The Ultimate 2023 LGBTQ+ Housing Guide in Singapore
Dear Straight People,
For better or for worse, “BTO ai mai?” has evolved into the quintessential Singaporean proposal. Amidst soaring property prices, the dream of homeownership remains attainable for most Singaporeans solely through the BTO scheme, an avenue requiring the sacred vows of matrimony.
Unfortunately for Singapore’s LGBTQ+ community, same-sex unions are not recognised. Meaning that everyone who falls below the government’s list of priorities has to fight tooth and nail into the local property market.
So whether you’re a single desperate to find your own space or a couple confused at all the technical jargon, we’ve done the research on the housing options available for you and compiled it all into this guide.
We have made every effort to provide accurate and up-to-date information in this guide.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that housing regulations may be subject to updates. To ensure the information is current and applicable to your specific situation, we recommend double-checking with a reputable realtor or referring to official sources such as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) or the Singaporean government’s websites.
Money doesn’t buy happiness. But it can buy you a fancy crib.
Private housing is the only option available for both singles and couples alike, regardless of age.
Consider your needs when it comes to deciding between either a resale private condo or a new launch condo. A new launch condo is favourable for its capital appreciation potential. But a resale private condo is cheaper and ready for immediate move-in.
In general, be prepared to cough up upwards of $1 million for a 2-bedroom unit.
FOR SINGLES 35 AND ABOVE
Singaporean singles aged 35 and above are only eligible to purchase a 2-room Flexi flat in a non-mature estate, which gets you a smaller space from 36-45 sqm. But it makes up for it in price, ranging from $100,000 to $182,000.
- This eligibility check will help confirm whether or not a BTO flat is the right choice for you as well as whether you can finance your purchase with bank loans or grants. Keep an eye out for the exercise launches via this link.
- You can apply for the flat you want via signing up to HDB InfoWEB using your Singpass, with a $10 admin fee. The balloting outcome will be released on My HDBPage within 2 months.
- After you are given a queue number, you need to produce a $500 option fee for a 2-room Flexi flat during the appointment. Within 6 months, you can sign the Agreement for Lease, with downpayment, stamp duty and legal fees payable.
- Upon keys collection, a balance purchase price is also payable.
- If paying by CPF, the downpayment for the HDB loan will be 10% of the unit price, while the downpayment for the bank loan will be 20% of the unit price.
- If paying in cash, the downpayment for the bank loan will be 5% of the unit price.
- If you’re taking out a HDB loan, you need to apply for your HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. Otherwise, you need an Approval In Principle (AIP) letter from your bank for a bank loan.
- Sale of Balance
Perhaps lesser well-known to Singaporean Singles is Sale of Balance (SBF), an exercise intended to fully utilise unsold flats from previous exercises. Though you are only entitled to a 2-room Flexi flat in a non-mature estate with 5% of the pool available for singles, it might still be worth the gamble for the shorter wait and affordability.
In addition to being a Singaporean citizen and at least 35 years old, your income ceiling is limited to $7,000. You must also meet the EIP (Ethnic Integration Policy) and SPR (Singapore Permanent Resident) quota for your neighbourhood.
- Resale HDB flat
Buying a resale flat means you’re getting a HDB flat that has already been occupied for at least 5 years. Not only is it open to both Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents, it might be more suitable if you prefer a larger space, or want to secure a flat as fast as possible.
But there’s some downsides. Depending on the unit’s age, you’ll be getting a shorter lease leftover from the previous owner’s stay. And while resale HDB flats are generally larger than BTO flats, it comes at a heftier price tag. In 2022, the median price for 3-room resales was $389,300.
These estates are about to become hot commodities, so start the search early!
Here’s a look into the purchase process:
- Register an Intent to Buy via the HDB Resale Portal. This will grant a more in-depth assessment of whether you’re a financially eligible candidate.
- You will be able to act on pursuing any flats you’re interested in, provided that the seller has registered an Intent to Sell for longer than 7 days. Once you and the seller agree on a price, you can obtain an Option to Purchase (OTP).
