How to Improve Your BTO Ballot Chances

by Laura
How to Improve Your BTO Ballot Chances

First time BTO applicant? Heard about all the overwhelming subscription rates for recent BTO exercises and looking for some tips and hacks to help improve your BTO ballot chances?

Well, congratulations you are in the right place!

In this article, we will address 6 simple things you can follow to help you tangibly improve your BTO ballot chances. Follow these tips closely if you do not want to leave it all up to lady luck.

Here is a quick overview of the 6 simple ways to improve your BTO ballot chances. Skip on ahead for those that are relevant for you!


  1. Choose a less popular estate
  2. Apply with a first-timer
  3. Stay near or apply with your parents
  4. Have a child or have a 3rd child
  5. Special assistance for second timers (divorced or widowed)
  6. Upgrade from renting
  • Choose a Less Popular Development

This is a no-brainer. If you take a look at recent BTO launches, you will realize that some estates are significantly oversubscribed compared to others – yes I am talking about the insane 21.5 X oversubscription for Ang Mo Kio’s Kebun Baru Edge project. That is 3,006 applicants applying for 140 flats. You do not need to be fantastic at math to know what your chances are.

Yes, the proximity to the new MRT line is super tempting, and the fact that living in a mature estate has tons of already established facilities is great – but that is what everyone else thinks too. Want to improve your chances? Don’t compete with the masses.

And to clarify, picking a less popular development does not necessarily mean a non-mature estate over a mature one. In August 2020’s BTO sales launch where all flat types were oversubscribed [link to article], we saw no significant difference in terms of application rates between the mature and non-mature estates. Just look at the numbers below.

Non-Mature Estate Versus Mature Estates (3 Room & Bigger Flats)

Project No. of Units Number of Applicants Application Rate
Non-Mature Town/ Estates 2142 13347 6.2
Mature Town/ Estates 3781 23091 6.1

The truth is, with an ever-expanding public transport network and the reality of remote working (as we’ve experienced first hand over the circuit breaker period), the location of a home is becoming less of a consideration.

If you are willing to take a gamble on the less popular developments, your chances can significantly improve. For example, if you had applied for a 4 room flat in Choa Chu Kang’s (Keat Hong Verge), you would be amongst 683 applicants competing for 290 units (2.4 X subscription). Compared to the 21X odds in Ang Mo Kio, it’s definitely better to take your chances with less competition, don’t you agree?

  • Apply with A First-Timer

Believe it or not, there are privileges that come with being a first-time applicant. Finally, something good comes out from being a complete newbie! Not to worry if you are not. As long as you are a second timer, you can still apply with someone else (i.e. your partner) who is a first-timer and you will enjoy the same privileges too!

Because HDB views first-timers as having more pressing housing needs, usually couples, they are accorded the following privileges:

Type of Housing Privileges
HDB First-timers are accorded a huge privilege by having more flats are set aside for their category of applicants. Additionally, they get two ballot chances. That’s twice the chance of second-timer applicants. If you are not as lucky on your first two tries (touch wood!), you will get 1 additional chance to up your chances in non-mature estates!
DBSS Did you know that a whopping 95% of flat supply is set aside for first-timer families during the 1st month of launch? If that is not privilege, we do not know what is.
EC Similarly, 70% of flat supply is set aside for first-timer families.

With such overwhelming odds in your favour, the chances of getting a chance to book a flat would be pretty high. Well, that is if you do not apply for the insanely popular developments. If you need a reminder, scroll quickly back to tip number 1!

However, do note that even if you are successful in the ballot, there is no priority for first-timers when it comes to queuing to book the flat.

For more details on the Priority Schemes for First-Timers, we’ve linked the HDB site for your reference.

  • Stay near or apply with your parents

This is the Singaporean government’s (very useful) way of encouraging young adults to live with or near their family.

There are two schemes that filial young adults can tap on to help improve your BTO ballot chances:

Multi-Generational Priority Scheme (MGPS) Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
This special arrangement aims to help BOTH married children and their parents get new BTO flats in the same BTO project. Want to live super close by? This is the perfect scheme for you. Eligibility Conditions: Parents (including widowed or divorced parents) must apply together with their married childParents are limited to applications for a 2-room Flexi or 3-room flatHowever the married child’s household can apply for larger flat types (to accommodate a growing family) If your parents don’t mind downgrading to a smaller flat (since you’ll be moving out), this is a great option to improve your chances! If living in the same BTO project is not important but you still want to live close by (within 4km) or together in the same house, this is the scheme for you. Eligibility Conditions (near parents): At least 1 of the applicants is a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent ResidentThe project you are applying for must be within 4 km from an HDB flat or a private residential property that your parents/ married child resides in Eligibility Conditions (with parents): At least 1 of the applicants is a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent ResidentYour parents/ married child must be included as a occupier in your new flat (yay to living together with the family!)

Point to note: To prevent people from gaming the system, these conditions MUST remain fulfilled throughout the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

  • Have a child or have a 3rd child

As young adults, we are more than familiar with the Singapore government efforts to encourage young Singaporeans to have more children. For that extra motivation, young married couples are rewarded with better chances at getting their own crib if they have children or have more than 2 children.

Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)
If you are a first-timer married couple with children, this is the scheme for you! To help ease the housing needs for new and growing families, this scheme gives priority to families who fulfil these conditions. Eligibility Conditions: A first-timer applying as a married couple. Be expecting when you apply ORHave at least 1 child (younger than 18 years old) For larger households (more than 2 children), this additional scheme can up your chances. Yes, it is clear the government is trying to encourage couples to have more children. Eligibility Conditions: At least 1 of the applicants is a Singapore Citizen Your family must have 3 or more children Third child must be a Singapore Citizen born on or after 1 January 1987Other children must be either Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent ResidentsCannot have bought a flat under this scheme before  
  • Special assistance for second timers (divorced or widowed)

In the unfortunate circumstances of a divorce or death of your spouse, you can tap on this special assistance scheme.

In a special effort to support divorced or widowed Singaporeans, HDB came up with this assistance scheme to help them provide a home for their children. As such, there is special allocation for this scheme even if you are a second-timer applicant.

To qualify, you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • You must have at least 1 child (18 years old or younger)
  • You must not have acquired any other property (except for your matrimonial flat/ property) after the date of divorce/ separation or demise of your spouse.
  • Upgrade from renting

To help every Singaporean have a chance at owning their own home, HDB created this special scheme – Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS). This gives priority to Singaporean who have been living in a HDB public rental flat for a period of more than 2 years.

May the Odds Always Be In Your Favor

We hope that following these tips and schemes can work in your favour and improve your odds at the ballot!

All the best with the following November 2020 (Bishan, Tampines, Sembawang, Tengah and Toa Payoh) and February 2021 (Bukit Batok, Tengah, Kallang Whampoa and Toa Payoh ) launch exercises!

Here at BTOHQ, the online community for BTO homeowners, we help you – the homeowner – consolidate all the useful resources in one place! Bookmark our site for more useful information!

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