So You’ve Applied for An HDB Flat (BTO or SBF), What’s Next?

Congratulations on getting engaged and your search for a new HDB flat to begin your next chapter in life! Considering that you’ve clicked into this article, you’re probably still unsure of what to do after you popped the question (or said yes) to “BTO, ai mai?” 

To provide a clearer understanding of how to apply for a new HDB flat, we’ve broken down the timeline and costs required in the application process. For good measure, we’ll also cover the types of HDB flats you can apply for, how balance flats work and how to check your HDB application and HLE (HDB Loan Eligibility) status. 

Note: This article will focus on the process of buying new BTO (Build-to-Order) or SBF (Sales of Balance Flats) flats only. If you’re interested in other HDB properties, check out our Resale Flat guide and/or Executive Condo guide.


Artist’s Impression of Tampines Green Opal for August 2020’s BTO launch

Artist’s Impression of Tampines Green Opal for August 2020’s BTO launch



Types of New HDB Flats 

Difference between BTO and SBF flats

If you don’t know already, BTO flats are housing you buy directly from HDB. Generally, BTO sale launches happen quarterly, in February, May, August and November. (View the recent and upcoming 2021 HDB sales launches here.) 

BTOs come with basic home design features and are an affordable and popular option for young married couples who are first-time homeowners.

Balance flats are the units that remain unsold from past BTO launches are put up for sale by HDB. They are also known as SBF flats. Leftover flats from Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects or repossessed flats repurchased by HDB are also included under the SBF scheme.

Leftover flats from the SBF exercise is then put up on the Open Booking of Flats Portal. The open booking system allows flats to be purchased on a first-come-first-serve basis.

HDB BTO Flat Types and Prices 

For those who are still deliberating on what type of flat to choose, here is a brief overview of the types of BTO flats you can choose from. 

But before we deep dive into the details, it’s important to clarify each flat category typically comes with 1 less room than indicated in its title. For instance, a 4-room flat has only three bedrooms as HDB counts the living room as a ‘room’. 5-room flats are an exception to this rule, with only three bedrooms.

2-Room Flexi HDB Flat

  • Price estimate: $90,000 to $100,000  
  • Layout: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom 
  • Area: 36 or 45 sqm 

3-Room HDB Flat

  • Price estimate: $160,000 to $180,000 (non-mature), $200,000 to over $300,000 (mature) 
  • Layout: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms 
  • Area: 60 or 65 sqm 

4-Room HDB Flat

  • Price estimate: $250,000 to $300,000 (non-mature), $300,000 to over $500,000 (mature) 
  • Layout: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms 
  • Area: 90 sqm 

5-Room HDB Flat

  • Price estimate: Over $400,000
  • Layout: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms 
  • Area: 110 sqm 

3 Gen HDB Flat

  • Price estimate: From $300,000 (non-mature), from $500,000 (mature) 
  • Layout: 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms 
  • Area: 115 sqm 

Executive Flat

  • Price estimate: From $400,000 
  • Layout: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms 
  • Area: 130 sqm 

All BTO flats come with a storeroom/bomb shelter, living/dining area and kitchen. 2-Room flats do not usually come with a service yard. 5-Room flats may or may not come with a balcony area. 

Different flat types also have different income ceilings and various eligibility criteria. Generally, the income ceiling is $7,000 or $14,000 (depending on project) for 3-room flats, and $14,000 for 4-room and up. For those purchasing with extended or multi-generation family (like for 3 Gen flats), the income ceiling is $21,000. 


HDB BTO Timeline: Buying an HDB Flat 

To help you better plan for your HDB purchase, here is a checklist of what you need to check and get ready. We’ve also included the estimated time periods between each step.

