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The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore

If you are a first-time buyer looking for a flat, it can be a pretty mind-boggling experience. Where do you start, what should you know, and what on earth does 5 I, Std, A, Imp, EA, EM, Jumbo mean?

Here’s where “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to owning a HDB Flat” comes in handy. In the days and weeks to come, the following topics below will be covered. Hopefully, this will help make the whole home ownership experience less confusing and more enjoyable!

If you have tips or things to share with other readers, do leave them in the comments!

Chapter 1: The Consideration Phase

    1) Who is eligible to buy a resale HDB flat?
    2) How much should your house cost?
    3) How does location affect cost?
    4) When is the right time to buy a flat, and how soon can I get the keys?
    5) How big a flat should I get?
    6) HDB Flat Types and Models

Chapter 2: The Search

    1) Should I use a real estate agent? What does an agent do?
    2) How do I “Do it Yourself” (DIY) and is it difficult?
    3) Things you need to know?
    4) What do I need to research before viewing?
    4) What do I need to look out for?

Chapter 3: Securing the loan and other costs

    1) Who is eligible for a HDB loan?
    2) Housing Subsidies
    3) How do I create an “emergency fund” if I do take a HDB loan?
    4) How do I find a suitable Bank loan?
    5) How much cash must I set aside to complete the sale?
    6) What’s the difference between Joint Tenancy and Tenancy-in-Common?

Chapter 4: Renovating my Flat

    1) Should I use an Interior Designer?
    2) How do I find a contractor?
    3) Where can I find out more about the companies I’ve short-listed?
    4) How to enjoy 36% discounts off big ticket household items
    5) Another chance to save 36% off your household appliances!

Chapter 5: On a budget – The Cheapest resale HDB Flats

    1) November 2008
    2) December 2008
    3) January 2009
    4) February 2009
    5) March 2009

Chapter 5: Questions People Ask

    FAQ #1: Private property owners and HDB
    FAQ #2: Selling your Property
    FAQ #3
    FAQ #4

Chapter 6: Miscellaneous

    Now that I’m married, can we get a top-up grant and refinance to HDB loan?
    Dream Big, Start Small
    Ever wonder why HDB prices keep going up?

    Chapter 6: Related Housing Articles

    Recovery Expected Only After Mid-2010
    Cash-over-valuation for your HDB Flat? Think again (02Apr09)
    Are Housing Prices still too high?
    Property prices, how much lower can it get? (24Feb09)
    HDB Defaults – Good or bad News?(23Dec09)
    Alt-A and Option ARM – the 2nd wave after Subprime? (17Dec08)

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45 Responses to “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore”

  1. Singapore Watch » Blog Archive » FAQ #1 Says:

    […] #1 Housing, Singapore Watch ver 2.0 17.06.2009 (Part of “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore” […]

  2. Cheong Says:


    1) My parents sold off their HDB 4 years ago and downgraded to a resale flat. To fully pay up the loan, my sister used her CPF and her name was added to the resale flat’s ownership. The rest of the earnings from the sale was used to put back into my parents CPF.

    2) Currently, if my sister purchase and moves to a private property, does she need to remove her name from the existing resale flat?

    3) And can she use her CPF to buy the private property and service it’s monthly loans?

    4) Will the original CPF amount she had used for the resale flat need to be topped up before she can use her CPF for the priate property?

    Thank you.

  3. Justina Says:

    I’m assuming here that minimum occupation period has been met.

    No your sister does not need to remove her name from resale flat to get a private property.

    I believe she can use cpf to service her private property mortgage only AFTER she sets aside minimum sum in her cpf.

    Since the resale flat is still under her name, no money returns to cpf account.

  4. Singapore Watch » Blog Archive » FAQ #4 Says:

    […] #4 Singapore Watch ver 2.0 17.06.2009 (Part of “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore” […]

  5. Singapore Watch » Blog Archive » FAQ #3 Says:

    […] #3 Housing, Singapore Watch ver 2.0 17.06.2009 (Part of “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore” […]

  6. Singapore Watch » Blog Archive » Dream Big, Start Small Says:

    […] Big, Start Small Money Saving Tips, Singapore Watch ver 2.0 20.02.2009 (Part of “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore” […]

  7. radd Says:

    Hello Justina,

    I am in a rather sticky situation now.
    My husband to be in Nov has his name in a flat with his mother. The reason was he was financing his property that his parents are staying. We are looking to purchase our own first HDB property but we can’t exactly take his name out as there is still an outstanding loan for that flat and his cpf funds is required.

