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When is the right time to buy a flat, and how soon can I get the keys?

(Part of “The Almost Complete Goondu’s Guide to Buying a HDB Flat in Singapore” series.)

When is the right time to buy a flat?

That depends on when you need the flat. Do you need a flat within 6 months? Then resale flat is the way to go. If you can afford to wait 3-5 years, you can apply for a new flat. New flats are generally priced cheaper than current resale flats nearby (about $50k less).

However, while new flats are cheaper, generally much better designed than old flats, and carry a fresh 99 year lease, they are mostly not anywhere near the city. Also, new flats (apart from DBSS and Exec condos) are not eligible for any grants as they are already subsidized.

Another aspect of timing, is watching the economy as a whole. In times of property booms, private property tend to lead the way, with prices rapidly increase. HDB flats will follow suit. As resale flat prices rise, new flats released by HDB will rise accordingly.

Note that the reverse is true too. In today’s economy, things are looking bad. Singapore has entered a recession, and private property prices have started to come down. Resale HDB flats are still high, but are slowly tapering off. In the new year, resale HDB prices should fall, and when they do, so will new HDB prices.

The question is about timing: Can you afford to wait for the right time?

How soon can you get your keys if you were to purchase a resale flat today?

Securing your Flat

Put down deposit of up to $1k. You have two weeks from Day 1 to get your bank to approve your loan and exercise your option-to-purchase. You would have to put down a remaining down-payment of not more than $4k before the two weeks is up.

Do make sure your bank has pre-qualified you for a loan (ie. you are eligible to take up a bank loan) or have your HLE issued by HDB before you put down a deposit. If not, if you are unable to secure a loan within the 14 days, you will lose your deposit.

(A) Time needed: 1-14 days

1st Appointment Date

Read your forms carefully before submitting them, and take note of pt 11 on the Option-to-purchase form:

Most agents would put down 30 days. This means that from the time your seller and you sign the form, the agent has 30 days (or X days) to submit the form.

(B) Time needed: X days

From the date of submission, your 1st appointment date can be anywhere between 25 days to 10 weeks. This depends on whether you have a preferred date, or a date that HDB assigns to both parties. You can check out when is the earliest 1st appointment date available on HDB’s website.

(C) Time needed: 25 days to 10 weeks

2nd Appointment Date

If there is no loan involved (ie you are paying in full) or you’re taking a CPF loan, you can get your keys about 4 weeks after your 1st appointment.

If you are taking a bank loan, your 2nd appointment would only be about 8 weeks after your 1st appointment.

(D) Time needed: 4 weeks – 10 weeks

Total time needed:: (A)+(B)+(C)+(D)
Usually between 4-6 months.

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5 Responses to “When is the right time to buy a flat, and how soon can I get the keys?”

  1. Gaby Says:

    Hi Justina,

    I’m Singapore Citizen married with Foreigner. Recently, we just purchased hdb resale flat under non-citizen spouse scheme. And now, my husband has to work and live overseas and i will follow him in the near future, so what will happen to the flat in case both of use choose not to stay in Singapore? Can we still keep the flat?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Best regards,

  2. kst Says:

    hi Justina,

    My boyfriend and I are planning to get a dbss which will be launched in 1st quarter of 2011. I am planning to leave my job by end of this year,which will also allow us to be eligible for the application of the dbss as the gross salary for my boyfriend will be slightly under 10k. Will hdb take into account the past salary in 2010?

  3. Justina Says:

    No. HDB will only take into account current salary. This is for practical reasons, even if you made $10k in your last job, you longer have that money to service a new HDB loan.

    You would have to sign a declaration form that you are currently unemployed though. It has to be done in front of a HDB officer.

  4. househunt Says:

    I have been a PR in singapore for 5 years. Now, am considering buying a place for myself and the prices seem to be too high. But, as the blog author rightly pointed out, “can you afford to wait?” seems to be the most important question. To me, it all boils down to the exit horizon that you are looking at. that is, how long you can hold on to the property. if you could keep it for 10 to 15 years, then “buy now” seems to be good option. But if you wanna get out in 5 years, you are just gambling. You may or may not lose when compared to renting. I used the online tool at http://singapore-property-calculator.exofire.net to evaluate and compare my options in property investment.

  5. Christy Lee Says:

    Hi Justina & Wai Kay

    Re: HDB Flat Issues – New & Resale Flat

    I have read your comments posted on the Singapore Watch & I believed you can assist me on the following HDB Flat issues:

    1. I intend to buy a HDB Resale Flat either under Fiance/Fiancee Scheme or Joint Single scheme with my fiance. Is there any different in terms of max HDB loan & CPF Housing Grant? My fiance is an undischarged bankrupt, so he’s not eligible for the CPF housing grant but I’m. Both of us will be the applicants (as he got nearly $200k in his CPF ordinary a/c), will I still able to get the grant? Will it be better if we buy under Joint Singles scheme?
    2. I’m rather confused on the cash required. I understand that the COV must be cash, what’s the loan ceiling? CPF + HDB Loan = 90% or 100% of the valuation? I was told that all other costs (stamp duties, legal fees, etc) can be paid by CPF. Please noted that both of us are first-timer.
    3. We also considering buy directly from HDB-either the BTO or Sale of Balance Flats system & rent a HDB flat for the next 2 to 3 years. The logic behind – we saved $50K to $80K on the new flat & utilize it on renting a flat. As mentioned in your comment new flats are cheaper, generally much better designed than old flats, and carry a fresh 99 year lease. We also noted that new flats are not eligible for any grant. What do you think of this idea?
    4. We have about $300K in CPF, I can borrowed up to a max loan of $400K based on my income & age. I’m not sure whether my fiance can obtain HDB loan due to his bankruptcy status. But I was told that he’s entitled for HDB loan. We don’t want to commit too much cash ($50K or so) as we reserve for future planning. We can buy a 5-room or bigger flat based on our budget but I was told that my fiance is constrained in 5 rooms (need to obtain consent from Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office if bigger than 5 rooms). Can you advise us whether can he obtain HDB loan?
    4. In the event I am not eligible for CPF Housing Grant under Joint Singles or Fiance/Fiancee scheme due to his bankruptcy status, we plan to buy 2 units of resale flats which are adjoining 3 room or smaller under Single Singapore Citizen Scheme-meaning he own one unit & I own the adjoining unit. By doing so, I can enjoy the CPF Housing Grant. There are 2 issues here – can he get HDB loan? and can we convert the 2 units into one under Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (we can produce marriage cert. to HDB if required)?
    5. We are within the HDB’s Gross Income Ceiling (under $8,000) for buying a new flat at this stage (as he’s unemployed). What if we exceeded the Income Ceiling in the later stage after we successfully secure a unit from HDB (very likely to happen prior to collection of key)?
    6. In view of the above circumstances, can you advise us what’s the best available option?
    Many thanks for your time in assisting us.

    Christy Lee

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