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HDB Income Ceilings in Singapore: 2024 Guide for Homebuyers

hdb income ceiling
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In Singapore’s property market, the HDB income ceiling is vital for accessing subsidized housing, capped at $14,000 monthly for a typical family nucleus buying a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, as reported by PropertyGuru. This ceiling varies with flat type, aimed at keeping affordable housing within reach.

A recent 31 January 2024 report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed that Singapore’s median gross monthly income is S$4,375, making BTO flats affordable for average couples. Households above the HDB income limit may consider resale flats or private condos.

In this guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the HDB income ceiling, understand the considerations for applicants, and discover practical tips for managing income to meet the ceiling requirements.

The HDB Income Ceilings in 2024 At a Glance

The HDB BTO income ceiling currently in place is S$14,000. This is an average gross monthly household income figure which includes the total income of everyone in your family nucleus that you have listed in your flat application. Let’s look at how this works with each different type of HDB flat.

Type of HDB FlatIncome Ceiling HDB (Average Gross Monthly Household Income)
BTO Flat S$7,000 – For a 2 room Flexi Flat with a 99-year lease or selected 3 room flat types onlyS$14,000 – All other BTO flats
Resale HDB FlatsNo income ceiling limitations apply
Executive Private Condominiums (ECs)S$16,000

The table outlines HDB flat income ceilings in Singapore-BTO flats have a S$7,000 ceiling for 2-room Flexi and some 3-room flats, while other BTOs are capped at S$14,000. Resale flats have no income limit. Executive Private Condos have a S$16,000 ceiling.

What is the HDB Income Ceiling?

The HDB income ceiling is a cap set by Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB) on the average gross monthly household income of families eligible to purchase Build-To-Order (BTO) flats. This regulation ensures housing remains affordable and accessible, preventing the wealthiest from monopolizing public housing, which is a common residence for most Singaporeans.

What is its purpose?

  • The income ceiling aims to maintain the affordability of subsidized housing and ensure equitable distribution among various income groups. 
  • It’s also a crucial factor in determining eligibility for HDB flats, HDB loan products, and CPF Housing Grants.

Eligibility for HDB Flats

For BTO flats, your household income must not exceed the specified ceiling for the flat type you’re applying for. The income ceiling varies, with a general cap of $14,000 for most flats, as per recent revisions. For HDB resale flats, there’s no income ceiling to purchase, but to qualify for CPF Housing Grants and HDB home loans, certain income limits apply.

By adhering to the HDB income ceiling, you ensure you’re within the bracket for subsidized housing, making your dream of owning a home in Singapore a feasible reality.

If a household’s income exceeds these ceilings, they must look towards the private housing market, as they are not eligible for these types of subsidized housing. The ceilings are periodically reviewed and can change to reflect current economic conditions and wage trends.

HDB to Introduce New Plus Flats

The Housing Development Board (HDB) is set to redefine Singapore’s housing landscape with the introduction of ‘Plus’ flats, a new category aimed at choice locations in each region. Announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally, these Plus flats will feature more subsidies and come with stricter resale conditions to bolster affordability and uphold fairness in the public housing system.

New Classifications for BTO Projects

Under the revised framework, which will commence in the second half of 2024, BTO projects will be classified as Standard, Plus, or Prime Flats. This initiative represents a significant shift from the traditional classification of estates into mature or non-mature categories. However, it is essential to note that these new categories will not affect existing HDB flats or those who have already booked their flats.

New Classifications for BTO Projects

(source: Ministry of National Development)

Income Ceilings for Plus Flats

In line with the goals of maintaining housing affordability, Plus flats will be subject to an income ceiling of $14,000 for potential buyers on the resale market. This threshold corresponds with the current income ceiling for BTO flats and encompasses approximately 80 percent of Singaporean households.

Note: Private property owners will face a 30-month waiting period before they are eligible to purchase resale Prime or Plus HDB flats.

Strategic Locations and Enhanced Subsidies

Strategically located near essential amenities such as MRT stations and town centres, Plus flats will only be available for sale from the latter half of 2024, as reported by Channel News Asia. These flats will cater to families and singles whose monthly income does not exceed the stipulated ceiling, ensuring equitable access to well-situated public housing.

With these changes, the HDB is advancing its commitment to a balanced and inclusive housing market, paving the way for future homeowners to secure properties in desirable locations with the added benefit of increased subsidies.

