Photo: Hanliang
Photo: Hanliang
August 25, 2023

During the recent weekend's National Day Rally, a new series of classifications for upcoming BTOs was unveiled, slated to commence from the middle of 2024. It's important to note that these adjustments will exclusively impact new projects, leaving existing projects untouched. Delve into how these modifications could affect you regardless of whether you're a current homeowner or a prospective homebuyer.

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Wendy Ker

During last Sunday's National Day Rally, the focus was on a range of significant highlights and declarations. These encompassed tackling worldwide challenges and risks, unveiling the S$7 billion Majulah Package aimed at supporting the young seniors, Pioneer, and Merdeka generations, the launch of a novel initiative called Age Well SG to tackle aging-related concerns, and the revelation of revisions to the categorization of HDB flats.

What will be the classification process for upcoming housing projects in Singapore?

Commencing from the middle of 2024, a fresh categorization system for flats will be implemented to more accurately represent the location-based characteristics of HDB's Build-To-Order (BTO) initiatives. This means that prospective homebuyers can anticipate the availability of more reasonably priced BTO flats in appealing and desirable areas.

HDB will encompass a total of three distinct categories: Standard HDB, Prime HDB (introduced in November 2021), and the newest addition, Plus HDB (beginning from the middle of 2024).

Credits: ST

Why was the Plus housing model introduced?

The primary rationales behind the new classification, as highlighted by PM Lee, include ensuring affordability across all income brackets for flats, upholding a diverse social composition in each town and region, and maintaining equity within the public housing system for all individuals.

The introduction of the new categories will supersede HDB's existing classification system of categorizing estates as either mature or non-mature, a framework that has been in operation since 1992. This is also attributed to the fact that the demarcation between mature and non-mature estates has been growing indistinct in recent years, with non-mature estates undergoing escalating development.

It's essential to note that this new framework will have no impact on current homeowners or individuals who have already secured flats. For instance, BTO projects that have been launched will not undergo reclassification.

What distinctions exist among these three categories?

Standard flats are applicable to the majority of flats across all areas. These flats are subject to the standard subsidies and adhere to the regular 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) restriction that are applied to all BTO flats. As expected, this category will remain the predominant segment of the housing inventory.

With the implementation of this fresh categorization, certain first-time families will receive enhanced precedence when seeking four-room or smaller standard BTO flats throughout Singapore, a distinction that expands beyond solely non-mature estates. Consequently, individuals classified under the First-Timer (Parents and Married Couples) priority category can anticipate a reduced number of attempts to secure a flat, accompanied by increased choices in diverse locales. Eligibility conditions will be applicable.

Plus flats is the latest introduction of a fresh classification of residences positioned in more desirable locations within each region of Singapore. These prime locations might include proximity to key amenities like MRT stations and town centers. A great example where the Plus flats may be offered is the forthcoming housing precinct in Bayshore which is strategically situated near MRT stations, a community club, and East Coast Park.

These residences will be accompanied by greater subsidies and more stringent regulations compared to the Standard BTO flats. This encompasses a 10-year MOP along with subsidy recoupment upon resale (at a rate lower than prime flats). Additionally, specific BTO eligibility criteria will apply during the resale process, including considerations such as the income ceiling. Further particulars will be disclosed in the forthcoming period.

It's crucial to note that individuals who own private properties and intend to purchase Plus flats will be required to observe a waiting period of 30 months. Moreover, the option to acquire Plus flats on the resale market will be exclusively available to Singaporean citizens.

Lastly, the prime flats are positioned in the most coveted locales within Singapore, often in proximity to the city center. They will feature the highest level of subsidies among the three categories and will be subject to the most stringent criteria. Presently, these flats are made available under the PLH model.

Certain limitations within this model encompass a 10-year MOP along with subsidy recoupment upon resale. Furthermore, complete flat rental is prohibited, and during the resale process, the comprehensive BTO eligibility prerequisites apply, including the income ceiling of S$14,000 for couples and S$7,000 for singles.


The table presented below offers a comprehensive overview of the three distinct categories of HDB flats:

Source: MND, HDB

What are some notable characteristics of the Plus housing model?

Considering the appealing locations of the new Plus flats, they would naturally carry elevated market worth. To ensure their affordability and make them accessible to a broader spectrum of Singaporeans, these flats will be priced with additional subsidies, in addition to the subsidies already applicable to Standard flats at present.

To uphold fairness among all homebuyers, individuals owning Plus flats will also be required to contribute a portion of the resale price, commensurate with the supplementary subsidies, should they decide to sell their flats in the future. This measure aims to counteract disproportionate windfall profits and uphold parity with other flat owners who do not receive these supplementary subsidies.

Since the supplementary subsidies for Plus flats are generally less substantial when compared to those for Prime flats (as depicted in the above table), the rate at which subsidy reimbursement is applied to Plus flat buyers will be set at a lower level than the recovery rate imposed on Prime flats.

To reinforce the commitment to owner-occupation for Plus flats, proprietors of such flats will be obliged to reside in their units for a minimum of 10 years before they are eligible to sell their flats on the open market or make an investment in private residential property.

Additionally, more stringent resale conditions will be instituted for Plus flats. This measure is aimed at tempering demand and prices for these flats, ensuring their affordability for prospective resale buyers, and promoting a healthier social diversity over the long run.

What other property market-related measures were introduced?

For singles

A positive development for singles is that with HDB's elimination of the classification of estates as mature or non-mature, they will soon have the opportunity to purchase new two-room flats in any location.

At present, individuals who are single and wish to purchase a new flat are constrained to non-mature estates. They are also unable to acquire flats in Prime Location Housing, even through resale. However, with the advent of the Plus flats model starting from the latter part of the following year, these individuals will now be able to acquire two-room Prime Flexi resale flats, or Standard and Plus resale flats of varying sizes.

For seniors

PM Lee also unveiled intentions to improve HDB residences and communities to render them more comfortable and accommodating for seniors. As part of the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) 2.0 program, an extended range of senior-friendly fixtures will be introduced, aiming to amplify mobility and comfort for elderly residents within their dwellings.

Furthermore, the precincts will undergo enhancements to incorporate a broader array of senior-friendly elements, aimed at fostering physical fitness and promoting active aging. This initiative will also facilitate safer and more comfortable commuting for senior citizens.

The introduction of additional Community Care Apartments is on the horizon, designed to integrate elder-friendly accommodations with personalized care services. This integration will empower seniors to gracefully embrace aging within their familiar surroundings.

All of the aforementioned enhancements are integral components of Age Well SG, a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of National Development (MND), and Ministry of Transport (MOT). This initiative's objective is to offer comprehensive support for seniors, enabling them to age gracefully within their residences and communities.

The recently revealed classifications and measures during the National Day Rally bring a wave of positive developments, particularly for potential homeowners who previously faced challenges in acquiring flats in specific areas due to eligibility criteria.

Naturally, HDB will persist in overseeing the implications of the recently implemented measures on the wider resale market, as it has done traditionally, and make revisions as required. We eagerly anticipate witnessing the impact of these measures on the housing market and are prepared to assist you with any inquiries you may have regarding this new set of changes.

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