William Tan Real Estate

LGBTQ Series (Part 1): Guide to property purchase in Singapore when you are single and gay.

Welcome to my 4-part series on a subject very close to heart –  the LGBTQ home ownership in Singapore. As a proud member myself, it has been a goal for me when getting into the real estate business, to serve the LGBTQ community and help solve their housing woes.

Let’s face it, Singapore is world famous for many great things – our beautiful airport, our stable government, our quality public housing etc… But, Singapore is also one of the few countries left in this modern world that criminalise gay sex between men. As this fight for equality rages on, the gay population is becoming more visible in public, at work places and even some homes – all thanks to the years of campaigning by groups such as Pink Dot. This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pink Dot will not be holding it’s event at Hong Lim Park but will instead be promoting the celebration of ‘love’ to individuals at home. I want to dedicate this series to everyone in the LGBT and our allies. Let us bear in mind that there are some who may be living in homes that may not be accepting of them, and they do not have the means to live elsewhere.

In this first part, let us look at the different home options for single LGBTQ individuals (I will be covering couples in Part 2).

Note: In many aspects, the options  can be applied to single heterosexuals as well, although LGBTQs have additional issues to tackle. 

Living with Your Family

‘Family’. Yes for the longest time, the idea of public housing and family building goes hand-in-hand. Our founding father, the late Lee Kuan Yew has a vision to build a nation of home-owning society. To his success, over 80% of Singaporeans were living in an HDB by the 1980s. All of us who grew up during these period had been conditioned to accept that one has to live at home with our parents….until you get married. Straight men often use the subject of ‘getting a HDB flat together’ as a way of proposal. (So unromantic, I know.)

35 years old became the ‘unofficial’ age for single adults to get a home of their own.

The government was first hesitant in extending public housing to single individuals because there was a high demand for flats, and the priority went to families. Flat ownership for singles was also inconsistent with the government social policy of encouraging marriage and the preservation of the traditional family unit.

Thankfully, the liberalisation of the housing policy towards singles came in Oct 1991, when it was announced that single Singaporeans aged 35 and above can purchase a flat from Housing and Development Board (HDB).

And since then, 35 years became the ‘unofficial’ age for single adults to get a home of their own. The policy also became a ‘leeway’ for gay Singaporeans  to buy a HDB flat for the very first time. But waiting till 35years old is a very long wait. Many will agree that,  gay or straight, it can be unbearable for many to live at home till 35. For the LGBT community, there’s sometimes a more pressing need to move out. Many LGBT folks are not out to their family, thus having to hide one’s sexuality even at home is unbearable. And some for unfortunate ones, they might even be rejected by their family and forced to move out.

Assess Your Finance Capability

The choice of home comes down to an individual financial status and income. If you start working young,  have good income, and have accumulated enough monies in your CPF account, the option of buying your home way below 35 years old becomes possible as you can look for something in the private market, such as studio or 1 bedroom condo.

But alas, not everyone makes a 5 figure income,  limiting their home choices to public housing or rental. Even with grants provided by the government, it’s important to have enough savings  and a contingency plan should one loses their job (and income).

This is specially so for single LGBTQs who doesn’t have a partner’s income to fall back on to tide through rainy periods. Here are some methods you can follow so you don’t end up in a financial stress:

  • Have enough fund to sustain yourself, especially in case of emergencies or unexpected loss of job/income. Generally rule of thumb is to have 6 months of income set aside for rainy days. Thus the idea of planning and saving as early as you is so important.
  • Central Provident Fund (CPF) is also a key factor – understand how much you have in your CPF account and get assessment done for loan eligibility. Speak to your LGBTQ-friendly real estate agent to discuss your options and how much money your can use from your CPF towards property investments.
  • Before embarking on a property search, speak to a mortgage banker to get an assessment on your financials and affordability range of the property you can get. Get an IPA (In-principle Approval) on the max loan quantum you can based on your income and current financial status.
  • If you are considering to buy a HDB, you should look at the possibility of taking a HDB loan vs Bank Loan. You will need to fulfil a list of criteria for HDB loan. At the end of the day, there are pros and cons of each types, so speak to you agent to find out more.


