In Singapore, everything is like clockwork. You wake up, get to work, return home, sleep and the cycle pretty much repeats itself till
you’ve had enough you retire.
The same goes for a relationship. From friends, to getting together then getting married.
But before you get married, most of us will have to go through the HDB BTO process, whether you like it or not.
Securing your very own HDB Built To Order (BTO) flat has become a rite of passage for most of us. That said, being first time home owners, we might be a little confused about issues such as the eligibility process and whether there are any possible grants available.
Lucky for you, we’ve jotted down all you need to know in our very own HDB BTO guide. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the answers to your questions!
For the uninitiated, you might have heard these three letters get thrown around a lot. But what exactly is BTO?
In an effort for the private sector to be more involved in public housing, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) devised the Design, Build and Sell Scheme. If you wish to buy a Housing & Development Board flat, you can apply for BTO.
The BTO project starts only if there are enough applicants for the apartments. A particular contract needs to have applicants for at least 70% of its apartments. If that’s not the case, the block of flats won’t be built.
There are several unique features to HDB’s BTO projects:
You know how they say everything in Singapore also must queue?
Well, surprise surprise, getting your own BTO flat is no exception.
You will have to wait about two to four years to get your BTO flat. That’s why you need to apply for a BTO waaay before you actually need it.
Compared to common resale flats, applying for a BTO usually involves a much longer process since you’ll have to wait for the flat to be built.
“Huh? 4 years so long!”
That said, if you die die cannot wait and need a place to live urgently and not after four years, you can apply for leftover flats. Check Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) to find units that are reintroduced in the market.
Being kiasu Singaporeans like we all are, there are also certain steps you can take to increase your chances of landing that BTO apartment. For instance, you can apply for flats located in non-mature estates. These are reliable, although not premium locations, with good transport networks and well-kept amenities.
But if you want a premium location, make sure you apply early, in case your application gets rejected. Usually, people who apply for mature estates or SBF are more likely to be rejected the first few tries because of high demand and low supply.
It’s possible you won’t get your application approved the first time for standard flats either, but you’ll most likely get your apartment by the second or third try. This is why they always say to apply for your BTO flats as early as possible.
It’s important to know the cost of a 3, 4 and 5-room BTO flat in different locations because you need to pay an option fee at your HDB appointment. But before we do so, the option fee for the various flats are as follows:
These fees are reimbursed eventually to those with enough for a down payment in their CPF Ordinary Accounts. If you don’t have enough money for a down payment, the option fee is used for this purpose.
If you apply for a bank loan to secure enough for your down payment, the option fee will complete the minimum 5% cash portion you need for applying.
Another thing to note is the Optional Component Scheme (OCS) which you can choose whether you wish to opt in or not.
If you choose to opt in, you’ll have to incur additional costs but you’ll get to have your house closer to move in condition (full floor finishes, internal doors and sanitary fittings).
It’s a good idea to research these additional costs and packages on the HDB official website before getting to your appointment. If you want to see the OCS extras with your own eyes, it’s a good idea to arrive at your appointment a few minutes early.
There are no exact prices for the upcoming BTO project, but you can estimate the apartment prices depending on the type of property and the various locations:
Kallang/ Whampoa Area
These estimations are averages which factor in resale transaction prices for nearby locations apart from launch prices of previous HDB BTO projects.
The prices might vary depending on the property age and the project’s location. For instance, a HDB BTO flat that’s near an important transportation node, and various amenities or MRT stations will cost more than a similar apartment further away from these facilities.
After all that’s been said, here’s the real deal – what you actually have to do.
To be able to qualify for a HDB BTO flat, you must:
In addition to this, you’ll also have to ensure that your monthly income is not too high based on your flat preference.
As they say, please don’t spoil market.
Below are the income levels for the various types of flats:
This is where we advice you to pray to the deity heavens to bestow upon you all the luck you can ever have.
For starters, you’ll have to start by constantly checking with the official HDB website for any new projects that will be launching. HDB announces these launches 6-months prior.
The ballot fee for a launch that interests you is $10. After balloting, you’ll just have to leave it to fate. If you’re lucky, you’ll get it on the first try.
