A First Timer’s Guide to Buying Your First HDB BTO Flat in Singapore
Buying your first Housing Development Board Build-To-Order flat or BTO flat is one of the biggest milestones of your life. This flat is completely brand new and comes with a 99-year lease.
BTO flats in Singapore are launched before their construction, and eligible buyers book a flat and wait around 2.5 to 3 years for it to be built.
Last 27 May, over 4,583 BTO flats across five estates were launched, including two projects under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model in Queenstown and Bukit Merah. The new PLH model was introduced in 2021 to ensure that HDB flats, including the ones in central locations, remain accessible and affordable to buyers. The first projects launched in November 2021 under this model are located in the Rochor Area.
According to the HDB, the units in Bukit Merah Ridge will have a whopping 1,669 units of three and four-room flats. Bounded by Henderson Road, Lower Delta Road, Tiong Bahru Road, and Bukit Merah View, the development encompasses 5 blocks, with buildings between 29 to 48 storeys.
The other projects are located in Yishun, Toa Payoh, and Jurong West.
Are you ready to buy your own BTO flat? Keep on reading to find out what to expect when making this major purchase.
Here at OMY, you will discover the following:
- What Are Build-to-Order Flats?
- Types of BTO Flats You Can Apply For
- Step by Step Guide to Buying Your First HDB BTO Flat
What Are HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) Flats in Singapore?
The HDB offers two sales modes for people who want to purchase their first home. One of the most popular choices is the Build-To-Order flats, also called BTO flats.
This refers to different flat types that are launched at various times of the year. It is an incredible option for home seekers that have specific needs and budgets. These projects are announced 3 months before their launch to help future homeowners plan accordingly.
Types of BTO Flats You Can Apply For
Not all BTO units are made the same. Whether you want to live alone, have a partner, or you’re part of a huge family, you need to know which BTO flat type can fit your needs best. Currently, BTO flat offers are 2-room Flexi, 3-,4-,5-room, and 3-Gen units.
- Mature estate price range: S$137,000 to S$277,000
- Non-mature estate price range: S$90,000 to S$162,000
If your goal is to have a cosy home, the 2-room Flexi is worth considering. This room is designed for people who are living alone, specifically those aged 35 and above, and interested in residing in a non-mature estate.
There are two types of 2-room Flexi units available – Type I and Type II, but they both offer similar room layouts which include a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and storage area which can also double as a household shelter.
The difference between the two units is the floor area. Type I units fall between 35 to 38 square metres, while Type II units are larger at 45 to 47 square metres.
Aside from the Type I and II units, there are also flats that cater exclusively to residents above 65 years old. These units are called Community Care Apartments.
3-room BTO flats
- Mature estate price range: S$205,000 to S$421,000
- Non-mature estate price range: S$164,000 to S$248,000
This is a larger unit compared to the 2-room Flexi units. Its floor size usually ranges between 60 to 68 square metres, which makes it worth considering for young couples who want to settle down in a space good for two.
Despite the cosy size of this unit, it is packed with inclusions such as two bedrooms, a storeroom or household shelter, a living area, and a kitchen. The internal layout varies depending on the development it belongs to and whether or not the unit is in an apartment block.
4-room BTO flats
- Mature estate price range: S$311,000 to S$617,000
- Non-mature estate price range: starts at S$253,000 to S$381,000
This is considered one of the most popular BTO units, especially with young families who want to have kids. At 85 to 95 square metres, these homes are twice the size of the Type II 2-room Flexi unit.
However, make sure to check the floor plan of this unit before you ballot for one because there can be differences in the kitchen layouts and shelter positions that you want to consider.
5-room BTO flats
- Mature estate price range: starts from S$423,000
- Non-mature estate price range: starts from S$405,000
If you’re looking for a bigger unit, you can opt for a 5-room BTO flat. Although it roughly has the same features as the 4-room BTO flats when it comes to the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, these units have a larger space at 107 to 113 square metres.
Therefore, you can add a study or work area for you, or a play area for your kids.
3-Gen BTO flats
- Mature estate price range: n/a
- Non-mature estate price range: starts at S$355,000 (Feb 2020 price)
This type of unit usually measures 115 to 118 square metres. It is meant for homeowners with multiple generations who live under one roof.
This home is very spacious. It includes four bedrooms with two en suites, a living and dining area, a common bathroom, and a storage area or household shelter.
Step by Step Guide in Buying Your First HDB BTO Flat in Singapore
Ready to buy your first HDB BTO flat? Here are the steps you should follow.
1. Wait for a sales launch
In a year, there are four BTO launches. One in February, May, August, and November.
Considering this, your journey to becoming a homeowner begins even before you apply for an HDB BTO flat.
To be updated, you can follow HDB Facebook for more details. For every sales launch, there are several projects involved and applicants are given one week to submit their application for the unit they want.
2. Check your eligibility
While you’ve got your sights set on a sales launch, you must also check if you’re eligible to apply for one.
To buy a flat, you must be a Singapore citizen. Whether you are applying with your family or partner, one has to be a Singapore citizen. The others can either be Singapore Permanent residents or Singaporeans.
First-time homeowners that consist of 1 Singaporean and 1 or more PR are expected to pay S$10,000 to purchase a flat. The citizen top-up grant will provide the same amount to you once your child or spouse becomes a Singapore citizen.
Applicants applying for a BTO flat should be at least 21 years old. Those under 21 years old will be listed as an “essential occupier.” This means that this person needs written consent from their parent or guardian during the flat selection appointment.
