7 Crazy HDB Upgrader Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2023

It’s 2023 and maybe this year is finally the year you make plans to get your dream home.

Your HDB BTO is in its 5th or 6th year of ownership and your HDB resale price is at it’s highest in Singapore’s history.

But you know that prices will not stay high for the next 3-6 months in fact the pattern is clear that it’s on the way down it’s highly likely that you will miss this boat of making the move to your dream home if you wait too long to make a decision.

But before you make a final decision you need to avoid the following 7 mistakes Heikal and myself see HDB upgraders make time and time again.

Spend 5-6 minutes reading this article and you could potentially save $40,000 or $700,000 depending on the mistake.

1. Upgrading to a HDB Flat That Has No Chance of Future Profits

Most of the time when you are upgrading you are probably only considering Maisonettes or an Executive Apartment due to it’s size however these type of HDB flats are also at a risk of experiencing the ‘lease-decay’ issue.

The ‘Bala Curve’ above shows how a 99-year old property in Singapore can potentially lose value overtime.

We are not saying that all old HDB flats are not worth buying, while there are a few suitable HDB flats to consider, majority of them could spell trouble for you in the future when you decide to downgrade for retirement.

Source for a HDB flat that has the potential to appreciate or at least plan a way to retire without the help of your old HDB flat.

2. Don’t Know All your Property Upgrading Choices

HDB BTO Upgrade

A lot of people assume that ‘private property’ is for the ‘rich’ any many other toxic ideas that prevent them from taking action.

Are you aware that you have many options when upgrading?

Here are some you might want to consider:

  • Resale HDB flats
  • Resale Condos (this includes ECs)
  • Brand new ECs
  • New Launch Condos
  • Landed Properties (Freehold & 99 Years)

You might think you can’t afford a landed property, and you’re right unless you pool your finances with your siblings or parents. However have you done calculations for other options?

Would you be surprised to learn that 90% of private property and EC owners don’t pay cash every month?

Imagine paying $550 a month for a new condo, then selling it for $300,000 profit, which you could use to buy a HDB flat (that won’t increase in price) and probably fully pay it off.

We had a High Park Residence buyer who came from a 3 room flat and bought a 3 bedder unit.

The best thing you can do for your family is to know all your property options before you make any decision to upgrade.

3. Only 1 or 2 Goals When Upgrading

Like most HDB BTO upgraders you want to upgrade because you want something bigger than your current place.

Your mindset is that it won’t be worth the hassle if you can’t get a bigger house.

If that’s the only goal, then a 40 year old jumbo is the best choice right? What about your retirement?

Wouldn’t it be nice to give your kids a head start in life with your property profits?

It’s important to think about other people’s goals before you decide which upgrade is best for you. Your decision will affect others in your household for many years to come.

Before you start your HDB BTO upgrade, try to include three to four goals that are wants like size and location, but also needs like retirement, thriving community, etc.

4. Buying a Bad Resale Condo

Hedges Park Condo Losses

Think twice if you think that any private property is an “investment”.

Buying the wrong resale condo is like upgrading to a wrong, bigger HDB flat.

For example, one of the few things we recommend is to use our 4x Condo Upgrading Framework before you decide on the future profitability of the resale condo.

It’s funny but sometimes it makes more sense to buy a HDB flat depending on your goals and affordability so make sure to keep your objectives in mind before you decide.

5. Not Interviewing At Least 3 Agents

The quality of your upgrade is highly dependent on what kind of advice you’re getting.

The way most people choose a property agent is by going onto Instagram. They look at a profile of an agent who shows beautiful HDB flats.

Then deciding that this is the right agent to help with our upgrade. While the agent is a good sales agent, he/she probably doesn’t have the right skillset to advise you on your plans.

They are order takers and they help you calculate what you want to buy. Sure they might whip out a glorified calculation of your HDB sales proceeds, which you can actually do on your own.

Or they can even show you a breakdown if you want to buy your next property. But do they have hard statistics to show you why a property purchase meets most of your goals?

Choose your property agent wisely when you want to do your HDB BTO Upgrade. Are they able to show you all the upgrades you can do?

Can they suggest 1-2 choices and why they’re good upgrades? Meet 3 agents, preferbly those who are HDB BTO Upgrade focused and don’t be pressured.

Give yourself a break, a cooling off period, before you decide what’s best for your family. Do some research and interview agents before just following the other 99% blindly.

Simply following the crowd and choosing the most ‘popular’ agent like a talent show will not do your family justice.

6. Relying Too Much on Online Advice

We meet HDB upgraders almost on a daily basis and majority of them do their research online.

However they are confused by these online advise and they eventually require a personalised approach to their planning.

Here’s the thing: there’s just too much information out there, and you’ll often think that it’s better not to do anything after over-analysing it all.

You’ve got different needs. You’ve got different goals.

There’s so many creative ways to achieve your goals, but the internet doesn’t get it. Have a chat with three agents or even friends (that have done what you plan to do, not couch analysts) 

7. DIY HDB Upgrade

Some agents say that since you don’t do your own teeth (you go to the dentist).

…Or fix your own car (still amazed by those who do it themselves)…..that’s why you shouldn’t do your own planning…I disagree and here’s why:

I’m sure you already know that there are over 30,000 property agents in Singapore.

I’m estimating only 20% of them are active (selling 10 properties a year or more), so most of them are closing less than 10 properties a year, meaning their advice isn’t backed by experience.

The chances of you getting bad advise and worse, losing $10,000 at the same time is amazingly high.

This is how advise from a so-so agent looks like:

You tell them what you want to buy. They take your order.

You tell them your plans. They give you advise based on what they know.

This is what’s most likely going to happen:

1. You lose $10,000 paying commission

2. You buy a 40-year-old HDB flat and can’t retire at 60.

3. You buy a resale condo that cannot appreciate in price.

You continue working after 60 years old as you’ve made a misstep in your purchase 30 years ago.

Choosing the wrong agent can lead to bad results both short and long-term. Don’t choose the wrong agent.

On the other hand, you don’t really need a special certificate to sell your own house as long as you are confident you’re the best person for the job. Just put it on Carousell watch our advise on how to get the highest price for your HDB flat.

But engaging the right agent would save you stress and make you more money:

1 – Sell $20,000 higher in 7 days.

You’ll save yourself at least $5,000 in unnecessarily stressful time and effort dealing with salespeople (that you are buying the property from)

2. You buy a property that will increase in value by $300,000 in 4-8 years.

3. You retire with $4,000 a month using property profits.

4. You’ll know exactly what you’re paying and your property plan will help you reach your goals.

If you’re serious about your HDB BTO Upgrade then you’d better get the right help.


I’m sure there are many more mistakes HDB BTO upgraders make, but these are the ones that come to mind as I was writing this.

Selling or buying a property is a life-changing decision, whether it is a HDB flat or a private home.

Heikal and myself have helped people in their 60s downgrade with $50,000 of profits, which as you can see is not even enough to last them 2 years.

We’ve also helped others retire with $1.7m in profits.

It’s not about greed, but would you rather spend time with the ones you love or work for your family in old age.

The retirees who sold for $1.7m in profits were both employees and non-executives, but they made the right property moves 30 years ago.

Reach out to us if you need a closer look at your HDB upgrading plan.

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Elfi Abdullah

Herohomes Co-Founder

Contact Us for Your HDB Upgrading Questions

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