Buying a Resale HDB – Part 1: Budget and Specifications

Australian expatriate and award-winning blogger, who wrote about his experience of living as a foreigner in a HDB in Woodlands here, Peter Breitkreutz, takes us through his own experience of buying a HDB flat as a Singapore Permanent Resident.

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a permanent resident in Singapore, is the ability to be able to purchase a resale HDB apartment (the flat must be at least five-years-old before a PR can purchase it). Unable to find a documented formal process, I have put together the key steps and some first-hand tips and tricks on how PRs purchase a HDB. (Just for the record, I paid under valuation!)

(Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board)

Determine Your Budget and Specifications

Firstly; it is critical to do your homework. Determine what apartment you are looking for –how many rooms; with or without a balcony; what floor; corner block; preferred location, age of the apartment block, renovated or not, near MRT / shopping centres amenities, etc.

Once you know what you want, to get an idea of pricing per size, number of rooms and location, check out one of the high-quality real estate websites, such as

Specs and Tips How Many Rooms?
Do note that in Singapore the terminology is a bit different to many other countries. A listing for a ‘5-room’ flat means that it will most likely have three bedrooms (not five, as the practice in Singapore is to measure all rooms – not solely bedrooms as in UK and USA.

Every Other Floor In older blocks, there is a good chance that the elevator will not stop on all floors – not only is this an inconvenience, but as a PR, when they upgrade the elevators, you will be required to pay a ‘bomb’ of a cash outlay.

Location, Location
Singapore is small in terms of square kilometres, so be sure to be open to various locations, as the transport links are good. The closer you get to the city centre, the more you pay.

Personally, we opted for an apartment that had just hit the five-year-old mark. It was fully recently renovated – in a minimalist ‘zen’ style – and had been built in a ‘condominium-style’ as a five-room flat with a hallway feeding the bedrooms. The elevator stops on every floor, and there were only four apartments on each floor – a ‘point block’ layout where every unit is a ‘corner unit’ – which adds privacy.

Now that you have determined what you want and how much you are willing to pay, you need to work out your finances, here.

Read more of this series:

Part 2: Financing
Part 3: Engaging A Property Agent
Part 4: Purchasing
Part 5: HDB, Legal and Taking Possession

Read more from this author…   Peter Breitkreutz is an Australian living and working in Singapore. To read more about him, check out his award-winning blog at

Find a HDB for you… For the most authoritative and comprehensive listing of HDB properties for sale or rent, go to