UPDATE: A new batch of flats is available for balloting under the open booking of flats scheme. Visit the HDB website for more details and to apply. Online applications will commence on 28 March 2023, Tuesday, 08:00pm and close on 29 March 2023, Wednesday, 07:59pm.
When we think of buying a brand new HDB flat, the quarterly HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) sales launches naturally come to mind. There are also Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises, which are held semi-annually in conjunction with the BTO launches. SBF launches give homebuyers the opportunity to apply for balance flats from earlier BTO sales launches, and they take place during the May and November BTO sales launches.
During each sales launch period, you can apply for either a BTO flat or an SBF flat (whichever is applicable), but not both. You can read more about how SBF works.
Beginning June 2019, a new option was introduced by HDB – the Open Booking of Flats. According to HDB, from its launch until February 2021, more than 1,500 flats had been sold under the open booking scheme. This comprises a range from 2-room flexi flats to 5-room/3-Generation flats.
Here’s what the Open Booking Of Flats option is about and how this can potentially allow aspiring homeowners to book a flat as early as the next working day after making an application, almost all year round.
What Is The HDB Open Booking Of Flats Option?
A quick recap, SBF and open booking of flats both make available flats that 1) were not selected during previous sales launches, or 2) whose homeowners who selected the flats have given their flats up, or 3) are flats that were repurchased from the existing owners by HDB.
With Open Booking of Flats flat buyers can apply online anytime and receive a queue number for flat booking on a first-come-first-served basis, and be able to book a unit as early as the next working day, where possible. However, due to the current high demand for flats, a fresh supply of flats would be made available for open booking twice a year. Online applications outside these periods will be suspended prior to the release of a fresh supply of flats or when all the flats are booked.
Here is a summary of how the Open Booking of Flats is similar (and different) from buying a flat under BTO or SBF:
|HDB’s Sales Modes|
|Frequency||4 times a year||Twice a year||Twice a year|
|Pool of Flats||New flats||Unselected BTO and other flats||Unselected flats from past SBF exercises|
|Allocation Quotas & Priority Schemes||Allocation quotas are applicable for BTO and SBF exercises
Priority schemes are available for eligible flat applicants for BTO and SBF exercises
|First-come-first-served based on the online applications|
|Flat Selection Appointment||From 1.5 month after application||From 2 months after application||As early as the next working day after application|
|Key Collection||About 3 to 5 years||Completed flats: Within 3 months
Flats under construction: When flats are completed
Can You Really Book A Flat Within The Next Day?
Here are the waiting times for receiving a queue number and invitation to book a flat, depending on when you submit your application:
Under Open Booking of Flats, homeowners who book a completed flat can collect their keys and move in as quickly as 3 months from the date of application.
This is theoretically possible if you have all the necessary documents to support your application, including securing financing for your home – CPF, cash, a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter, or a bank loan.
What Happens To The Existing SBF Sales Exercises?
The introduction of Open Booking of Flats does not mean the SBF exercise is going anywhere.
Those launches will continue to take place in conjunction with BTO launches, since they have the unique role of allowing ballot queue numbers to be prioritised for applicants who qualify under one of the priority schemes.
Applying For Available Units Under Open Booking Of Flats
Having additional options for Singaporeans to purchase a new HDB flat all year-round is definitely a welcome development.
This infographic from HDB outlines the steps involved in applying for a flat under the Open Booking of Flats option:
Choose wisely and all the best!
The article was first published on 21 October 2021 and has been updated with the latest information.
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