Factors Considered in Reviewing and Adjusting Income Ceilings

Economic Conditions

Changes in the economic landscape, such as inflation or shifts in the cost of living, can prompt adjustments to the income ceiling. The goal is to ensure that HDB flats remain accessible to a broad range of income groups, reflecting the current economic realities.

Median Household Income

The median household income is a critical factor. As this figure rises, the income ceiling may be adjusted to ensure that a significant portion of the population remains eligible for HDB housing. This helps maintain the inclusivity of public housing.

Housing Affordability

Affordability is a cornerstone of HDB’s mission. The income ceiling is periodically reviewed to keep HDB flats within reach for the target demographic, ensuring that housing remains affordable for middle- and lower-income families.

Market Trends

Real estate market trends, including fluctuations in property prices, can influence adjustments to the income ceiling. The aim is to balance affordability with market dynamics, ensuring that HDB flats are a viable option for eligible buyers.

Social and Demographic Factors

HDB examines the social and demographic factors that influence housing needs, such as household sizes, family structures, and living arrangements. The income ceiling is adjusted accordingly to accommodate the changing needs of different segments of the population.

Government Policy Objectives

HDB aligns the income ceiling with the government’s overall policy objectives, which may include promoting social equity, supporting home ownership, and addressing the housing needs of specific groups, such as lower-income households or young families.

Feedback and Public Consultation

HDB takes into account feedback from the public and stakeholders during the review process. Public consultation may be conducted to gather input and perspectives from various groups, including potential home buyers, housing advocates, and community organizations. This feedback helps HDB make informed decisions regarding the income ceiling.

How Is the HDB Income Ceiling Calculated

As previously mentioned, the HDB income ceiling is a crucial measure used to determine eligibility for purchasing HDB flats. It’s calculated based on the gross monthly household income, which includes the total income of all applicants and co-applicants listed in the application.

What is Gross Monthly Household Income?

Gross monthly household income encompasses the basic salary, bonuses, allowances, and employer’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions. For example, if you earn $4,500 a month and your spouse, who is listed as a co-applicant, earns $3,000 a month, your combined gross monthly household income would be $7,500.

Let’s take the example of a man with a gross monthly income of S$5,000 and a woman with a gross monthly income of S$2,000 who wants to move into their first HDB flat together. In this scenario, your combined monthly household income would be S$7,000, putting your family nucleus well below the S$14,000 income ceiling limit that applies to most types of BTO flats.

For salaried employees with a variable salary:

The gross monthly income is the average of the last three months’ pay. If you earned $3,000, $3,500, and $2,800 in the last three months, your gross monthly income would be ($3,000 + $3,500 + $2,800) / 3 = $3,100.

For salaried employees with a fixed wage:

HDB will look at your last pay if you have taken no-pay leave for less than six months. If the no-pay leave exceeds six months, you’ll be marked as unemployed for assessment.

For freelancers or self-employed individuals:

HDB calculates the average of your income for the last six months before your application. If you earned varying amounts each month, each month’s income is summed and then divided by six to find the average.

Income Ceilings

young couple looking happy starring at new house

For Families

The income ceiling for families looking to buy HDB flats, including Plus Flats, varies depending on the flat type. 

For a 2-room Flexi flat, the current ceiling is $6,000, while for 3-room or larger flats, it is $12,000. Resale flats with housing grants and HDB housing loans have a ceiling of $12,000. Executive Condominiums (EC) units from property developers have a higher ceiling of $14,000.

Good news for extended families: you’ve got some wiggle room with a ceiling 1.5 times the generic figure.

 

Flat from HDB

2-Room Flexi

3-Room

4-Room or Bigger

Short Lease

99 Years

Current Income Ceiling 

S$12,000

S$6,000

S$6,000 or S$12,000^

S$12,000

Revised Income Ceiling 

S$14,000

7,000

S$7,000 or S$14,000^

S$14,000

(source: HDB)

Criteria and Calculations for Household Income

The household income for HDB eligibility includes the total gross monthly income of all applicants and co-applicants listed in the application. This encompasses basic salary, bonuses, allowances, and employer’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions.

For example, if you and your spouse, listed as a co-applicant, earn $4,500 and $3,000 respectively, your gross monthly household income would be $7,500. The sum of the monthly incomes of all occupants in the application must not exceed the income ceiling for the desired flat type.