HDBs cater to various income ceilings, which refers to the maximum combined online income you and your application can have. Depending on the project you want, the general rule is S$7,000 or S$14,000 if you want to purchase a 3-room flat. Meanwhile, the income of applicants for 4-room and bigger flats must be between S$14,000 to S$21,000.
To qualify for a flat, you need to check the following:
- You should not have any property, and you should not have sold any property within the last 30 months
- You must have never bought more than 1 Executive condominium, design build and sell scheme flat, or HDB flat.
- You should not have received more than 1 CPF Housing Grant
Who can you apply with?
One of the misconceptions of first-time BTO flat buyers is that these units are only meant to be homes to newlyweds and young couples.
However, you can share your flat with different people, including your friends. Here’s a guide that will let you in on who you can buy your unit with.
1. Fiancé/fiancée scheme (for couples)
Those who are engaged and want to get married can apply for a BTO before their marriage. However, these people must be married by the time they get the keys to their flat.
For people who want to apply using this scheme, submit a photocopy of your marriage certificate to the sales office within 3 months of your key collection.
Some cases also allow couples to get their keys in advance if they have proof of their upcoming wedding. This can be booking invoices for the ceremony.
2. Public schemes (parents, spouse, children)
Those who want to upgrade their home to better neighbourhoods can take advantage of this scheme. For public schemes, you can apply for a unit with your other half, kids, parents, or siblings.
3. Orphans scheme (siblings)
If your parents have passed away, you and your brother or sister can apply for a unit together. However, one parent has to be a Singapore Permanent Resident or Singaporean.
Applicants must be unmarried, widowed, or divorced to qualify for the Orphans scheme.
4. Singapore Citizen scheme (by yourself)
If you’re Single and above 35 years old, you can apply for a unit so you can have a place to call your own. This should be your first BTO application.
5. Non-Citizen spouse scheme (foreign husband or wife)
This scheme is for first-time applicants with a spouse that is not a permanent resident or Singaporean. They can apply for a 2-room BTO located in non-mature estates. The foreign spouse must have a Work Pass or Visit Pass to qualify.
6. Joint singles scheme (friends)
For this scheme, you and your friends (maximum of 3) can apply for a 2-room flat located in a non-mature estate. Applicants must be Singapore citizens and over 35 years old.
3. Ballot for a queue number
The HDB always announces upcoming projects months before their launch. As such, make sure you are ready to apply for them. When you find a project you are interested in, pay S$10 for a ballot during the application window.
Now comes the important questions first-timers usually ask: how many tries will it take you to get a flat?
The answer depends on your luck. Some get it on their first try, while others have to try a couple of times.
Wait around 3 weeks to know whether or not your application is successful. You will be notified via email or SMS, or you can check your application status by visiting the HDB InfoWEB or logging in to your My HDBPage.
Get an HBD loan / think about how you want to finance your mortgage
If your application was approved, the next thing you must figure out is how to pay for your home.
You can take out an HDB loan or a bank loan. Most first-timers prefer an HDB loan because it doesn’t require any cash down payment. However, those who have enough savings can apply for a bank loan so they can enjoy lower interest rates.
Read: Singapore Savings Bonds: Complete Guide to Buying SSB (2022)
Examine this table to see which option is best for you.
|HDB Loan||Bank loan|
|Interest rate||2.6% per annum||Roughly 1.2% to 2.2% per annum
(Depends on your bank of choice)
|Maximum loan amount||85% of your flat’s price||75% of your flat’s price|
|Down payment||15% of purchase price, which is payable using CPF OA||20% of your purchase price|
|Why consider it||This loan offers a more stable interest rate. There is also no need for cash down payment||This is a more affordable option. However, the rates may increase above 2.6%. There is also a need for cash down payment|
Sources: HDB interest rate, HDB maximum loan amount
Whatever type of loan you choose, you need to get approved before you can sign the lease agreement for your BTO flat.
4. Book your flat and pay the option fee
The queue number you got will determine your priority in choosing a unit. Keep in mind that the number of people with queue numbers exceeds the number of units so there’s a chance that you won’t be able to pick a unit and you need to try again.
When you’re ready to book your flat at the HDB Hub, make sure you bring along important documents such as your ID, HLE if you’re taking a housing loan, and income documents.
During this time, you can also opt for Optional Components Scheme or OCS where you can add extra fittings to your homes, such as doors, shower fixtures, floor tiles, and many more. This way, you can move in immediately after construction with little to no renovation required.
After this procedure, you can pay the option fee. These are:
- S$500 for a 2-room Flexi
- S$1,000 for 3-room flats
- S$2,000 for 4-room or larger flats
Those taking a loan will be reimbursed in cash if they have enough CPF savings to cover the down payment. But for those taking a bank loan, the option fee will count towards the down payment for the flat.
5. Sign the agreement and pay the down payment
Now comes the second HDB appointment when you will finally sign your lease of agreement. This step solidifies your status as a future homeowner. Congratulations!
This is also the final step before you will get the keys to your flat. During this stage, you must produce your HLE if you are taking out an HDB loan. If you are taking out a bank loan, bring your Letter of Offer.
You will also be required to make payments during this appointment to cover legal fees, stamp duty, and the down payment for your flat.
6. Collect your keys
When your flat is finally ready (this usually takes 3 years), you will be notified by the HDB that your keys are ready for collection.
During this appointment, prepare to pay for stamp duty, and legal fees, sign up for mandatory fire insurance, and set up a utility account.
Once done, you can finally head over to your first ever BTO flat and make it your dream home.
A Word From OMY
Buying your first HDB BTO flat marks the start of your adulthood. While the process can be extremely daunting for first timers, the key is to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Now that you know how to apply for your first HDB BTO flats, as well as some tips to consider, you can finally purchase your dream house.