Three tips for first-time BTO buyers

Apart from price, location and flat type, what are some other factors first-time BTO buyers need to consider before applying? We let you in on three important tips.


1) Know your timeline. After your e-application for a flat in your neighbourhood of choice, you will likely have to wait about one month before the HDB issues you a ballot number (also called a queue number).

Two weeks after that, you have to decide on which unit you want, and pay the option fee; you should also apply for your loan soon after.

In four months, the HDB will contact you to sign the agreement for lease, whereupon you must fork out the down payment for your flat. If you selected a completed unit, you can collect your keys immediately. If not, you will have to wait till it is completed before collecting your keys.


2) Get the best queue number possible. This doesn’t depend purely on luck, though it does play a part. You can participate in as many BTO exercises as you want, but remember that if you reject an invitation to select a flat, you will automatically be placed at the back of the queue.

In order to avoid this, participate selectively. Also, applying for a unit in a severely oversubscribed neighbourhood drastically reduces your chances of getting a good queue number, and your options may be reduced to units that are far from ideal. So weigh all the pros and cons very carefully before even applying for your flat.


3) Determine your level of patience. While there is a considerable period between application and key collection, it pays to wait for the right BTO launch.

If you plan to live in more popular neighbourhoods, such as Tampines or Clementi, it is wise to wait for new flats to be released, instead of applying where many already have.

However, if you do not wish to wait out the typical two- to three-year BTO construction period, the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise is a viable option. The frequency of the SBF varies, but the upside is that you can move in as soon as six months after applying.