If not, we only have four words for you: Eat, Sleep, Pray, Repeat.
You’ll find out if you’re successful or not three weeks after.
Congratulations for successfully balloting for your flat! The next step would be to source for funds to finance the cost of the flat. This also means getting all your paperwork ready and all your loan documents up to date before signing the lease.
Applicants can choose between a bank or an HDB loan, so do your research beforehand to make sure the loan fits your purposes.
For those applying for an HDB loan, make sure you apply for an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter that you can find on their official website.
If you take a bank loan, you need an AIP letter from them. This is an Approval In Principle document which officially declares how much money the bank will lend you.
Your queue number tells you how far away you are from the point where you can choose your flat. The problem is that more people receive queue numbers than there are apartments. So if your number is too big, you might not get an apartment, after all, so you’ll have to enter the ballot again.
But if your queue number allows you to fix an appointment at the HDB Hub, be sure to bring all your documents. You will need your IC, income documents and the HLE or AIP letter.
After choosing your unit, you will then pay the option fee immediately ($500, $1000, $2000 for a two, three and four/five room flat respectively). This is when you can also apply for the Additional CPF or special CPF housing grants, so make sure you download the necessary application forms from the online website.
This stage happens during the next four months after you have booked your flat. Ensure that you get your loan arrangements ready by then.
The down payment needs to be paid on the same day as signing the lease. Be prepared to have the cash at hand for legal fees and stamp duties.
If you take an HDB loan, the down payment is 10% of the apartment’s price. You can pay for it using cash or CPF.
If you take a bank loan, the down payment is 20% of the apartment’s price. You need to pay a minimum of 5% of this amount in cash, but the rest can be paid via your CPF. The legal fees and stamp duties can also be paid with cash and CPF.
Before you freak out and go all “So many things to pay for?!”, here’s the catch.
Some applicants are eligible for a Staggered Downpayment Scheme. This means that you are allowed to pay just 50% of the down payment when signing the lease. The other 50% can be paid when signing for the apartment.
Now, you simply have to wait for the next two to four years for your flat to be ready.
After all that blood, sweat and tears from waiting, HDB will get in contact with you to pick the keys to your new home.
Missed the BTO launch in February? Here’s some info about the next BTO launch in May and August!
You can also get regular updates on upcoming BTO launches here.
|Month Of Launch||Town / Estate||Flat Mix||Estimated Number Of Flats|
|May 2020||Bukit Batok (Non-mature Estate)||Assisted Living Flats (A new housing type developed with MOH|
to offer seniors with better integrated care facilities)
|Choa Chu Kang (Non-mature Estate)||2-room Flexi|
|Tengah (Non-mature Estate)||2-room Flexi|
|Pasir Ris (Mature Estate)||2-room Flexi|
|Tampines (Mature Estate)||3-room|
|August 2020||Woodlands (Non-mature Estate)||2-room Flexi|
|Ang Mo Kio (Mature Estate)||4-room|
|Bishan (Mature Estate)||2-room Flexi|
|Geylang (Mature Estate)||3-room|
|Tampines (Mature Estate)||3-room|
Government grants can be a great source of financial help. There are various government grants and priority schemes to take into account. Below is a list of priority schemes for applicants:
There are also two common grants which allow you to get a maximum of $80,000 in grants:
If you wish to apply for these government grants and schemes, you will be requested other documents. Make sure you check the online website to figure out what grants you can benefit from and which is the maximum amount you’re eligible to receive.For instance, if you apply for an apartment with the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme or the Married Child Priority Scheme, you will be required to provide your birth certificate and the marriage certificate of your parents.If you apply for the Parenthood Priority Scheme, you’ll need your children’s birth certificate or a certificate from your wife’s OB-GYN attesting the pregnancy.All those who apply for their HDB BTO flats need to bring their marriage certificates if they are married, their NRIC and non-citizens should have their passports.We know that the article can be pretty overwhelming but at least all the information you need is neatly consolidated here. You won’t have to scour through various pages just to get the information you need. You’re now one step closer to your dream home!
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