Trying forever to BTO with your partner? Seal the deal with Resale Flats!

You have found someone to BTO with, but found it difficult to secure your dream home? You are definitely not alone. You may start to think about choosing a resale flat instead.

Common unspoken dilemmas: BTO applications sometimes take way too long.

In some situations, applying for BTO with your partner may not be the most efficient.

After all, in order to successfully BTO, the entire process takes time, a lot of research and one element that is out of your control: luck. BTO refers to the built-to-order flats which the government launches every few months for Singaporeans to purchase. There is also a list of eligibility criteria to fulfill in order to buy BTO flats. But it is often preferred because it is relatively cheaper, and buyers believe they make a good investment option.

Trying forever to BTO with your partner? Seal the deal with Resale Flats!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

However, BTO flats are often oversubscribed, especially the ones located in popular estates such as Kallang, Bidadari and Clementi. There are many cases in which couples make more than 3 BTO attempts and still are not able to obtain a BTO unit. On top of this difficulty, couples would also need to wait about 3-4 years before they can move in because the BTO flats need time to complete construction and renovation.

We have met many of our friends and clients who are in this unfavourable situation. Due to their personal timelines and reasons, they may not be able to wait or attempt for BTO flats repeatedly. Staying with their parents or in-laws could be an option, but not always. If that is the case, we would recommend that you start your first home with a resale flat. What are the pros and cons of getting a resale flat? Let’s break it down for you:

Choosing Your Preferred Location – something you would do even when you are choosing your BTO with your partner.

The number one advantage of getting a resale flat is to pick your preferred location. Getting a unit in a convenient location would help you cut down on hours on your daily commute to work or to town. It is also a timeless advantage when it comes to selling your unit in future.

After narrowing down the estates that you and your partner like, you can start looking for specific units for house-viewing. For couples who want to stay close to their parents, you do not have to wait for a BTO launch to occur in your neighbourhood. Furthermore, the government is no longer rolling out BTO launches in mature estates.

Buying a resale flat will give you greater control over which unit you would stay in eventually.

Check out the transportation network, the traffic noise in an existing thriving neighbourhood.

Greater Control Over Your Preferred Unit

Resale flats provide you an accurate sensing of what living in the unit would actually be like. You could visit the place and do a complete house viewing, know the neighbours, take note of traffic noise, transportation options, and surrounding facilities. There is also 100% certainty in the layout and space allocation for renovation and living space.

As compared, for BTO flats, you will neither know who your neighbours will be, nor will you know the final look of your flat. These are key considerations of living in a home which you will rely on your luck for. Facilities and traffic conditions may change over the course of the construction of the BTO flats as well, during which you would not be able to predict completely.

For resale flats, quick transactions can allow you to move in within 2 months but for BTO flats, you would have to wait for about 3 – 4 years. If you prefer to have control over your home purchase, resale flats would be a better choice for you.

Flat Features & Flat Size

Resale flats tend to be bigger than the newer BTO flats when we are doing a point-to-point comparison. 

For example, a 18-years old 5-room resale flat in Blk 596D Ang Mo Kio St 52 S(564596) of 110sqf, as compared to a 41-years old 5-room BTO flat in Blk 430 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 S(560430) just a street away that is 119 sqf. Size is a necessary concern for couples who intend to raise children in a spacious environment. In addition, if they have parents, domestic helpers, or pets that may share the space with them, this would be an important point of consideration.

New residents of BTO flats may realize key differences between their family home and BTO flats. Namely, certain features such as balconies and in-house rubbish chutes are no longer made available. These are still present in some older resale flats, and if these are critical to you, resale flats could offer this benefit.

Costs and Grants

HDB Resale Grant Source:

There are many grants afforded to first-time buyers of BTO flats or resale flats.

CPF Housing Grants

Upon successful flat booking, CPF Housing Grants are fully credited into the applicant’s CPF Ordinary Account. This would offset the purchase price of the flat, thus, lowering the home loan amount required. The key grant that you can look at is the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG). These are the requirements:

Income Ceiling: Your average gross monthly household income for the 12 months before your flat application must not exceed $9,000.

Previous Housing Subsidies: You and all other co-applicants and essential occupiers are all first-timers

Employment: You and/ or your spouse/ fiancé(e) must: have worked continuously for 12 months prior, to the flat application, and would still be working at the time you submitted the flat application.

Remaining lease of flat: 20 years or more Flat must have sufficient lease to cover the youngest buyer and spouse/ fiancé(e) to the age of 95 to qualify for the full EHG. Otherwise, the EHG will be pro-rated.

