How to Buy A HDB BTO Flat In Singapore.

How to Buy A HDB BTO Flat In Singapore [Guide]

This article will offer a step-by-step guide on how to buy an HDB BTO flat (also known as a Built-To-Order flat). But firstly, you may wish to understand Singapore's property market.

Do note the process of buying an HDB BTO flat is very different from that of an HDB resale flat. If you wish to purchase an HDB resale flat, please refer to the article “How to Buy A HDB Resale Flat – A Complete Guide”. In May 2024, the HDB also introduced a new Resale Flat Listing (RFL) platform to streamline the buying/selling of HDB resale flats.

To apply or buy an HDB BTO flat, below is an infographic of the process:

The process on how to buy an HDB BTO Flat

HDB BTO Flat Buying Process

Factors to Consider When Choosing a HDB BTO Flat

Before we delve into the process of applying for an HDB BTO flat, it is important to consider the following factors:

Type of BTO flat to apply for: With the new HDB BTO flat classifications, comprising of Prime, Plus, and Standard flats that will be implemented from the October 2024 BTO flat launches, it is important to decide which type will suit your needs and investment criteria.

Consider the price of BTO flats: Prime and Plus flats will cost more than Standard BTO flats as they are closer to the city or near amenities such as shopping malls and transport nodes, such as an MRT station or bus interchange. You will need to weigh between convenience and cost.

Balloting of BTO flats: Applying for a BTO flat close to the city (Prime Location Flat) will not only cost more, but the chances of getting one are slimmer due to their high demand. Evaluate how urgent your family need a place to stay.

Apply under applicable HDB priority schemes: Check out the various HDB priority schemes to increase your chances of getting your BTO flat faster. Some of these priority schemes include Family and Parenthood Priority Scheme (FPPS), Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), and Multi-Generational Priority Scheme (MGPS).

Consider proximity to your workplace and family support: This will reduce commute time and cost while providing a better work-life balance. Also, living close to family allows for easier access to childcare and eldercare. Family can be readily available to help with emergencies, errands, or simply spending quality time together.

Long-term investment value: Flats located in convenient locations with good access to amenities tend to hold their value better or even appreciate over time. However, with the new BTO flat classifications being introduced where Prime and Plus flats come with a 10-year MOP (minimum occupation period) and profits crawl back, applicants must carefully weigh their housing and investment needs.


Type of BTO Flats Available

In Singapore, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) offers different types of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats to cater to different household sizes and needs. The type of HDB BTO flats available for purchase include the following:

  • 2-room Flexi Flats: Designed primarily for singles and elderly citizens. Buyers can choose a short lease between 15 to 45 years in 5-year increments,  or a standard 99-year lease, subject to eligibility conditions.
  • 3-room Flats: Suitable for smaller families or couples with compact and efficient living space with two bedrooms.
  • 4-room Flats: A popular choice for many families. With three bedrooms, they are ideal for those looking for a balance between space and affordability.
  • 5-room Flats: Offers more spacious living with three bedrooms and a larger living/dining area, catering to larger families.
  • 3Gen Flats: Designed to accommodate multi-generational families, these flats have four bedrooms, of which two have attached bathrooms. This allows extended families to live together while providing more privacy.
  • Community Care Apartments: Tailored for seniors age 65 and above, combining housing with care services. These units come with a service package that supports seniors to live independently.

The different type of flats is designed to meet the specific needs of Singaporeans, from singles and elderly residents to large families.


Eligibility to Buy An HDB BTO Flat

Firstly, you must meet the eligibility conditions for buying an HDB BTO flat. Among them, you have to be a Singapore citizen applying with another Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident, age 21 or older. Your household income cannot exceed $14,00 a month, or $21,000 for extended families. You must also not bought a new HDB/ DBSS flat or executive condominium (EC) before.

Singapore permanent residents are not allowed to buy HDB BTO flats. They can only buy HDB resale flats after gaining their permanent residency for 3 years. Foreigners are also not allowed to own public housing, whether BTO or resale HDB flats.


HDB BTO Flat Sale Launches

Look out for the HDB BTO flat sale launches. There are four each year - February, May, August and November. To allow people to plan for their purchase, HDB will release the launch details 6 months in advance. These include the location, map, types of flats offered and the estimated number of units available. Alternatively, you can sign up for the HDB sales alert. The new HDB BTO sales launches are usually spread across several estates across the island.


HDB BTO Flat Application

For your HDB BTO flat application, you can only apply for one flat type at one location. Upon the official sale launch of the flats, you will have 7 days to submit your application.

If you have done your homework, you should have already decided after discussing which BTO flat to apply for with your family. You must bear in mind that BTO flats in prime locations, such as those near the city, will see higher demand despite being more expensive. To increase your chances of selecting a good unit, you may want to consider a flat in a less popular estate.

As part of your decision-making, you may also want to consider applicable HDB priority schemes such as the Parenthood Priority Scheme and Multi-Generation Priority Scheme when buying your HDB BTO flat. This will help to increase the chances of getting a flat of your choice. You can find out the various priority schemes here.


Application for an HFE Letter

With effects from 9 May 2023, the HDB has introduced a more streamlined HDB flat application process. This process involves the issuance of a new document called the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.

