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5 HDB BTO Application Tips For Young Singaporean Couples To Get Their Homes

Your BTO is meant to be a home first, and hopefully an appreciating asset as well.

BTO in Singapore

The homeownership rate in Singapore is 90% – one of the highest in the world. For many young Singaporean couples, the path to buying their first home is via an HDB BTO flat.

Many of us would know friends who have seemingly benefitted from the Singaporean “property dream”. These couples booked their HDB BTO flats while one of them was still studying in university and the other one was just an entry-level employee. Despite being destined for relatively good careers, they were able to get close to the maximum CPF Housing Grants.

Moreover, they would have booked their future homes well in advance of getting married. When they are finally married, their houses would have been newly built – so they never actually had to wait for their BTO. After living in it for five years, and climbing the career ladder they were always going to, they were able to sell their HDB flats at a much higher price and upgrade to a condo (or two!).

On the other hand, we would also know of friends who have applied for a BTO flat multiple times over many years, and have not gotten their flats yet. When they needed to move into their own homes after getting married, they were either forced into the resale market or had to make living arrangements with one set of their parents.

To avoid falling into the latter group, we look at some BTO application tips that young Singaporean couples can consider – so they have a flat when they actually need it.

Read Also: [BTO Application Edition] Step-By-Step Guide To Buying A HDB BTO Flat

#1 Choose To Apply In A Non-Mature Estate

This might be an unpopular tip. Naturally, applying for a BTO flat in a highly desirable location (i.e. mature estate) is often preferred – both from a lifestyle and a future price appreciation perspective.

However, choosing a BTO flat in a non-mature estate can give you a greater chance of success – with potentially less competition for the flats.

For example, in the February 2023 BTO launch, mature estates also had a generally higher application rate from both first-timer families and second-timer families.

Feb 2023 BTO Application rates

Source: HDB

Besides less competition for a BTO flat in non-mature estates, those who have been unsuccessful for 2 or more BTO applications in a non-mature estate will get an additional BTO ballot in each of their subsequent application. This does not apply to unsuccessful BTO applications in a mature estate.

Unsucessful BTO applicants get an additional BTO ballot chance

Source: HDB

If you keep applying for BTO flats in the most desirable location during each BTO launch, you are constantly competing with the most number of applicants for a BTO flat. With this thought process, it becomes less surprising that such couples are unable to secure a BTO flat even after trying many times.

Read Also: Non-Mature VS Mature HDB Estates: What’s Really The Difference?

#2 Opt For 3-Room BTO Flats Instead Of Larger Units

Despite many more 4-room flats being offered across projects in the February 2023 BTO launch, there was a lower application rate for a 3-room unit in the same project.

For example, the application rate for a 3-room unit in Queenstown was only 0.6, while the application rate for 4-room units in the same project was 2.3 times.

Lower application rates for 3-room BTOs compared to 4-room BTOs

The only exception was in Tengah, but we can see that it was the only project that offered a 5-room option – which was the most favoured flat type in the launch.

Besides having a lower application rate, 3-room units also cost less, and can be equally good starter homes for young Singaporean couples.

Read Also: How Much Can You Save For Your Retirement If You Opt For A 4-Room BTO Flat Instead Of A 5-Room Flat?

#3 Apply In A BTO Launch When Your Desired Location Is Not The Most Desired Location

At the February 2023 BTO launch, the application rate perhaps points to the Kallang Whampoa location being more highly desired compared to the Queenstown launch. Since the Queenstown BTO was a Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) unit, while the Kallang Whampoa location had both a PLH and non-PLH BTO, some may favour non-PLH BTOs more.

All this is not to say that Queenstown is a poor location. In fact, given that Queenstown BTO was a PLH highlights its unique desirability.

But, this may also tell us that if a highly desired location is the second most sought-after location in a given BTO launch, there may be a better chance to clinch a unit.

Read Also: How To Successfully Bid For A BTO Flat Within Three Tries

#4 Apply For Your BTO Later In The Application Period

While applying for your first home together as a couple can be an exciting step, there’s little need to apply the instant you are able to. Applying later in the application window can be more beneficial.

This is because we can see the number of applications received for each project and flat type during a launch. This can guide you in choosing a location and unit type that will give you a better chance of success.

Given the latest HDB changes to the BTO and Ballot schemes, strategically not applying when the chances of you getting a good queue number is low can help you retain your “First-Timer” status. From the August 2023 BTO launch, First-Timers who choose not to select a flat when invited to do so will be deemed as a Second-Timer (i.e. lose your First-Timer privileges) for a period of one year.

Read Also: Strategise Your BTO Application: Is It More Advantageous To Apply For Your HDB BTO Flat Later In The BTO Application Period?

#5 Understand The Priority Schemes

Finally, understanding all the priority schemes can help you boost your chances of being successful in a BTO ballot. “Young Singaporean couples” can be a catch-all term that encompasses fresh graduate couples just starting out, and can also include young couples just married and either starting a family soon or want to live with their parents – and everything else in between.

You can read our guide to the priority schemes for BTO flats for more information, but in general, they enhance your chances in the computer ballot for a BTO flat. They do not prioritise or give any privileges in securing you a smaller queue number.

You can apply for up to two priority schemes, and those who qualify for the Parenthood Priority Scheme can also apply for another priority scheme, such as the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) or Third-Child Priority Scheme (TCPS). The list of priority schemes include:

– First-Timers (FT)

– First-Timers (Parents & Married Couples) (FT(MPC))

– Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)

– Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)

– Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)

– Third-Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)

– Assistance Scheme For Second Timers (ASSIST)

– Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)

– Senior Priority Scheme (SPS)

Read Also: Complete Guide To Priority Schemes For HDB BTO Flats

Do Not Think Of Your BTO Flat As A Get-Rich Scheme

While you may know many who have benefitted from their BTOs, thinking about your HDB BTO flat as a get-rich scheme may actually hinder you from landing the home that you need. “Wasting” BTO launches or several years trying to get a highly-prized location may leave you without a home when you finally need it.

Once you secure your first home, you can perhaps have more free play with your second home. You can either buy from HDB again or choose to upgrade at an opportune time to a condominium.

Read Also: Evolution Of The BTO System: 10 Changes That Singaporeans Applying For New HDB Flats Had To Adjust To

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