BTO Application in Singapore: Key Items to Consider Before You FOMO and Ballot for an HDB BTO Flat (2022)

·12-min read
BTO Application in Singapore: Key Items to Consider Before You FOMO and Ballot for an HDB BTO Flat (2022)
BTO Application in Singapore: Key Items to Consider Before You FOMO and Ballot for an HDB BTO Flat (2022)

HDB’s announcements of the Built-to-Order (BTO) flats have, as always, received plenty of attention. The upcoming May 2022 BTO launch will see about 4,500 new BTO flats in neighbourhoods such as Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, and Yishun. The Bukit Merah and Queenstown BTO flats will be released under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model.

On the other hand, the August 2022 HDB BTO launch will offer about 6,300 to 6,800 BTO flats in estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Queenstown, and Woodlands.

Plus in the coming years, about 1,600 new HDB BTO flats will be built in Farrer Park. There will be sports and leisure amenities, including a new sports centre you can look forward to! Not to mention the 6,000 Greater Souther Waterfront BTO flats we can expect in the next few years.

Based on the neighbourhoods alone, you can expect the upcoming BTO projects in the central region, such as Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, and Ang Mo Kio, to be oversubscribed, following the trend of the February 2021 BTO launch where flats in Bidadari and Kallang/Whampoa were oversubscribed in just 24 hours.

Now, if you’re FOMO-ing that all your friends are applying for an HDB BTO flat and preparing yourself for “The Great BTO Ballot”, please don’t jump the gun and pop the question to bae first.

So while you may be raring to move on to the next step in your relationship and the next phase in life, here are some financial planning to help you jump right in.

BTO Application Key Considerations: What Should You Think about Before Applying for a BTO Flat

BTO eligibility

Can you and your partner even apply to BTO?

Location – Proximity to parents or in-laws

How close do you want to live to your parents and/or in-laws?

Home Loan Eligibility

Which home loans (bank vs HDB) and how much loan can you take?

Mortgage Affordability

How much in mortgage repayments can you afford each month?

Renovation and Furnishing

How much must you spend to renovate and furnish your BTO before it is ‘move-in ready’?

Check Your BTO Application Eligibility Before Buying an HDB BTO Flat

You want to apply for a BTO flat, but can you even BTO?

The first step to getting your new HDB BTO flat is to check what you’re eligible for. 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.

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.

Here’s a complete guide to who’s eligible for an HDB flat and what the available schemes are.

Please keep in mind that you must marry within three months after 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.

Decide How Close You Want to Be to Your Parents (Or Your In-Laws

If you share a strong bond with your parents (or in-laws), it’s only natural to want to hang out often. Living nearby is also excellent if you need help with your kids (and they’re willing to help), if you often worry about your parents, or if your mum loves to cook.

However, some couples prefer to be in their own world without unannounced visitors showing up at their door ever so often. That’s why how far away your HDB BTO flat is from your parents’ homes is crucial prior to the BTO application process.

Those who need to get an HDB BTO flat in Singapore as soon as possible can utilise this proximity to their parents to enhance their chances through various priority schemes.

Married Child Priority Scheme

For example, the Married Child Priority Scheme helps a married child and his/her 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 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) where both parties cannot move house.

For flats under the PLH model, the MOP is 10-years. That’s a long time!

Multi-Generation Priority Scheme

There’s also the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, in which 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.

When You Appy for BTO, Be Realistic About What You Can Afford

It’s one thing to want to live in a 5-room 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 2021, Singapore’s median monthly household income from work was $9,520. Assuming that you are a young couple who have just started out in your careers, it’s likely your 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’ time when the keys to your BTO flat are finally ready. Nevertheless, it’s better you 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, here’s how much you should budget for:

Type of HDB flat/location

Price

Monthly repayment

Downpayment

3-room BTO Flat (Non-mature estate)

$231,000

$891 (for a loan amount of $196,350)

$34,650

4-room BTO Flat (Non-mature estate)

$309,000

$1,192 (for a loan amount of $262,650)

$46,350

5-room BTO Flat (Non-mature estate)

$420,000

$1,620 (for a loan amount of $357,000)

$63,000

3-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)

$352,000

$1,358 (for a loan amout of $299,200)

$52,800

4-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)

$522,000

$1,968 (for a loan amout of $433,700)

$78,300

5-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)

$627,000

$2,418 (for a loan amout of $532,950)

$94,050

With our rising median monthly household income, many Singaporeans can likely still afford a 5-room BTO flat in a mature estate. Although those who earn lesser than the median monthly household should consider if they’d want some balance in their CPF OA for their retirement, and if they can continue paying the cash outlay.

