Every year, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has four Build-To-Order (BTO) sales launches in February, May, August and November.
Check out our review of the upcoming May 2021 HDB BTO and August 2021 HDB BTO launch projects.
If you didn’t already know, competition for BTO flats is insanely high. Don’t believe us? Just have a look at the application rates for the latest February 2021 HDB BTO launch:
HDB BTO application rates for Feb 2021
Application rate (3-room flat)
Application rate (4-room flat)
Application rate (5-room flat)
Bukit Batok (West Hill @ Bukit Batok)
Kallang/Whampoa (McNair Heights)
Tengah (Parc Woods @ Tengah)
Toa Payoh/Bidadari (Bartley GreenRise, ParkEdge Bidadari, Alkaff Breeze)
Note: The application rate is the number of applicants divided by the allocated flat supply. The application rate indicated above is the overall rate for first- and second-timers, but you can find the detailed breakdown on HDB’s website.
As you probably already know, BTO flats are usually oversubscribed – and by quite a bit too. As a case study, let’s look at last year’s Aug 2020 HDB BTO launch. HDB received a whopping 17,947 applications on the first day! As expected, Dakota One at Geylang and Kebun Bahru Edge at Ang Mo Kio are the most popular projects. The latter had an insane application rate of 17.3 for the 5-room flats – that means that for every unit, there are over 17 people competing for it!
Unsurprisingly, many families do not get a BTO queue number on their first try. It’s not impossible though – this article will run you through the various priority schemes, as well as more tips on how to increase your chances of a successful ballot.
Related article: Family Finds Dream Home After A Decade Of Trying For BTOs
How does the HDB BTO balloting system work?
Before we get into how you can improve your chances, we must first understand how the HDB BTO balloting system works.
It’s quite straightforward: when applications open, home buyers will apply for their desired estate and flat size (e.g. Toa Payoh, 4-room) on the HDB website. Then, after applications close, HDB will use a computerised balloting system to assign queue numbers. The queue number is the order in which applicants will get to pick their flats.
This means that if your queue number is within the flat supply (e.g. there are 124 units available and your queue number is 124 and below), then you are likely to get a flat.
If your queue number is higher than the flat supply (e.g. there are 124 units available and your queue number is 125 and up), then you will only get the chance to pick a flat if someone ahead of you in the queue decided to pass up their chance.
Queue Numbers Are Assigned Randomly
HDB has a few priority schemes (which we will talk about in a bit) to help increase your chances of getting a queue number. However, queue numbers are assigned randomly, so there is no way to somehow get a better queue number.
What this means is that while you can double your chances of getting a queue number, you can’t do anything to get ahead in the queue and pick first.
First-Timers Get Double The Chances
By default, if you’re a first-timer, you get 2X the ballot chances as compared to second-timers. Remember this when you’re making your first application so you don’t waste it.
Racial Quota / Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP)
The ‘racial quota’ that most people are aware of is the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), which was introduced in 1989 to encourage racial integration. Basically, for every HDB block or neighbourhood, there is a limit on the total percentage of homes that can be occupied by a certain ethnicity.
Although it’s not something you can do anything about, this affects your BTO chances because the actual number of units you’re eligible for depends on it.
Say, you got queue number 100, and there is a total flat supply of 124 units. There is a chance that you may not get a unit if the racial quota was already met before your turn. For example, if you’re Chinese and all 90 units allocated for Chinese households were already snapped up, you would not get a chance.
In this case, your application will just be voided, and you will not be penalised for rejecting a BTO flat (because well, you didn’t).
How to improve your HDB BTO ballot chances
Now, onto the main reason you clicked into this article – how to improve your ballot chances, featuring the various HDB priority schemes.
HDB BTO priority scheme
What it is
Married Child Priority Scheme
Stay within 4km of your parents’ home or live together with them
Up to 30% of BTO units for first-timers (15% for second-timers)
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme
Apply for the same BTO project as parents
For parents, up to 15% of the 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats (min. 20 units). For the married child household, the corresponding number of 2-room Flexi or larger flats.
Parenthood Priority Scheme
For first-timers expecting a child
Up to 30% of BTO units
Third Child Priority Scheme
For families with more than two children
Up to 5% of BTO units
Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers
For divorced or widowed persons with children
Up to 5% (for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates only). Quota is shared with the 30% quota for second-timers.
