Lowering the age for singles’ HDB flat eligibility from 35 to 28: which camp are you in?

5 min read

Slightly over a week ago, Opposition Leader Pritam Singh put forth his arguments on why we should consider lowering the eligibility age for singles to buy an HDB BTO or resale flat from the existing 35 to 28.

Why the eligibility age for singles should be lowered

In his speech, Singh referenced the government’s latest Census and shared that the proportion of singles has increased across age groups, particularly the ones between the ages of 25-34. Between 2010-2020, the proportion of singles among residents aged 25-29 rose from 74.6% to 81.6% (males) and 54% to 69% (females). The proportion of singles among those aged 30-34, rose to 41.9% (males) and 32.8% (females).

He also shared that in 2018, then National Development Minister Lawrence Wong stated in Parliament that the marriage age among singles under 35 is still high, thus the age of 35 remained as a valid number. The prevailing orthodoxy is that Singaporeans should be married by 35 and that offering flats to those of a younger age could somehow discourage marriage.

Pritam Singh
Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh.

Singh also argued that there may be an assumption that offering flats to those younger than 35 would jeopardise the value of filial piety.

He cited recently published findings from a 2019 youth survey by the National Youth Council (NYC), where the top results were to maintain strong family relationships and to have a place of their own. At least 95% of respondents rated both as somewhat or very important. His argument is that filial piety and owning a home among youths shouldn’t be mutually exclusive as both are equally important values.

Finally, he questioned the assumption that offering flats to 28-year-olds would discourage genuine interest in a long-term marriage. His counter-argument is that some people who want to be married are discouraged from tying the knot early because they prefer to have financial security (eg. a “roof over their heads”) before getting hitched and having children. If given the opportunity to own a flat earlier, a single person may concomitantly move on to marriage and parenthood.

The prospect of owning a home earlier from age 28, would leave more scope for one’s CPF balances for peace of mind and retirement adequacy. As long as singles are financially capable to purchase a flat from 28, the government should look at more housing options for them.

Why the eligibility age for singles should not be lowered

Addressing Singh’s suggestions, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development Sim Ann shared that the government’s housing policy will continue to support families, but is also mindful of their (singles) concerns. While it will study ways to assist them, lowering the age limit will mean rising demand and ensuring that there are sufficient land and resources for it.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee also reiterated Sim’s response, emphasising that the government wants to be responsive to the evolving aspirations of Singaporeans. While singles today cannot buy an HDB resale or BTO on their own before they turn 35, they can do so by listing their parents as essential occupiers or co-owning with their single siblings.

Following both Senior Minister Sim Ann’s and Minister Lee’s responses to Workers’ Party’s Singh in Parliament, several views have surfaced both for and against the need to reduce the eligibility age for singles in applying for a BTO or HDB resale flat.

One particular view, from TikToker Haziq Zaini, has garnered nearly 11,000 views. Being a 25-year-old single himself, Zaini shares, via his TikTok video, that lowering the age to 28 will increase demand from a whole pool of buyers. Increased demand will lead to lower supply and higher prices. This may force the government to introduce new restrictions to cool the overheated market, like stricter loan limits or higher stamp duty rates, which are non-ideal situations in the long run.

@haziq.zaini See the bigger picture #sgrealestate #sgproperty #fypsg ♬ Emotional Intelligence – Chaos In the CBD

Secondly, Zaini shares that Singapore has an ageing population, so why promote singlehood? While he respects anyone’s life choice towards singlehood, it does not mean that those who want to start a family should be at a disadvantage in what is already a competitive and pricey market.

A scenario he shares is this: if two 28-year-olds own HDB flats as singles, what if they meet and within their 7 years together, decide to get married? This means that one of them will need to dispose of their property. If they choose to apply for a new flat together, they will need to dispose of their existing flats and qualify only as 2nd-time applicants. This may result in them being placed on a lower priority (for the new HDB flat application) and disqualifying them from certain housing grants.

So, having heard both sides of the argument, which camp are you in?

Are you for the age-lowering or are you single and feel it shouldn’t be lowered? Tell us why in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends A tale of two singles – buying an HDB flat together and 99.co guides: HDB options for singles in Singapore.

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About Terence Ang

Terence edits and writes about the real estate industry, including Singapore property trends, regulations and home-buying journeys. Other than writing, he also edits other writers' work and oversees the day-to-day operations of 99.co's Insider sections.

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    • Modern Merlion

      I say, meet half way and lower the eligibility age to at least 30 and restrict to HDB resale only.

      If singles have to wait until they 35, they have 3 options, live with parents, rent or buy a private property. Living with parents is economical, but not good for personal growth or even dating for that mater. Renting dips into savings, leaving less or no savings to buy a house after 35. Buying private is only for high earners.

      By 35, a lot of these singles earn more than Income Ceiling, so BTO is out of the question. Price of a resale HDB by then have gone up even further.

      We live in a different world compared to a decade ago. Modern dating is hard when living with parents, especially in an asian household. Dating while renting is hard too because of financial constraints and its worse if singles are only renting a room. So this will only lead to a higher chance of these “older” people being single longer or perpetually.

      We can all agree that Singapore is great country, but it is a stressful country to live in. The mental health of the younger generation is deteriorating. Loneliness adds to that. And not being able to own a home makes it worse.

      From personal interaction, a lot of my friends have been getting married solely for BTO, that can’t be healthy for the society in the long term. There has been a constant increase in rate of divorces in Singapore, leading to more broken families. I’m not saying the current housing policies are the primary cause, but they surely don’t help it.

      Millennial’s and the later generation’s way of thinking and way of life has changed and the government policies should evolve with that.

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