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askST: What flats can a senior citizen buy and can she appoint someone to buy it on her behalf?

Reader Nancy Goh, a single senior citizen Singaporean now working in the United States, intends to return home when she retires within the next five years. She wanted to confirm what flats she is eligible to buy, and whether she can arrange for a Power of Attorney for her sibling to apply for a flat on her behalf.

Housing reporter Janice Heng answered her questions.

Singles aged 35 and older can buy a new two-room flexi flat directly from the Housing Board, through Build-to-Order or Sale of Balance Flats exercises. If they would like to buy a larger flat, they will have to do so on the open resale market.

Flat buyers may indeed appoint someone to act on their behalf through a Power of Attorney (PoA), said the HDB. They should consult a private solicitor to prepare this legal document. For applicants who are overseas, the PoA must be prepared by the solicitor and signed by the applicant in the presence of a Notary Public, the Singapore High Commission, or a Singapore Ambassador in the country of their stay. The solicitor has to register the signed PoA with the Singapore High Court Registry.

Applications to buy a flat directly from the HDB can be submitted online (http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/homepage). If the application is successful but the buyer cannot attend the appointment to book their flat personally, they may authorise a representative to do so on their behalf. This is done by completing an authorisation form that can be found on HDB's website.

After booking a flat, they will need to sign the Agreement for Lease and pay the downpayment, and when the flat is completed, they will be invited to collect the keys within one month of being notified. Either the flat buyer or their appointed PoA will need to attend these appointments at the HDB Sales Office. Requests to defer key collection will be considered on a case-by-case basis, said the HDB.

For resale flats, the buyer or their appointed PoA must attend two appointments at the HDB office together with the flat sellers: first to discuss administrative details, and then to complete the resale transaction.

Even after a PoA has been arranged, there are some documents that must be signed personally by the flat applicant and mailed to the HDB. These are the application form, the statutory declaration signed in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths or Notary Public, and letters of undertaking. Buyers of resale flats must also sign and submit the resale checklist for buyers.

More askST stories here.