    I know it falls out of the family nucleus but is it even remotely possible for me to purchase a hdb flat with my father-in-law so that we can have our own place ?

    Is there anyway we can go around this sticky HDB issue ?

    Many Thanks

  8. June Says:


    I’m a 31 yr old single mother.
    I’ve been trying to apply for a HDB for a while now. it seems i always get rejected even after writing in to the MP.
    When i tried applying direct from HDB they tell me i’m not eligible because i was a singe “unmarried” mother. but if i were to be married and divorced then i would be able to apply.
    even rental was not possible because i made above the income level.

    Is there anyway i can purchase a resale flat now or are the rules still the same for single mothers?

    the only other option is to wait till i’m 35 or to get married.

  9. nini Says:

    I’m 31 yrs old single mum. My income is $1,700, am I eligible to get a 3 rm resale flat.

  10. Xxbb Says:


    Recently I have shifted into my brother’s new BTO 4rm flat which he bought with his fiancee. After staying there for a few months, it turn out that they decided not to go through the wedding. Therefore, they will have to return the flat to HDB. The dateline to submit the ROM cert is November 2011.

    1. I like to know as a sister(age 35) who has never bought a HDB flat before, be able to take over the property?

    2. My brother is only 35 after jun2012. So can he ask for extension period to the ROM cert dateline and take over this flat by himself then.

    3. Currently my mum has a HDB flat solely as my dad pass away a few yrs ago. Can my bro and her take over this new BTO HDB flat? Of cos, in order for her to do that, my mum needs to let me take over her old flat so as to free her name to take over the new one ?

    I like to know can any of these option be done? Even though this new flat was applied initially by my bro and his girlfriend together a few yrs ago?

    Many thanks for your reply

  11. Justina Says:

    Hi Xxbb, no none of these options can be done. The flat must be taken up by your brother and gf. No transfer can take place. Besides, singles can’t buy a new HDB flat anyway. 35 year old single can only buy resale flat.

  12. star Says:


    my bf and his ex applied for this BTO flat under the Fiance/Fiancee scheme, which they already chosed the flat and paid $20K from CPF, and the flat will be ready by 2012. is it possible to change the financee name to mine?

  13. Justina Says:


  14. Neo Says:

    Hi Justina,

    I am 35 and currently looking for a resale flat under the single scheme to move in with my partner.
    I don’t have a lot of cash (max COV I can pay is 10k) and CPF likely to be 160k. Resale are expensive right now. Is there anyway or method I can still get my own house?
    I have identified some areas which I think are still cheaper: Sembawang, Punggol, SengKang plus those on higher side Tampines and Pasir Ris.

  15. Justina Says:

    Hi Neo,

    I think approaching a real estate agent to find one within your budget would be more ideal, though with a max COV of $10k, it will be hard.

  16. Lim Says:

    Hi Justina,

    I’m thinking of getting a resale flat under the singles scheme once I turn 35. I have a boyfriend whose name is together with his mum’s for their HDB 4-rm flat. If we choose to get married in future, will I or he have to give up our individual flats? Or is it better that I don’t buy my resale flat?

  17. Clare Says:


    I am a 43 yr old single working mother with a 7 yr old kid. I was divorced 2 yrs ago, after which I sold my share of our jointly owned HDB flat (bought 7 yrs ago) to my ex-husband.
    May I know when will I be eligible to apply for another HDB flat as a single mother?


  18. Charlene Says:

    Hi Justina,

    I am a divorcee and i own a HDB flat under the HDB single scheme for a year.I have found someone and we plan to get married soon. My husband-to-be currently co-owns a HDB with his mother and owns a pte property as well. Is this going to be an issue for me? I’m lost.

  19. Justina Says:

    Hi Charlene, don’t quote me, but in theory, you have to give up one hdb flat when you get married, as married couples can only own one flat, but in reality, I don’t know if HDB checks. I know they check at point of sale, but they can’t possibly be checking up on everybody years after they have bought their flats

  20. Jzou Says:

    There’s this new trend – LAT(living apart together)
    Can married couples in Singapore buy separate properties under their own name?

  21. Justina Says:

    Hi Jzou, separate private properties, sure. Separate hdbs …. no … unless you don’t get married and you are both above 35, then yes, each can own their own hdb flat, but live in just one?