What Are The Housing Options?

Having looked at family and financial factors, let’s jump right into the various options a LGBTQ single individual can choose from:



HDB public housing remains to be the most affordable options for most Singaporeans although it comes with a lot of  prerequisites and criteria. Knowing what one qualifies for is important when planning to make an application.

A single (LGBT) person could buy an HBD flat under 3 HDB Schemes: Public, Single or Joint Single Scheme.

Under Public Scheme, you need to form a family nucleus with any of the following:

  • Parents, and siblings (if any). This a common in when one choose to purchase a flat with your parents with the intention of living permanently with them.
  • At least 1 Singapore Citizen applicant
  • At least 1 other Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident#
  • At least 21 years old
  • Household Income Ceiling: $14,000 (4-room and above); $7,000 or $14,000 (3-room, depending on project)

Under  Single Scheme & Joint Single Scheme, you can purchase directly from HDB. Some criteria to note:

  • Under BTO (Build-to-Order) program but you can only purchase  a 2 Room Flexi Flat in non matured estate.
  • Sale of Balance & Open Booking. Likewise you can only purchase a 2 Room Flexi Flat in non matured estate)
  • Must be Singapore Citizen (up to 3 others pax for Joint Single Scheme)
  • Unmarried or divorced: 35 years old or above
  • Widowed or an orphan: 21 years old or above
  • Household Income ceiling $7K
Now a 2-room flexi flat in a non matured estate may not the ideal for some who would like to have a bigger space or prefer a location nearer to town. Then the alternative is to turn to the HDB resale market.

Under  Single Scheme & Joint Single Scheme, single individual can also buy from HDB Resale Market:

  • Can buy any size and location from open market.
  • Must be Singapore Citizen (up to 3 others pax for Joint Single Scheme)
  • Unmarried or divorced: 35 years old or above
  • Widowed or an orphan: 21 years old or above
  • No Income ceiling
Next step is to see if you qualify for a HDB Grant For Single
As a first-timer single Singapore Citizen (SC) who is 35 years old or above, you might be eligible for the following CPF housing grant(s):
  • Singles Grant
    • Income Ceiling $7k, Up to $25k
  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles)
    • Income Ceiling $4.5k, Up to $40k
  • Proximity Grant
    • $10k grant if live near to parent (within 4km)
    • $15k grant if live with to parent
For Permanent Residents and Foreigners: 

Under HDB Polices, single foreigner are not able to purchase HDB Flats.

A Permanent Resident (PR) is only allowed to buy an HDB resale flat under two eligibility schemes, namely the Public Scheme or Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme (not relevant to LGBTQ). In a nutshell, a Singapore PRs cannot purchase resale HDB flats by themselves.

Under the Public Scheme, a PR must form a family nucleus with spouse and children (if any) or with his parents. If you are a single PR purchasing with parents, at least one of them must be a SC or PR. If widowed or divorced, there must be at least one child under his legal custody.

In addition, there are four general conditions a PR must comply with before s/he is qualified to purchase an HDB resale flat:

  • The PR needs to be at least 21 years old.
  • He or she must be a permanent resident of Singapore for a minimum of three years.
  • Upon buying a HDB resale flat, the PR is prohibited from selling the unit or leasing it out entirely under the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).
  • The buyer must not have any private property here or abroad. Otherwise, he will need to dispose of these within six months of purchasing a HDB resale flat. Nevertheless, the PR can acquire a private property like a condominium after fulfilling the five-year MOP, and he isn’t required to sell his HDB resale flat to do so.



One of the biggest advantage of buying a private home is that you don’t have to wait till you’re 35. This is the ideal choice for many people. With a nicer environment and facilities, more younger LGBTQ professionals are opting to buy a private condo or apartment.

That said,  this option comes at a much higher price point,  a bigger upfront cash payment, with no government grant. So for many single LGBTQ, this will remain to be a tough option, or one that will take a long time to fulfil.

