SINGAPORE: Applying for a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat had always been the plan for 26-year-old Mr Toh Jin Ann and his girlfriend Ms Jaslin Chong, who have been dating for four years.
In late 2019, they settled on a BTO launch in Tengah, with the intention of getting a five-room unit so Mr Toh’s parents could move in with them. But finances were a concern for the young couple.
“Because she was working part-time and I was still studying when we applied for the BTO, the down payment was our major concern,” said Mr Toh, who graduated last year.
Those concerns were eased when they received S$80,000 in grants under the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) by the Housing & Development Board (HDB). That is the maximum sum under the grant.
“We could use it to settle the down payment issue, and it really made us feel more at ease. We don’t have to worry so much about the money,” he told CNA.
They are among the roughly 15,600 first-time HDB flat buyers who have benefitted from the EHG, under which close to S$500 million has been disbursed, said HDB in a media release on Sunday (Feb 21).
The EHG, introduced in September 2019, streamlined earlier housing grants and came with higher qualifying income ceilings.
It is available to eligible first-time buyers regardless of whether they purchase a new or resale flat, with no restrictions on flat type and location.
From Sep 11, 2019 to Dec 31, 2020, about 7,700 first-timer households buying new flats across the various sales exercises applied for the EHG, said HDB.
About S$270 million in grants have been disbursed to these households.
HDB added that not all EHG applications have been processed. This is because applications are made upon flat selection, but selection exercises for the August and November 2020 sales are still ongoing.
BUYING RESALE FLATS
In the same period, about 8,300 first-timer households buying a resale flat applied for the EHG, HDB noted.
About S$226 million in grants have been disbursed to approximately 7,900 households, while the remaining applicants will get the grant once their resale transactions are completed, the Housing Board said.
It added that alongside the EHG, eligible buyers can apply for CPF Housing Grants of up to S$50,000 and Proximity Housing Grants (PHG) of up to S$30,000.
Logistics manager Azhar Kamsari, 36, and his wife Mdm Nurhayati Zulfikri did just that.
The first-timer family bought a four-room resale flat in Woodlands, near Mdm Nurhayati’s parents’ home.
They received S$115,000 in housing grants, comprising S$45,000 from the EHG, S$50,000 from the Family Grant and S$20,000 from the PHG – a grant that encourages families to stay with or near their parents or children.
“We were shocked there were so many grants,” said Mr Azhar.
“At first I was thinking: ‘How am I going to go for a four-room?’ … But after the deductions, (the cost was) actually okay,” he said, adding that the final sum they had to pay was about S$221,000.
The PHG was also a bonus, with Mr Azhar joking about the advantages of living close to family. “My mother-in-law is very strict … so if my son doesn’t behave well, I can just put him at her place, like it’s a boot camp for him.”
PROXIMITY HOUSING GRANTS
Including Mr Azhar and his wife, about 4,700 first-timer households have benefited from both the EHG and the PHG as of Dec 31.
“The PHG is available to all home buyers regardless of their household income, ownership of private property, or whether they have enjoyed housing subsidies before, when they buy a resale flat with or near their parents/children,” said HDB.
All Singaporeans are eligible for the PHG once.
HDB said that since the grant’s introduction in August 2015, about 40,900 households have applied for it.
Of these, about 40,200 applications were successful, with a total of S$748 million being disbursed to these households.
It added that out of the households that applied, 78 per cent are families, while the rest are singles.
READ: More HDB households but average size shrank, with fewer multi-generational families living together
In addition, 55 per cent of them bought flats in non-mature estates, while the rest picked mature estates.
For an idea of the proportion of PHG applicants among resale flat buyers, HDB said these 40,900 households represent about a third of the 121,600 resale applications registered in a similar period.
HDB said the grant complements other schemes to help Singaporeans buy new flats with or near their parents or children.
“Home buyers who wish to check on their eligibility on the grants can utilise the customised financial calculators on the new HDB Flat Portal, which was launched last month,” said the Housing Board.