For Singles

Single Singaporeans dreaming of their own space also have income ceilings to consider. If you’re going solo and setting sights on a 2-room Flexi flat in non-mature estates, your gross monthly income must not exceed $7,000. This is to ensure that HDB’s subsidized housing remains within reach for singles who need it.

2-Room Flexi Flat on Short Lease2-Room Flexi Flat on 99-Year Lease in Non-Mature Estates
Current Income Ceiling S$12,000S$6,000
Revised Income Ceiling S$14,000S$7,000

(source: HDB)

Determining Income for Single Applicants

When it comes to crunching the numbers, singles need to tally their gross monthly income which includes their basic salary plus any additional income such as bonuses, allowances, and employer CPF contributions. Just like families, every dollar counts towards the ceiling. 

So, if you’re a single earner with a monthly paycheck of, say, $6,500, you’re just under the threshold and in a good position to apply for your flat.

realtor making client a good deal

Considerations for BTO Applicants

Income Ceilings for BTO Flats

  • BTO Flats: When applying for a new Build-To-Order (BTO) HDB flat, your average gross monthly household income must not exceed certain limits. For 2-room Flexi flats and some 3-room flats, the cap is S$7,000, while for all other BTO flats, it’s S$14,000.
  • Resale HDB Flats: There is no income ceiling for purchasing resale HDB flats, which means buyers with higher incomes can purchase these flats without the income restriction.
  • Executive Condos (ECs): For executive condominiums, which are a hybrid of public and private housing, the income ceiling is set at S$16,000.

Eligibility Criteria and Income Ceiling for Singles

Here’s a quick table summarizing the main points:

Eligibility CriteriaNew Flats (Single Buyers)Resale Flats (Single Buyers)
Flat Type2-room Flexi flat in non-mature estatesAll types (except 3Gen flats)
CitizenshipSingapore Citizen (SC)Singapore Citizen (SC)
AgeAt least 35 years old35 years or above (unmarried or divorced)
21 years or above (if widowed or an orphan)
Monthly Income Ceiling$7,000 (2-room Flexi, 99-year lease)No income ceiling (Unless applying for grants/loans)

(source: HDB)

  • Flat Type: Single buyers have the green light to apply for a 2-room Flexi flat in non-mature estates. With the new BTO categorization kicking in from the second half of 2024, singles will also be eligible for these flats across the new Standard, Plus, and Prime categories, widening their options.
  • Citizenship and Age Requirements: A fundamental requirement for single buyers is Singaporean citizenship. Age-wise, you need to have celebrated at least 35 birthdays to be in the running for a BTO flat.
  • Income Ceiling: Single buyers should have a gross monthly income that does not exceed $7,000 to be eligible for a 2-room Flexi flat on a 99-year lease. This figure is the total income of all persons listed in the HFE (Home Financing Eligibility) letter application.

For singles interested in a short-lease 2-room Flexi flat, they are advised to refer to the specific section on seniors.

  • Resale Flats Eligibility: For resale flats, singles are not constrained by an income ceiling unless they’re tapping into CPF housing grants or applying for an HDB housing loan. In such cases, the same income ceiling to qualify for these grants and loans applies.
  • Special Consideration for Seniors: Seniors aged 55 and above eyeing a short-lease 2-room Flexi flat have their own set of eligibility criteria, which can be found in the dedicated section on seniors.

Eligibility Criteria and Income Ceiling for Multi-Generational Families

Families aiming for a 3Gen flat, where a core family nucleus, including parents, forms the household, have the opportunity to apply directly for these from HDB or purchase them on the resale market. This initiative is designed to strengthen family bonds by keeping generations close.

Here’s a concise table that puts all this information into perspective:

CriteriaNew Flats and Resale PLH FlatsResale Flats
CitizenshipSC, including at least one other SC or SPRSC or SPR; SPR households must have at least one occupant who is SC or SPR
AgeAt least 21 years oldAt least 21 years old
Monthly Household Income Ceiling$7,000 (2-room Flexi), $14,000, or $21,000 (for multi-generational families, depending on the flat type)No income ceiling, but applies for CPF housing grants and HDB housing loan

(source: HDB)