However, private properties as compared to HDB has the benefits of greater capital gains over time. It has a shorter lockdown period (3 years for Seller Stamp Duty) vs HDB (5years for MOP) which allow the owner to be able to sell off the house if he needs to realise capital gains.

So if private properties is the way to go for you. You can consider between a RESALE unit vs NEW PROJECT LAUNCH. At the end of the day, your decision can boil down to many factors:

  • price
  • location
  • size of  units
  • facilites
  • age of properties and it’s tenure
  • when you need to move it
  • renovation
  • unique charm of the property
  • capital growth potential (for those looking at investment value)
  • etc…
For Permanent Residents and Foreigners: 

PR & foreigners have more flexibility to purchase from the private market.

PRs & Foreigners are free to purchase any type of non-restricted private property. These include the following:

  • A condominium
  • Executive Condominiums (ECs) that have been fully privatised
  • Strata-titled landed houses, with building plans approved before April 2012

The following are restricted properties. You can only buy them with approval from the LDAU (Land Dealings Approval Unit). It is a very stringent process, so speak to a LGBTQ friendly agent to help you with this process:

  • Vacant residential land
  • Terrace houses
  • Semi-detached house
  • Bungalow/detached house
  • Townhouses or cluster houses
  • Shophouses
  • Places of Worship
  • Workers dormitories, service apartments, and boarding houses that are not registered under the Hotel Act.

Note that Sentosa Cove is an exception, as it’s intended for foreigners to purchase landed properties in the area. Most foreigners can get approval to own  a Sentosa Cove landed property in just 48 hours.

Besides the usual stamp duties taxes, PRs & foreigners have pay an added stamp duty in the form of the Additional Buyers Stamp Duty (ABSD) as follows:

PRs – 5% of your property price.

Foreigner – 20% of your property price. 

An exception exists for US Nationals, or Nationals and Permanent Residents from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. If you fall under this category, you will be exempted of the ABSD.

TIP: Get in touch with a LGBTQ friendly realtor who is able to understand the needs of your lifestyle and get him to propose some options for you. NO COMMISSION is payable by the you (the buyer). This is a common market practise that sellers and developer will pay  commission to the agents. That said, if you are very  happy with your agent’s service. You can offer you give him a commission as well.



For many single working LGBTQ, unfortunately the chance of buying a home of their own may take a very long time (if ever). They cannot afford a private now, but they cannot wait till they turn 35 years old – either their choice or they are forced to move out. So renting a place becomes unavoidable.

Many LGBTQ started off renting a room, sharing with an apartment with other tenants and slowly save up till they are able to get a place of their own. In Singapore, there are no anti-discrimination laws protecting tenants from discrimination on any grounds, including sexuality. It can become an unpleasant experience when trying to find a place with LGBTQ-friendly landlord, and flatmates. If you lucky, share an apartment with some fellow LGBTQ friends. Or else, remain closeted in your shared apartment.

Ideally, it’s easier for LGBTQ individual to rent entire units in Singapore (e.g. studio apartment or a three-room HDB flat) than a single room with common tenants or a stay-in-landlord.

I will do an in-depth coverage on “Diversity-Friendly” Rental for LGBTQ  in PART 3 of this series to touch on tenancy agreements and dealing with landlord and tenants.

Signing off…

There you have it, buying a home alone as a LGBTQ is not impossible in Singapore. And if you think you have to wait till your 35th birthday to start searching, think again.
Property purchase needs careful planning and knowing how the system works. Start planning as early as you can and work towards your goals, and you will realise your dream home soon. 
If you need some friendly advise, drop me a note and I am most happy to offer my service to my community.

William Tan, Property Advisor For LGBTQ

The LGBTQ community has unique needs when it comes to property purchase. Getting advise from a LGBTQ-friendly or openly gay realtor will help you discuss such issues comfortably. If you want to start planning for your dream home, feel free to contact me for a non-obligatory chat. I will share different options to help you meet your objectives. Email: williamtanpc@sri.sg ; Mobile: 65-93863406.