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Author: Ravi Philemon
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Sep 10, announced various housing policy measures to make public housing more affordable and accessible for Singaporeans. The housing policy measures will help more Singaporeans from lower to upper-middle income households buy their first homes and start a family.
The Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing & Development Board (HDB) will enhance housing grants and raise the income ceilings for flat buyers.
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant is One of the Housing Policy Measures
To support Singaporeans in buying a flat, HDB provides various housing grants to eligible flat buyers. Currently, eligible first-timer families who buy a subsidised flat from HDB can enjoy the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), while those buying resale flats can enjoy the CPF Housing Grant and the AHG. Those buying resale flats can also qualify for Proximity Housing Grant if living with or near their parents/children, but this is not unique to first-timers.
MND and HDB will introduce a new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) to replace the existing AHG and SHG. To benefit more first-timer home seekers, the EHG will be made available to eligible buyers, regardless of whether they purchase a new or resale flat. To be eligible for the EHG, the monthly household income has to be $9,000 or less. The flat applicant, or spouse/fiancé(e) must also be in continuous employment for at least 12 months before the flat application, and remain working at the point of flat application. There are also no restrictions on flat buyers’ choice of flat type and location – unlike the SHG, which is restricted to purchases of 4-room or smaller new flats in non-mature estates.
Eligible first-timer families will be able to enjoy an EHG of up to $80,000 when they buy a flat that can cover them and their spouses to the age of 95. The pro-ration of the EHG takes reference from the pro-ration used for CPF usage and HDB housing loan financing, as announced in May 2019.
With the new EHG, eligible first-timer families buying a resale flat may now enjoy up to $160,000 of housing grants, comprising an EHG of up to $80,000, a CPF Housing Grant of up to $50,000, and a Proximity Housing Grant of up to $30,000.
As the practice today, should their total grant amount exceed 95% of the flat price, they will need to pay 5% of the flat price using their CPF or cash savings; the remaining sum will be fully covered by the grant. Any excess grant amount will go into their CPF Special/Retirement Account and Medisave Account in equal portions. If there is a valuation, the housing grants will be used to pay up to 95% of the lower of the flat price or the valuation. The remaining sum will have to be paid using the buyers’ own CPF and/or cash savings.
This is to ensure that all Singaporeans will be able to live comfortably in a home that can last them for life. Eligible families who buy a flat that does not meet this condition will still benefit from the EHG, but the amount will be pro-rated based on the extent that the remaining lease can cover them to the age of 95. Eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above, and earning not more than $4,500 a month, can also enjoy an EHG (singles) of up to $40,000, and are subject to the same conditions.
As an illustration, an eligible first-timer family earning $4,800 a month buying a 4-room BTO flat in a mature estate will now enjoy an EHG of $45,000, compared to $5,000 in AHG today. If the same family bought a 4-room resale flat with a remaining lease that can cover the buyers and their spouses to the age of 95, they will now enjoy an EHG of $45,000, on top of the $50,000 in CPF Housing Grant they currently get. If the couple is living with or near their parents, they can also enjoy a Proximity Housing Grant of up to $30,000.
Higher Income Ceilings is another one of new housing policy measures
To provide more citizen households with access to affordable housing options, the monthly household income ceiling will be increased from $12,000 to $14,000 for eligible families to:
- Buy a flat from HDB;
- Buy a resale flat on the open market with a CPF Housing Grant; and
- Get an HDB housing loan for the purchase of a new or resale flat.
The monthly household income ceiling for eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above will also be raised from $6,000 to $7,000. MND and HDB will also raise the monthly household income ceiling from $14,000 to $16,000 for citizen households to buy an Executive Condominium (EC) unit from property developer. There is no change in income ceiling for CPF Housing Grant for ECs.
The housing policy measures of EHG and the revised income ceilings will be implemented from 11 September 2019.
To meet the anticipated additional demand for public housing arising from these changes, HDB will likely have to increase the BTO supply in 2020.
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