Sell First or Buy First?

HDB Upgraders Dilemma | 3 Solutions

Sell first or buy first? HDB Upgrader’s Dilemma | 3 solutions to help you save money during your next property purchase

📌 Sell First or Buy First

HDB owners who aspire to upgrade to a condo will have to do very careful timeline planning as mistakes could be costly. Regardless whether you buy first or sell first when transitioning from HDB flat to your new private condo, you will face some challenges as each method will have their own set of problems.

Sell First or Buy First

📌 Non-Issue If you are upgrading to another HDB Flat

If you are upgrading to a larger HDB flat, then these concerns will be a non issue. Additional buyer stamp duty (ABSD) will not apply as it is within the HDB framework. Also, HDB has this contra scheme which reduces buyers’s cashflow issue when upgrading to another HDB

📌 Sell First or Buy First

When upgrading to a condo, sell first or buy first will each have their respective challenges and problems. We will break them down and analyse the pros and cons for the 3 recommended solutions or methods.

Sell First or Buy First


📌Method 1: Buy Private Condo First

When you buy a private property first before selling your current HDB, you are assured that there is a place ready for you when your property is sold. Your new unit is secured and this gives you a peace of mind. This option to buy first will also give you ample time to renovate your new home and then move in when everything is ready. With the manpower constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, renovations have taken longer to complete.

However, there are downside to this method. Cashflow is the main challenge as you are liable to pay ABSD for the second property and this sum is hefty.

Although you can apply for ABSD remission/ refund after you sell your 1st property within the 6 months stipulated time, you will still need to pay the ABSD upfront with the cash or cpf first.

On top of all these, the loan amount for your second property will also be limited to maximum 45% if you have an existing loan for your 1st property.


📌Method 2: Sell HDB First

sell first buy later

Sell HDB first then buy your dream condo later. From our experiences, majority of HDB upgraders will be inclined to use this method. The advantages are: You will be able to fully utilise your CPF and take full loans.

If you are willing to sell first and then rent for a certain period of time, you will find a whole lot of options opening up to you for your next property. Some will move to a relative’s house for the time being. Others may choose to lease during this transition period.

Having say that, I know of many HDB upgraders who are not for the idea of renting because of the hassle of moving house twice. There is also this element of “insecurity” as you are used to the idea of owning your own place that you call home.

For those who are open to leasing for the next 1-3 years, you can have the option buy a new launch without incurring ABSD. Generally speaking, new launch condo will have a higher capital appreciation in the first 10 years when compared to resale condo. The catch is that you need to wait for the new condo to complete.

During this waiting period, you can explore around singapore and even consider renting in areas that you have never lived in to experience different lifestyles. Some may want to rent near the east to be near the beach and the famous eateries. This is the time to experiment, after you have sold your property.


📌Method 3: Sell & Buy Concurrently (Hybrid)

Our preferred method is the hybrid solution- Buy and sell concurrently.

For this method to work, you will need to manage your timeline carefully. You should allow potential buyers to view your house and at the same time, you should also be viewing units that interests you.

Work closely with your real estate agent as mistakes may be costly and cause unnecessary delays. For this method to work, you will need to shortlist of 2-3 condos that you may like within 1 month of listing your HDB flat

The simple idea for this hybrid method is that, when a buyer gives you a good offer, you will also put up an offer to the your seller (from shortlisted condo) in tandem. Also you must ensure that your HDB buyer exercises the HDB OTP first before you exercise your condo OTP. Timing is key in hybrid method.

📌 HDB Top 10 Questions

  • Where are the Million dollar HDB?
  • Which are Hottest HDB towns in 2021?
  • Is Cash Over Valuation (COV) making comeback?
  • How to Unlock the Value of Our HDB?
  • Upgraders Dilemma: Sell First or Buy First?
  • Should I buy an older Resale HDB?
  • BTO or Resale or EC: 3 Test Qns
  • HDB or Bank Loans? What is Repricing?
  • 3 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying
  • 5 Commonly Asked HDB Rules or Terms

Check out all HDB Top 10 Questions here

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This is a big decision that will likely require additional financial commitments. Sit down and discuss with our Property Den experts to assess if this course of action is suitable for you.

Dennis Lim

Dennis has more than a decade of experience investing in real estate. Like many fellow Singaporeans, he grew up in a HDB flat with dreams to live in a condominium. Through careful financial planning & hardwork, this became a reality when he was 30. He now owns 3 private properties in Singapore and has helped hundreds of Singaporeans to achieve their goal of upgrading their homes in land-scarce Singapore.

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