Buying a BTO flat in Singapore

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The Build-To-Order scheme is a flat allocation system introduced by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) that offers a variety of housing units (3-room flats and bigger) across different neighbourhoods in Singapore. HDB announces the launch of BTO flats every 4 months. At this stage, information on the location, indicative prices, preliminary designs and supply of flats will be made available to the public. Details of the upcoming launches can be found on HDB’s website (HDB BTO page). Alternatively, individuals may subscribe for the HDB eAlert Service (eAlert service portal) for automatic SMS or e-mail alerts on new launches. The first launch of 2019 occurred in February for flats in Jurong West, Sengkang, and Kallang/ Whampoa.

Eligibility

Following the launch of the BTO flats, interested home-buyers should then check their eligibility to purchase the property or take a loan. There are currently 3 types of general eligibility schemes available. Applicants may also check their eligibility through HDB’s e-service (HDB eService portal).

Eligibility Schemes
  • Public Scheme: Applicant must form a family nucleus with his/her spouse and children (in any); or parents and siblings (if any); or children under legal custody. However, if the child under custody is below the age of 21, a written consent has to be given by the ex-spouse before making the application.
  • Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme: Applicant must form a family with his/her spouse-to-be. However, the marriage has to be solemnised within 3 months of the key collection. Individuals under the age of 21 require special consent from his/her parents before application. For more information on marriage process in Singapore, see Getting Married in Singapore.
  • Orphans Scheme: Applicant and siblings have to be orphaned and unmarried and at least one of the deceased parents was a Singapore citizen or PR.
Citizenship At least 1 Singapore Citizen applicant
Age 21 years old and above
Income Ceiling (in Singapore Dollars) Within the set income ceiling of the chosen flat. The income ceiling is the highest average gross monthly household income that is allowed for each type of flat.[1]
  • 4-room flat or larger: $12,000 or $18,000 if purchasing with extended family members or multi-generation family.
  • 3-room flat: $6,000 / $12,000 (for non-mature estates, depending on the nature of the project) or $12,000 (for all mature estates).
Property Ownership
  • No other properties should be owned under the same name both overseas and locally.
  • Have not received more than 1 CPF Housing Grant or have not bought more than 1 HDB/DBSS flats or Executive Condominiums before.

Application

Interested home-buyers will then submit an application through HDB InfoWEB (HDB InfoWEB portal) during the 1-week application period. A non-refundable administrative fee of SGD$10 will be charged during the application. However, BTO projects may be cancelled if the response is underwhelming.

Housing grants and loans

There are 3 main housing grant and loan options available for individuals looking to offset the financial burden of buying a BTO.

CPF Grants

Besides the already-subsidised prices of the new HDB flats, first-time buyers can also receive further subsidies in form of CPF Housing Grants of up to SGD$80,000. The two grants offered under CPF are Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG).[2]

Grant Criteria Amount given (in SGD)
Additional Housing Grant (AHG)
  • First time home-buyers
  • Average gross monthly income of no more than SGD$5,000[3]


Up to $40,000
Special Housing Grant (SHG)
  • Applying for 4-room flat or smaller in non-mature estate
  • Average gross monthly income of no more than SGD$8,500[4]


Up to $40,000

HDB Loans

HDB offers concessionary loans for Singaporeans at an interest rate of 2.6%. Before taking up the loan, borrowers have to pay a down payment of 10%, which can be fully paid using CPF.

Grant Criteria[5] Loan Ceiling
HDB Housing Loan
  • One home-buyer must be a Singapore citizen
  • Average gross monthly income of no more than SGD$12,000
  • Should not own any private properties in or outside of Singapore
  • Must not have taken more than 2 previous HDB loans


Up to 90% of the BTO purchase price

A monthly installment of no more than 30% of the borrower’s salary will be paid till the end of the repayment period. The repayment period is capped at 25 years, or up till the borrower is 65 years of age.[6] Home-buyers who are interested in taking the HDB housing loan are required to apply for the HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) Letter through HDB’s online service (HDB loan application portal).

Bank Loans

Home-buyers can also opt for bank loans, which have less restrictions compared to the HDB housing loan. The bank will conduct a credit check to ensure that the borrower has the ability to pay back the debts within the stipulated time frame.


Bank loans typically have the interest rates of 1.3% to 1.7%, which is lower than the HDB loan. However, individuals should be aware that unlike HDB loans, banks’ interest rates are volatile and have higher penalty rates for early and late repayments. It should also be noted that borrowers are required to pay a higher down payment of 25%, of which 5% have to be paid in cash while the remaining can be paid through CPF.[7]

Balloting process

During the balloting process, priority is given to individuals who have an urgent need for housing. In general, couples who are first-time buyers will enjoy a greater supply of flats, more ballots and extra ballot chances for unsuccessful applications.[8] Each individual is given 2 ballot attempts. In the case where the initial attempts are unsuccessful, 1 additional chance is given per application.

