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A guide to the HDB BTO application process (2023)

A guide to the HDB BTO application process (2023)
PHOTO: 99.co

Buying a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat is one of the biggest steps young Singaporeans take in their journey to adulthood. To smoothen your way forward, we've compiled a comprehensive guide to buying your BTO.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

You need to meet the following criteria to buy a BTO flat:

  • At least one of the applicants is a Singaporean Citizen
  • At least one other applicant is either a Singapore Citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident.
  • Be at least 21 years or older
  • You do not own any private residential property, be it overseas or locally, and you have not sold any private residential property within the last 30 months
  • You have not enjoyed more than one housing subsidy, such as any of the following
    • Bought a flat from HDB
    • Bought a resale flat with CPF housing grant
    • Bought a DBSS flat from a developer
    • Bought an Executive Condo (EC) from a developer
    • Received other forms of housing subsidy eg. SERS
  • Depending on the flat type, your monthly household income must not exceed a certain amount:
Flat type Income ceiling 
2-room Flexi (99-year lease) $7,000
2-room Flexi (short lease) and Community Care Apartment  $14,000
3-room  $7,000 or $14,000, depending on the project. 

Each project will usually specify the income ceiling during the sales launch.

4-room and 5-room $14,000 

$21,000 for extended or multi-generation families 

Couples and families

You must meet these application requirements for BTO flats:

  • You are applying with your spouse (and children, if any)
  • You are applying with your parents and siblings
  • You are applying solely with your children (if you're divorced or widowed)
  • You are applying with a fiance/fiancee
  • You are an orphan, and you are applying with a sibling

Singles

Meanwhile, singles can either apply on their own or with up to three other singles.

But you'll have to be at least 35 years old, and can only apply for a 2-room Flexi flat in a non-mature estate.

Seniors

There are two flat options for seniors sold via the BTO route. These are:

  • 2-room Flexi flat (short lease)
  • Community Care Apartment

Here are the main criteria for the respective flat types:

Flat type Short lease 2-room Flexi flat Community Care Apartment 
Lease duration 15 to 45, in 5-year increments 15 to 35, in 5-year increments
Age At least 55 years old At least 65 years old
Monthly income $14,000
Remaining lease  The lease should cover all applicants and essential occupiers up to age 95
Property ownership If you have any local or overseas private residential property, you need to sell it within six months of getting the keys to the flat

Head over to HDB’s website for more info on this.

Be sure to apply for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter before the BTO sales launch. It will inform you on your eligibility on the following:

  • Buy a new (BTO, SBF or open booking) and/or resale flat
  • Receive CPF grants, including the amount
  • Get HDB housing loan, including the amount

Note that for this May 2023 HDB BTO, you'll need to do the following:
1. Preliminary HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) check before you submit your BTO application
2. Apply for the HFE letter within 30 days of doing this preliminary check. You'll need the HFE letter when you go for the flat booking appointment.

Step 2A: Get an HDB housing loan

You must meet the following criteria to be eligible for an HDB housing loan.

  • At least one applicant is a Singapore Citizen
  • Your gross monthly household income does not exceed $14,000 ($21,000 for extended families and $7,000 for singles buying a 2-room Flexi flat in a non-mature estate)
  • You do not own, or have not owned any private residential property in the 30 months before the HFE letter application
  • You do not own more than one local or overseas non-residential private property within 30 months before the HFE letter application

An HDB loan can finance up to 80 per cent of your flat's price or value (the lower of the two). The remaining down payment of 20 per cent can come from cash, CPF, or a combination of the two.

Step 2B: Take a private bank loan instead of an HDB loan

A private bank loan requires you to pay at least 5 per cent of your flat in cash. Another 20 per cent can be paid through a combination of cash or CPF. Up to 75 per cent of your flat price or value (the lower of the two) can be financed by the bank.

The bank’s mortgage officer will give you the details of any other requirements.

The comprehensive path to homeownership

1. BTO announcements

HDB will launch the sale of new flats through the BTO exercise every three months in February, May, August and November.

At the same time, they'll announce the locations and estimated number of units of the projects for the next BTO launch. You can browse through these details on HDB’s Flat Portal.

2. The application period

Every BTO launch has a one-week application period. During this time, you can apply for a flat online. There is a non-refundable administration fee of $10 to apply.

For the May 2023 HDB BTO exercise, the application period runs from May 30, 3pm to June 5, 11.59pm.

You are only able to apply for one flat type at one location for each launch, so do take the time to plan out the pros and cons list as soon as you find out about the available BTO exercises.

It’s not a first-come, first-basis. So you don't have apply right after HDB launches an exercise! During the week-long application period, HDB will update the BTO application rate daily (at 8am, 11am, 2pm and 5pm). So you can monitor the application rate in the meantime to gauge your chances of getting a BTO queue number.

3. The selection process

Applicants tend to outnumber the available units, especially in mature estates. As such, a balloting process is used to decide who gets the flat (for more details on how the ballot works, visit the HDB website).

You will know the results of the ballot up to two months later. HDB will send you a notification as to whether you’re successful. Remember to check your email!

Once you've gotten your BTO queue number, you should be checking the HDB Flat Portal regularly to see the progress of the flat selection. Knowing which flats are left will help you shortlist the best unit for you before your BTO flat booking appointment.

4. Flat booking appointment at HDB Hub

If you're shortlisted, you'll be invited for an appointment to book a flat four weeks after the ballot results.

You'll have to bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • IC of all listed applicants and occupants
  • If you’re employed or serving NS under the Singapore Armed Forces, Civil Defence or Police Force, you'll need to log in to your Singpass to verify your digital IC
  • Passport, if you are not a Singapore resident
  • Birth certificates of your children, if you applied with them
  • Your birth certificate and your parents' marriage certificate, if you are buying a BTO under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme or the Married Child Priority Scheme
  • Marriage certificate, if you are married
  • Divorce certificate, if you're divorced
  • Death certificate, if your spouse is deceased

You’ll also need a valid HFE letter before you go for the flat booking appointment.

Bring your Nets card too! At this stage, you’ll need to pay the option fee.

Flat type Option fee
2-room Flexi  $500
3-room $1,000
4-room and bigger $2,000

The option fee will form part of the downpayment.

If you’re applying for the Deferred Income Assessment, you'll have to apply for it during the flat booking appointment. Head over to HDB’s website for more info on this.

5. Sign the Agreement for Lease

Within nine months, you will be invited to sign the Agreement for Lease.

At this stage, you'll be required to pay for the following:

  • Downpayment
  • Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)
  • Legal fee

HDB will notify you of the exact date that the development will be finished. From there, all you need to do is wait to collect your keys.

Application for a BTO unit from start to finish will take at least four to five years, during which you and your partner should be financially prudent and start saving enough to pay for your mortgage as well as your renovation.

ALSO READ: BTO season is here: 5 factors you might overlook when buying your first home

This article was first published in 99.co.

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