Tenants’ Priority Scheme
For those who were previously renting an HDB rental flat
Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO units
Senior Priority Scheme
For elderly residents who want a familiar environment or to live near their family
40% of 2-room Flexi units are allocated for elderly. Of this, half is set aside for this scheme
1. Stay within 4km of your parents – Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
HDB reserves up to 30% of BTO units for those who apply under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), which is when you apply for a BTO project within 4km of your parents’ home (HDB or private).
One key thing to note is that if you apply through the MCPS, the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) will apply to your folks too. They must continue to live within the same radius of your home until the five years is up.
2. Or better yet, live with them – Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
Under the same scheme, you can also apply to live together with your parents (i.e. you apply for the BTO with them). This will give you first priority within the MCPS quota.
3. Apply for the same BTO project as your parents – Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
If your parents are also looking for a home, you can both apply to the same BTO project to increase your chances. This is for those who want all three generations of the family to live close by.
Under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, you can make a joint application for the two separate flats. Your parents can only apply for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats, so the BTO project you pick must have this unit mix.
Read more here: The Married Child Priority Scheme and Multi-Generation Priority Scheme: What You Should Know if You Want To Increase Your BTO Ballot Chances
4. Have a child, or more children – Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) & Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)
For obvious reasons, if you are expecting a child, your application is prioritised because you probably need the home more urgently. If you’re an expecting married couple BTO-ing for the first time, you’ll be glad to know that up to 30% of the units are set aside for the Parent Priority Scheme.
If you have three children, you may also qualify under the Third Child Priority Scheme. The flat allocation for this one is lower at up to 5% of the BTO units.
If you qualify for both, your application will first be balloted under the TCPS. If unsuccessful, it will be balloted again under the PPS.
Other HDB Priority Schemes
There are other HDB priority schemes listed above that will increase your chances for the BTO ballot, but these are for niche groups of applicants like divorced/widowed parents, rental flat tenants and elderly applicants.
Read our comprehensive guide on all the HDB priority schemes for first-timers here.
Bonus: Don’t give up, you get additional chances after multiple unsuccessful attempts!
To help those who have had many failed attempts, don’t lose hope! If you were unsuccessful for two or more tries (in a non-mature estate), you will get one additional chance per subsequent application.
No. of unsuccessful applications in non-mature estates
Total ballot chances (including first-timer bonus)
0 to 1
What happens if you give up your HDB BTO queue number?
In some cases, applicants get a queue number or ballot number, but end up passing up the opportunity. There are several (completely understandable) reasons why:
- If your queue number is far behind, the units left for selection may not be suitable.
- Couples may have broken up and chosen not to BTO.
- Some applicants also drop out due to unexpected financial difficulties like job loss, etc.
As you would’ve noticed, first-timers already get improved ballot chances. So what happens if you apply, receive a queue number, but then decide to give it up?
You get one ‘free’ pass. However, if you forfeit your flat selection opportunity twice…
For First-timer Households:
- Any additional chances accumulated from your past unsuccessful BTO attempts will be considered used up
- You will be placed in the second-timer category for one year
- During this year, if you turn down another two chances, the one-year period will be extended
For Second-timer Households:
- You will have to wait one year before you apply again
For Applicants under the Singles Scheme:
- You cannot apply under the Singles Singapore Citizen Scheme, Joint Singles Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme for one year
There you have it – everything you need to know to maximise your HDB BTO ballot chances. Generally, if you want a new HDB flat, we would encourage you to continue trying until you are successful. As mentioned earlier, your chances actually improve from your third try onwards.
However, if you do not have the luxury of time – especially since the timeline for BTO flats is in years – then you may want to consider a HDB resale flat. With CPF housing grants, the gap between BTO and resale flat prices have narrowed, and it’s very possible to find an affordable resale flat.
Read more about whether Resale Units Are Really More Expensive Than BTOs, or browse for HDB resale flat properties for sale on PropertyGuru.
More FAQs Related To HDB BTO Balloting:
What is a BTO ballot?
It is a number that is randomly assigned to you upon application during a HDB BTO launch.
How to check the current queue number for BTO?
You may check the status of the queue (eg. which number is up next) on the HDB website here.
Is BTO application first come first serve?
No, the process is based on a computerised balloting system to assign queue numbers.
How do I check the status of my HDB application?
You may do so by logging to My HDBPage with your Singpass.
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