Update: The February 2024 BTO Launch is now open for applications until 28 February 2024, Wednesday, 11:59 PM
From the previous 4 launches, HDB announced that in 2024 there will be three BTO launches in February, June, and October. For those who want to buy a BTO flat, your journey begins even before you apply for one. Before deciding which BTO launch you want to apply for, you should first discuss with your other half that this is a decision you are both ready to make and commit to.
Here’s a comprehensive timeline for all couples looking to apply for an HDB BTO flat.
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility To Apply For An HDB BTO Flat
The first thing you need to do is to check your eligibility. Different BTO has different eligibility criteria, so you need to make sure that you and your co-applicant qualify for an HDB BTO flat first, before you even apply for one. If you are applying for a BTO flat with your spouse/future spouse, you will qualify under the public scheme or the Fiancé/Fiancée scheme.
Here are some notable conditions we have to meet in order to be eligible to buy a BTO flat.
Citizenship: At least one person applying for the BTO needs to be a Singapore Citizen AND at least one other person applying (if applicable) needs to be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Income Ceiling: The current income ceiling for a BTO flat is $14,000. This figure may rise up to $21,000 for the extended family/multi-generation family income ceiling, if we’re applying for a 3Gen flat.
Age: We must be at least 21 years old at the point of application.
Property Ownership: If we currently own other residential properties, either locally or overseas, or have disposed of them within the past 30 months, we will not be eligible to apply for a new BTO flat.
From May 2023 onwards, you will need to obtain your preliminary HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) assessment by completing the HDB HFE check on the HDB Flat Portal. You must then apply for an HFE letter and submit the required information to HDB, within 30 calendar days of initiating the HFE check. You must have a valid HFE letter in order book a BTO flat.
Step 2: Shortlisting The Launch Of Your BTO Flat Choice (6 Months Before application)
Look at the HDB BTO flat launches available 3 months beforehand.
For example, as of February 2024, we will only know the details for the current HDB BTO flat launches in February 2024, which include locations such as Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol, Queenstown, and Woodlands. As for the June 2024 BTO launch, which includes locations such as Jurong East, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown, Tampines, Woodlands, and Yishun, details will only be announced three months before the launch.
This gives you sufficient time to do your research and decide on which launch suits you and your partner best. This means going through all the considerations, including location, flat size, convenience, amenities, possible prices and more.
For some couples, whether you can get grants or apply under priority schemes could also be a consideration.
Coming to a decision over a longer timeframe allows you to think through every consideration thoroughly, without having to rush into a decision when the application period opens.
Once you have this decision made, step 3 will be a lot easier.
Step 3: Apply For Your HDB BTO Flat (Launch Period)
Upon the release of the HDB BTO flat, you usually have just 7 days to decide and apply.
During this stage, it’s not as easy as the click of a button. You will be required to fill in your particulars as well as other information such as your occupation, monthly household income as well as proof of status. You will also incur a $10 application fee.
For each launch, you can only apply for one flat type at one location. So, take the time to consider locations that may be less popular, but would give you a higher chance of getting your flat. In fact, as we wrote in a separate article, it might be advantageous to apply for your HDB BTO flat later during the BTO application period.
Also, as part of the application process, you may also want to consider priority schemes that you may qualify for.
Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS): Helps first-timer married couples with children get homes more easily.
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS): Helps parents and their married children get new BTO flats in the same estate.
Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS): Helps married children live closer to their parents, either in the same flat or estate, or in a neighbouring estate.
Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS): Helps families with more than two children get a flat more easily. Up to 5% of BTO and SBF flats are allotted to eligible applicants.
Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/Widowed Parents) (ASSIST): Provides assistance to divorced or widowed parents with children under 16 years old.
Step 4: Check The Outcome Of Ballot And Get Your Queue Number
The outcome of your BTO balloting will be released within 2 months after the application period closes. The lower the queue number you get, the earlier you get to choose your BTO flat. Do note that HDB provides queue numbers of up to 3 times the flat supply.
For example, if there are 100 units of 4-room flats available, the queue number given could be up to 300. Unfortunately, anyone who does not get a queue number won’t be eligible to select a flat for the BTO exercise. If you get a higher queue number, your appointment to choose a flat will be later and it’s possible that all flats could have been selected by the time it’s your turn.
