Adulting 101: How to Apply for Your First BTO Flat in Singapore

So you wanna BTO with your significant other but not sure what the process is like? We'll walk you through it and also provide you with some inspiration to see what your future home could look like!

What the heck is a BTO anyway?

A Build-to-Order home is basically one where you ballot and "order" for, and then you wait for it to be built. These homes are slightly more affordable than buying a resale flat, and are available in both mature and non-mature estates around the country. In Singaporean context, the term is also used as a way of choping (reserving) your partner and gauging whether he/she is ready for the next step, i.e., marriage with you. We don't recommend using "Do you want to BTO with me?" as a proposal though!

Teban Gardens flat, designed by Cozy Ideas Interior Design 

What does a BTO come with?

A standard BTO has no flooring, cabinetry or doors. They'll provide a toilet bowl for you in both bathrooms (assuming you have two bathrooms), windows, the main door and the grille, as well as the door for the bomb shelter. There are options for you to add on (at an extra cost), a set of floor tiles for the entire home, and doors if you'd like. 

The floor tiles here at Skyline at Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 are similar to the options available from HDB. Design by Icon Interior Design

Do I really have to wait 5 years for my BTO?

The stated completion date is as far as five years ahead, but good news, you'd usually get the keys about a year before, so you'd probably have to wait about four years in total from the start of your application. This is also a great time for you to start saving money/replenish your CPF so the loan you'd have to service will be hopefully lower. 

The wait may be long, but having your own home is totally worth the wait, especially since you can now collect all your favourite things and have a place for all of them in your new home, as the owners in this home in 907 Jurong did. Designers: The Interior Lab

Are we eligible to apply for a BTO?

You're eligible if both of you are Singaporean, or one is Singaporean and the other is a Permanent Resident and both of you are above 21 years old. 

Home designed by 0932

How much subsidies are we eligible for?

This depends on your monthly household income. We've screenshot the amount here: 

Pro Tip: if you're pretty sure you're dating the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, we suggest applying for a BTO while your income is still within this amount to take advantage of the grants. 

What happens if couples break up before collecting their keys?

You'll forfeit whatever you've paid up to that stage, i.e., if you have paid your downpayment and between the few years you're waiting for your home to be built, you decide that the relationship is not working out, you forfeit your downpayment and both of you will be unable to apply for another home for a year. You cannot substitute your ex partner's name with someone else's name. 

What is the process like?

There are a few steps to begin with: 

Step 1 - Applying for a Flat

This begins with applying for a flat. Choose the area you want to live in, e.g., Pasir Ris, Woodlands etc., and then submit your particulars like IC number, what your monthly pay is, and if you currently own any other property. If you're applying as a couple, then you'll be under the Fiance/Fiancee scheme. Once you're done, you'll have to pay $10 as an administrative fee, and then you wait about two months for them to get back to you. 

Step 2 - Getting a Ballot Number and an Appointment Date

You should get a letter from HDB (Housing Development Board), and they will either give you a ballot number and an appointment date, or they'll tell you your application was unsuccessful (because there were too many people applying for the same development) and then you'll have to retry again. You can also appeal to your Member of Parliament for more chances. Other ways of maximising your chances are to apply with your parents, in newer towns like Punggol or under priority schemes. 

It may be easier to get a BTO in non-mature estates like Punggol Waterway Woodcress. This home is designed by Rezt & Relax Interior Design.

Step 3 - Documents Gathering and Attending Your Appointment

Before you head for your appointment, make sure to have your last three months' pay slips printed out if you're a salaried employee or six months' income documents for other types of employment, or proof of unemployment. Also bring along your identity cards, or passport if you're a foreigner. If you're applying with your children, you'd also need to bring their birth certificates.

Other items to bring, if applicable, are your marriage, divorce and late spouse's death certificates. If you're not married at this point, there's no need to rush to get married--you can just show the marriage certificate when you actually collect the keys. Also, discuss with your significant other if you'd prefer to take a HDB loan or a bank loan (HDB loan's interest rate is fixed at 2.6%, and the bank loan's interest rate is lower but subject to fluctuations). 

While you're waiting your turn at the HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, you can also choose from the available floor tiles and doors and decide if you'd like to have them in your home. This will be added to the total cost of your home. When your number is called, you'll meet the HDB officer who will go through all your documents, and ask you which unit you'd like to take.

If the unit is available and your documents are all in order, you'll sign the papers and then be instructed to pay the option fee (about $500 to $2,000, depending on the size of your flat) on the second floor. This money will be returned to you about a month later. You'll also be asked to get a HDB Loan Eligibility letter (HLE), which you'll need for your next appointment. 

Step 4 - Signing the Agreement for the Lease

You'll now wait for your second appointment, which will be to sign the agreement for the lease. This appointment will be about two months later, and during this time, you'll pay the stamp duty and legal fees, as well as your downpayment (if you're paying a HDB loan, you need to pay 5% of your purchase price now as your downpayment, which will be deducted from your CPF, and if you're using a bank loan, then you'd pay 10% of the purchase price). You'll also need to bring along your HLE for verification. 

Step 5 - Wait for Your Home to Be Built, Then Collect Your Keys

Now commences the longest wait, about three to four more years for your home to be built. Once the development is built, HDB will start sending out letters to the owners to collect their keys. During this last appointment, you'll pay the rest of your downpayment, decide on how long a term you want to take to pay back your home loan, pay stamp duty and any other fees, and then you'll be able to get your keys! You'll need to buy fire insurance from Etiqa and bring along your marriage certificate for verification, if you bought the home under the Fiance/Fiancee scheme. You'll also need to open an account with SP Group so your electricity and water will start working. 

That's it! You're now the proud homeowner of your brand new BTO flat!

Pasir Ris St 71 HDB flat, designed by IDID Pte Ltd

Did we answer all your questions about buying your first BTO? Let us know if we missed out anything! For more information, check out HDB's website here

Looking for More Inspiration for your Brand New BTO?

Here's how you can transform your barebones flat into a thing of beauty for under S$40,000

Working with small spaces? Get inspired with these homes under 700 sq ft and 800 sq ft

Trends fade over time, but here are some gorgeous classic homes that will always be classy and stylish

Not sure which interior designer to choose? See our full list here and get a free and personalised recommendation from us! If you engage the designer, you could win S$500 Harvey Norman vouchers to shop for your new home. Otherwise, meet them in person at our next Home by Hitcheed Interior Designers Meet and Greet on 23 & 24 February 2019 at Suntec Convention Centre Hall 403 from 12-6pm! See you there!

Related Professionals: