Newbies Guide to Buying Your First BTO Flat

By Joanne Poh, 10 March 2020 2000

Buying a BTO flat is a major milestone in the lives of many Singaporeans.

For many Singaporeans, buying a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat is a major milestone. After all, it’s the first home that you will be buying, and a major financial commitment. 

BTO flats are brand new HDB flats with a fresh 99-year lease. BTO flats are typically launched before they are constructed. During each sales exercise, eligible buyers book a flat and commit to the purchase, and then wait about 2.5 to 4 years for the property to be built.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to buying a BTO flat in Singapore.
 

Are you eligible to apply for a BTO?

You will only be able to successfully apply for a BTO flat if you satisfy the HDB’s eligibility criteria.

If you are applying as more than one person, there must generally be at least two Singapore citizens or one Singapore citizen and one PR in your family nucleus. That being said, there are some exceptions, such as if your spouse is a non-citizen residing in Singapore and you are applying as a couple. Singles applying for a flat must be Singapore citizens aged 35 and above.

BTO eligibility criteria.
BTO eligibility criteria.
 

How much is a BTO flat? 

BTO flat prices can vary greatly. They are influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • maturity of the estate
  • location, with higher prices for flats closer to the CBD
  • proximity to public transport amenities, especially MRT stations
  • neighbourhood facilities such as schools and shopping malls
  • market movements

To give you an idea, here were the prices for HDB's BTO sales launch in Auguest 2020:
 

HDB BTO August 2020 launches in mature estates 

A mature estate, as the name suggests, is a residential neighbourhood that has been around for over 20 years. They are called “mature” because amenities like MRT stations, bus interchanges, and malls have been built in the area throughout the years. Because of these conveniences, flats in mature estates tend to cost more.
 

August 2020 BTO Launches: Mature Estates
  AMK Bishan Geylang Pasir Ris Tampines
Project Name Kebun Baru Edge Bishan Towers Dakota One Costa Grove Tampines GreenCrest Tampines GreenGlade Tampines GreenOpal
Flats available 380 472 421 1,070 346 316 1,070
Nearest MRT Bright Hill & Mayflower (upcoming) Bishan Dakota Pasir Ris Tampines North (upcoming) Bedok Reservoir
2-Room Flexi Price -

$176,000 - $211,000 (38 sqm)

$217,000 - $277,000 (48 sqm)

-

$137,000 - $158,000 (38 sqm)

$167,000 - $198,000 (47 sqm)

- - -
3-Room Price - $302,000 - $408,000 (69 sqm) $355,000 - $421,000 (68 sqm) $245,000 - $317,000 (69 - 72 sqm) $205,000 - $265,000 (69 - 70 sqm) - $205,000 - $265,000 (69 - 70 sqm)
4-Room Price $423,000 - $550,000 (93 sqm) $484,000 - $617,000 (93 - 95 sqm) $523,000 - $617,000 (93 sqm) $374,000 - $460,000 (93 - 96 sqm) $311,000 - $390,000 (93 - 95 sqm)
5-Room Price $571,000 - $725,000 (113 sqm) - - $493,000 - $581,000 (113 - 116 sqm) $423,000 - $517,000 (113 sqm)

Source: HDB. Actual prices may vary based on the actual attributes of the flats at the time of selection.
 

HDB BTO August 2020 launches in non-mature estates

In contrast, non-mature estates are a work in progress. Not all amenities may be ready by the time you move in, which is why flats in these areas tend to cost less. After a few years, however, these newer estates will be fitted with eco-friendly urban solutions that you won’t find in older estates. Punggol, for example, has been slated to be the country’s first eco-town, and its newest HDB projects are fitted with innovative features like a rainwater harvesting system and centralised recycling refuse chutes.

Meanwhile, there are plans to turn Tengah into an estate the size of Bishan, with Singapore’s first ever car-free town centre, new MRT stations, sports hubs, and an integrated community hub.
 

August 2020 BTO Launch: Non-Mature Estates
  Choa Chu Kang Bukit Batok Woodlands
Project Name Keat Hong Verge Parc Residences @ Tengah Champions Bliss UrbanVille @ Woodlands
Flats available 571 1,040 349 1,785
Nearest MRT Choa Chu Kang 2 upcoming Jurong Region Line MRT stations Woodlands South Woodlands
2-Room Flexi Price

$99,000 - $115,000 (39 sqm)

$110,000 - $143,000 (47 sqm)

$108,000 - $138,000 (40 sqm)

$128,000 - $157,000 (48 sqm)

$90,000 - $131,000 (38 sqm)

$113,000 - $162,000 (48 sqm)

3-Room Price $164,000 - $214,000 (68 sqm) $198,000 - $248,000 (70-71 sqm) - $184,000 - $228,000 (68 sqm)
4-Room Price $253,000 - $326,000 (93 sqm) $303,000 - $364,000 (94-95 sqm) $276,000 - $381,000 (93 sqm)
5-Room Price - $418,000 - $489,000 (112 - 113 sqm) - $405,000 - $516,000 (113 sqm)

Source: HDB. Actual prices may vary based on the actual attributes of the flats at the time of selection.

 

 

Enhanced CPF Grants for Applications After September 2019

First-time BTO flat applicants purchasing as a family nucleus or engaged couple are eligible for the Enhanced CPF Grant, which makes buying a BTO far more affordable.

Here's the eligibility criteria for the Enhanced CPF Grant for BTO applicants.