The HDB website explains in detail how the balloting process is carried out. This includes eligibility checks and computer shortlisting that takes into account applicants’ household status, flat type and allocation quotas under the different priority schemes.
Step 5: Shortlist Your Ideal Flat Before Your First HDB Appointment
Between the time you get your queue number and the date to head down to HDB to choose your flat is a long period of a few months.
There are a few things you can do during these few months while waiting for other couples to choose their flats.
Shortlist a few choices for your ideal flat. There are hundreds of other applicants, some of whom will be ahead of you in the queue. Many of them are naturally going to have similar preferences as you, such as choosing high floors, blocks that are unblocked, and those which are closer to the MRT station and other amenities.
You can check online to see the progress of the selection. You will be able to see which units have been taken and which units are still available for selection. A good gauge will be to start shortlisting just a few days before your HDB appointment. Unless you are one of the first to select a flat, doing the shortlisting weeks in advance may be fruitless when the unit you want gets snapped up even before it reaches your turn.
Optional Component Scheme (OCS). Another consideration is to decide if you want to opt-in for the OCS. This decision has to be made and indicated during your first HDB appointment. You can head down to the HDB Hub to take a look at the potential tiles and door type that would be used should you choose to take up the OCS.
From the August 2023 BTO launch onwards, first-timers who reject a chance to select a flat will lose their first-timer applicant priviledges for a year. Second-timers who reject a chance to select a flat will have to wait for one year before they can apply for another BTO. Such non-selection counts will be waived for applicants who have 10 or fewer BTO flats to choose from.
Step 6: Head Down To HDB For Appointment 1 To Select Your Unit
Bring along your appointment letter, IC and HDB Flat Eligibility Letter (HFE), which replaces the HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (HLE). During this appointment, you will have to sit down together with an HDB officer to select a unit based on the units that are still available. The selection strictly follows the queue number, hence you might be made to wait on the day itself if the couple who is just ahead of you have yet to select their unit in the system.
Your first appointment at the HDB is not just for you to select your unit. Besides selecting the unit of your choice.
You also have to pay an option fee which is $500 for a 2-room Flexi flat, $1,000 for a 3-room flat, and $2,000 for a 4/5 room and Executive flat.
Step 7: Head Down For Appointment 2 To Pay The Downpayment
The main purpose of your second HDB appointment is to 1) sign the agreement of lease and 2) pay the downpayment, stamp duty and legal fees.
The amount you have to pay in downpayment depends on the type of loan you are taking. As of 30 September 2022, Couples taking an HDB Housing Loan will need to pay a downpayment of 20% of the purchase price, which you can use cash or CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to pay in full.
Couples taking a bank loan will need to pay a downpayment of at least 25% of the purchase price (for new flats booked on or after 6 July), of which at least 5% needs to be paid for using cash while the remaining balance can be paid for using CPF OA or cash.
For couples with sufficient balance in your CPF OA, you might not need to fork out any cash at this stage if you are taking an HDB Housing Loan.
For couples who are still students or new to the workforce, your CPF OA balance is likely to be insufficient. In this case, you will need to pay any shortfall of the downpayment in cash. Before you head down to HDB, don’t forget to bring along your agreement for lease letter, which will indicate the amount payable during the appointment through a cashier’s order or NETS. If you qualify for any grants, this can be used to help offset the downpayment required.
During this HDB appointment, you will also have to decide on the ownership status of the HDB flat, choosing between Joint-Tenancy or Tenancy-In-Common. In Joint-Tenancy, both owners will have an equal (50-50) stake in the flat, regardless of how much each of them has contributed to the purchase of the flat. For Tenancy-In-Common, each party holds a separate share of the flat.
After this step, all you have to do is wait for your BTO to be built. Look online for Facebook Groups, there are specific Facebook Groups just for upcoming BTOs. You might even get updates on the progress of the development from your future neighbours that happen to pass by or live in the area.
Step 8: Get Your Keys
After a few years of waiting, your house is ready and you can finally collect your keys! The timing for key collection differs and some couples might get their keys before others.
Once you get your keys, the next important decision to make is your renovation.
The whole process of applying for a BTO, starting from deciding on the launch to apply for to finally collecting your keys, spans a long period of about 3 to 4 years. During these 3 to 4 years, some of the things you and your partner can be doing are to save up for your renovation as well as prepare for the next stage of your life.
This article was originally written on 21 May 2019 and has been updated to provide the latest information.
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