top of page

Property Herald: HDB Owners Increasingly Shut Out of “Ultimate Upgrade” to Landed Housing

In land-scarce Singapore, landed housing is the most exclusive type of residential property. Despite the high prices, a significant number of landed property buyers are those who have “upgraded” from public housing.


In the 10 years from 2004 to 2013, HDB upgraders bought 23.3 per cent of all landed properties transacted in that period. The proportion of landed housing units bought by HDB upgraders peaked in 2009 at 29.5 per cent.


In 2014, HDB flat owners bought 24.5 per cent of landed homes sold that year - the second time the upgrader proportion peaked in the past 20 years.


After 2014, the HDB upgrader share of the landed market declined gradually, to reach 15.3 per cent in 2023.


Buying a private landed home is perhaps the ultimate housing upgrading for HDB dwellers. However, landed housing has become less and less accessible, for several reasons.


History shows buyers jumped into the landed market when prices took a hard fall. The proportion of HDB upgraders in the landed housing market peaked in 2009 after prices were battered by the 2008 global financial crisis. The landed housing price index contracted 19.1 per cent in the twelve months from mid-2008 to mid-2009.


In 2014, the landed residential price index contracted 5.4 per cent after the implementation of severe cooling measures. This likely contributed to the small rise in the proportion of landed homes purchased by HDB upgraders - from 22.6 per cent in 2013 to 24.5 per cent in the following year.


Since then, private property prices have outpaced the price appreciation of HDB flats, limiting the financial ability to move up the housing ladder. 


Over the past decade from 2013 to 2023, prices of landed and non-landed private residential properties increased at about the same pace of 31.7 per cent and 31.6 per cent respectively, based on official price indices. Resale prices of HDB flats, meanwhile, appreciated by a slower 23.7 per cent.


Table 1: Price growth of private and public housing


Landed housing price growth

Non-landed housing price growth

HDB resale housing price growth

10 years:2013 to 2023




20 years:2003 to 2023




Source: Research, HDB, URA


The gap is even more stark over a longer 20-year timeline. From 2003 to 2023, prices of private non-landed housing and HDB resale flats increased by 143.1 per cent and 140.2 per cent respectively. Over the same period, prices of landed homes jumped by a steeper 180.6 per cent.


A second reason that exacerbates the rising inaccessibility of landed homes is the wide difference between prices of public housing and landed homes. In 2013, the median price of a 5-room HDB resale flat, the biggest type of flat built in the past two decades, was S$537,000. The median price of the smallest type of landed property, a terrace house, was S$2.68 million - five times the price of a 5-room resale flat.


Over the past decade from 2013 to 2023, the median price of terrace houses grew 34.3 per cent to S$3.6 million, while the median price of a 5-room resale flat grew by a slower 21 per cent to S$650,000. As a result, the typical terrace house has become 5.54 times more expensive than the average 5-room flat.


The absolute price gap also widened, from S$2.14 million in 2013 to S$2.95 million in 2023 and by 37.7 per cent, greater than the 21 per cent increase in the price of 5-room flats over the past decade.


Table 2: Median prices and growth rate of different housing types


Median price in 2013

Median price in 2023

Percentage growth





Semi-detached house




Terrace house




HDB 5-room resale flat




No. of times that the median price of a terrace house is greater than the median price of a 5-room HDB flat

4.99 times

5.54 times


Price difference between terrace house and HDB 5-room flat




Source: Research, HDB, URA


Essentially, time is not on the HDB upgrader’s side. The longer the wait, the wider the price gap. In the coming years, the price gap between public housing and private landed homes would widen further, due to government policies to keep public housing affordable, which would result in the deceleration of price growth of HDB resale flats.


While the government ramps up the supply of HDB flats to the range of 18,000 to 23,000 flats annually, there are only about an average of 300 newly completed landed housing units yearly in the past decade. The limited supply of landed homes would contribute to widening the price gap.


bottom of page