- The next working day after receiving the OTP contract, submit a Request for Value via the HDB Resale Portal if you intend to use CPF savings and/or housing loans to buy the flat. This will determine the flat’s value and financial coverage.
- After exercising the OTP, both parties need to submit the necessary documents within 7 calendar days of each other while endorsing them.
- Once the fees are paid, HDB will grant an approval for the transaction within 2 weeks. Following that, an 8-week period should be expected for the final acceptance of the resale application.
- A valid HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter is required if you intend to use a HDB housing loan, or a valid Letter of Offer (LO) if you’re taking out a loan from financial institutions.
- A single printed copy of the OTP is necessary for the unique serial number.
- A cash deposit of at least $5,000 to cover the Option Fee during the granting of the OTP and the Option Exercise Fee during the exercising of the OTP.
- A resale application fee from $40 for 1-2 rooms to $80 for 3-rooms and bigger.
- If paying by CPF, a 10% downpayment is required for the HDB loan, while 20% is required for the bank loan.
FOR COUPLES 35 AND ABOVE
Since same-sex unions are not recognised in Singapore, your other half and you will be viewed as singles.
The JSS (Joint Singles Scheme) allows two to four people to jointly buy a brand new one bedroom Flex flat in non mature estates. To qualify for the JSS, your combined gross monthly household income must not exceed $7,000.
2. Resale Flat
The JSS extends to the open HDB resale market, presenting a wider variety of HDB types and locations.
While certain eligibility requirements apply, many criteria remain unchanged, except for one significant advantage – there’s no income ceiling to worry about.
HDB grants are also applicable to couples whose combined income falls below $14,000, making the journey towards owning your ideal home even more accessible.
3. Executive Condo
Under the JSS, LGBT+ couples can also consider an Executive Condo (EC), which has all the features of a condo, save for some restrictions.
- Initial 5 years: Similar to HDB flats, ECs cannot be sold to anyone during this period.
- 6th to 10th year: During this period, the unit may only be sold to a qualified Singapore Citizen or SPR eligible to purchase an EC.
- From the 11th year onwards: Beyond the tenth year, the selling restriction no longer applies
Looking at EC launches, expect to pay around $900K to $1.2 million depending on the size. Do note that your combined monthly household income must not exceed $16,000.
- Once the launch is announced, you can submit an application to the property developer either through online balloting or in-person walk-ins.
- If your application is successful, you will be able to book an EC unit and obtain an Option to Purchase (OTP). At this stage, a 5% option fee is payable.
- After you sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement, you need to pay a 25% downpayment and 1-3% in legal and stamp fees either via CPF OA savings or cash within 9 weeks from receiving the OTP or signing the agreement.
- Once the EC project is ready for move-in, you’ll receive your keys.
- Identity cards of all listed applicants.
- 3 months worth of payslips or employer’s letter certifying salaries for 3 months preceding the month of application/booking. If income includes allowances, 6 months’ payslips need to be produced.
FOR SINGLES & COUPLES UNDER 35
With many rental units in Singapore ready for immediate move-in, this is the most flexible option by far if you’re under 35.
Short-term commitments are possible, ranging from as little as 3 months for condominiums to 6 months for HDB flats. However, in practice, most landlords prefer a minimum commitment of a one-year lease.
Consider being upfront about your sexuality during the rental process to ensure that you get an LGBT+ friendly landlord. Online platforms like 99.co and Roomies provide options to identify such welcoming landlords easily.
Expect to pay $750/month for a room or $2200/month for an entire HDB flat. For a condo, a room will be around $1000/month whereas a whole unit will cost about $2500/month to rent.
- Resale Executive Condo (EC)
If you can stretch your budget for it, a Resale Executive Condo (EC) is certainly a more luxurious option.
In order to buy an EC, you must be a Singapore Citizen (SC) or Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) above 21 years old. However, you are not eligible for the CPF Housing Grant as Resale ECs are treated as private housing.
FINANCING OPTIONS AND TIPS
FOR SINGLES 35 AND ABOVE
The Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) is the main option available to first-time homebuyers. To be considered for the grant, you must hold a job at the time of application.
- Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme
If you’re applying under the Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme, your average monthly income must be within $4,500 a month before you apply for a flat. While singles can receive up to $40,000, those that earn a higher income should expect a smaller grant.
- Joint Singles Scheme
If you’re applying with up to 3 other Singaporean singles under the Joint Singles Scheme, you remain eligible so long as the combined average monthly income of you and your co-applicants is within $9,000 12 months prior to the flat application date.
You can receive up to $80,000, but the final amount will be determined by your income.
If you’re in the market for a resale flat, here are three grants available without those pesky covert premiums.
- Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme
The Singles Grant is for those who fall within the average monthly income limit of $7,000. According to the latest budget statement, first-time singles purchasing a 2 to 5 room resale flat can stand to benefit from the revised grants. For a 2 to 4-room flat, the grant has been bumped up to $40,000, while $25,000 can be claimed for a 5-room flat.
For buyers that submit their resale applications on or after 1 Apr 2023, HDB will disburse the increased grant quantum before the completion of the resale. But if you submit applications from 14 Feb 2023 to 31 Mar 2023, HDB will disburse the difference between the current and revised grant within three months from resale completion.
You need to submit either 3 months’ payslips preceding the month of flat application or an employer’s letter certifying your salary for the 3 months leading up to the month. If the income includes allowances, you need to produce 6 months’ worth of payslips.
Another grant worth considering is the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG). Your average gross monthly household income must not exceed $4,500. Singles can receive up to $40,000, but this is subject to the actual income earned.
The Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) is also an option if you choose a unit within a 4km radius of your parents’ house, be it public or private property. With zero income restrictions, you can be awarded $10,000 for a 2-5 room flat. However, if you’re widowed or divorced with child custody, you can receive $15,000 for just about any type of flat if your children are listed as essential occupiers. As of February 2023, singles are eligible to receive up to $90,000 buying a resale flat with these combined benefits.
- Joint Singles Scheme
If you’re applying for a flat with your fellow singles, make sure all applicants are Singaporean Citizens as well as 35 years old and above. The value and conditions of the Proximity Housing Grant are the same as the Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme.
For the Singles Grant, you and your co-applicants must gross a monthly household income of $14,000. Expect to receive $50,000 for 2-4 room resale flats, and $40,000 for 5-room resale flats. Both these amounts are double what you receive as a single, meaning it is only possible to take out 2 Singles Grants amongst all applicants.
For the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), the total average gross monthly household income must not exceed $9,000 in the year leading up to the application.
- Executive Condo (EC)
No grants are available for singles applying under the Joint Singles Scheme. Instead, you can only take a loan worth 75% of the property’s value.
FOR SINGLES UNDER 35
While there are no grants available for singles under 35, look into securing loans via sites like Lending Bee.
LGBTQ+ FRIENDLY HOUSING RESOURCES
If you’re looking to supplement your house-hunting journey with more LGBTQ-specific information, check out Singapore’s leading property portal 99.co. You can learn about queer-friendly neighbourhoods and get practical advice for renting and buying as a LGBTQ+ individual.
Prident is another valuable resource to have in your arsenal. A professional LGBTQ+ collective based in Singapore, their team focuses on catering to the needs of queer homebuyers.
In addition, Same But Different is a community-led project of professionals from legal and non-legal backgrounds alike that reaches out to LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families in need of guidance. This handy guidebook is free to download on their website for greater insight into the nitty-gritty of housing, CPF, cohabitation contracts and more.
For those looking to rent, Roomies is a local rental site that allows landlords to specifically market their properties as queer-inclusive through an LGBTQ-friendly tag.
You can also look into Facebook groups such as Queer/Trans Housing Singapore and Singapore LGBTQ Property Listing – Buy, Sell and Rent to guarantee a queer-inclusive living space through getting in touch with members of the community.
- LGBT Realtors
As the founder of Haus of Pride and co-founder of Prident, William Tan is a licensed realtor who promotes an inclusive approach towards house-hunting in Singapore. Find out more at his website, or reach out to him via Facebook.
We hope you found this LGBTQ+ guide useful for your house-hunting journey!
Written by Rochelle Lee
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