Other property ownership: You and the other flat applicants must not own any of the following properties whether locally or overseas, or have disposed of any such properties in the 30 months before your new flat application: Private residential property (including privatised HUDC flats and ECs), House, Building, or Land

Grant amount: $5,000 – 80,000, depending on household income. (See here for more information)

For resale flats, there are two other grants available: Family Grant and Proximity Housing Grant.

Family Grant
Depending if you and your spouse are Singaporean citizens (or not), are buying a 2-room,

For 3-room, 4-room or 5-room apartment, you could receive between $30,000 – $50,000 of the Family Grant. (See here for more information)

Proximity Housing Grant
For those who are living with, or close to their parents or parents-in-law (within 4km), you could receive between $10,000 – $30,000 of Proximity Housing Grant. (See here for more information)

Whether you choose to BTO or to buy a resale unit depends on your lifestyle preferences and circumstances.

Future Property Plans

Just like buyers of BTO flats, buyers of resale flat have to fulfill a minimum occupancy period (MOP) requirement of 5 years. If you do intend to buy a BTO flat in future, in order to be considered a “first-time buyer”, do take note of the requirements as follow:

  • Not the owner of a flat bought from HDB, or an EC/ DBSS flat bought from a developer
  • Not sold a flat bought from HDB, or an EC/ DBSS flat bought from a developer
  • Not received any CPF Housing Grant for the purchase of an HDB resale flat
  • Not taken any form of housing subsidy

As such, you may need to consider not to apply for the CPF Housing Grant when you buy your resale flat in order to increase your chances of applying for a BTO flat in future. 


We understand that there are a lot of concerns that you may have especially if you did not manage to get your BTO flat of your choice time and again. It may seem like the traditional route to apply for a BTO flat before you can start your family.

However, you may be surprised to know that many other Singaporeans willingly choose to buy resale flats because they want to choose a unit with great location and features, not because they are pressured to choose resale flats as a ‘worse alternative’! 

You may be looking at resale condominiums instead of resale HDB flats, for that, read our previous post that compares between new launch or resale condominium flats.

Contact Us

At Home Quarters, we have helped many friends to find their dream home by guiding them through the journey of finding their ideal unit. You may have many concerns – it is perfectly normal – just contact Home Quarters by going over to or send us an email at or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram. Let us know and we can start right away to address your needs.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Will a Home Improvement Programme increase the value of your HDB flat?

Does a Home Improvement Programme by HDB actually increase the value of a HDB flat? Get to know how the HIP affects your HDB flat!

What is the Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?

First up, what is HIP? This programme helps resolve common maintenance problems such as spalling concrete for flats built before 1986. This means these flats are around 30 years in history by now.

Also, during the National Day Rally 2018, it is announced by Prime Minister Lee that there will be an expanded programme dubbed the HIP II, which will give all HDB flats a second round of upgrading when they reach their 60 to 70-year mark.

The purpose of these upgrades is to keep HDB flats safe and livable. The HIP will proceed when at least 75 per cent of a block’s eligible Singapore Citizen households have voted in favour of the HIP.

There are three main components of HIP. They are (1) Essential Improvements, (2) Optional Improvements and (3) Enhancements for Active Seniors (EASE). Under the essential improvements, the upgrades are done for public health, safety, or technical reasons.

Will a Home Improvement Programme increase the value of your HDB flat?_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

HIP upgraded bathroom source: The Straits Times

They include repairing spalling concrete, replace waste / soil discharge pipes, replacing pipe sockets with a new clothes drying rack and upgrading the electrical load. Under the Optional Improvements, residents can choose whether or not to upgrade existing bathrooms, install a new decorative door or grille gate, or even a new refuse chute hopper. 

Under the EASE program, if there are elderly family members living in the unit, residents can choose from a range of elderly-friendly fittings, such as slip-resistant treatment for bathroom floor tiles and grab bars within the flat.

What about the costs of the HIP?

Secondly, let’s take a look at the cost. For Singaporean households, the Essential Improvements are fully paid for by the Government. The Optional Improvements are heavily subsidized up to 95%, so residents pay an estimated amount of between $630 and $1,575, depending on their flat types. For EASE, the full range of items will cost around $2,500. After government subsidies of up to 95%, Singapore Citizens pay between $125 and $312.50, depending on their flat types

Residents can use their CPF to pay for these costs, in full, if they choose to. However, Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households have to pay the full upgrading cost. Because of this, for HDB owners that are looking to sell the unit after the HIP is announced but the bill has not yet been paid, SPR households may be discouraged from buying it. They will need to pay the full sum which could add up to a 5-figure sum when they are the owners.

