In May last year, Ms Tan Li Shuan, 24, and her boyfriend of eight years, Mr Jerren Chua, 28, applied for a four-room flat during a Sale of Balance Flats exercise.
They were unsuccessful, but the couple, who are first-time buyers, now consider themselves lucky.
Under changes to the Housing Board's grant schemes that take effect on Wednesday (Sept 11), they now qualify for about $25,000 more in grants than they would have if they had bought a flat last year.
Under the previous grant schemes, Ms Tan, a human resources administrator, and Mr Chua, a hawker who runs a juice stall at the National University of Singapore, did not qualify for the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) as their combined income exceeded the $5,000 maximum.
Ms Tan said they tried for a four-room flat in Bedok as she had hoped to secure a flat near her parents' home in Kembangan, so they could help take care of the couple's future children.
As Bedok is a mature estate, they also did not qualify for the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), which is restricted to four-room or smaller flats in non-mature estates and has an income ceiling of $8,500.
Both schemes have now been combined under the new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) scheme, which has a higher income ceiling of $9,000.
The maximum amount available under the grants has not changed - the EHG offers up to $80,000, the same as the AHG and SHG combined. But Ms Tan said the higher income ceiling is good news as more people will be able to benefit.
"With the median salary increasing every year, it is quite common for newlywed couples to hit the $5,000 income ceiling," she said.
And unlike the SHG, the EHG does not restrict buyers in terms of flat size or estate.
"I think the changes will definitely allow us to consider more options," said Ms Tan, adding that she and Mr Chua would now consider trying for five-room flats as well.
In addition to new flats, the EHG will also apply to resale flats, making them a more appealing option for first-time buyers.
Previously, resale buyers could apply for various grants, including the Proximity Housing Grant and the AHG, but not the SHG.
The change means resale buyers will now be able to get up to a total of $160,000 in grants, compared with $120,000 previously.
Ms Tan said she had previously considered resale flats, which are more expensive than new flats, as a last resort.
She added: "If our applications keep coming back unsuccessful, we can fall back on resale flats, knowing that the grants have been adjusted and that we are now eligible."