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How To Beat The HDB BTO Ballot 2024: 8 Tips Included!

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Have you been applying for HDB BTO flats but with no luck? Please know that you are not alone. Navigating the intricate process of securing an HDB Built-to-Order (BTO) ballot in Singapore can be as daunting as exciting.

Whether you’re a young couple hoping to start a family or a single individual looking to venture into home ownership, this comprehensive guide is an invaluable resource that will take you from novice to pro in your BTO journey. This guide aims to demystify the complex BTO application process and present a curated roadmap that propels you one step closer to the dream of owning a BTO flat in Singapore.

Understanding the HDB BTO Balloting System

One of the most significant aspects of the BTO process is the balloting system, which is a lottery system that helps determine the queue position of HDB applicants. It is crucial to successfully navigate your BTO application and move into your dream home. Here’s how it works.

1. Application: Potential buyers first apply for a chance to purchase a flat during a BTO sales launch. Applicants can choose their desired estate and the flat type (e.g. Toa Payoh, 3-room flat) on the HDB website. There is no immediate financial commitment at this stage.

2. Balloting: After the application period ends, HDB conducts a computerised balloting process to randomly assign queue numbers to the BTO applicants. This process ensures that every applicant has an equal and fair chance of securing a flat.

The balloting considers factors like ethnicity and the type of scheme you’re applying under (public, fiancé/fiancée, multi-generation, etc.). The balloting system follows some priority schemes defined by the HDB to help increase your chances of getting a BTO queue number.

3. Selection of Flats: Once the balloting process is over, applicants will receive their queue number and appointment date to select a flat. Typically, the BTO ballot results are released after three to six weeks. The lower your queue number, the earlier you get to choose your apartment. You can select any of the remaining HDB BTO units during your appointment.

4. Booking the Flat: If you book a flat during your appointment, you need to pay an option fee (which varies depending on the flat type) and sign the necessary documents. You will apply for an HDB or bank loan at this stage.

5. Signing the Lease Agreement: A few months later, you’ll sign the Lease Agreement and pay the downpayment. The balance purchase price can be paid via CPF savings, HDB loan, HDB bank loan, or cash.

6. Collection of Keys: Once the flat is built, which may take several years, you’ll be notified to collect the keys to your new home.

What are the new changes to the BTO ballot chances?

In the Budget 2023 statement, the Ministry of National Development (MND) announced that an additional HDB BTO ballot chance will be given to a more select group of first-timer families: First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) or FT(PMC).

Eligible FT(PMC) applicants comprise first-timer families with kids and couples under 40 years old buying their first home. It brings the total ballot chances for FT(PMC) applicants to three – one more than other first-timer applicants and two more than second-timer applicants.

If there is an overwhelming demand for flats, even HDB cannot guarantee that you will be successful.

How to increase your BTO ballot chances in 2024?

Understanding all the priority schemes discussed below can help only enhance your chances of success in the computer ballot for a BTO flat. There are no hacks to increase your chances of getting a lower queue number.

The list of priority schemes includes:

Priority SchemeHDB BTO Flat AllocationThings to Note
First-timer applicant (NO other priority schemes)10% (2-Room Flexi & 3-Room)   25% (4-Room & bigger)Some non-mature estates (and flat types e.g. 5-room) can be pretty popular
Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)30%Having children should be pursued if you are financially or emotionally prepared for the responsibility involved
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)Parents: Up to 15% of 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats   Married child: Corresponding number of 2-room Flexi or larger flatsSelection is limited to preselected units distributed across various blocks, encompassing both high and low floors
Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)Up to 30% of BTO unitsDuring the construction of your BTO and for an additional period of 5 years until you reach the MOP, your parents are unable to relocate
Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)Up to 5% of BTO unitsMust have a minimum of 3 children who must reside with you in the new flat until you reach the MOP
Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (ASSIST)Up to 5% of BTO 2-room Flexi and 3-room units in non-mature estates, shared with the 30% quota set aside for second-timersDivorced or widowed persons with children   Only applicable if your child is 18 years and below
Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO unitsLiving in an HDB public rental flat for at least two years
Seniors Priority Scheme (SPS)Within the allocation of 2-room Flexi units specifically designated for elderly individuals, 40% of these units (with a min. req. of 100 units per BTO project) are reserved under SPSElderly applying for a BTO project within 4km of existing flats or parents/married child flats

HDB BTO ballot tips for any young Singaporean couple or family

With these insider tips, you can navigate the BTO system effectively and stand a much better chance of securing your dream flat in Singapore.

