Last Updated on May 29, 2022 by Parentology
Congratulations on getting engaged!
Now let’s talk logistics. Other than your wedding, you’ll begin to start looking at information pertaining to your new life together as a couple, and one of these things most frequently happens to be a new house. In Singapore, many engaged couples will begin to consider the purchase of a new HDB flat (either a BTO or a resale flat) once they are engaged, or if they have been in a committed relationship for long enough.
In response, the Housing and Development Board has a common scheme called the Fiancé-Fiancée Scheme, which allows couples to apply for flats under HDB even before the marriage is registered. We’ll be covering this scheme for this article, but you may potentially qualify for other public housing schemes in Singapore too based on individual circumstances.
You can use the website for your HDB eligibility check.
New Flats (Build-to-Order/BTO Flats)
The purchase for a BTO flat is made before the flats are built, and subsequent you will need to wait a few years before being able to move in. BTO flats can become resale flats later, after a certain number of years in which you occupy the flat(minimum occupancy period, or MOP).
The purchase of a 99-year lease 2-room Flexi flats under the HDB fiancé scheme requires at least 1 Singapore Citizen (SC) and 1 other Singapore Citizen or Singaporean Permanent Resident (SPR). Applicants must be at least 21, and your average gross monthly household income cannot exceed $7,000. You are also not allowed to own other properties either overseas or locally and have not disposed of any properties within the last 30 months (2.5 years).
You are, however, allowed to have previously owned (maximum one) a flat purchased from HDB, an Executive Condominium (EC) or Design, Build, Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat, or HDB resale flats. Eligible Singaporean Citizens can purchase government-subsidised properties as listed above twice in total throughout their lives; if you have previously purchased two properties, you will not be eligible for new flats.
Once you complete the application, you also will not be able to purchase any other private residential property for 5 years.
For a BTO flat that is three rooms and above, the above conditions are the same with the following exception: you are within the set income ceiling for the flat you intend to buy (instead of $7,000 as for the 2-room Flexi flat). This depends on the type of flat you intend to buy.
Resale flats are apartments that already exist at the point of purchase – that is, you will not have to wait for the flats to be built in order to move in.
You and your partner must be either an SC or an SPR (you can both be SPRs, unlike with BTO purchases), one of you must be over 21, and you will need to solemnise your marriage within 3 months from the completion date of your resale flat.
Unlike with BTO flats, there are no income ceilings for the purchase of a resale flat. However, if anyone on the application (purchases and occupiers) own an HDB flat, you must dispose of the flat within 6 months of the purchase of the new resale flat. You must also dispose of all private properties either locally or overseas before or within 6 months of the purchase.
You will need to ballot for BTO flats on the HDB website – do some research into the flats you want, and submit a ballot online. Your results for the ballot will be out in about a month, and you will be notified of whether you are successful. Some people are successful on the first try, and some will need more tries; this depends on a variety of criteria.
If you are successful, you may receive an HLE letter that states you are eligible for a loan. If you are using a bank loan, ask for an Approved-in-Principle (AIP) from your bank.
Once the HLE or AIP is obtained (if relevant), you will be invited to select your flat by the Housing and Development Board. At this point, you will also fill out your Option to Purchase (OTP) and pay the fee. Should you choose to exercise your OTP to signal your confirmation of the purchase, you will then sign and submit the OTP and pay the down payment, stamp duties, and legal fees as well.
Once submitted, it’s a waiting game! BTO flats may take a few years to complete, and the purchase is finished once you collect your keys.
Once you have done your research and are certain as to which resale flats you would like to apply for, the first thing you will do is to register your Intent to Buy through the HDB Resale Portal. The form will take you through a series of questions and provide options for your flat, and it will also ask you about how you will finance your HDB, submit the application, and upload your documents. The Intent to Buy is not the purchase but indicates your eligibility to purchase the flat. It is the precursor for receiving a second item, the Option to Purchase.
If your Intent to Buy has been submitted, it is valid for 12 months, during which the seller of the flat you would like may grant you an Option to Purchase (OTP). If you are looking at a loan, you will also need to get a valid letter from your lender (e.g. the HDB Loan Eligibility, HLE, letter). The OTP serves as the form of contract in this transaction. Once it has been granted, you have 21 calendar days to confirm your decision on the purchase. If you do, exercise the OTP by completing the form and paying your deposit to the seller (which may not exceed $5,000).
Finally, you and the seller will need to both submit your resale applications to HDB within 7 days of each other. The government will then process your application.
Public Scheme vs. Fiancé Scheme
The Fiancé-Fiancée Scheme allows you to purchase flats before your marriage, and to do so before you qualify for the HDB Public Scheme, which would already require partners to be married before qualification. Using the Public Scheme for BTO or resale purchase can only happen after you are married, and you can include your children in your family unit.