The Ultimate Guide to buying your first BTO flat

by Zerlina Zhuang

Buying a BTO flat in Singapore is a hair-rising experience in which you will feel joy, anger and disappointment in one stage or another. Oftentimes, disappointment tends to be the predominant feeling that that couples experience in their journey to buying their first BTO flat.

Let us help you ease the pain a little with our step by step guide to buying your first BTO flat. Our guide is completed using information from the HDB website, so do make sure to visit HDB site for any clarification if needed.

Step 1

Eligibility to buy a BTO (Build to Order)

Before you decide to purchase a BTO flat from the government, you need to check if you are eligible to buy one. A quick overview of the eligibility is listed below:

Eligible Applicant/ Family Nucleus
  • You have to purchase for a new flat under one of these eligibility schemes:
    • Public Scheme (Married couple/Family)
    • Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme (Must be married 6 months after key collection of the flat)
    • Orphans Scheme (Siblings without parents)
  • 1 Singapore Citizen main applicant
  • 1 other Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident#
  • 21 years old and above
Income Ceiling
  • The income ceiling is $12,000 combined income
Property Ownership
  • Either of you do not own private property overseas or locally, and have not disposed of any within the last 30 months
  • Both of you have not bought a new HDB/ DBSS flat or EC, or received a CPF Housing Grant before; or, have only bought 1 of those properties/ received 1 CPF Housing Grant thus far

# First-timer households comprising of only 1 Singapore Citizen and 1 or more Singapore Permanent Resident family members will have to pay $10,000 premium at the point of flat purchase. You may apply for the additional $10,000 Citizen Top-Up Grant when your spouse gets Singapore Citizenship or when you have a Singapore Citizen child.
(Table extracted from source: Housing Development Board)

Step 2

Checking your loan eligibility

After you have satisfied the condition of your eligibility to purchase a BTO, the next step is to make sure that you are able to take either a HDB loan or a bank loan. Typically, a HDB loan is a more secure loan in which the interest rate is fixed at 2.6% while a bank loan is usually offered based on a floating rate. Nonetheless, you should make some enquiries at the different banks to see if you can leverage on their lower rates to save on interest. This step is very important as it determines your loan eligibility or in other words, your ability to afford the BTO flat. You can find out more about the HDB loan application here.

Step 3

Checking your bank and CPF accounts

Next, you have to check your bank and CPF accounts to ensure that you are able to pay for the option fee (ranging from $500 to $2000) and downpayment, which is either 5% or 10% depending on the younger age of the couple when you first apply for the BTO flat. A couple who has one of them below the age of 29, the downpayment is 5% of the total purchase price, but the downpayment will be 10% of the total purchase price is the couple is both above 29. Do take note that the downpayment will be 20% of the total purchase price if you are taking a bank loan. There are also other fees such as legal fees and home protection insurance which you will have to pay for.

Step 4

Look out for BTO (Build to Order) or SBF (Sales of Balance Flats) Launch

Normally the sales launches for BTO and SBF will be announced in both newspapers and HDB website before the official launch for applications. You will be able to find out the location of the BTO, indicative prices, preliminary designs and the number of units offered. The date of the start of the application will also be announced. Once you have decided on a particular project, you can submit your application for a ballot number via the HDB website. When you apply for the ballot number, you will have to pay a non-refundable administrative fee of $10.

Step 5

Receive the result of your application

Once the application is closed, HDB will ballot all the applicants and informed all successful applicants of their ballot numbers in 1 – 2 months’ time. If you are not successful in getting a ballot number, HDB will also informed you. It is during this period that you are likely to feel the vast disappointment if you failed to either secure a ballot number or if you find that your ballot number is far from the total units of flats offered.  You can check the status of your application here. If you are not successful, do not be disappointed! Wait for the next round of sales and try again!

Step 6

Selecting your preferred unit

HDB will invite you to choose a unit in the development based on your ballot number. You are advised to monitor the units available for choice and to do some homework in regards to your preferred unit. On the day of your appointment with HDB, go with at least 5 available units as your preferred choice. In that way, you will not be choosing a unit randomly should your preferred unit become unavailable before your turn. You should also decide if you would want to take up HDB offer for the Optional Component Scheme, which includes floor tiles and some other works within your unit. Once you have booked your unit, you will need to pay an option fee ranging from $500 to $2000, depending on your choice of flat type. You will also need to bring these legal documents  to book a unit with HDB.

Step 7

Sign Agreement of Lease

On the same day, you will be invited to sign the agreement of lease in which you will have pay a downpayment of either 5% or 10% of the total purchase price if you are taking a loan from HDB or 20% downpayment if you are taking a loan from the bank. If you are taking a bank loan, be sure to bring your Letter of Offer from the bank to secure the unit. In addition to the downpayment, you will also need to pay for stamp duty, conveyancing fee and the caveat registration. You can find out more about the costs here.

After this step is completed, your first hurdle of your BTO purchase is over. You will need to wait for another 2-3 years for HDB to build your flat before you will be invited to collect the keys to your home!

Step 8

Collecting keys

On the day of key collections, you will need to sign the deed of assignment which sets out the terms of mortgage loan from HDB – if you are taking HDB loan. There will be a lot of documents which you have to sign before you are given your keys. The HDB officer will explain to you in details on the day of key collections. We would advise that you reach HDB 1 hour before your appointment time to purchase your home protection insurance so that you can get it out of the way before you collect your keys. In that way, you will have a shorter waiting time. At the same time, you can also open an account with Singapore Power so that they will go down to your unit to turn on water, gas and electricity when your renovation is almost done. Once all these are done, you are good to go! Take the keys and go open the doors to your NEW home!


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