  • Citizenship and Family Nucleus: For multi-generational families, citizenship is key. At least one family member must be a Singapore Citizen (SC), with the option to include one or more Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) in the application. This inclusive approach ensures that families of mixed residency status can also seek a comfortable home.
  • Age Considerations: Applicants need to be at least 21 years old, welcoming younger generations to plan for the future alongside their elders.
  • Income Ceilings for Various Flat Types: When it comes to household income, the ceilings differ based on the flat type:
    • A 2-room Flexi flat (99-year lease) comes with a ceiling of $7,000.
    • A 3-room flat’s ceiling can be $7,000 or $14,000, project-dependent.
    • For 4- and 5-room flats, the figure rises to $14,000, or up to $21,000 for extended or multi-generational families, fostering togetherness under one roof.
  • For Seniors and Special Housing Options: Seniors have distinct criteria, especially if considering a short-lease 2-room Flexi flat or a Community Care Apartment (CCA). Families with older members should refer to the senior-specific section for tailored information.

Success Story: Lester Nyan and Fiancee Finally Secure Dream HDB Flat

For Lester Nyan and his fiancee Cheryl Chua, securing a home wasn’t just a dream—it was a mission, as shared in a feature story by Yahoo! Finance. After a series of determined attempts, totaling seven BTO, two SBF, and two OBF applications, their perseverance paid off. The young couple, eager to start their life together, breathed a sigh of relief as they were finally allotted a four-room flat in a prime central location, with a price tag of S$560,000.

The decision to focus on BTO flats, particularly in non-mature estates like Yishun, was strategic, given their starting salaries and the goal of scaling their income over time. The resale market, while an option, didn’t align with their financial boundaries. Nyan, a research writer, and Chua, a social media producer, knew that their incomes wouldn’t comfortably cover the higher loans needed for resale flats.

“Having something ready for us in the pipeline is a very huge relief,” Nyan expressed. The couple’s story is not just one of acquiring property but also a testament to the value of steadfastness and strategic planning in achieving homeownership.

Tips for Managing Income to Meet the Ceiling

Income Adjustment Strategies

If your earnings slightly exceed the income ceiling for an HDB flat, consider deferring bonuses or additional income to the next assessment period. Alternatively, if part of your income is from freelance or part-time work, reducing hours or projects could help meet the eligibility criteria.

Financial Planning

Sound financial planning is key. Speak to a financial advisor to understand how you can legally structure your income. This may involve investment in retirement funds or other long-term savings plans that can reduce your current assessable income.

Staying Policy Savvy

Keep abreast of policy updates. HDB regulations can change, and staying informed means you’ll be ready to apply if ceilings are adjusted. Sign up for newsletters or alerts from HDB or related housing agencies to receive the latest information.

Income Assessment Period

Understand the income assessment period for your application. If your income recently increased, you might still qualify based on past earnings. Review HDB’s guidelines to see how they calculate your average monthly income.

Explore Alternative Housing Options

Should adjusting your income not be feasible, consider alternative housing options that do not have an income ceiling, like resale flats, which offer more flexibility if you’re eligible for CPF housing grants or HDB loans.

Future-Proof Your Housing Goals

Long-term planning is crucial. If you anticipate an income increase that may push you above the ceiling, consider applying for an HDB flat sooner rather than later. Forecasting your financial trajectory can guide your housing decisions effectively.

Alternative Private Housing Options – Which Flat Type is Right for You?

1. Buying an HDB Resale Flat

If your family’s household income exceeds the BTO income ceilings or you’re simply looking for an affordable option or alternative to BTOs, then HDB resale flats are a good, safe bet. Pretty much anybody in the city-state can buy an HDB resale flat, but if you’re hoping to claim a CPF Housing Grant to assist with the purchase price, certain eligibility requirements apply.

Many CPF Housing Grants have the same income ceiling as a BTO flat, though there are a few exceptions – such as the Proximity Housing Grant or the CPF Housing Grant for first-time buyers who are purchasing a resale flat as a family. You can read more about these on the HDB website here.

HDB resale flats come with the huge benefit that you won’t need to wait for your new home to be built before you move in, meaning that the moving-in process will always be fast and efficient. You’re also likely to pay an affordable purchase price for your property – though renovation costs could prove expensive if the flat has had a lot of previous owners and is showing signs of wear and tear. You’ll also have to watch out for private properties or resale flats that have a dwindling lease, too.

