Resale flats: First-time buyers get higher subsidies

Mr Zhuang and Ms Soh welcomed the news of the higher subsidies yesterday. The trainee lawyers will wed in December and are looking for a four-room flat in Bishan. Industry watchers said the increased CPF Housing Grant would make resale flats more aff
Mr Zhuang and Ms Soh welcomed the news of the higher subsidies yesterday. The trainee lawyers will wed in December and are looking for a four-room flat in Bishan. Industry watchers said the increased CPF Housing Grant would make resale flats more affordable and attractive to first-timers.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

First-time buyers looking for a resale HDB flat cheered when they found out they would get higher subsidies for their purchase.

The CPF Housing Grant has been raised to $50,000 for couples who purchase two- to four-room flats from the resale market, and $40,000 for couples who purchase five-room or bigger flats. The grant was previously capped at $30,000.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the move was part of a package to "keep Singapore a great place for families".

In his Budget statement yesterday, he noted that while most couples apply for highly subsidised Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, some have to turn to the resale market where flats are typically pricier.

Eligible couples can now receive up to $110,000 in subsidies after factoring in the Additional CPF Housing Grant and Proximity Housing Grant.

Mr Zhuang Changzhong, 26, and Ms Valencia Soh, 24, welcomed the news. The trainee lawyers will wed in December and are looking for a four-room flat that costs around $600,000 in Bishan, which is near the home of Mr Zhuang's parents, the church the couple go to and their workplaces.

"The added $20,000 is very significant - it could help to offset the 5 per cent down payment if we find the right flat," Mr Zhuang said.

In a Facebook post, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the higher subsidies will help those who wish to move into their own home quickly to start a family, or those wanting to live near their parents in mature estates with fewer BTO flats.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of National Development and the HDB said singles will enjoy a similar grant increase. They will receive half the quantum couples get.

SIGNIFICANT INCREASE

The added $20,000 is very significant - it could help to offset the 5 per cent down payment if we find the right flat.

MR ZHUANG CHANGZHONG, on the CPF Housing Grant being raised to $50,000 from $30,000 for couples who purchase two- to four-room flats from the resale market. The grant is $40,000 for couples who purchase five-room or bigger flats.

The measure will cost the Government an additional $110 million a year. It applies to eligible resale flat applications received from 3.30pm onwards yesterday.

Industry watchers said the increased grant would make resale flats more affordable and attractive to first-timers. Last year, about 6,600 households benefited from the CPF Housing Grant.

The increased grant is timely as more resale flats are coming onto the market, said Ms Christine Li, research director at Cushman & Wakefield Singapore. Some 18,000 BTO units reached their minimum occupation period last year - 80 per cent higher than in 2015.

"The grant can help to soak up additional resale supply, particularly for those who need to dispose of flats after they take possession of new BTOs, executive condominiums and private properties."

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng expects the grant to boost flat prices by about 0.4 per cent in mature estates, and have little impact on prices in non-mature estates. He said it is unlikely to affect demand for BTO flats. "Most young couples will be prudent. Also, BTO flats are generally seen as fresher and more comprehensively planned."

 

Pre-school teacher Kristi Ng, 28, who is looking for a five-room flat around Bukit Timah with her husband, said: "The grant won't offset that much for us, but all help is welcome. It would help with the renovation budget and conveyancing fees."

Some buyers who submitted their resale flat applications recently and before the 3.30pm cut-off time took to Facebook to complain.

The HDB told The Straits Times that it will not implement the grant retroactively, but added that those with ongoing transactions can ask for assistance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Resale flats: First-time buyers get higher subsidies'. Print Edition | Subscribe