Being Priced Out: The Struggle of Upgrading from HDB to a Private Condo in Singapore

Singapore’s housing market is renowned for its unique public housing system, which provides affordable and quality homes to the majority of its population through the Housing Development Board (HDB). However, many HDB owners aspire to upgrade their living conditions to private condominiums, only to find themselves facing a significant financial hurdle. 

In this blog, we will explore the challenges and frustrations faced by HDB owners as they grapple with the soaring prices of private condos, often feeling priced out of the market.


The Dream of Upgrading:

HDB owners often dream of upgrading to private condominiums to enjoy a higher standard of living, enhanced facilities, and potentially better investment returns. They may aspire to escape the limitations of public housing, such as having facilities at our doorstep etc swimming pool, gym, function and many more. However, the reality of the Singapore property market can shatter these dreams.

Escalating Property Prices:

One of the biggest obstacles faced by HDB owners is the skyrocketing prices of private condominiums. Over the years, the cost of private properties in Singapore has soared, making it increasingly difficult for HDB owners to bridge the financial gap between their existing flat and a private condo. The rapid appreciation of property values has resulted in a widening affordability gap and placed the dream of upgrading out of reach for many.

Financing Constraints:

Even if HDB owners manage to save up for a down payment, obtaining a bank loan for a private condominium can be challenging. Stricter loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) limits imposed by the government can restrict the amount of financing available. These constraints further exacerbate the difficulty for HDB owners to secure the necessary funds for their desired upgrade.

Competition from Foreign Buyers:

Foreign buyers, especially investors from neighboring countries, have a significant presence in the Singapore property market. Their financial capabilities and willingness to pay a premium for properties have driven up prices, intensifying the competition for limited housing supply. HDB owners find themselves competing against these investors, making it even harder to secure a private condominium at an affordable price.



Impact of Government Policies:

The Singaporean government has implemented measures to cool the property market and curb speculative buying. While these policies aim to promote a stable housing market and prevent property bubbles, they can inadvertently hinder HDB owners’ aspirations to upgrade. Measures such as Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) add extra costs and restrictions, making the upgrading process more daunting.

Emotional and Psychological Impact:

Being priced out of the private condominium market takes an emotional toll on HDB owners. The feeling of missing out on better living conditions and opportunities for potential investment growth can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a sense of being left behind. It can also contribute to a widening wealth gap between HDB owners and those who can afford private properties.

The dream of upgrading from an HDB flat to a private condominium is a common aspiration among many Singaporeans. However, the ever-increasing property prices, financing constraints, competition from foreign buyers, and government policies have made this dream increasingly challenging to realize. The frustration and sense of being priced out experienced by HDB owners highlight the need for a balanced and sustainable property market, where affordability and opportunities for upward mobility are not out of reach for the average Singaporean homeowner.

Client Case Study: The Reality of Escalating Property Prices in Singapore

To further illustrate the challenges faced by HDB owners in upgrading to a private condo in Singapore, let’s delve into a real-life case study. 

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Lim, a couple who sought our assistance a few years ago when they were considering options for their newly Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) HDB unit. Their journey showcases the impact of escalating property prices and highlights the difficulties faced by HDB owners in navigating the real estate market.

When Mr. and Mrs. Lim approached us, their HDB flat’s estimated value was approximately $630,000. At that time, the couple was exploring the possibility of upgrading to a private condominium. However, they were aware of the financial challenges that lay ahead, considering the rising prices in the property market.

In the end, after much deliberation and with the right property upgrading plan & strategy, they decided to sell their HDB flat and purchase a private property for investment at an average price per square foot (psf) of $1,600.




Today, current market transactions indicate that prices have soared to approximately $2,000 psf.

On the flip side, the prices of HDB flats in their previous estate area also experienced a moderate increase. Recently, similar units on their floor were transacting at around $680,000, indicating a gain in property value. 

However, while their HDB flat’s value has grown, it has not kept pace with the exponential rise in private condo prices. 

If they did not sell their HDB flat, they would have been unable to bridge the financial gap necessary to upgrade to a private condominium in today’s market. 


The case study of Mr. and Mrs. Lim highlights the impact of escalating property prices on HDB owners in Singapore. While some HDB flats have appreciated in value, the soaring prices of private condos have made it increasingly difficult for many to realize their dream of upgrading. 

The widening affordability gap, combined with the financial challenges and limited financing options, has left many homeowners and buyers feeling priced out of the market. 

This case study underscores the pressing need for a sustainable property plan and strategy that will allow HDB owners the opportunity to upgrade and enjoy the benefits of private condominium living.

In fact, time could be ticking as we see the gap widen further and further. Eventually more and more HDB owners could be priced out of the private property market if they do not start planning now. 

Wondering if it’s the right time to buy, sell, or wait it out?

These decisions can be tough, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

But don’t worry, that’s where we come in!

At Let’s Talk Property, we are here to provide clarity to you and guide you step-by-step in your real estate journey!

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, we hope to partner with you to create a clear plan that’s tailored to your unique needs and provide objective guidance to help you make the best real estate decision.

So, if you’re looking to buy, sell, or just want to chat about your real estate options, we’re here for you!

With our extensive on-the-ground experience, you can trust us to provide a top-notch real estate experience that’s both informative and stress-free.

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Best Regards,
Let’s Talk Property
Matthew @ 9007 9035

P.S. HDB Owners, with so much UNCERTAINTY, Should you BUY, SELL or WAIT?
Find out more by clicking HERE


Matthew Ho

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