Mark, Jasmine and baby Luke
After four years of dating, sweethearts Mark Tay and Jasmine Ng decided to apply for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in 2013 during their final semester of university. Though the young couple felt that applying for a flat before he’d proposed wasn’t the most romantic thing to do, they decided to be practical about their housing needs as they were worried it might be a long process.
To their surprise, they didn’t have to wait long. Tay and Ng successfully balloted for the flat of their choice on their first try. Their BTO will be ready by the end of this year and the now family of three is looking forward to starting a new chapter in their lives in their new nest.
As first-time applicants, some 30 per cent of BTO flats were set aside for Tay and Ng to select. In addition, they enjoyed two ballot chances, instead of one.
To help young couples like them set up their first home, the Housing and Development Board offers a range of schemes and grants for them to tap on. As first-time applicants, some 30 per cent of BTO flats were set aside for Tay and Ng to select. In addition, they enjoyed two ballot chances, instead of one. The couple applied under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), which allows married children and their parents to live with or near one another, either in the same estate or a neighbouring one.
While business analyst Priya Saran, 33, and her husband were waiting for their BTO to be completed, the newlyweds needed a place to stay. Priya and her husband secured a 3-room flat under the Parenthood Priority Housing Scheme (PPHS). Under this scheme, first-timer married couples who require interim housing while waiting for their new HDB flat to be ready can rent a flat from HDB at below market rates.
She says, “Although we had the choice of living with our parents while waiting for our BTO to be completed, we opted to rent our own flat through PPHS. The rent was affordable, plus we had our own privacy. I think it’s important for a newly married couple to have their own space as they are still learning to live with each other and figuring out married life for themselves.”
Couples who are looking to rent a flat under PPHS have even more to look forward to, as the Government recently announced a reduction of the monthly rent for PPHS by $200 to $400, depending on the flat size and location.
Making use of housing grants
An alternative option for couples to own their dream flat is to purchase one on the resale market. Ken Wong and his wife found a flat they really liked in a mature estate in the northern part of Singapore. They were glad that they were able to tap on various grants to lower the cost of their flat.
As a first-time buyer of a resale flat near his parents’ home, Wong received $20,000 under the Proximity Housing Grant to offset his costs. The grant helps extended families to live with or near each other. On top of that, he was also eligible to apply for and receive a CPF Housing Grant of up to $30,000.
In February 2017, the CPF Housing Grant for first-timer couples purchasing a resale flat was increased to $50,000 for those looking to buy a two-to four-room flat, and $40,000 for couples who intend to buy a five-room or larger resale flat.
Wong notes, “Our resale flat probably cost around the same price or maybe just slightly more than a new BTO flat after factoring in the grants that we were given. So, I’d say it’s a good deal.”
“Be practical when planning for your future, and that includes planning your finances carefully.”
For couples who would prefer to start their married lives in a brand-new flat, the Government has just announced plans to shorten the waiting period for BTO flat applicants to about 2.5 years (down from the current 3 to 4 years). There will be 1,000 units of such flats to be launched in 2018.
Tay has sound advice for young couples looking to buy their first home together, "Be practical when planning to buy your first home and that includes planning your finances carefully.”
This article is in collaboration with HeyBaby
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