from the bank itself, then you’ll need to fulfill the bank’s criteria. The best way to check is to compare HDB loans on our loan comparison platform. If in doubt, contact our professional mortgage brokers so you can be on your way to your blissful nest in Singapore.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *