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HDB 101 - Your Guide To The HFE And Purchasing A BTO Or Resale Flat

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) will launch about 19,600 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats across three sales exercises in February, June and October this year, down from four from previous years.

For prospective homebuyers, HDB advised that they should apply for a HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter by 15th January, 2024 to be eligible for the upcoming BTO and SBF launches in February. In February, 4,100 BTO flats will be offered in Bedok, Queenstown, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol and Woodlands. So this is great news for those of you who are starting your home purchase journey!

However, do you know that there are pros and cons if you purchase BTO flats? The biggest advantage is that you’ll get to be the first to live in the property and BTO flats are very affordable! The downsides, however, are that as singles or joint-singles (which all LGBTQ+ Singaporeans fall under), you are only limited to 2-room flexi flats, which you will have to wait 3 to 4 years to move into. This is also assuming your ballot number is good enough to secure a unit you like based your imagination, since the buildings are not constructed yet.

On the flip side, if you decide to purchase a resale flat instead, your completion timeline could be as quick as 4 to 5 months from looking for a suitable flat. You are also allowed to buy flats of most sizes (besides 3Gen flats). You can view the actual property to gauge whether you like the layout, facing and location of the flat. The downside of course, is that resale flat tend to be more expensive.

Regardless, whether you’re interested in February’s BTO launch, or a resale flat in general. Do you know what is the first step in your home purchase journey? It is the dreaded HFE letter.

Dreaded not because it is a difficult process, but rather, it is a bit tedious and takes up to 21 working days for HDB to process. The HFE process, implemented in May last year, is a mandatory document that informs you of your eligibility for flat purchase, CPF housing grants and an HDB housing loan. It’s a 3-in-1 application done upfront that replaces the old Intent to Buy and HDB Loan Eligibility processes, to help you proceed smoothly with your home buying journey. 

For a more in-depth, step-by-step process, please refer to the following two videos from HDB:

Do note that BTO flats launched from October 2024 will be classified under the Standard, Plus and Prime categories. The new classification model will replace the current classification of mature and non-mature estates. Plus and Prime BTOs will be subject to 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP) and subsidy clawbacks when sold in the open market, among other restrictions.

Some final thoughts and things you need to think about:

  1. Will you be buying a BTO or resale flat under the singles or joint-singles scheme with your partner/friend? Are you both above 35 years of age?

  2. Do you want to be limited to purchasing a 2-room flexi flat at BTO launch, or perhaps a bigger resale flat?

  3. Do you wish to wait 3 to 4 years before moving into your home?

  4. Note that from October’s launch onwards, new BTO flats will be under the new classification and some of the BTOs will have an MOP of 10 years. Are you willing to be tied to your flat for 10 years?

Good luck with your house hunting! And if you ever need to speak to a friendly realtor, I am always here ready to advise!

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