For young couples just starting out their career and looking to purchase their first home, buying an HDB BTO flat or applying for a unit via the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) or Open Booking of Flats exercises may be the best, most affordable option. Those successful in balloting for a BTO flat or securing a unit will then get the chance to head down for an HDB appointment booking and select the unit.
But if it’s your first time applying for such a unit, you must have plenty of questions about making that HDB appointment booking.
In this article, we clarify how to go about an HDB appointment booking. We’ve broken down the timeline and costs required in the Open Booking of Flats, SBF, and BTO application processes. For good measure, we’ll also cover the types of HDB flats you can apply for and how to check your HDB application and HLE (HDB Loan Eligibility) status.
Note: This article will only focus on buying new BTO, SBF, and Open Booking of Flats units. If you’re interested in other HDB properties, check out our HDB resale flat guide and/or executive condo (EC) guide.
Difference Between BTO, HDB SBF, and Open Booking of Flats Units
Before you apply for and make that HDB appointment booking, it is important you know the difference between the different government-subsidised HDB 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. You can either stalk the HDB website or view recent and upcoming HDB BTO launches on the PropertyGuru website.
1. HDB BTO Flats
BTO flats come with basic home design features and are an affordable and popular option for young married couples who are first-time homeowners.
2. Sale of Balance Flats Units
SBF flats are the units that remain unsold from past BTO launches and are put up for sale by HDB. In addition, they also include leftover units from Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects or repossessed flats repurchased by HDB.
SBF flats are released twice a year, in May and November. They are usually new from HDB (fresh 99-year lease) but already completed or are undergoing construction so you can expect a shorter waiting time. Like BTO flats, you will have to ballot for it and follow a similar HDB application procedure.
3. Open Booking of Flats Units
Leftover flats from the SBF exercise are then made available under the Open Booking of Flats exercise. The open booking system allows flats to be purchased immediately on a first-come-first-serve basis.
However, the unit choices are limited. The next fresh supply of flats will also only be made available in March 2023, so you will have to wait if you intend to buy a flat through the Open Booking of Flats exercise.
HDB BTO Flat Types and Prices (2022)
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 and what you should expect to pay for such a flat, using figures from the August 2022 HDB BTO exercise.
|Type of HDB BTO flat||Price range|
|2-room Flexi||$97,000 to $232,000|
|3-room||$188,000 to $245,000 (non-mature estate), $370,000 to $515,000 (PLH)|
|4-room||$277,000 to $388,000 (non-mature estate), $381,000 to $730,000 (mature estate and PLH)|
|5-room||$390,000 to $508,000 (non-mature estate), $520,000 to $877,000 (mature estate)|
$713,000 to $842,000 (mature estate)
Sometimes, SBF and Open Booking of Flats units are slightly more expensive than BTO flats. Still, they are more affordable than resale flats and are sold directly from the government to buyers at a subsidised rate.
There are also more neighbourhood options for SBF and Open Booking of Flats units than the BTO launches, which usually only see three to four neighbourhoods for each launch. In the May 2022 HDB SBF exercise, there were flats available for booking in 27 neighbourhoods. Some SBF and Open Booking of Flats units are even ready for homeowners to move in!
But before we dive deep into the details, it’s important to clarify each flat category typically comes with one 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 HDB Flat
- Layout: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
- Area: 36 or 45 sqm
3-room HDB Flat
- Layout: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
- Area: 60 or 65 sqm
4-room HDB Flat
- Layout: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
- Area: 90 sqm
5-room HDB Flat
- Layout: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
- Area: 110 sqm
3 Gen HDB Flat
- Layout: 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
- Area: 115 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 the project) for 3-room flats and $14,000 for 4-room and up. For those purchasing with extended or multigenerational families (like for 3 Gen flats), the income ceiling is $21,000.
HDB BTO Payment 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 prepare. We’ve also included the estimated periods between each step.
1. Announcement of the HDB 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 (February, May, August & November)
- SBF launches twice a year
2. Submit Your HDB BTO Application
What to do
- Learn how to improve your HDB 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 the HDB BTO 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
- The results for the Open Booking of Flats exercise are immediate; those who manage to secure a queue number can select a unit as early as the next working day
3. Secure an HDB Appointment and Book Your HDB Flat
What to do
- Successful ballot applicants will be invited to make an HDB appointment booking to choose a flat
- Check out your home loan options
- Before your HDB appointment, get a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter if you want to take an HDB loan
- Alternatively, apply for your In-Principle Approval (IPA) if you intend to make a bank loan
- Apply for 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
- One to two weeks from the release of the BTO results
- HDB appointments are scheduled by queue number
4. Sign the Agreement for the Lease
What to do
- Successful ballot applicants will be invited to make an HDB 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 the lease
- Four months from your flat-booking HDB appointment
5. Key Collection
What to do
- Wait for your house to be built
- Collect your keys
When can you collect your keys
- The average waiting time for BTO flats is about four to five years
- For completed SBF and Open Booking of Flats units, you can collect your keys within three months
- For SBF and Open Booking of Flats units still under construction, you can only collect your keys when the flat is completed
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 and your SBF or BTO application status via the HDB website.
Applicants with successful HDB BTO results will receive a ballot number and be invited to make an HDB 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 must 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 must wait 30 months from the date of disbursement of your initial HDB loan.
Those with a successful BTO application status should get their HLE letter before attending the HDB appointment to book their flat. To obtain their HLE letter, they must first 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 of your HDB appointment.
HDB Application Procedure for BTO or SBF Flat
If you’re a Singapore Permanent Resident who wants to buy an HDB flat, you’re only allowed to buy a resale HDB flat if you apply with another Singapore Citizen. 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 and the HDB appointment booking process!
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