Single and Over 35? Should You Buy an HDB BTO or Resale Flat?

Hitting 35 can feel like a major milestone. You are well and truly on your way to middle age in the next few years and there’s no denying that you still feel as young as when you were in your 20s!

It’s not all bad – you would have also gained more life experiences. All the lessons it has taught you would also shape your thoughts in matters you may not have been concerned with before. Investing for the future, purchasing a home, family planning, retirement planning and others are some examples of how your priorities may have changed at this stage of your life.

If you’re 35 and single, this also marks your ability to buy an HDB flat on your own. You typically have two options – buying HDB BTO or resale flat. (Obviously, if you could afford it, turning 35 does not really matter if you’re looking at a private property.)


HDB BTO vs Resale Flat for Singles (Overview) 


Property Types


HDB Resale 

Buyer Age Limitations

35 years old 

35 years old


Only 2 – Room, non-mature 

No statutory limitations 



[Subsidised by HDB, only in non-mature estates, and limited to 2-room flats which are smaller.]

Mid to high

[Market rate, can be in mature estates, not limited by size.]

Rental Yield 

Not until 5 years MOP

Not until 5 years MOP

[Can rent out rooms during MOP]

Loan Amount

Within MSR limit

Within MSR limit 

Government Grants 

Yes (up to $40,000)

Enhanced CPF Housing grant

Yes (up to $80,000)

 Singles Grant

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (SHG)

Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

5 Years

5 Years


Buying an HDB BTO Flat – Most Affordable Option

Singles above 35 years old are only eligible to apply for 2-room Built-to-Order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates. Given this, the price is typically quite affordable as BTOs are heavily subsidised and flats in non-mature estates are typically lower. Due to its smaller size, it is also cheaper to renovate and furnish 2-room flats. 

Moreover, a first-time buyer can tap on the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) if eligible. Eligible home buyers can get up to $40,000 in EHG to pay for their BTO flats.

Singles apply under the Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme or the Joint Singles Scheme (with up to 3 other singles). As with purchasing all HDB flats, there is also an income ceiling. The income ceiling to apply for a 2-room HDB flat is $7,000.

In terms of rentability, you can only do so after the MOP as 2-room flats can only be rented out as a whole unit. This makes sense as 2-room flats are comprised of a bedroom, bathroom, a dining/living area and a small kitchen. But also means you cannot rent out any part of the 2-room flat for an income while living in it.


Buying an HDB Resale Flat – More Flat Choices and Potentially More CPF Grants 

Alternatively, singles above 35 years old are also eligible to buy flats on the resale market. Unlike buying a BTO flat, this does not come with any restrictions to the size, location or income ceiling.

Since it is a flat on the resale market, the flat would be sold at the market rate which is typically higher than at the BTO level. As these flats can also be in mature estates, prices may also be higher because of that.

The trade-off is that you are able to get the flat quickly, and have more options in terms of size and location of your unit. Unlike buying a BTO, where you have to wait up to 6 years for the flat to be built and are restricted to 2-room flats in non-mature estates. 

Nevertheless, first-time singles are also eligible to receive first-time housing grants when you buy a resale flat. Apart from the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) which provides up to $40,000, you may also eligible for the Single’s Grant and the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG). The Singles Grant is for applicants under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. This means you are not eligible if you buy a resale flat jointly with other singles. The Singles Grant provides up to $25,000 (for 2- to 4-room resale HDB flats) and $20,000 (for 5-room resale HDB flats). Your income ceiling (with other occupiers) cannot exceed $7,000.

If your parents either stay with you or are living within a 4km radius of your resale HDB flat, you also qualify for up to $15,000 in Proximity Housing Grants (PHG). 

Similarly, you have an MOP of five years before you can sell your HDB flat or rent the property out. If you have purchased a property larger than 2-room, you can rent out rooms in your property for income while continuing to live in it, even during the MOP.

Browse HDB resale flats on PropertyGuru now


Getting a Property Loan to Pay for Your HDB Flat

In addition to the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), a Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) of 30% applies for HDB BTO or resale flats. Set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), this caps the borrower’s monthly loan repayment for their property to under 30% of their gross monthly income and any variable income such as from commissions and bonuses or side hustles. 

The formula is [Monthly instalments for all property loans] / [Gross monthly income] X 100%. (Although technically, if you’re buying an HDB flat you shouldn’t have more than one property loan.) 

If your monthly salary is $3,000 and you get an annual bonus of $3,000, your gross monthly income is $3,125 (because only 70% of the annual bonus will be considered). This means you can only utilise 30% of $3,125 for your home loan, which equates to $937.50. For a better understanding, you can use PropertyGuru’s Affordability Calculator or speak to one of our Home Finance Advisors for tailored recommendations for your buying decisions.


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