Related article: Should You Use CPF to Pay Off Your Home Loan?

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 to also keep the Total Debt Servicing Ratio and Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) in mind.

Check Your Housing Loan Eligibility: HDB BTO Flat Downpayment

In addition to affordability, you’ll also need to check your housing loan eligibility and how much downpayment you need to make for your HDB BTO flat.

As housing is a shared cost, pool your savings together to see how much upfront cash you can afford for the downpayment and other fees, and do discuss if you’d prefer a bank loan or an HDB loan (each has its merits). You should also check if you’re eligible for any CPF housing grants.

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 Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit. However, do note that with the recent property cooling measures, the maximum loan amount that can be issued has dropped from 90% to 85%. The remaining 15% downpayment for an HDB loan can be fully paid for with your CPF OA monies.

Meanwhile, a bank loan has a lower LTV limit of 75%. You’ll also need to pay at least 5% of the 25% downpayment 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.

However, there are couples who prefer to opt for a bank loan as the interest rate may be currently lower than what HDB offers. Those who choose a bank loan must also be mindful that the rate tends to fluctuate according to the economy, and that one should explore refinancing every few years to get the best rate.

Furthermore, just this year the Federal Reserve announced a half percentage point increase, with increased costs of borrowing expected in the months ahead. Already, fixed rates have almost doubled from Jan 2022.

According to Mr Christopher Wong a Southeast Asia portfolio strategist, the multiple rate hikes this year, will continue to put upward pressure on interest rates in Singapore.

Related article: How to Refinance HDB Loan to Bank Loan in Singapore (2022)

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Refinance your home loan for more savings. 

Check out SmartRefi from PropertyGuru Finance to find the optimal time to refinance and save more on your home loan with the lowest rates. Or, speak to one of our Mortgage Experts for unbiased advice and recommendations at no cost.




Renovation and Interior Design Costs for a BTO Flat

Chances are, while your BTO flat is on its way, you’ll also be busy sourcing for a renovation contractor or an interior designer. At the very least, you’ll need to install lights, paint the walls, and do your flooring, toilets, kitchen, and window grilles/blinds/curtains.

Even if you’re going super bare-bones, you’ll need to purchase furniture, appliances, and other necessities for your home.

One good news is that BTO flats, unlike their resale counterparts, are cheaper to renovate as there’s less/no hacking involved. Here are some cost estimates, provided by Qanvast:

BTO flat type

Expected median renovation cost in 2022

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

Costs vary, depending on the HDB fittings you’re opting for, how elaborate you want your renovation to be, if there’s any hacking involved, if you want built-in furniture or other customised work done, and the cost of the actual fixtures/furniture, and so on.

Related article: Singapore’s HDB BTO Renovation Cost Guide (2022)

How Much Money Should You Set Aside to Buy a BTO Flat

If you just want a TL;DR version on applying for a BTO flat as you’re keener on planning your dream proposal, here goes:

Total Estimated Cost of Getting a BTO Flat in Singapore

Stage

Cost

Payment method

Notes

Submitting application

$10

Cash

May be done multiple times, if the ballot isn’t successful

Booking of flat

Option fee: $1,000 to $2,000

Cash

Depends on the size of your flat; forms part of your downpayment

Signing of Agreement for Lease

Depends on the cost of your flat (Stamp Duty Calculator)

Cash/CPF

At this stage, you’re paying stamp duty and legal fees

Downpayment (15% for HDB loan; 25% for bank loan)

~$30,000 (depends on the cost of your flat)

Cash/CPF

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

~$800

Cash/CPF

At this stage you’re paying stamp duty and legal fees

Home Protection Scheme

~$205/year

Cash/CPF

Compulsory if you’re using CPF to pay for your housing loan

Fire insurance

~$33/year

Cash/CPF

Compulsory if you’re taking an HDB loan

Balance of the purchase price (monthly installments)

~$1,400/month over 25 years (can vary)

Cash/CPF

Amount you pay depends on the cost of your flat and the interest rate of the loan

Renovation

~$44,000 (for a 4-room flat)

Cash or renovation loan

Costs depend on your desired renovation works

Total cost: ~$496,000

Do keep in mind that these are just estimated costs; the actual costs 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.

All set to apply for your BTO flat with bae right now? For a start, check out the May 2022 HDB BTO launches to see if anything catches your fancy. Otherwise, you can always shop for HDB resale flats too.

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 Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.

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