This article has been updated on 11 September 2019 to reflect latest changes to HDB income ceiling eligibility.
Over 80% of Singapore’s resident population lives in an HDB flat. This is mainly because HDB flats offer the cheapest and easiest way to become a home owner in Singapore. One of the most common methods to own our first HDB flat in Singapore is through a Built-To-Order (BTO) flat.
This means we “order” a flat, and the government proceeds to “build” it over the next four to five years. Since BTO flats are regarded as subsidised public housing, and we can even receive housing grants when we apply for one, there are certain and eligibility criteria we may need to meet to be able to apply for one.
Am I Eligible To Buy A BTO Flat?
First up, there are some very straight-forward eligibility conditions we have to meet to be qualified to apply for a BTO flat.
While many people often apply for BTO flats when they decide to get married, there are a few main schemes for our applications:
- Public Scheme
Under the Public Scheme, applicants need to form a family nucleus that will live in the BTO flat. This could include any combinations such as applying with your spouse, children, parents, siblings or children under your legal custody.
- Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
Under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, we need to form a family nucleus with our spouse-to-be. While this means we do not have to be married at the point of our application, we need to submit our Marriage Certificate before taking possession of the BTO flat. In some instances, we may be able to submit it after taking possession of the flat.
- Orphans Scheme
Under the Orphans Scheme, siblings applying for a BTO flat must be both orphans and unmarried be eligible.
- Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme
Under the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme, Singapore Citizens can still apply for a 2-room BTO flat in a non-mature estate if their spouse is not a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident. However, their spouse have to be holding a valid Visit pass or Work Pass at the point of application.
- Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
Under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, applicants, who are at least 35 years-old, need to be a first-timer and single (unmarried, divorced or widowed) to be eligible for a new 2-room flat in non-mature estates.
- Joint Singles Scheme
All co-applicants (up to three) have to be first timers and single. All co-applicants must also be Singapore Citizens and at least 35 years-old.
Once we know which scheme we are applying our BTO flat under, we need to take note of some other conditions we have to fulfil to be eligible to purchase our BTO flats.
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. This is quite explicit when we are going through the above-mentioned schemes in the first place.
#2 Income Ceiling
To ensure that only those that need it the most are able to get BTO flats, there is an income ceiling for applicants. The current income ceiling for a BTO flat is $14,000.
This figure may rise up to $18,000 for the extended family/multi-generation family income ceiling, if we’re applying for a 3Gen flat. However, you need to take note of the method of calculations for this $18,000 ceiling.
It can also fall to as little as $7,000 if you’re applying for a 2-room flat under the 2-Room Flexi Scheme.
To assess your income, you will be expected to submit your payslips as well as other relevant documents when you apply for your BTO.
If your income is slightly above $14,000, you could still opt to apply for an EC (Executive Condominium). The income ceiling for such properties are $16,000.
This is quite straight-forward. We must be at least 21 years-old at the point of application.
Under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme applicants who are below 21 years-old but above 18 years-old can apply for a BTO with a written consent from the applicant’s parents or guardians.
If an applicant is under 18 years-old, a Special Marriage Licence from the Ministry of Social and Family Development must be submitted during the flat selection appointment.
#4 Property Ownership
If we currently own other residential properties, either locally or overseas, or have disposed them within the past 30 months, we will not be eligible to apply for a new BTO flat.
Applicants must also have only purchased up to one HDB, DBSS (Design, Build and Sell Scheme) or EC in the past. This is because Singapore Citizens are only eligible for two subsidised flats from the government.
We also need to note that we need to pay a resale levy, of up to $55,000, if we sell our subsidised flat and want to apply for a second subsidised flat from HDB or EC from a developer.
We are also only allowed to apply for new BTO flats if we have passed the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of our current BTO or EC. This is typically five years from the time we take possession of our flat.
You May Be Eligible For a Priority Scheme
There are several priority schemes we can consider applying under for first-timer applicants with urgent housing needs. Here are the Priority Schemes that you may be eligible to apply under:
- Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)
The Parenthood Priority Scheme helps first-timer married couples with children get homes more easily. As one of the most common priority schemes, up to 30% of BTO flats and 50% of Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) are allotted under the PPS.
In addition, applicants under the PPS can also apply for other priority schemes such as the Third Child Priority Scheme or the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme listed below.
Applicants under this scheme must be first-timers applying as a married couple. They must also be either expecting their first Singapore Citizen child or have at least one Singapore Citizen child below 16 years-old at the time of the application.
- Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
The Multi-Generation Priority Scheme helps parents and their married children get new BTO flats in the same estate.
Under the MGPS, parents and their married children must submit a joint application. In this case, parents can only apply for a 2-room Flexi or 3-room flat, while married children can apply for a 2-room Flexi or larger flat.
Selected applicants will be given three queue numbers – one for the MGPS and two for the Public Scheme. This means that applicants can either apply together (with their MGPS queue number) or separately (with their respective Public Scheme queue numbers).
- Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
The Married Children Priority Scheme helps married children live closer to their parents, either in the same flat or estate, or in a neighbouring estate. This makes it easier for married children to care for their ageing parents.
Up to 30% of BTO and SBF flats are allotted to first-timer applicants, and up to 15% of BTO flats and 3% of SBF flats are allotted to second-timer applicants.
Under the MCPS, at least one of the parents or the married child/child’s spouse has to be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident. Applicants’ parents or married children must be either living with them or staying in the same town or within two kilometres of the flat they are applying for.
You need to note that your parents must continue living in the same estate or within two kilometres of your BTO flat for the MOP (of five years) as well.
- Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)
The Third Child Priority Scheme 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.
Under the TCPS, either you or your spouse must be a Singapore Citizen, and your family must consist of at least three children (with the 3rd child born after 1 January 1987). Your other children must also be Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents. In addition, you must not have bought a flat under the TCPS before.
- Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/Widowed Parents) (ASSIST)
The Assistance Scheme for Second Timers, or ASSIST, provides assistance to divorced or widowed parents with children under 16 years-old.
- Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)
Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO and SBF flats are allotted to applicants under the Tenants’ Priority Scheme. This is to help tenants of HDB rental flats purchase their own home or those applying under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) get a flat more easily.
To qualify for this scheme, you and your family must be living in a HDB rental from for at least two years.
- Senior Priority Scheme (SPS)
The Senior Priority Scheme helps elderly residents live in a familiar environment or near their married children, in a 2-room flat. Up to 40% of 2-room Flexi flats on offer during sales launches are set aside for those applying under SPS.
Applicants need to apply for a 2-room Flexi flat in the same town or estate, or within two kilometres of the flat they current occupy. At least one of the parents must also be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Balloting and Selection Queue Numbers
Regardless of whether you apply via an eligible scheme or under a priority scheme, your queue number will not be affected as HDB states that they are randomly generated for all balloted applicants.
Applying For Your HDB BTO Flat
You need to ask yourself many tough financial questions as well as understand the many eligibility criteria you need to meet to be eligible to buy a BTO flat from the HDB. You should also be well-versed with the various priority schemes available to ensure you get your home as easily and early as possible.
When you’re ready to apply for your own home, you should head to the HDB website to look at the current batch of new BTO flats and Sales of Balance Flats on offer as well as any Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF).
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