BTO Eligibility for Couples: How to Apply for a BTO Flat in Singapore (2023)
The upcoming May 2023 BTO launch at Serangoon, Bedok, Kallang/Whampoa, and Tengah has yet to be released. But since BTO application windows span only one week, you may want to be prepared and find out how to apply to a BTO project ahead of time.
Before you ask your partner to “apply for BTO together leh” and submit your BTO application, you’ll need to know a few key things, including the BTO eligibility for couples, the Fiancé-Fiancée Scheme, and the new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.
You will need this letter if you’re intending to buy an HDB flat. For those who are applying for the May 2023 launches, you will need to have completed the preliminary HFE check. From the August 2023 BTO launch onwards and for other new HDB flats (BTO, SBF, OBF) that are launched after May 2023 launch, you will need a valid HDB HFE letter.
Read our guide for how to apply for a BTO flat as a couple:
Summary of criteria to assess the BTO eligibility for couples
Check your BTO eligibility
Know the CPF housing grants you qualify for
Decide how close you want to live to your parents
Figure out how to finance your BTO flat
Consider what you can afford: downpayment and monthly mortgage payments
Budget for renovating and interior design
How much money should you set aside to buy a BTO flat
BTO Eligibility for Couples: How to Apply for BTO
BTO eligibility for couples
Questions to ask yourself
HDB flat eligibility
Are you eligible to buy a BTO flat? What about an SBF or OBF flat?
Which CPF Housing Grants do you qualify for and how much can you get?
Proximity to parents or in-laws
How close do you want to live with your parents and/or in-laws?
Financing your BTO flat
Do you want to finance your BTO flat with an HDB loan or loan from a Financial institution (FI)? Do you qualify for an HDB loan? If yes, how much loan can you get?
How much can you afford? How much downpayment must you fork out? How much initial cash outlay is needed? Can you afford the monthly mortgage payment comfortably?
Renovation and furnishing
How much must you spend to renovate and furnish your BTO before it is ‘move-in ready’?
1. Check the BTO Eligibility for Couples
You want to apply for BTO, but can you even BTO?
Checking BTO eligibility for couples is the first step to getting a new HDB BTO flat. Well, some of these key criteria include your citizenship, income ceiling, if you have any other property (maybe your parents put another house in your name), and so on.
To find out if you’re eligible to buy a BTO flat, you first have to complete the preliminary HFE check (more on this in the next point).
Since this article is on asking your partner if they want to apply for a BTO flat with you, we’re assuming it’s your first time applying for an HDB BTO flat, you’re at least 21 years old, and that you’ll be applying under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme with no children in tow.
Please remember that you must marry within three months of receiving the keys to your HDB BTO flat. A photocopy of your marriage certificate must also be submitted to HDB as proof of your marriage.
2. Know How Much CPF Housing Grant You Qualify for
To find out if you’re eligible to buy a BTO flat, you first have to complete the preliminary HFE check. Based on the submitted information provided, you will receive a preliminary outcome that tells you of your eligibility for a BTO and/or resale HDB flat.
The preliminary HFE check will also tell you the CPF housing grants you qualify for and if you can take on an HDB-granted housing loan, as well as the amounts you can get.
For those buying an HDB BTO flat, under the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant, you could get up to $80,000 (depending on your eligibility).
3. Decide How Close You Want to be to Your Parents (Or In-laws)
It makes sense to want to live close to your parents (or in-laws) if you get together frequently. Living near to each other is also ideal if you frequently worry about your parents, require assistance with your children (and they are eager to assist), or if your mother is a great cook.
Some couples, however, would rather live in seclusion without surprised knocks on their door from family members. Because of this, determining how far your BTO flat is from your parents’ house is important before submitting your BTO application.
However, do note that the proximity to parents is an advantage in winning the BTO ballot. Getting a BTO flat close to your parents can improve your BTO application chances through various HDB priority schemes.
Married Child Priority Scheme
For example, the Married Child Priority Scheme helps a married child and their parents live with or close to each other for mutual care and support. This extends to Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme applicants too. You’ll need to apply for a BTO flat within 4km from your parents (or with your parents), and there is a five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) where both parties cannot move house.
For flats under the Public Location Public Housing (PLH) model, the MOP is 10 years. That’s a long time!
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme
There’s also the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, where the couple and the parents get new flats in the same precinct. They can make a joint application for two flats in the same BTO project, provided there are 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats available.
4. Figure out How You Will Finance Your BTO Flat
As previously mentioned, the preliminary HFE check will also inform you of whether you are eligible to take on an HDB loan and the loan amount you can get.
Within 30 calendar days of completing your preliminary check, you should apply for an HFE letter. This is when you should decide if you want to finance your BTO flat with an HDB-granted loan or not.
When applying for the HFE letter, you will be able to select your housing loan options. Here, you will confirm your eligibility to take on an HDB housing loan and/or apply for an In-Principle Approval (IPA) from participating Financial Institutions (FIs).