1. Live with or within 4km of your parents (priority scheme: MCPS)

The Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) offers the option to live within a 4km radius of your parents or reside with them. However, before considering this scheme, it is crucial to assess the compatibility of living arrangements between you (and your partner) and your parents.

There is another consideration for you and your parents to keep in mind. If you choose to live within 4km of your parents, they are required to remain within this distance until your BTO flat is completed.

This restriction applies throughout building your BTO and the subsequent five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). In total, this could amount to approximately eight to 10 years, depending on the construction timeline.

Consequently, if your parents have plans to downsize their flat for retirement funding purposes or desire to sell their property and relocate to a different location, such as the Bahamas, these plans would need to be postponed for an 8- to 10-year period.

2. Apply for the same BTO project as your parents (priority scheme: MGPS)

If you and your parents are both interested in applying for a BTO flat, you can increase your chances of securing units in the same project by utilising the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS). Under this scheme, you must submit a joint application for two separate flats. Your chances of being allocated flats close to each other, even on the same floor, are improved.

It’s important to note that the MGPS is applicable for 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats for your parents, while you have the flexibility to choose a 2-room Flexi or a larger unit. However, the units available for MGPS applicants are typically preselected and may be located in different blocks, potentially on both high and low floors. It means your options for unit selection will be limited.

Since this is a joint application, you and your parents will share a queue number and must complete each step of the BTO process together, including signing the option and lease agreement. Close coordination and agreement on schedules between you and your parents will be necessary to make this work.

3. Have a child or more children (priority schemes: PPS and TCPS)

First-timer married couples who already have children (who are Singapore Citizens and are 18 years old or below), or are expecting a baby, have the option to apply for a BTO flat.

To be eligible for the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS), both partners must be first-time applicants and apply as married couple. If you meet these criteria and want to secure housing for your growing family, you can consider a BTO flat under this scheme.

To combat the declining fertility rate in Singapore and promote the establishment of larger families, the HDB has implemented the Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS). This scheme allows couples with more than two children to enhance their chances of securing a BTO flat.

To be eligible under the TCPS, your family must have at least three children. Specifically, the third child must hold Singapore Citizenship, while the other children can be Singapore Citizens (SCs) or Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs).

By applying under the TCPS, you can increase your chances of being successfully allocated a BTO flat considering the priority given to families with more children. The scheme recognises the unique housing needs of larger families and aims to support them in obtaining suitable accommodation.

But what if you qualify for both the PPS and the TCPS? In such a case, your application will be balloted under the TCPS first. If unsuccessful, you will be balloted again under the PPS.

4. Apply for a BTO unit in a non-mature estate

Consider applying for a non-mature estate, which is generally less popular.

Recently, HDB has announced an increase in the allocation of flats for first-time family applicants in non-mature estates. At least 95% of 4-room and larger flat supply will be set aside for these applicants, compared to the previous 85%. Additionally, for 3-room BTO flats, at least 85% of the quota will be reserved for first-time family applicants, up from the current 70%.

First-time single applicants will also see an increase in the allocation of non-senior 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates – from 50% to 65%. It is important to note that the success of your application still depends on the specific non-mature estate and the flat type offered.

In the case of attempting to secure a flat in a non-mature estate, an additional ballot chance is provided for every two unsuccessful applications made. It aims to help young couples/families who have been actively pursuing a flat in non-mature estates but have not yet succeeded.

5. Don’t apply straight after the BTO launch announcement

The process of balloting for an HDB BTO flat does not depend on the timing of your application submission.

Unlike the Open Booking of Flats (OBF) exercise, it is not a matter of being the fastest to apply. Instead, to increase your chances of success, you should monitor the HDB BTO application rates for the various launches throughout the exercise. These rates are regularly updated on the HDB website every few hours.

On the final day of the HDB BTO application exercise, consider applying for a flat type in an estate that has received the least number of applications. You enhance your likelihood of securing a flat by selecting an estate with lower demand.

