Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered this year’s National Day Rally speech on 20 August 2023, Sunday. Amongst the government initiatives and measures announced during the speech was the reclassification of HDB towns to ensure that public housing remains accessible and affordable for Singaporeans of all income groups, as well as to achieve a good social mix and to keep the system fair.
Previous measures that were rolled out in recent years include the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model, tighter rules for non-selection of BTO flats and a new priority group, increased grants for first-time homebuyers buying a resale HDB flat, as well as ramping up new flat supply to meet housing demand.
In this article, we will be giving a quick rundown of the new framework announced during the National Day Rally speech. You can also look forward to our upcoming webinar, where we will be sharing some key takeaways from the speech that could shape your approach to navigating Singapore’s real estate landscape in the future.
New Classification Framework for HDB
Under the previous framework, HDB towns were classified into ‘mature’ for estates that were more developed and ‘non-mature’ for estates that were further away from the city centre and less developed. In his speech, PM Lee acknowledged that in today’s context, the lines between mature and non-mature have been blurring – current non-mature estates are not as underdeveloped as they were in the past. Therefore, a new framework will be rolled out from the second half of 2024 and HDB will no longer refer to new projects as mature and non-mature. The reclassification will not retroactively affect existing projects or those that have been launched.
The new framework announced will classify future Built-To-Order (BTO) projects into three categories – Standard, Plus, and Prime projects. The below graphic shows where each category of flats can be found.
Standard projects will come with a 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), after which the owner can sell the flat on the resale market with no income ceiling restrictions on the resale buyer. These projects will be launched islandwide, with the standard subsidies and restrictions.
The Plus projects, introduced by PM Lee during the speech, are projects that are located in “choicer” locations within a region. These projects are often located near MRT stations, and possess good attributes (such as an abundance of amenities or waterfront living) that would make them more popular among applicants. An example cited by PM Lee was Bayshore in Bedok, which will be a short walk from two MRT stations, near a shopping mall and community centre, and is just across the road from East Coast Park and the waterfront. These projects will receive more subsidies, but with stricter sale conditions such as a 10-year MOP and subsidy recovery upon resale as well as an income ceiling for resale buyers. The Plus model enables HDB to moderate prices in these “choicer” locations and keep them affordable while maintaining a good social mix. More information about these restrictions will be announced by HDB at a later date.
Lastly, Prime projects are projects like those currently offered under the PLH model – located in or around the city centre. These projects will receive the most subsidies and the tightest restrictions to moderate windfall gains.
Below is table summarising the new framework:
This new framework aims to solve HDB’s dilemma between reducing the lottery effect and achieving a good social mix while keeping the system fair for all homebuyers. At the same time, this will also keep home ownership accessible and affordable to all income groups.
More Housing Options for Singles
At the time of writing, singles above the age of 35 who wish to buy a new HDB flat are only allowed to buy a 2-room Flexi flat in non-mature estates. With the new framework, singles will no longer be restricted to only non-mature estates, and will soon be able to buy new 2-room Flexi flats from HDB in all three categories (Standard, Plus, Prime) in any location. This will provide singles with more location options, potentially benefiting Single groups like those who want to live near their parents in current mature estates.
Previously, singles were not allowed to purchase Prime Location Housing flats, even from previous owners. However, with the reclassification and new framework, they can now acquire 2-room Prime Flexi units from the resale market, as well as any size Standard or Plus resale units (with the exception of 3Gen flats) in any location, subject to income ceiling.
This new framework will undoubtedly send ripples across the public housing market in Singapore, and will significantly change the way HDB price and sell new flats in future BTO sale launches. Given the public discourse regarding housing options for singles, it is heartening to see that the government has taken steps to address their concerns and ensure that this group of homebuyers will now have a wider range of options to meet their needs.
What do you think about this new framework? What are the possible repercussions and will it have a significant impact on your property decisions in the near future? Join us at our upcoming webinar, where we will discuss these new changes in-depth and address some of your burning questions. If you need a second opinion on how to navigate the property landscape in view of these new changes, do reach out to us here. See you in the next one.