The HDB to Condo Journey – The 2023 Ultimate Guide

So you’ve just MOP or you’re at the age where it becomes a question whether you should sell your HDB and buy a condo.   Its not an easy question to answer on so many fronts, but yet, a very necessary one to ask.  After all, the family is reliant on you to make that decision?  

Let’s try to peel a few layers for you on that quest:

Do I qualify? Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) 

The Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) is the minimum time you must live in your HDB before you can consider upgrading.

The easiest and most definitive way is to login into HDB’s page with your Singpass to find out. Under, 

My Flat > Purchased Flat > Flat Details and Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Can I keep my current HDB and buy a Condo?

The short answer is YES you can, but….     

Citizenship.  Being Singaporean does have its privileges. You can keep your HDB and buy a condominium if at least one of your HDB flat’s owners is a Singapore citizen. 

However, If the HDB flat’s owners are all Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs), you must sell your HDB within six months after purchasing a condominium in Singapore. 

If you do buy a condo, you’ll still need to pay ABSD.  See chart below. 

If you got this far….

Let’s talk money

For a number of folks in Singapore, the most amount of money they have is in their CPF.



1.  You can withdraw 100% of the condo’s Valuation Limit (VL) from your CPF Ordinary Account so check how much you have in it.  

Log into your CPF :  Singpass > Select my cpf > My dashboards > Investment  

2.  You’ll need to set aside Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) in your CPF.  

The Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) provides CPF members with monthly payouts to cover basic living expenses in retirement. The BRS is adjusted gradually so that payouts remain sufficient for basic living expenses for future cohorts of members.

For more you read about this at CPF here.   

Basic retirement sum - kai hub

HDB Loan

If you sell your HDB before upgrading to a condo, the proceeds from the sale of the flat are used to repay the amount outstanding on the HDB loan. In case the sale price of the HDB flat does not pay off the full loan amount, you must pay the balance in cash. You must give your HDB branch a one-month notice prior to making the payment.

Differences In (sell the buy) vs (Dont-sell & Buy) - Kai Hub

A bank loan is what I need.

If you’ve already paid off your HDB mortgage. You be able to borrow ‘First Housing Loan’ amounts for your condo purchase. So the number of housing loans matters.  Your borrow ability is restricted if you have less number of loans

Here’s a chart of how much you can borrow in the percentage of the Valuation of the Apartment/house you’re buying

How old you are Matter when borrowing!

A person’s age can have a significant effect on the amount they are able to borrow for a mortgage or loan, particularly if they are planning to purchase another property. 

Because they have less time to repay the loan, they will have to either borrow less or pay more each month, depending on their age.

The magic age in Singapore is 65!  You can get the cheapest loan rates if your: Current Age + Loan Tenure <= 65 years.  

The Loan to Value is higher than when it is more than 65 years.  So your borrowing ability becomes a hinderance when you get older.   For those <45 yrs old, it’s really good to plan on how to make money through real estate simply because you have better borrowing ability. 

Your income-weighted average age (IWAA) is calculated if the “borrower” is actually a couple, such as you and your spouse.

Income Weighted Average Age IWAA - Kai Hub

Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR)

A borrower’s TDSR should be less than or equal to 55% to ensure that the portion of a borrower’s gross monthly income that goes towards repaying the monthly debt obligations, including the loan, is not excessive.

$5,000 x 55% = $2,750

Total Debt Servicing a month must not exceed TDS = $2,750

Assuming you have your repayments a month are i) Car Loan = $1,000 ii) Credit Card Loan = $200 and you intend to buy a HDB property that will have a repayment of $1,500.  

Car loan = $1,000

Credit Card Loan = $ 200

HDB Loan = $1,500

Total = $ 2,700 which is LESS than TDS ($2,750)

A guide to TDSR - kaihub

Why so many Levies and Duties one….   

The true cost of owning an HDB comes reeling in when you want to upgrade.   These are things to look out for and it’ll be good know what and how much they are.

And, chill…    Its not really as bad…   :DDDD

Upgrading Levy

If you live in an HDB unit that went through an Upgrading Programme, you would have to pay an Upgrading Levy when you sold the flat. Upgrading Programme Costs and Upgrading Levy are distinct.

You will have to pay an Upgrading Levy of 10% of the selling price or 10% of 90% of the market value of your flat, whichever is higher, if your unit was Upgraded. You can read more about who must pay an Upgrading Levy and how to calculate it here.

Resale Levy

If you want to buy another HDB you’ll have to pay a resale levy.   But since we’re assuming you’re not, this doesn’t apply.  HDB wants you to pay a Levy for the previous HDB if you’re buying another HDB.  

Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) 

Unless there are exceptional cases, you must finish your MOP before you buy a condo or sell your HDB. The MOP lasts for five years, typically. Since your property is held for at least five years, you do not have to pay Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD)

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

Whether you keep your HDB flat or sell it, you must pay a Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) when you purchase a condo.

Buyer's stamp duty Kai Hub

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

If you buy a condo before you sell your HDB flat, you will be considered a Second Property Owner, and you will have to pay the ABSD. 

However, if you sell your HDB flat within six months of buying the condo, you may be eligible for a reduction (if either you or your spouse is a Singaporean citizen).

Property Taxes 

The tax is calculated based on the “Annual Value” (AV) of the property you live in.

It is calculated as the estimated gross annual rent of the property if it were leased, excluding furnishings and maintenance fees. 

There were some changes to the property taxes so here’s an updated list.  

Owner Occupied Properties Property Tax - Kai Hub
Non Owner Occupied Properties Property Tax - Kai Hub

An application for resale is subject to an administrative fee.

The $40 administrative fee for 1 and 2-room apartment resale applications is non-refundable. The $80 administrative fee for 3-room and larger apartments is also non-refundable.

Legal Fees

I have a rule: Avoid at all costs to get into a legal tussle with your lawyer.  So, find out exactly how much it’ll cost for their conveyancing services and you can peg that expenditure to a number.  

You can find out how much it will cost you to hire an HDB lawyer to handle your property sale by using the Legal Fee Enquiry tool on the HDB website, which calculates the cost based on the type of HDB (i.e. 2-room, 5-room, etc.) and the selling price. 

If you want to hire your own lawyer, shop around until you get a good lawyer and a good rate. Make sure your comfort level working with him/her is there.  

Service & Maintenance Charges / Conservancy Charges

You must pay for the upkeep of the common facilities in your HDB complex prior to the HDB sale completion date. You can discover what your service and maintenance charges are by contacting your Town Council.

Monthly maintenance fees for the upkeep of common facilities in a Condo and are payable when you buy one. The amount varies from $200 to $1,200, depending on the how old and large the project is.   

Agent Fees

The standard market practice is around 2% of the HDB’s selling price (for selling your HDB). However, you can receive competitive rates if you shop around.  

But beware, Not All Agents are Created EQUAL!  The variance is really quite large and you would do well to access the quality of service they can provide before engaging them

Typically, you dont pay the services of the Agent when buying a condo.  He usually share the spoils paid by the owner/seller with the owner’s agent but this should be understood up front and be agreed on.

How to know if you can afford to buy a Condo after selling your HDB?

It’s actually very simple to know how you can decidedly own a condo.  2 Criteria:

  1. Calculating Affordability
  2. Ability to service the Loan


Calculating Cash

You can determine how much of a condo you can afford to buy by looking at your own bank account to see if you have the 5% cash needed there 🙂 and/or calculated from the sales proceeds of your HDB.


Sales Proceeds = 

HDB Selling price – Outstanding Bank/HDB Loan

Agent Fees

Upgrading Levy

Legal Costs

Other Costs

Cash on Hand = Sales Proceeds – Return of CPF Return

Calculating Affordability

How to know if you can afford a condo? 

There are many calculators out there that can facilitate this and will have an easy walk through.   But its really not that hard because it is after all quite a logical endeavor. 

Calculating Affordability

Ability to Service the Loan Installments

In a world where rising interests rates is imminent and also a certainty, locking in an affordable rate with your banker has never been more important.  

Also, making sure you have at least 2 years of runway to service the mortgage payments.  

It is after all the responsible thing to do. 


What are the financial consequences if I keep my HDB as an investment and convert it to a condominium?

Dire.  🙂

First you’ll have to pay ABSD 17% for the condo.  If you are thinking of Asset Progression, this is really isn’t the best way.   You’ll be effectively taking a step backwards by being at least 17% poorer.  

Secondly, you need to know that you’re suppose to live in the HDB.  But provisions can be made by contacting HDB and asking for concessions to allow you to live in the Condo and rent out the HDB. 


But if you must, you’ll have to work the finances out and see if you can indeed own the condo by doing the math 1) Affordability 2) Servicing the Loan.

A much better option is really to sell your HDB, and then buy 2 properties that will garner good returns on rental yields and capital appreciation.  For this, you’ll need a good agent who can crunch numbers and not the type who basically “Base on my experience….” and those famous pause fillers, “Depends….”  


HDB to Condo Journey

Final Note

Its really not an easy decision to make.  One that will have far reaching consequences in terms of their financial futures.  Almost everyone that asks this question will have a different set of objectives and their situations are certainly different.  

It is however not that harrowing and can be made be figured out.  With some research, education and some help to resources available, the decision process can be made clear.   

If you like a guide in this endeavor, reach out to us.  We’ll love to help you on this important journey!

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