  22. chegg123 Says:

    should i get a 4 room or a 5room flat?

    i am caught in a dillema.. please share your experiences and your views on this. Currently, me and my wife are both working, with no kids yet.

    Contributing factors for 4 room or 5 room flat.

    1) [Finances of flat] 4 room cost around $360k, while the 5 room cost around $500k.
    2) [Size of flat] nowadays 4 rooms flats seem quite small. 5 room is spacious when it comes to the living room especially, also a bit bigger for the master bedroom and the kitchen.5 room seems to be better for families with kids and more space to roam)
    3) [Selling of flat] if choose to downgrade or sell flat in future, will a 5 room or a 4room be a better choice?
    4) others ….

  23. Justina Says:

    Hi Chegg, if you can afford, of course a 5room would be better. Its harder to upgrade from 4 to 5 in future (at the rate property prices are rising), whereas, to downgrade from 5 to 4 will be a much lesser burden financially speaking.

    But of course, buy within you means! If you have to use both your wife and your cpf + top up cash to pay for your flat each month, then your flat is too expensive.

  24. imjustakid Says:

    Hi there,

    I am 27 years old, earning about 2.3k gross. My brother is 36 years old. He is self-employed (freelance), earning only a few hundred a mth depending on the jobs offered. My brother was previously a co-owner of a hdb flat shared with my father but have sold off the flat. My father now stays with my stepmum.

    We are planning to get a resale flat together as both of us are still single.

    What options do we have?

    1) HDB Loan or Bank Loan? What are the requirements for each of both?

  25. Justina Says:

    Hi imjustakid,

    I don’t think you can get a resale flat with your brother, as you are not yet 35. Your brother on the other hand, can get a resale flat under just his name if he can afford it. If he can’t, he can buy a flat with you and your father, then you can help pay for the installments too.

    HDB Loan: Combined income have to be <$8k if buying with your father.
    Bank Loan: 20% downpayment required: 15% via CPF, 5% via Cash.

  26. imjustakid Says:

    Hi Justina,

    Thank you for the fast response.

    There is one big problem though. My stepmum has her own hdb flat under her name and there’s the policy where husband and wife can’t hold 2 hdb flats at any one time, am i right?

    So that means, my brother can’t purchase a resale flat since he don’t earn much and we can’t use my father’s name since his wife has another flat at the same time.

    Is it possible if my brother gets a flat on his own, but I help pay for the installments without my father’s name?

  27. mun Says:

    Hi there,

    I am a divorcee and i owned a hdb under my name. Recently i have met a foreigner and we wish to settle down. As the current restriction of PR has tighten, he is not able to obtain a PR as now. Can i add his name in my hdb if we get maaried ? Or should he buy a private condo or EC ? If thats the case, can he add my name in the pte property in order to avoid the heavy levy of 10% of property price on foreigners ? What is the best way to solve this .

  28. Poppy Says:

    Hi Justina,

    Perhaps you can advise me the followings. I’m stuck and don’t know what else I could do to help my old aged mother. All factors has been ticked with approval until this issue arised.

    I’m trying to do a Joint Tenancy (not a Tenancy-In-Common) with my mother through HDB. She is a sole owner of 3rm flat and having difficulty paying off her home loan with a bank. Her CPF has ran out and she can’t to afford monthy repayment in cash. She is unemployed because of her health. My husband and I lived-in with her to care for her and chipped-in to pay off her monthly installments to the bank.

    Bank has replied;
    “To add in your name as co-owner, you have to buy over part share of your mother’s flat i.e it must be with consideration. We are unable to add in your name as co-owner on grounds of love and affection i.e without consideration.(Please also take note that this buying over of part share i.e part purchase/part refinance is subject to credit assessment and our management’s approval) Since you have indicated that you have no intention to buy over part of the share, we are therefore unable to assist you in this matter.”

    Notice the bank said I have to do a part share/part purchase/part refinance – This spelled out a Tenancy-in-Common not a Joint-Tenancy. My mother and I don’t wish do this.

    I have sufficient funds in my CPF to redeem the loan. Yet, the bank won’t let me do this unless I do part purchase/part refinance.

    My questions to you;
    1. What should I do to move forward? (Tenancy-in-Common is not an option)
    4. How can I appeal and to whom? HDB or Bank or both?
    3. Has this happened to anyone before? If so, has anyone been successful and how did you do it?



