Millions in grants given to first-time HDB flat buyers

Singapore HDB flats - File pic

SINGAPORE: Close to S$500mil has been disbursed to about 15,600 first-time flat buyers since the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) was launched in September 2019.

Another S$748mil in Proximity Housing Grants (PHG) has been given to about 40,200 households since August 2015, said the Housing Board in a statement. Both figures were accurate as at Dec 31 last year.

The EHG, which goes up to S$80,000, is available to eligible first-time buyers regardless of whether they buy a new or resale flat, and has no restrictions on the flat type and location.

Of the 15,600 households that received EHGs, 7,700 were first-time buyers of new flats who received about S$270mil in total. A further 7,900 were first-timer households who bought resale flats, receiving a total of about S$226mil in grants.

Another 400 households who are buying resale flats and have applied for the EHG will receive it when their resale transactions are completed. The EHG was announced in 2019 by then National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, and replaced the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), which each amounted up to S$40,000.

Wong said then that the changes simplified the grant structure and increased affordability for first-time buyers. The income ceiling for the EHG is S$9,000, higher than the AHG’s cap of S$5,000 and the SHG’s S$8,500. The SHG was also restricted to new four-room or smaller flats in non-mature estates.

Toh Jin Ann and his girlfriend, Jaslin Chong, were recipients of the full EHG sum of S$80,000.

The 26-year-old engineer, who bought a five-room build-to-order flat in Tengah for about S$470,000 early last year, said that as they were schooling when they applied for the flat, they had no steady source of income. “The grant helped to offset the down payment, and it allowed us not to worry as much about affording the flat, ” he said.

As for the PHG, it is meant to encourage families to maintain close ties by living near each other. It varies in amount, depending on whether parents and their children live together, or within four km of each other.

HDB said that 40,200 households out of 40,900 applications have received the PHG since its introduction in August 2015. The 40,900 applications represent about 34% of 121,600 resale applications filed between Aug 24,2015, and Dec 31,2020. Families made up 78% of the PHG applicants, while the remainder were singles, and 55% bought flats in non-mature estates.

Muhammad Azhar, 36, and his wife, Nurhayati Zulfikri, 31, were among the 4,700 first-timer households who received both the EHG and PHG. They also received a separate S$50,000 family grant for first-time buyers of resale flats.

The logistics manager said the grants shaved off about a third of the price of his four-room resale flat in Woodlands, which he bought last year for about S$336,000. Living within a 15-minute bus ride of his parents-in-law also makes visiting them easy for his family every weekend.

“On days when we can’t pick my son up from pre-school, my mother-in-law can also help, and that makes things easier for us, to have that helping hand, ” he said. “As my in-laws age and might need more help down the road, it will also be convenient for us to take care of them.” ─ The Straits Times/ANN

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