The HFE letter will replace the current HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. The document will inform prospective buyers about their eligibility for purchasing either a BTO or resale HDB flat, as well as their eligibility for CPF housing grants and a HDB housing loan.

The HFE will also indicate the amounts of any grants or loans that they may be eligible for. This will help flat buyers clearly understand their options to enable them to make informed decisions about their home purchases.


HDB BTO Flat Ballot Result

After 1.25 months after the HDB BTO flat application closes, you will be informed of your ballot result through one of the following channels - SMS, emails or hardcopy letters - when ready.

Applicants will be invited to select their flat according to their queue number. The lower your queue number, the more flats you can choose from. You will also have the opportunity to select a unit with good facing, high floor, near amenities (e.g. bust-stop, MRT station, schools, market), etc. However, do note that whether you have the chance to select a flat will depend on the number of flats available when it reaches your queue number. It is also important to note that there are consequences if you reject your BTO application.

For first-timers, rejecting 2 chances to book a BTO flat means your first-timer priority will be suspended for 1 year. However, that does not mean you cannot apply for a BTO flat during that 1 year. It is just that your first-timer priority will be stripped.

But if you reject another 2 more chances to select a new flat within that year, your first-time status will be extended for another year. (Please take note of new rules taking effect from the August 2023 BTO exercise below).


Change In First-Timer And Second-Timer Privileges

From August 2023, First-Timers (Parents & Married Couples) will receive an additional ballot chance for their BTO/ SBF flat applications, bringing their total ballot chances to three. This will be one more than other first-timer applicants and two more than non-first-timer applicants.

They will also continue to receive an additional ballot chance in subsequent applications for a BTO flat in non-mature estates if they are unsuccessful in two or more attempts for a non-mature estate BTO flat.

However, to discourage non-selection of BTO flats, First-Timers, including FT(PMC), will lose their first-timer privileges and be deemed as second-timers for a year in the BTO ballot if they do not book a flat when invited to do so.

Currently, First-Timers will be moved to the second-timer category for a year when balloting for flats only if they do not book a BTO flat twice.

Second-Timers who do not pick a BTO flat when invited to do so will have to wait one year before they can apply for a flat again. Currently, this kicks in only after they fail to book a flat twice


Before Your First HDB Appointment

You will be invited by HDB to book your BTO flat after 1-2 weeks, depending on your queue number. Meanwhile, before your first HDB appointment, it will be prudent to shortlist a few choice units a few days before your selection. There is no point in shortlisting too early as your choices may have already been snapped up by the time it reaches your queue number.


Your First HDB Appointment

On your first HDB appointment, bring along your appointment letter and NRIC. The flat selection is based strictly on your queue number and an HDB officer will assist you in selecting your flat based on the available units.

If you are successful in booking a unit and decide to take up an HDB concessionary loan, you will need to apply for the HDB Eligibility Letter (HLE). If you are taking a bank loan, you will need to produce a Letter of Offer (LO). You also need to pay an option-to-purchase fee - $500 for a 2-room flexi flat, $1,000 for a 3-room flat and $2,000 for 4 room and bigger flat, including an executive flat.


Optional Component Scheme (OCS)

Also during your first HDB appointment, you may decide whether to opt for the OCS. The scheme offers flat buyers the option of fitting their units with floor tiles, doors, sanitary fittings, etc. When a flat buyer opts in for OCS, the cost of the optional components will be added to the flat price.

But do note that projects built using the Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) method will come with full floor finishes, internal doors, and sanitary fittings. Hence, the OCS does not apply to these projects.

You can choose to have the following items installed in the flat you have selected:

Optional Component Scheme (OCS)

Optional Component Scheme (OCS)


Your Second HDB Appointment

In about 4 months, you will be informed of your second HDB appointment where you need to go down to sign your Agreement for Lease. At the same time, you will be required to pay the downpayment, stamp duty and legal fees. You are also required to submit your HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (HLE) or Letter of Offer (LO) depending on whether you are taking an HDB concessionary loan or bank loan.

For more information governing housing loans and CPF usage, please refer to Change in CPF Usage and Housing Loan Rules. In addition, you need to decide on the ownership status – Joint Tenancy or Tenancy-In-Common. In Joint Tenancy, you hold an equal share in the flat while in Tenancy-In-Common, you can hold an unequal share.


Key Collection for Your HDB BTO Flat

It takes about 3 years to complete the construction of your new flat. Once completed, you will be notified of your key collection. All in all, buying an HDB BTO flat will take about 4 years.

Before your key collection, you should have decided on your renovation and how much to spend. You can find a list of approved HDB contractors in the Directory of Renovation Contractors.

We hope you have found this guide on how to buy an HDB BTO flat useful.

Should you have any further queries or if you require any assistance, please feel free to WhatsApp or Email me.


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Posted in HDB Guides, Property Resources.

Hi, I'm Lance Kuan, an Associate Marketing Manager at Huttons Asia Pte Ltd, one of the largest property agencies in Singapore (Registration No. R062704Z).

With almost 30 years of experience in banking, investment and market analysis, I now find immense pleasure in helping others in property investment and asset progression.

My blog - Sg Home Investment - offers essential property reviews, research and guides to help buyers make an informed investment decision. Please feel free to WhatsApp Me if you have any queries about the real estate market in Singapore.