Duration of the upgrading

Thirdly, how long will the upgrading takes? The construction period for a typical precinct comprising eight to 10 blocks will take about 1.5 to 2 years. The actual renovation works in each flat will take 10 days or less, depending on the improvements selected.

The implication here is that there is only an estimated date that is release when HIP is announced and thus, if buyers are looking to renovate the unit, they will either choose to forgo the heavily subsidised bathroom renovation provided by the government or renovate the rest of the house leaving the bathrooms, door and gate to be renovated later. This will be a huge inconvenience if the buyers do not have an alternative place of residence and will need to move into a ready unit fast.

So, will the HIP increase the value of the HDB flat?

From experience, they help the flat retain its value as its 99-year lease runs down but does not serve to increase the value of the HDB unit. If it occurs before or during the works, it might attract Singaporean household buyers that are keen to enjoy a heavily subsidized new bathroom, chute hopper, door and gate as these are items that usually will be replaced after the sale anyway.

But will turn off SPR households that will need to fork out more money than the resale price of the unit when they are being billed the HIP cost by the government or those buyers that wish to move into a ready unit soon and do not want to put up with the inconveniences.

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Do share your opinions on this article with us by dropping us an email or contacting us through our Facebook and Instagram pages! We’d be happy to provide you with various analyses, advice, and any sort of assistance you may require, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Leave your contact details and any queries down below, and we’ll contact you ASAP.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Should you sell your property now or wait until after COVID-19 end?

Halfway into 2020 in June, we are still in the midst of a massive global COVID-19 pandemic. One of our clients asked us this question – “Should I sell my property now or wait until after COVID-19 end?”. It’s a great question that we would like to address in an article. The more accurate question is “Will I get a lousy price if I sell now during these uncertain times or wait to sell after COVID-19?” ‘

This is not only applicable during this pandemic but also to adverse news that occur periodically around the world. Simply put, the word “COVID-19” can be easily replaced with sharp fall in the Dow Jones Index, a new policy from the government and the list goes on and on.

What’s your motivation to selling your property before the COVID-19 end?

However, the reason for selling could be that family circumstances have changed. You could face a need to upsize the unit. Family members often rubbing elbows with one another can cause a lot of friction within the family. At this juncture, as the seller, you have to decide if it is an urgent matter and how long you can afford to wait.

Another reason for selling can be due to the investment acumen. You may see that the asset is reaching its maturity, and the growth of the unit is stagnating or decreasing. In that case, it is worthwhile to sell now. 

What are you buying next?

The next question is, what will you be buying next? In a balance market or a buyer’s market, the next house that you wish to buy might be realistically priced. If you are upgrading where the next house will cost more than the selling price of your current house, savings can be very significant if you choose to buy now.

If you wait for the market to recover, the prices could be much higher then. The same holds true for investor selling off the current investment unit to purchase another investment unit.

Will you get a lousy price if you sell now during these uncertain times or wait to sell after COVID-19?

If you have decided to move forward to sell, then this is perhaps the best time to sell. The buyers that are in the market currently are the serious ones and also because of these uncertain times, many of your competitors may pause selling because of fear. They will not be listing their units up in the market.


Another bonus, there are more instances of working from home and if digital and social marketing is used in the marketing of the unit, there will be an increase in viewership. We will be able to target and induce buyers to be interested in buying the unit. So if the right pricing and marketing strategies is utilised, I believe that a fair price will obtain in any sort of uncertain times and news.

It is not about just producing an amazing video, but the ability to promote this particular video featuring your unit, to the correct audience that will get the house sold! Of course, there are other factors that will affect how fast a unit get sold. This includes price, lease tenure, and layout. We would work out these details on a case by case basis.

Contact Us

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, contact Home Quarters by going over to or send us an email at or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram!

If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

2013, the fateful year that caused HDB prices to plunge 10%!

What happened in 2013 to cause HDB prices to plunge?

2013. The year in which we experienced a 10% drastic drop in HDB prices in Singapore. What happened in 2013, what is the impact on resale HDB flats during then and have we actually recovered from the shock today? Such a catastrophic situation for HDB prices to plunge affect our HDB homes and 70% of Singaporeans that live in them. It definitely sent shockwaves across the nation during then.