Priority Schemes

Additionally, individuals can apply for a maximum of 2 priority schemes should they meet the scheme criteria. These schemes are meant to increase the chances for successful applications. The Priority Schemes are as such:[9]

Scheme Criteria % of Units allocated (out of total number of units)
Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) This scheme is only applicable to first-timers applying as a married couple, who are expecting the first Singapore citizen child at the point of application, or have at least 1 Singapore citizen child below the age of 16. Up to 30%
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) To qualify for this scheme, a joint application must be made by the parents and the married child. Parents are only allowed to apply for a 2-room Flexi or 3-room flat and the married child is allowed to apply for a 2-room Flexi or larger flat. Up to 15%

(limited to 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats)

Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) In order to qualify for this scheme, the married child or at least 1 of the parents must be a Singapore citizen or PR. The married child or the parents have to stay in the same town or within 2km of the chosen BTO flat.
  • Up to 30% (First-timer families)
  • Up to 15% (Second-timer families)
Third Child Priority Scheme

(TCPS)

To qualify for this scheme, at  least one of the couple must be a Singapore citizen with no previous applications under TCPS. The applicant’s family must consist at least 3 children, and the third child has to be a Singapore citizen born on or after 1 Jan 1987. Other children of the family must be either Singapore citizens or PRs. Up to 5%
Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/ Widowed Parents) (ASSIST) In order to qualify for this scheme, applicant must have at least 1 child below 16 years old and have not applied for any other HDB flats or private properties after the date of separation from the spouse. Up to 5% (limited to 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO units in non-mature estates)
Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS) In order to fall under this scheme, applicant and family must be first or second-time buyers who have been staying in a rental HDB flat for at least 2 years. Up to 10% (limited to 2-room Flexi and 3 room BTO units)
Senior Priority Scheme (SPS) To be eligible for this scheme, applicant’s new 2-room Flexi flat must be located within 4km of his/her current property. Up to 20% (limited to 2-room Flexi units)

HDB will release the results of the balloting via its website 5 weeks after the application deadline. Successful applicants will receive a queue position, which will be used for the booking of units.

Booking & confirmation process

Successful applicants will be invited to book a unit according to their balloted queue positions. An option fee will have to be paid based on the choices made. Home buyers should consider the height and view, sunlight and ventilation, noise and privacy and accessibility before deciding on an unit.[10] Within 4 months of booking the unit, home-buyers will be invited to sign the Agreement for Lease. Those who are obtaining a bank loan have to submit a Letter of Offer. At this stage, home-buyers will be required to pay the down payment to the flat and 1% to 3% of legal and stamp fees by through CPF or cash.

Downpayment fees

In the case where an individual has applied for a HDB Housing Loan, the down payment for the flat would be 10% of the total BTO flat cost. For example, a couple looking to buy a 4-room flat in Sengkang (a non-mature estate) would be looking at an average cost of SGD$300,000 or more for their flat.[11] After the HDB Housing Loan, the couple would need to pay a downpayment of SGD$30,000.


The cost of BTO flats varies for mature estates and non-mature estates, with the former being more expensive. Mature estates refer to neighbourhoods with amenities that are already in place while non-mature estates refer to newer neighbourhoods that are still under development. For illustration purposes, the prices for February 2019's BTO launch are as such:[12]

Flat type Jurong West (non-mature estate) Sengkang (non-mature estate) Kallang / Whampoa (mature estate)
3-room From  $185,000 From $191,000 From  $374,000
4-room From  $257,000 From $283,000 From  $523,000
5-room From  $338,000 From $365,000 -

Following the construction period of the BTO project which averages at 3 years, buyers can then collect the keys to their flats.

References / Citations

  1. “What is income ceiling?”. Housing & Development Board. October 31, 2017. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/new/hdb-flat
  2. Cheng, Mark. “Planning Ahead When Buying a Flat – A Guide to Saving Yourself From a Massive Headache”. MoneySmart. June 5, 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/property/planning-ahead-buying-flat-guide/
  3. “Step-by-step: The Ultimate BTO Crash Course”. How To Adult. February 5, 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.howtoadult.sg/step-step-the-ultimate-bto-crash-course/
  4. For more details on CPF grants, visit: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/new/cpf-housing-grants-for-hdb-flats
  5. Ong, Ryan. “HDB Loan vs Bank Loan – Which Is Better? 5 Things to Know Before You Commit”. MoneySmart. July 16, 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/home-loans/bank-loan-vs-hdb-loan-which-is-better/
  6. “More information on your HDB housing loan”. Housing & Development Board. September 14, 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/financing-a-flat-purchase/housing-loan-from-hdb/more-information-on-your-hdb-loan
  7. Ong, Ryan. “HDB Loan vs Bank Loan – Which Is Better? 5 Things to Know Before You Commit”. MoneySmart. July 16, 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/home-loans/bank-loan-vs-hdb-loan-which-is-better/
  8. "Priority Schemes". Housing and Development Board. Accessed on 4 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/new/eligibility/priority-schemes
  9. "Priority Schemes". Housing and Development Board. Accessed on 4 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/new/eligibility/priority-schemes
  10. “How to choose your HDB BTO unit”. Heartland Boys. Accessed on 11 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://heartlandboy.com/choose-hdb-bto-unit/
  11. Central Provident Fund Board. "Saving up to pay for BTO downpayment". Are You Ready? by CPF Board. July 11, 2018. Accessed on 4 March 2019. Retrieved from:https://www.areyouready.sg/YourInfoHub/Pages/News-Saving-up-to-pay-for-a-BTO-downpayment.aspx
  12. "HDB Launches 3,739 Flats in February 2019 BTO and ROF Exercise". Housing & Development Board. February 12, 2019. Accessed on 4 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/press-release/bto-launch-feb-2019