Average monthly household income Enhanced CPF Housing Grant amount
$1,500 or less $80,000
$1,501 to $2,000 $75,000
$2,001 to $2,500 $70,000
$2,501 to $3,000 $65,000
$3,001 to $3,500 $60,000
$3,501 to $4,000 $55,000
$4,001 to $4,500 $50,000
$4,501 to $5,000 $45,000
$5,001 to $5,500 $40,000
$5,501 to $6,000 $35,000
$6,001 to $6,500 $30,000
$6,501 to $7,000 $25,000
$7,001 to $7,500 $20,000
$7,501 to $8,000 $15,000
$8,001 to $8,500 $10,000
$8,501 to $9,000 $5,000

 

CPF Grants for Applications Made Before September 2019

Those whose applications were received before the September 2019 sales launch are eligible for the following grants instead of the Enhanced CPF Grant:

  • Additional CPF Housing Grant
  • Special CPF Housing Grant


Here's the eligibility criteria for the Additional CPF Grant for BTO applicants.

Average monthly household income Additional CPF Housing Grant amount
$1,500 or less $40,000
$1,501 to $2,000 $35,000
$2,001 to $2,500 $30,000
$2,501 to $3,000 $25,000
$3,001 to $3,500 $20,000
$3,501 to $4,000 $15,000
$4,001 to $4,500 $10,000
$4,501 to $5,000 $5,000


Here's the eligibility criteria for the Special CPF Grant for BTO applicants.

Average monthly household income

Special CPF Housing Grant amount (Nov 2015 - Nov 2019)

$1,500 or less $40,000
$1,501 to $2,000 $40,000
$2,001 to $2,500 $40,000
$2,501 to $3,000 $40,000
$3,001 to $3,500 $40,000
$3,501 to $4,000 $40,000
$4,001 to $4,500 $40,000
$4,501 to $5,000 $40,000
$5,001 to $5,500 $35,000
$5,501 to $6,000 $30,000
$6,001 to $6,500 $25,000
$6,501 to $7,000 $20,000
$7,001 to $7,500 $15,000
$7,501 to $8,000 $10,000
$8,001 to $8,500 $5,000

 

Things to consider when selecting an estate

It's important to select a good estate when applying for BTO flats.

Buying a BTO flat is a long commitment.

From the day you book your flat, you will have to wait at least 7.5 to 9 years before you can sell the flat or rent it out in its entirety, taking into account the waiting time of 2.5 to 4 years and the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period.

So, selecting a flat in an area that you would you like to live in is important.

Here are some tips:
 

Check upcoming launches 

In the lead-up to your application, have a look at several upcoming launches. Information about upcoming sales launches is published on HDB’s website. You can sign up to receive alerts about upcoming sales launches so you don’t miss any.
 

Assess the location 

Where your flat is situated will affect your experience living in it as well as the resale value of the property should you eventually decide to sell it, so learn how to select a good location. Access to transport is one of the most important factors and having an MRT station within walking distance is usually a big advantage. Shorter travelling time from the flat to the CBD is also a desirable factor. Other factors that could be appealing include the proximity of amenities such as shopping malls, supermarkets, hawker centres, schools and sports and recreational facilities such as libraries and swimming pools. Also be aware of any future developments in the area, such as upcoming MRT stations and new school campuses. To find out more about future plans for the area, have a look at the URA Master Plan.
 

How to apply for and purchase a BTO flat

Steps to apply for a BTO flat.

Applying for and purchasing a BTO flat can be done in the following steps:

  1. Check your eligibility on the HDB website
  2. Ballot for a flat on the HDB website
  3. Receive a queue number if your ballot has been successful
  4. If you are taking out an HDB loan, obtain an HDB Loan Eligibility Letter from the HDB. If you are taking out a bank loan, obtain Approval-in-Principle from your bank.
  5. Attend the flat selection exercise at HDB Hub, book your flat, pay option fee of $500 to $2,000 (depending on flat type) and apply for CPF housing grants.
  6. Within four months, sign your lease agreement and pay your downpayment of 10% if taking out an HDB loan or 20% if taking out a bank loan. Pay stamp duty and legal fees.
  7. Wait for your flat to be built.
  8. Collect your keys and move in.


After waiting 3-5 years, you'll be able to collect the keys to your own BTO flat.
 

So you’ve successfully bought a BTO flat. What’s next?

Before you can move into your new flat, you’ll have to do the following.
 

Research loan options

Once you receive news that your ballot has been successful, you should start considering your loan options. Your two main options are HDB loans and bank loans. HDB loans tend to come with higher interest rates, which means they are actually more expensive. However, it can be a safer choice as they enable you to pay a smaller downpayment using CPF and cash. By contrast, banks require you to pay a 20% downpayment, of which at least 5% must be in cash. You can also borrow up to 90% of the purchase of price if you take out a HDB loan, as opposed to 75% for bank loans. Finally, banks tend to impose harsher late payment penalties than HDB. If you decide to opt for a bank loan, make sure you compare the loan packages and interest rates offered by various banks.
 

Save for renovation

BTO flats require some basic renovations before they can be habitable, and you should be prepared to set aside $30,000-$60,000 for renovations for a 4-room flat, depending on how elaborate your interior design is. To meet your savings goals, consider starting a savings plan, like Income’s Gro Flex Saver, that can help you grow your money over the next few years.
 

Protect your home with home insurance

You will need to purchase the compulsory HDB fire insurance, but it only protects the structure of your house in the event of fire. You can opt for Income’s Enhanced Home Insurance, starting from $3/month, to protect your furniture, personal belongings in your house and the renovation costs that you have invested in. 
 

Once all that is settled, congratulations! You’re officially a homeowner!


    

Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

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