On 11 January 2013, a joint press release issued by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Development, Monetary Authority of Singapore and Ministry of Trade & Industry states that the Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) is being reduced.

The Mortgage Servicing Ratio determines how much loans a buyer can get for a HDB flat. The smaller the percentage the lower the loan a buyer can get. For loans from banks, it was lowered from 40% to 30%. For loans from HDB, it was lowered from 40% to 35%. What this suggests is that HDB buyers are not able to get as much loans as compared to before.

Together with the MSR reduction, Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) who own a HDB flat will not be allowed to rent out the entire flat. On top of that, PRs who own a HDB flat must sell their flat within 6 months of purchasing a private property in Singapore. This rule is likely created to deter PRs from using HDB for rental income and then move on to stay in private housing, or perhaps do not even stay in Singapore.

After the announcement, the transaction volume did not immediately go down. In fact, it increased about 20.8% and the resale price also increased 0.5% from Q1 to Q2 of 2013.

Introduction of other measures to stabilize the HDB resale prices

On 27 August 2013, the government introduced two measures to further stabilize the HDB resale market. In my opinion, that was really the last nail in the coffin for HDB resale prices. After what happened that cause the HDB prices to plunge so much, the measures were much needed.

One, they are reducing the maximum loan term from 30 years to 25 years. This means that HDB buyers will need to pay a higher monthly loan repayment due to the shorter loan term. In addition, for HDB loans, the MSR is reduced from 35% to 30%. Like we mentioned previously, this means that HDB buyers will not be able to get as much loans from HDB. This rule affected more Singaporeans. Most Singaporeans take up a HDB loan when buying a HDB flat.

Two, they ruled that PR households to wait three years from the date of obtaining PR status, before they can buy a resale HDB flat. The demand of HDB resale flat, which was previously made up of a significant number of PR households, will be greatly reduced with the new measure. HDB resale flat is the only type of HDB that a PR household can buy as they cannot apply for a new flat.

2013, the fateful year that caused HDB prices to plunge 10%!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

It was hugely shocking as the measures’ take effect immediately on the day of the announcement at 5.30pm. There was no grace period given. This stranded many PR buyers that were in the middle of a deal.

After this announcement, the transaction volume immediately plunged to 13.4% and the resale price also sharply dropped by 0.9% from Q2 to Q3 of 2013. From Q2 2013, Prices continue to drop quarter-on-quarter until Q3 2015 before stabilizing. The total drop in price was about 11.6%. The median price of HDB flat in Q2 2013 is S$460,000, a 11.6% drop means that if you buy a HDB flat in mid 2013 for S$460,000 then by end 2015, your HDB flat will be worth S$53,360 lesser than what you paid for.

Effects of the measures in 2020

The impact of the 2013 HDB measures introduced is still being felt today, coupled with the economy slowdown in growth rate. The HDB resale prices have been falling consistently from Q3 2013 till today, with only 4 quarters registering quarter-on-quarter positive growth. However, the growth never exceeded 0.5%. The median price of HDB for the full year of 2019 is S$400,000.

Compared to the historic prices of HDB, only those buyers that have bought a HDB before year 2011 (with median price of S$418,000) will make a profit or break-even. This is not taking into account other costs such as housing loan interest and CPF accrued interest. That is why sellers of HDB flats often face a negative sale situation.

This means that the money received after they sell their unit is not enough to pay for the HDB loan or bank loan, even taking into consideration CPF. If they bought a resale HDB flat after 2011, or used huge portion of their CPF to pay for the HDB flat, the effects are felt especially acute.

Looking forward, as HDB flats are supposed to serve as a primary home for Singaporean citizens and also PRs, prices will be consistently monitored to be kept low in order to allow it to be affordable to the masses. In the last 4 – 5 years, prices have been stable for resale HDB flats.

In the short term, we foresee that there will not be seeing any significant increase in the price of resale HDB flat unless we experience an economy boom in Singapore that significantly bring up the income level of the masses.

MSR most likely will stay on although the government have recognised the effect of inflation and have since increased the income ceiling eligibility of new flats from S$12,000 to S$14,000. The new executive condominium income ceiling was also increased from $14,000 to $16,000 on 11 September 2019.

What’s next in it for you?

Looking at the measures that were implemented, we can see that government policy changes definitely play a big part in influencing the price of our HDB flats. In fact, government policy impact all type of properties and not just HDB.