Choosing how to finance your BTO flat is important as it will affect how much downpayment and initial cash outlay you will need to fork out.
5. Consider What You Can Afford Before Applying for a BTO Flat
Paying the Downpayment
For young couples who don’t have a lot of cash, opting for an HDB loan is a common choice as it allows for a higher LTV limit and you can pay your entire down payment via your CPF savings. With the announcement of the September 2022 property cooling measures, the HDB LTV limit is now 80%.
Meanwhile, a bank loan has a lower LTV limit of 75%. You’ll also need to pay at least 5% of the 25% down payment of your bank loan in cash (that’s $25,000 on a $500,000 BTO flat), with the balance payable with your CPF OA monies. Read up on the differences between an HDB loan vs a bank loan before deciding on how to finance your property purchase.
Aside from the initial downpayment, don’t forget to also budget for your pay Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) fees!
Managing the Monthly Mortgage Payments
It’s one thing to want to live in a 5-room BTO flat in Bishan, but realistically, your household income may not support that. Even if you scrimp and save to pay the cash outlay, how sustainable is that in the long term, especially if you’re planning to have a baby?
You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you regret your BTO application after getting a good queue number or even have to cancel your BTO flat.
In 2022, Singapore’s median gross monthly income from work was $5,070. Assuming that you are a young couple who have just started their careers, it’s likely your individual take-home pay is lower than the median household income.
Granted, the salary you’re drawing now may not be the salary you’ll be taking home in four to five years when the keys to your BTO flat are finally ready. Nevertheless, you should stay woke and be practical about what you can afford to pay for your new home.
Assuming you opt for an HDB-granted loan at 2.6% interest over 25 years and a Loan-to-Value limit (LTV) of 80%, here’s how much you should budget for. Do note that the following prices are estimates:
Type of HDB flat/location
3-room BTO flat (Non-mature estate)
$704 (for a loan amount of $155,200)
4-room BTO flat (Non-mature estate)
$1,005 (for a loan amount of $221,600)
5-room BTO flat (Non-mature estate)
$1,415 (for a loan amount of $312,000)
3-room BTO flat (Mature estate)
$1,343 (for a loan amount of $296,000)
4-room BTO flat (Mature estate)
$1,383 (for a loan amount of $304,800)
5-room BTO flat (Mature estate)
$1,887 (for a loan amount of $416,000)
For a more detailed look at how much you can actually afford, check out PropertyGuru’s mortgage affordability calculator. When working out how much monthly mortgage repayments you can afford, be sure also to keep the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) and Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) in mind. If all these calculations boggle you, you can always ask our Mortgage Experts for help, at no cost!
6. Budget for Renovation and Interior Design Costs
Chances are, while your BTO flat is on its way, you’ll also be busy sourcing for a renovation contractor or an interior designer. Even if you decide to opt for the BTO floorings and fixtures, at the very least, you’ll need to install lights, appliances, window grilles/blinds/curtains, and buy furniture.
Costs vary depending on the HDB fittings you’re opting for, how elaborate you want your renovation to be, and if any hacking is involved. One piece of good news is that BTO flats, unlike their resale counterparts, are cheaper to renovate. Here are some cost estimates provided by Qanvast.
Expected Median Renovation Cost for BTO Flats in 2023
3-room BTO flat
$35,000 to $38,000
4-room BTO flat
$40,000 to $46,000
5-room BTO flat
$47,000 to $56,000
How Much Money Should You Set Aside to Buy a BTO Flat
May be done multiple times, if the ballot isn’t successful
Booking of flat
Option fee: $500 (2-room Flexi flat), $1,000 (3-room flat), $2,000 (4-room or bigger)
Depends on the size of your flat; forms part of your down payment
Signing the Agreement for Lease
Depends on the cost of your flat (Stamp Duty Calculator)
At this stage, you’re paying stamp duty and legal fees
Down payment (20% for HDB loan; 25% for bank loan)
~$30,000 (depends on the cost of your flat)
Those on an HDB loan can pay with CPF entirely; those on a bank loan need to pay at least 5% in cash
Collection of keys
At this stage, you’re paying stamp duty and legal fees
Home Protection Scheme
Compulsory if you’re using CPF to pay for your housing loan
Compulsory if you’re taking an HDB loan
Balance of the purchase price (monthly instalments)
~$1,400/month over 25 years (can vary)
Amount you pay depends on the cost of your flat and the interest rate of the loan
~$44,000 (for a 4-room flat)
Cash or renovation loan
Costs depend on your desired renovation works
In total, you can expect to pay about $496,000. Do keep in mind that these are just estimated costs. The actual cost will vary, depending on the actual cost of your flat, loan type and LTV limit, extent of the renovation, amount of available CPF OA monies, as well as any possible changes to HDB policies in the future.
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