All new BTO flats launched from the second half of 2024 will be classified into one of three categories – Prime, Plus or Standard – to reflect the changing housing landscape, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally (NDR) speech on 20 August 2023.
The new categories will replace the Housing Board’s current framework of classifying estates as either mature or non-mature, which has been in place since 1992.
Prime flats, which are located in the choicest locations close to the city centre, have the tightest restrictions. These flats are currently offered under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model and have the most subsidies applied to keep launch prices affordable. The next level is the new Plus category, which are flats in attractive locations within each region across Singapore, such as those near the MRT station or town centre. Such flats are less centrally located than Prime flats, but more desirable than Standard flats. Hence, Plus flats will come with restrictions less strict than those for Prime flats, but tighter than those for Standard flats. Standard flats will continue to form the bulk of the housing supply. These will come with the standard five-year minimum occupation period (MOP) and have no restrictions on the pool of resale buyers.
Buyers of Prime flats will have to live in their flats for at least 10 years and return additional subsidies upon resale. These conditions will be extended to Plus flats, which will be priced with more subsidies than what is already provided for Standard flats to put them within reach of more households. But the subsidy clawback rate for such flats will be lower than for Prime flats due to the smaller subsidy amount.
The pool of resale buyers for Plus flats will have to meet some BTO eligibility conditions, including an income ceiling of $14,000. Resale buyers of Prime flats face stricter rules – they have to meet all the prevailing BTO eligibility conditions, such as the income ceiling cap and not holding or selling a private property in the last 30 months.
The subsidy recovery for Prime and Plus flats applies to only the first resale transaction, not to subsequent resales. This is because of the additional housing subsidies provided to keep the prices affordable when both flat categories are launched at BTO sales exercises.
HDB and the Ministry of National Development said clawing back the additional subsidies will help mitigate “excessive windfall gains” if Prime and Plus flat owners choose to sell their units later on, and ensure fairness across all home owners.
Singles will also get more housing options under the new flat classification. Singles aged 35 and above and earning $14,000 or less a month will be able to buy Plus flats of all sizes on the resale market, except for three-generation flats. They will also be allowed to buy two-room flexi Prime resale flats, subject to an income ceiling of $7,000. Currently, singles are not allowed to buy any Prime flats.