  29. Justina Says:

    Hi poppy, the bank is not wrong. You cannot help pay for a flat you have no share in. Don’t confuse this share with the status of tenancy, as that is simply a matter of which you choose and you can easily change the status, tenancy in common or vice versa to joint tenancy, once you are a co owner of the flat. See Hdb website regarding tenancy changes.

  30. Poppy Says:

    Hi Justina,

    Appreciate your response.

    You misunderstood my point and you didn’t answer my questions. Of course I knew the bank won’t let me use my CPF Funds to redeem her outstanding loan unless I co-own the flat. I knew this from the start and I also know there are several types of HDB tenancy ownership.

    Anyway, I wrote back to the bank asking for further clarification and requesting if this was the bank’s policy decision. Surprise, surprise, the bank changed its tune and gave me the approval without having me to do part purchase/refinance on my mum’s existing loan. In other words, the bank has approved and allow me to co-own the flat as Joint-Tenancy with my mum.

    I suppose, it is easy to get things done the way they want you to be part of but they surely give you hell when you go the opposite way!!

    Persevere and you will be rewarded 🙂

    Peace out!


  31. shubert Says:

    Hi Justina,

    How can I withdraw my name from a joint-tenancy property with my wife? The property is about to TOP and was bought for investment before the new regulations on additional buyer stamp duty. I will like to withdraw my name from this property so that I can potentially buy another in the future without having to pay additional buyer stamp duty (I own another property already). I will like to explore any possible means to leave my wife as sole owner of the said property (one possibility is I granting it as a gift but there could be other measures that we just don’t know). Thanks!

  32. Sky Habitat Says:

    Hi Shubert,

    To withdraw your name from Joint-Tenancy, there are a few things you need to check before hand:

    1.) If the property still serving mortgage, you many want to check with your bank the possibility to transfer the mortgage right under your wife’s name.

    2.) If the property is fully paid, then you might want to check with lawyer for the transfer. They should be able to advice you in proper way of doing it either by gift or transfer of onwership.

    3.) You might also want to check if your soon TOP property is affected by any Seller Stamp Duty set by government.

    Hope this help.

    Melvin Tan

  33. Steph Says:


    Got the result for the recent SOBF
    This is the 2nd time i have applied
    and i didnt manage to secure a good queue number.
    Despite being first timer, married, stay near parents etc etc
    I applied when i got married last year once during the Sept application… didnt managed to get it.
    This year applied another time during the march SOBF still didnt get it. My queue number is more than triple of the supply available.

    The thing is i am pregnant now and is expecting the arrival of my child in August this year. I can’t afford to wait for BTO and can’t afford a resale flat as i will be leaving my job after i gave birth as there isnt anyone to look after my daughter.

    Currently i am staying with my in laws, with my husband’s brother , wife and 4 children in a 4 room flat.

    I heard that writing in to MP does help in a way or 2.
    Please kindly the procedure in going about

    Really appreciate your advise…

  34. Charlene Says:

    Hi Justina,

    I have a sister who shares joint ownership of a HDB with our mum. They plan to marry soon and stay with parents. However, her boyfriend is also a co-owner of a HDB with his own parents- to form a legal family nucleus. The HDB flat (boyfriend’s) has just reached 1 year MOP only. Neither is able to give up their flats because of parents. Does this mean they cannot get married?

  35. Elodie Says:

    Hi Justina

    I had to become a co-owner with my father of my HDB and used my CPF to pay up almost $140k in loans. The flat is fully paid up. I recently met someone who has his own flat and is staying with his mum. His flat just came under SERS and he is locked in until 2020. I approached HDB to transfer my ownership to my dad but they say I have to return the money to CPF which I obviously don’t have and there’s no one to buy over my share. My father refuses to sell the HDB. As a co-owner, can I still marry my boyfriend? I do not plan to put my name in his flat. Can we still get married with him owning his flat and I stuck with mine (but with my father living there)?

    Thank you!

  36. maliki Says:

    Hi i am a PR married to a Singaporean. We have a joint hdb 4rm flat with my wife as 1st and myself as 2nd owner
    I am above 55 yrs and am intending to settle in west malaysia permanently. I have contributed to the flat purchase of slightly above 50 % and the flat is fully paid up
    If I leave singapore permanently, what will happen to my flat. Could I take my cpf contributions made to this house
    2) Can I stay with my wife in singapore without pr status after this
    Please feedback
    Thank you

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