As a home seller selling your home in order to upgrade or right size into another home because your current home is no longer suitable for your needs, do you know if you fall under the negative sales scenario? If you do, what can you do if you are still keen to sell the place? Will we see such a situation of HDB prices to plunge greatly again?

Contact Us

But if you have an agent that can take you through the process carefully, you will be able to find a new residential unit that could serve as your home for a long time. That is where Home Quarters can help. Sit down with Home Quarters to go through the current price of your HDB and what you owe on loans and CPF.

Whatsapp message or call KC from Home Quarters and begin finding your new home today: +65 8809 2889! Or drop us an email, commenting on our YouTube or contacting us through our Facebook and Instagram pages!

He is extremely knowledgeable about everything to help you find your new home today. Watch KC, your friendly neighbourhood agent here in action: If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing when buying your first property, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!

Calling on all Housing and Development Board (HDB) dwellers and owners! Do you know you can buy the small space right outside your door? Have you ever wondered why some HDB flats have their gates outside on the common corridor and some have them just right outside the door? That fine difference is because of the recess area.

In this article, we will explore what that is, who can buy them, how much does it cost and also how to go about buying it. Importantly for those concern about selling your unit in future, we also discuss if buying it will increase the value of your house.

What is the recess area and who can buy it?

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

HDB flats have corridors that lead to staircase and also lift landings that serve as common spaces, and these areas are considered the recess area. Some residents have converted these extensions outside their home for their personal use by putting their own belongings such as shoe racks, cabinets, bicycle and even park benches.

Home Quarters do advise that home owners reduce the clutter in the common corridor as this will pose as a fire hazard, and restrict escape routes and access in case of an emergency. The safest way to enjoy the corridor space directly in front of the flat is to purchase it from HDB under the Sale of Recess Area Scheme and turn it into your own private space.

In order to be eligible to buy, home owners have to meet certain conditions. First, the space have to meet technical requirements relating to design, access, fire safety and ventilation. There should not be service ducts such as gas pipes, water meters and electrical ducts in the space.

In what situation is the purchase of recess area not allowed?

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

In addition, the purchase of recess area is not allowed if the flat is built after 1996 or under a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project. Also, under these circumstances, purchase is also prohibited:

• Space does not comply with the Fire Safety Code
• Space contains electrical risers
• Flat is located next to a corner unit
• Flat is located next to the opening that leads to the canopy of the protruding access balcony
• Flat is located in a point block where it is the only unit on the floor which has the recess area

How much does the small recess area cost?

According to HDB, the purchase price of a 4 sqm recess area outside a typical three-room flat would cost S$6,800. The price per square meter is also reviewed every quarter by HDB. Just like a normal purchase procedure, stamp and registration fees, conveyancing fees and also survey fees are required for the purchase. Survey fees refer to the fee paid to confirm how big the area is.

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

HDB estimates that the total cost for the recess area adds up to S$7,297.30 after factoring all the fees involved. Additional costs might also be needed for relocating service ducts, fittings, or fixtures out of the recess area, and for renovation works to be carried out which is not included in the estimate. 

Procedure to buy recess area

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

If their flat meets the requirements, they may submit an online application via My HDBPage. An on-site inspection of the recess area is required to determine if the space meets technical requirements. Thereafter, they will be subsequently informed of the outcome in writing. In certain cases, they will be advised to relocate services, fittings and fixtures at their own cost before making payment and signing of legal documents to complete the purchase.

Impact of recess area towards valuation and price of HDB flat

Factually, the area of the HDB flat will increase as it includes the bought area of the recess area. The valuation price will definitely be higher than a typical unit. On top of just adding space to the unit, if the purchase of recess area changes a typical corner corridor unit to that of a private corner unit without any windows facing the common corridor, then the purchase of the recess area will increase the desirability of the unit.

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source: Fatema Design Studio

For example, a 3-room flat in Toa Payoh that have purchased the recess area and renovated it, would have increased its attractiveness. People might prefer to buy this unit with recess area because it is now more private, without windows that allows public to peek into the unit from the common corridor. That will definitely increase the demand and thus, the market price of the unit.

Contact Us

Now, after you understand what is the recess area, is it a key criteria when you are looking for your next home? Come sit down with us to go through your current needs and want for the property to purchase next.

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, contact Home Quarters by going over to or send us an email at or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram! If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

Reach out to us any way you like and we love to help you out and answer any questions you have to sell your house so that you can move on to the next big thing in life.

That’s all for this article! Stay safe, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!