HDB Resale Price Increase – Why Are Prices Rising & What Does it Mean For Home Buyers?

hdb resale price vs hdb bto price

Singaporeans have been rushing to buy HDB resale flats recently. Here’s proof: a record-breaking 29 HDB resale flats priced at over $1 million were sold in November 2021.

When the pandemic first started, everyone was expecting a recession and a fall in property prices. But the opposite has happened.

Part of the reason is the BTO delays caused by the pandemic. Affected BTO flat buyers might now have to wait 4 to 5 years for their flats to be ready, and this might drag on even longer if construction materials and supplies become scarce. If you’re buying your flat as a 35-year-old, that could mean getting your flat only at the age of 40.

The ones feeling particularly kancheong are likely those who are putting off marriage and childbearing to when they have their own place and hope to move out ASAP. With resale prices going through the roof, some might feel like they are being priced out of the market.

So, if you need a home fast but are balking at HDB resale prices, what are your options?

HDB Resale Transactions

HDB resale flats being sold for over $1 million are not new. But they have always been the exception rather than the rule… until this year, when a whopping 29 units were sold for over $1 million in a single month in November.

If you’ve been tracking resale prices, this isn’t really surprising, as HDB resale prices across all flat types in both mature and non-mature estates have been rising since February 2021.

Why are HBB Resale prices increasing?

The pandemic is one of the key reasons driving the property boom. Singapore has lived through multiple Circuit Breakers, and most are spending more time at home these days due to work from home arrangements becoming more common, as well as the death of nightlife.

Unsurprisingly, that means that having one’s own space is becoming more and more important these days.

While the private property market is also experiencing its own boom, many are choosing to turn to the HDB resale market in order to avoid paying for overpriced condo units. There are also lots of people opting for resale flats instead of BTO flats due to the construction delays, as mentioned earlier.

The Prime Location Housing (PLH) scheme, which affects BTO flats in central areas like Rochor, is pushing more to central and city fringe resale flats instead, since the latter are not subject to PLH restrictions.

HDB Resale Price Increase: What does it mean for me?

For couples who are ready to ROM and were counting on being able to move in together in the next two to three years, there’s a good chance they’re turning to the resale market because of BTO flat delays. They might even be putting off having a kid or just not looking forward to having to live with in-laws.

Another group who’s being disproportionately affected is singles over 35 years old. They’ve waited so long to get a flat and now that they’re finally old enough to qualify, resale prices are sky high. The alternative of cheaper BTO flats is not attractive for those who don’t want to wait until they’re 40 to move out.

So, what are the options? Unfortunately, they all involve some element of sacrifice, depending on how desperate you are to move out.

Assuming you need a place as soon as possible, you could buy a BTO flat and then rent a place in the interim. Renting is not cheap in Singapore, but given the amount you save opting for BTO rather than resale, it can actually make financial sense to do so, especially if you’re happy to rent for just a year or two instead of during the entire 4-5 year wait for your flat.

Another option is to settle for a resale flat in a farther-flung location and then sell and upgrade when your MOP is up. Hopefully by then resale prices would have gone down, or you would at least have made some money from the sale of your flat to channel into the purchase of a new home.

HDB Resale vs BTO Prices: Which is cheaper?

BTO flats are significantly cheaper than resale flats of the same size and in the same area. Of course la! If they weren’t cheaper, nobody would be willing to wait so long for them, especially for those in ulu locations.

Let’s compare selling prices (excluding grants) in the November 2021 BTO launch with resale flats in the vicinity:

Area and flat type

Approximate BTO flat price

Approximate resale flat price

Hougang 4-room

From $308,000

$460,000-$560,000

Hougang 5-room

From $416,000

$525,000-$560,000

Jurong West 3-room

From $173,000

$290,000-$333,000

Jurong West 4-room

From $264,000

$423,000-$472,000

Tengah 4-room

From $312,000

$430,000-$518,000

Tengah 5-room

From $428,000

$578,000-$620,000

Kallang/Whampoa 4-room

From $511,000

$630,000-$754,000

Rochor 3-room

From $409,000

$490,000-$555,000

Rochor 4-room

From $582,000

$630,000-$770,000

Is it worth buying an old HDB Resale that’s cheaper?

Most “cheap” resale flat listings are actually for older flats built in the 1970s or earlier. Most of them have less than 60 years left on the lease.

This matters if you’re worried about outliving your flat or concerned about letting your children inherit your flat.

Another thing to be aware of is that the remaining lease will affect the flat’s resale price should you eventually decide to sell it. The rate of depreciation tends to accelerate after the flat turns 30. You should thus not buy an older flat as an investment, but strictly as a place to live.

Aesthetically, older HDB flats are not going to look the same as newer ones. Unless you’re going for the ultra retro look, you might have to spend more on renovation.

In addition, you can only use your CPF savings to finance the flat if the lease covers you (or the youngest co-purchaser) up to the age of 95. So, if you are 35 this year, your flat must have at least 60 years left on its lease if you want to use CPF.

On the bright side, older flats might stand a chance of being acquired by the HDB in the Selected En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). Don’t get your hopes up, however, because only about 4% of flats get this honour. If that happens, the HDB will compensate you for the flat and offer you a spot in a shiny new replacement flat, which you’ll receive a SERS grant to defray the cost of.

Buying HDB Resale: Grants

If you still have your heart set on buying an HDB resale flat, take comfort in the fact that it’s still cheaper than a condo, without the waiting time of BTO flats.

Plus, as a resale flat buyer, you’re eligible for several CPF grants. Here’s what to look forward to:

Grant

Eligibility

Amount

Enhanced Housing Grant

Household income up to $9,000

$5,000 to $80,000 depending on income

Family Grant

Household income not more than $14,000

Married/engaged couples or families who are first-time applicants

SC/SC household buying 2- to 4-room flat: $50,000

SC/SC household buying 5-room or bigger flat: $40,000

SC/SPR household buying 2- to 4-room flat: $40,000

SC/SPR buying 5-room or bigger flat: $30,000

Proximity Housing Grant

Buying flat to live with parents or child, or within 4km of parents’ or child’s place of residence

$30,000 for families living with parents/child

$20,000 for families living near parents/child

$15,000 for singles living with parents/child

$10,000 for singles living near parents/child

How to buy HDB Resale flats?

The HDB resale application process goes like this:

1. Log into HDB Resale Portal and register intent to buy in order to check your eligibility.

2. Apply for HDB loan eligibility letter (HLE) if taking out an HDB loan, or obtain bank’s Letter of Offer (LO) if you plan to take out a bank loan.

3. Choose a flat and get an option to purchase (OTP) from the seller.

4. Request a valuation report within one working day after receiving the OTP.

5. Submit the resale checklist for buyers.

6 Exercise the OTP before it expires.

7. Submit your resale application to the HDB.

8. Attend two HDB appointments.