1. Announcement of the flat sales launch

What to do

  • Look out for BTO/SBF launch announcement
  • Find out when is the application period for balloting
  • Check your eligibility to buy a flat
  • Check your HDB loan eligibility or bank loan eligibility
  • Make sure your finances are secure

When it happens

  • BTO launches every quarter
  • SBF launches twice a year

2. Submit ballot application

What to do

  • Learn how to improve your HDB BTO ballot chances
  • Submit an application during the one-week application window period
  • Pay $10 application fee
  • Wait for the outcome of the ballot

When are ballot results announced

  • BTO ballot results are released about three weeks after the application period closes
  • SBF ballot results are released about 1.5 months (six weeks) after the application period closes

3. Book your HDB flat

What to do

  • Successful ballot applicants will be invited to make an appointment to book a flat
  • Check out your home loan options
  • Before your appointment, get a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter if you want to take an HDB loan
  • Alternatively, apply for your Approval-in-Principle (AIP) if you’re intending to make a bank loan
  • Apply for Enhanced Housing Grants, if applicable
  • Bring your IC and other necessary documents to the appointment
  • Pay the Option-to-Purchase (OTP) fee ($500 for 2-Room Flexi flats; $1,000 for 3-Room flats and $2,000 for 4-Room or larger flats)

When can you book a flat

  • 1 to 2 weeks from the release of the ballot results
  • Appointments are scheduled by queue number

4. Sign the agreement for lease

What to do

  • Successful ballot applicants will be invited to make an appointment to book a flat
  • Submit a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter or a Letter of Offer (if you are taking a bank loan)
  • Pay your downpayment, stamp duties and legal fees 

When can you sign your agreement for lease

  • Four months from your flat-booking appointment

5. Key Collection

What to do

  • Wait for your house to be built
  • Collect your keys

When can you collect your keys

  • BTOs are usually completed in about three years
  • For completed SBF flats, you can collect your keys within three months
  • For SBF flats under construction, you can only collect your keys when the flat is completed

bto sbf article 2


How to Check HDB Application Status 

After you’ve paid the non-refundable $10 fee and applied for a flat, you’ll have to wait for the results. BTO and SBF results are released about three and six weeks respectively after the application period closes. You can check the number of applications received, results, or status of your application via the HDB website.

Successful applicants will receive a ballot number and be invited to make an appointment to book a flat. If you’ve reached this step, it’s time to kickstart the process of getting a home loan. You can go for either a bank or HDB loan. If you intend to go for an HDB loan, you have to check your HDB Loan Eligibility status to get your HLE letter.


How to Check HDB Loan Eligibility Status 

The HDB Loan Eligibility letter is a required document for those who wish to take an HDB loan to finance their flats. The HLE letter is valid for six months. If you wish to apply for another loan, you have to wait for 30 months from the date of disbursement of your initial HDB loan. 

Successful ballot applicants should get their HLE letter before attending the appointment to book their flat. To obtain their HLE letter, they first have to perform an Eligibility Check and ensure they fulfil the credit assessment criteria. 

Then, prepare the required documents and apply for the HLE letter on the SingPass website. After, you can check the status of your HLE application. Once you are successful, you can obtain and submit the HDB Loan Eligibility Letter when you sign your agreement for lease, within four months from your flat-booking appointment.

Read more about the steps required for an HDB Loan Eligibility Application here. Should your finances change in future, there is always the option to refinance your HDB Housing Loan to a bank loan later on.


Applying for BTO or SBF 

If you’re a Singapore Permanent Resident who wants to buy an HDB flat, you’re only allowed to buy a resale HDB flat. Additionally, you’ll have to meet all the eligibility conditions. Find out more about what schemes and grants you qualify for here.

Hopefully, this article has made it easier for you to understand the HDB flat application process!


For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section

Are you looking to buy a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.  

Already found a new home? Let PropertyGuru Finance’s home finance advisors help you with financing it.


This article was written by Cheryl. Cheryl likes bread and cats, especially so when cats tuck in their limbs so that they look like bread. Drop her an email that finds her well at

Compare listings