In Financial Year (FY) 2019, HDB launched 4 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercises, comprising 15 projects with 14,524 flats across mature and non-mature towns. These include the first batch of flats in Tengah’s Garden district.
In addition, HDB offered 6,867 flats for sale in 2 Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises, as well as 716 flats under a Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercise. A new sales mode, open booking of flats, was introduced in June 2019 to help buyers get their homes faster. This provides flat buyers a new option to book a flat as early as the next working day, from a pool of unselected flats anytime throughout the year.
A total of 13,093 flats were completed in this FY. Of these, 12,301 were BTO units, including HDB’s first 2 projects in Bidadari—Alkaff Vista and Alkaff LakeView. Another 489 units under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), and 303 rental units were also completed. As of 31 March 2020, 72,121 BTO and SERS flats, and 1,432 rental flats were under construction.
Helping Fulfil Housing Aspirations
To make flats more affordable, HDB introduced the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) in September 2019. The grant, which replaces the Additional CPF Housing Grant and Special CPF Housing Grant, benefits more first-timers as it is availed to those buying a new or resale flat of any flat type and in any location. Eligible families can receive up to $80,000 in housing grants if the lease of the flat covers the buyers and their spouses to the age of 95. The grant amount would be pro-rated otherwise. Singles aged 35 and above who are eligible can receive up to $40,000 in housing grants.
The monthly household income ceiling was raised with effect from 11 September 2019 to give more citizen households access to affordable housing.
- From $12,000 to $14,000 for eligible families buying a new flat, or a resale flat on the open market with the CPF Housing Grant
- From $6,000 to $7,000 for eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above buying a 2-room Flexi flat from HDB, or up to a 5-room resale flat on the open market with the CPF Housing Grant
The income ceiling for a citizen family buying an Executive Condominium unit from property developers was also increased from $14,000 to $16,000.
HDB also helped young couples get their first homes sooner, by reducing the BTO balloting timeline from 6 weeks to 3 weeks with effect from the May 2019 BTO exercise.
Buying a Home for Life
To provide more flexibility for Singaporeans to buy a home for life while ensuring that they will have adequate CPF savings for retirement, HDB worked with MND, MOM and CPF Board to update the rules on CPF usage and HDB housing loans in May 2019. The updated rules take into account the changing needs and higher life expectancy of Singaporeans. Under the new rules, home buyers can draw up to the maximum amount from their CPF savings and obtain the maximum HDB housing loan if the remaining lease of the home covers the youngest buyer until the age of 95. The amount will be pro-rated for those who buy a home that does not meet the criteria.
The new EHG also included a similar feature to encourage buyers to choose a flat that can cover them and their spouse to the age of 95.
Supporting Vulnerable Families
During the 2020 Committee of Supply debate, it was announced that unmarried parents aged 21 and above can buy a new 3-room flat in non-mature estates, compared to only a 2-room flat in non-mature estates and resale flats previously. By expanding their housing options, we hope to support them in their housing needs, and provide their children with a stable home to grow up in.
In May 2019, HDB extended the coverage of the $15,000 Step-Up CPF Housing Grant (SUHG). Owners of subsidised 2-room flats in non-mature estates can now choose to buy a 3-room resale flat in non-mature estates with the grant. Previously, these families were only eligible for the grant when they bought a 3-room new flat in non-mature estates. The SUHG was also extended to second-timer families living in public rental flats, when they buy a 2-room or 3-room, new or resale flat in non-mature estates.
HDB’s dedicated Home ownership Support Team (HST) was set up to offer closer and more personalised guidance for rental families who are ready for home ownership. This team works with families to understand their home ownership aspirations and advises them on their housing budget and options, grants and schemes available, as well as guides them through the flat-buying process. As of March 2020, HST has reached out to over 200 families, on track towards the target of 1,000 families by 2024.
HDB offers seniors various housing and monetisation options to meet their needs.
Helping Seniors Age with Confidence
HDB enhanced two key schemes—the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB), and the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS)—to give seniors greater financial assurance and supplement their income in retirement. The SHB, a cash bonus given to eligible seniors, was increased from $20,000 to $30,000 when they right-size to a 3 room or smaller flat. They must also use their sales proceeds to make a one-time top-up of $60,000 to their CPF Retirement Account and join CPF LIFE. Previously, seniors needed to sell a larger flat, and might have to make a second top-up depending on their remaining proceeds and RA balances, in order to qualify for the SHB.
The maximum Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) bonus was also increased. Previously, owners of 3-room or smaller flats, 4-room flats, and 5-room or larger flats could get a maximum cash bonus of $20,000, $10,000, and $5,000 per household, respectively, if they sold the tail-end of their flat’s lease to HDB. This FY, the maximum bonus quantum was increased by 50% to $30,000, $15,000 and $7,500 respectively.
To help seniors age in place comfortably, HDB together with MND and MOH, announced a new typology for seniors where housing will be integrated with care services. For the pilot development in Bukit Batok, the block will be designed with large communal spaces on every floor, and flats will come with elder-friendly fittings, larger bathrooms, and other features to accommodate those with mobility needs.
Improving Flat Designs
As part of continual efforts to build well-designed homes that meet changing lifestyle needs, HDB announced that flats sold from the February 2019 BTO sales exercise will include new and improved fittings. These include laminated timber doors, steel entrance gates to replace wrought iron ones, and sanitary fittings of better finishes and quality.
In addition, HDB introduced 3-room flats with an integrated kitchen/ utility space. The flexible layout makes it easier for home owners to configure the area according to their tastes and needs. Seniors buying short-lease 2-room Flexi flats with flexible space, can also choose to take up an Optional Component Scheme (OCS) package that includes a folding door, amongst other elderly-friendly fittings, enabling them to use the space to accommodate a caregiver or for entertainment when family members or friends visit.