Pros

  • Resale housing is affordable for most Singapore citizens
  • CPF Housing Grants are available
  • Fast moving-in process

Cons

  • Renovation costs could prove expensive
  • You won’t get a brand-new place
  • The lease might be waning away
buying executive condo

2. Buying an Executive Condo or “EC”

If you’re looking for top-notch facilities like swimming pools, gyms, and the look and feel of a private property, an executive condo or “EC” might be a good option. Unlike more expensive private condos that you might find elsewhere, ECs are subsidised by HDB, which means they come with a generally cheaper purchase price but are still bound by income ceiling restrictions.

At the time of writing, you’ll need to be earning less than HDB’s income ceiling average gross monthly household income limit of S$16,000 for an EC. If your family has a combined income of less than S$14,000, you might also be eligible for a Family Grant or Half Housing Grant to assist you with the purchase price.

Both new-from-developer ECs and resale ECs are generally considered good investments, particularly once they hit five to 10 years old. That said, new EC launches are rare and it’s likely that ECs won’t have such a good location as BTO or resale flats – which could make you more reliant on public transport.

It’s also worth noting that your EC will be considered an HDB property for the first 10 years, too – meaning you’ll need to abide by HDB’s Minimum Occupation Period MOP rules, which prevent you from selling or renting out the entire flat during a (usually five-year) period.

Pros

  • An executive condo is usually cheaper than a private condo
  • Strong values are likely to be retained
  • You can enjoy the look and feel of a private property

Cons

  • Locations may sometimes be undesirable
  • EC launches are relatively uncommon

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the HDB BTO Income Ceiling

Still unsure about income ceiling restrictions and purchasing a HDB flat in Singapore? We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below:

1. Is a HDB Flat, HDB Resale Flat or EC Best?

Which type of HDB flat is best suited to you will depend on your unique situation. While buying a BTO is the obvious choice for those who fall below the income ceiling, ECs offer premium living at a bargain price, and resale flats are a good middle-ground for Singaporeans who want affordability and a fast moving-in process but aren’t too worried about renovations.

2. How Much Can I Get in CPF Housing Grants?

There are several types of CPF Housing Grants available to Singaporeans, the majority of which are targeted at those purchasing resale flats. Applicants can potentially claim up to S$50,000 in CPF Housing Grants depending on household income. You can find out more about CPF Housing Grants on the HDB website here.

3. What is the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant?

Families and couples with a median gross monthly household income of S$9,000 or less can potentially claim between S$5,000 and S$80,000 with an Enhanced CPF Housing Grant. This consolidated grant is available on all HDB, BTO and resale flats, but you’ll want to check your eligibility with HDB here before you apply.

4. What’s the Difference Between a HDB Loan and a Bank Loan?

If you’re buying a HDB flat, there are two key loan options available to you – a HDB loan or a bank loan. A HDB loan will allow you to borrow a loan to value of up to 85% of the flat price, requiring a 15% down-payment to be made. You can usually make this down-payment using funds from your CPF Ordinary Account with a HDB loan, while a bank loan is likely to require a larger down-payment of which at least 5% must be paid in cash.

5. What Does a HDB Loan Down-Payment Cost?

Your HDB down-payment cost can vary depending on several factors, including the purchase price of the property and the loan to value amount you have decided to borrow. Generally, however, a HDB loan will require you to make a down-payment of at least 15% of the flat price, which can be paid for using your CPF OA, cash or a combination of both.

6. Why Does HDB Have an Income Ceiling for BTOs?

The reason behind HDB’s income ceiling restrictions is simple – they are designed to keep the city-state’s housing market competitive and fair. HDB homes are classed as a type of subsidised government housing, so the income ceiling limitations effectively act as means-testing criteria to separate eligible from ineligible buyers.

Conclusion

Income ceiling requirements are in place to make Singapore’s housing open market fairer for all. While these restrictions may appear complicated at first glance, they’re actually easier to understand than you might think – in short, if the gross monthly income of your household exceeds the income ceiling limit, you will not be eligible to buy a BTO.

Key Takeaways:

  • For 2-room Flexi and some 3-room BTO flats, the income ceiling is S$7,000, while it’s S$14,000 for all other BTO types. 
  • Executive Condos (ECs) have a higher ceiling of S$16,000, targeting different income groups for various housing options.
  • There are no income ceiling limits for purchasing resale HDB flats, offering higher-income earners more flexibility.
  • HDB income ceilings are periodically adjusted based on different factors, such as economic conditions, and median household incomes, reflecting the government’s commitment to maintaining an inclusive and balanced public housing market.

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