In our previous article we talked about Permanent Residents (PRs). We delved into the effect that housing policies have on their actions, and consequently what those actions have on the Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale market. One of the comments that we got, and that the authorities often use a well, was that PRs only represent a minority portion – about one-fifth – of the overall HDB resale market. But as far we know, there aren’t that many PRs in Singapore, compared to the total population.

With that in mind, we decided to dig a little deeper. We found some evidence that this 20% figure has been consistently true for years 2010 and 2011, at least.

In 2010, Permanent Residents made up about 20% of HDB resale buyers:

“The PR numbers are in fact not insignificant – it was reported last year that they accounted for 20 per cent of all resale transactions in 2010.” - Han Fook Kwang, Avoid Feast and Famine in Housing, Sunday Times 04 Nov 2012

Similarly in 2011, Jessica Cheam, Housing Correspondent at Singapore Press Holdings, reported:

“The new figures released by Mr Khaw looked at the 2,162 HDB resale transactions closed last month. They showed that a fifth of buyers were permanent residents (PRs), 8 per cent were private property owners and about a quarter – 23 per cent – were newly married couples, or first-timers.” - Jessica Cheam, Who the resale HDB flat buyers are, 26 Jun 2011

However, just because they are a minority in the market does not mean that they do not exert undue influence. PRs can bring significant price pressure to bear upon the HDB resale market because of several factors:

  1. Limited supply in the market multiplies the effect of a few sellers raising their prices.
  2. PRs tend to compare purchase price against prevailing rents, and so are willing to buy at higher prices.
  3. PRs are willing, or have the option, to cash out and leave. Knowing that they can unlock their investment in the short or mid-term, they are more willing to put more money in.


Not only are PR numbers significant enough to affect market prices, they might also be more predisposed to forking out higher sums to secure that HDB flat.

But our curiosity wasn’t satisfied. So we investigate even further. As it turns out, the 2008 Sample Housing Survey* conducted by HDB themselves, turned up some interesting figures:

“The HDB resident population, comprising Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents, increased by 2.7% over 5 years to 2.92 million in 2008. This figure made up 96% of the total population in HDB flats (88% were Singapore Citizens and 8% were SPRs), while the remaining 4% were foreigners.”

So, even though PRs only make up around 8% of the HDB population, they represent 20% of the HDB resale market. This over-representation of Permanent Residents active in the HDB resale market supports the notion that PRs tend to churn the market more, while Singaporeans tend to buy and stay for the long term. It also indicates that PRs have an added motivation to cash out from their public housing flats.

As always, let us know what you think by leaving a comment below, or follow/like us on our FacebookTwitter, and Google+ pages.

* The Sample Housing Survey is conducted once every 5 years; the 2008 edition can found at



  6 Responses to “Fact: 20% of HDB Resale by PRs. But Does it Make Sense?”


    Silly article. Since PRs cannot buy BTO flats, resale flats are their only option for affordable housing, so of course they will be overrepresented in resale transactions. To conclude that they “churn the market more” is completely unwarranted.


    Bad math. Obviously PRs will be over-represented in the resale market since they are not able to buy the BTO flats. The 8% figure of HDB population comprises of resale and BTO flats, while the 20% figure is only for the resale market. You can’t just compare the two numbers. To make a meaningful comparison, you must know as well the proportion between resale and BTO transactions within that particular year.


    PRs have been taking advantage of singaporeans for a long time. FIrst was the malaysians, then came the PRCs and now the indians and pinoys. Everyone will cash out and leave the shit for locals to clear as if we are shit cleaners.


    Singaporeans (Natives + New Mints) also churn the HDB and EC market. Because Singaporeans form the larger proportion of the total base, their churning is even more impactful on the price index.


    Your analysis should include the new citizens who can buy resale hdb with a foreign relative on a long term social visa. I believe this is one key factor for the high price. Sadly, old citizens have no such benefit. Uniquely Singapore.


    foreigner minister thinking how to help own country folk so came up with the
    SC, PR, FR categories even for state housing meant for SCs only and their spouse.
    No other country has ever included parents on LTVisa as a accetable critieria.
    Do you follow your adult kids go overseas to work or study?

    Yes, it is depriving the SC from owning. Not working in the best interest of SC whether they are private owners or not. The scheme is originally meant for private owners to buy to create a resale market, However, the foreigner minister has put the interest of PRs ahead of SC, including true blue SC private owners.
    But you will want to question the strategy.

    Foreigner minister is desirous of returning to home country to be government.

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