Buying an HDB BTO flat is practically a rite of passage for Singaporeans, a sign that you’re finally ready to start adulting for real. Here’s a step-by-step guide to your very first BTO application and buying a BTO flat.
Step 1: HDB BTO eligibility check
In order to buy an HDB BTO flat, you’ve got to first be eligible. To buy a BTO flat, you must:
- Be at least one citizen, applying with at least one other citizen or PR as a family nucleus, meaning spouse and kids (if any), parents and siblings (if any), or children under your legal custody (only for widowed/divorced applicants)
- Be applying with your fiancé(e), and be prepared to register your marriage before taking possession of your flat if applying for additional or special CPF housing grants (or the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant after 11 Sep 2019) or within 3 months of taking possession of flat.
- Be a single citizen aged 35 and older (only eligible for 2-room flats in non-mature estates)
- Be a citizen with a non-citizen spouse on a visit pass or work pass (only eligible for 2-room flats in non-mature estates)
- Be a single citizen aged 35 and older applying for a flat with up to 3 single citizen co-applicants (only eligible for 2-room flat in non-mature estates)
In addition, you’ll have to ensure you’re not making too much money to qualify for the flat you’re eyeing. Here are the income ceilings for the various types of flats:
- 2-room flexi flat: $7,000, or $14,000 for short-lease flats (max 45 year lease)
- 3-room flat: $7,000 or $14,000 depending on which project you’re balloting for; check the sales launch to know the exact income ceiling.
- 4-room flat or bigger: $14,000, or $21,000 if you’re purchasing the flat as an extended or multi-generation family.
You must also not own any other property, HDB or private, locally or overseas. If you are currently a property owner, you’ll need to dispose of your ownership within 30 months of your application.
Step 2: Ballot for your HDB flat
If you thought striking Toto was hard, try balloting for an HDB flat.
First, you’ll have to check the HDB website regularly for news of upcoming sales launches. HDB announces upcoming BTO projects 6 months prior to their launch, which will give you ample time to plan for the location you want.
When you see a launch in an area that interests you, pay $10 to ballot for it during the BTO application window.
How many tries it takes you to get a flat depends on your luck. Some people get it on the first or second try, others have to try 10 times. Expect to wait 3 weeks to know if you’ve been successful or not.
See HDB’s website for more details on the HDB BTO application process.
Step 3: Obtain an HDB loan — get your HLE letter or your AIP
Finally! The heavens smile upon you and you receive a decent queue number. After buying 4D on your lucky day, what’s next?
Before you progress to the next stage and sign your life away, it’s worthwhile to plan your finances using this helpful HDB tool.
A crucial part of the financing process is to decide on who to get your home loan from. You have a choice between taking out an HDB loan and a bank loan.
First-timers typically go for an HDB loan since they require no cash downpayment (see below), but if you’re savvy and have enough savings, you can opt for a bank loan to get lower interest rates.
Either way, you’ll need to get some kind of loan approval in principal BEFORE you chope the flat. You’ll need to have all your loan documents in order to sign the lease agreement.
- HDB loan: Apply for a HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. This letter declares how much HDB is willing to loan you.
- Bank loan: Obtain approval in principle (AIP) from the bank, which is the equivalent of HLE.
Here are some examples of bank loans for BTO flats.
Don’t just sign up for your default bank’s loan; compare using MoneySmart’s home loan wizard first to find the best loan for your BTO.
Step 4: Select your BTO flat and pay the option fee
Your queue number will determine your priority in choosing a unit. The number of people allotted queue numbers will exceed the number of units, so if your queue number is way out there, chances are you won’t be able to get your hands on a unit and will have to ballot again.
When it comes time to show up at HDB Hub to book your flat, don’t forget to bring along your IC, income documents, as well as your HLE if you are taking a housing loan from the HDB.
Once you’ve selected your unit, start the purchase process by paying the option fee on the spot:
- $500 for 2-room flexi flats
- $1,000 for 3-room flats
- $2,000 for 4 room or larger flats
You will also apply for your CPF housing grants at this point. Make sure you download the application forms for Enhanced CPF Housing Grant and bring them along to your flat booking appointment.
Step 5: Sign the lease agreement and pay the downpayment
You’ll have to sign the lease agreement within 4 months of booking a flat. Make sure you’ve gotten your loan arrangements in order by that time.
On the day you sign the lease agreement, you’ll have to fork out the downpayment, as well as stamp duties and legal fees.
How much your downpayment is depends on whether you’re taking out an HDB or a bank loan.
- HDB loan folks will have to pay 10% of the purchase price using cash and/or CPF.
- Those taking out bank loans will have to pay a 25% downpayment, of which at least 5% must be in cash and the rest can be paid using CPF. Note that those taking bank loans can only use CPF savings within certain limits.
Legal fees and stamp duties
Your legal fees and stamp duty can be paid using a mixture of cash and CPF. The stamp duty rates are as follows:
Staggered Downpayment Scheme
If you’re a couple in your 20s, applying for a BTO for the first time, you can apply for Staggered Downpayment Scheme.
As the name implies, this allows you to split the downpayment into 2:
- 1st payment when signing the lease agreement
- 2nd payment when you sign the Terms of Agreement and collect your keys
Here’s what it looks like if you’re taking a bank loan with a loan ceiling of 75%:
Downpayment at signing of agreement for lease: 5% in cash + 5% using CPF OA savings or cash
Payment during collection of keys: 15% using CPF OA savings of cash
Now, all you can do is wait as construction workers labouring under the hot sun scramble to build your flat. This stage typically takes a few years.
Step 6: Collect your keys
At some point, HDB will notify you to say that you can pick up the keys to your unit. Hooray!
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