A tip to consider is that smaller HDB BTO units usually experience lower demand. Therefore, if you are in urgent need of a home, it may be worthwhile to opt for a smaller flat.

By strategically not applying when there are fewer chances of getting a good queue number, you can retain your “first-timer” status.

6. Apply for a flat even in the aftermath of a failed (or unfortunate) marriage

The Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/Widowed parents), abbreviated as ASSIST, provides support for individuals who have experienced divorce or the loss of a spouse and have children. This scheme offers the opportunity to become a homeowner and realise your dream home.

To qualify for ASSIST, you must have at least one child who is 18 years old or younger. Additionally, you should not have obtained any ownership in an HDB flat or private residential property, except for your matrimonial flat or property, following the divorce/separation or the passing of your spouse.

7. For rental flat tenants

The rental market in Singapore experienced a 1.2% rise in HDB rental prices throughout 2020. If you and your family have resided in an HDB public rental flat for at least two years, you may contemplate transitioning to homeownership by applying for a BTO flat. The Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS) is the main scheme to facilitate this transition.

The TPS grants priority to current HDB rental tenants looking to purchase a BTO flat, providing an enhanced opportunity to secure a new home.

8. Make your first application count

When applying for a BTO flat, it is crucial to maximise the benefits of your first application. First-time applicants are granted certain privileges and priority in the allocation process due to the urgency of their housing needs. Therefore, HDB reserves a greater number of flats for first-time applicants during sales launches and provides them with an additional ballot chance.

By understanding and leveraging these privileges, first-time applicants can enhance their chances of securing a BTO flat.

Extra HDB BTO Ballot Chances Following Multiple Unsuccessful Attempts

An application for a flat is considered unsuccessful if you do not receive a queue number or all the available flats are already taken up before your queue number is due.

If you have applied for a BTO flat as a first-time applicant and were unsuccessful, or if you have made two or more unsuccessful attempts, you will be granted an additional chance to apply for an HDB BTO flat in a non-mature estate.

Number of unsuccessful applications (for BTO in non-mature estates)Total ballot chances available for first-timer applicants (for BTO in non-mature estates)
0 to 12

It means that with each subsequent unsuccessful attempt, you gain an extra opportunity to apply for a flat in a non-mature estate. This policy provides increased chances for those who have faced multiple unsuccessful attempts to secure a BTO flat in a more desirable location.

However, this applies to non-mature estates only. If you want to buy a flat in one of those mature estates like Geylang, Bishan, Kallang, etc., you may consider buying an HDB resale flat instead.

Note that in the face of multiple unsuccessful attempts, the key for buyers is to remain resilient and persistent. Continue to monitor the HDB website for upcoming launches and explore different housing options available. It’s important to remember that the process can take time, and success often comes to those who persevere.

FAQs for HDB BTO Ballot

Q. How many times can I ballot for BTO?

First-timer applicants are allocated two ballot chances, whereas second-timer applicants receive only one ballot chance. This distinction emphasises the advantage given to first-timers in the allocation process.

According to the latest HDB rules and ballot chances, a new priority category called FT(PMC) gets one additional ballot chance, i.e., three in total.

Q. Can I ballot two BTOs at the same time?

No, it is not possible to ballot for two BTO flats simultaneously. HDB regulations allow applicants to participate in the ballot for only one BTO project at a time. It ensures fairness in the allocation process and provides equal opportunities for all applicants.

Q. What happens if I reject my BTO?

From the August 2023 BTO exercise onwards, HDB will tighten the rules for the non-selection of flats to ensure efficient flat allocation.

First-timer applicants, including FT(PMC), will lose their first-timer privileges and be deemed as second-timers for one year in the BTO ballot if they do not select a flat (i.e. one count of non-selection). Previously, rejecting two chances to book a flat would lead to a one-year suspension of the first-timer priority. You can still apply for an HDB BTO unit during this one year but without having your first-timer privileges.

If second-time applicants do not secure a flat (i.e., receive a non-selection count), they will need to wait for one year before reapplying for a flat. Again, this is lowered from the current two counts of non-selection.

Conclusion: May the odds be in your favour!

While the BTO balloting process might seem like a game of luck, it can help increase your chances with the right knowledge and strategies. The key lies in understanding the priority schemes and taking advantage of those applicable to your situation.

It helps buyers make smart choices in terms of location and flat type and maximise the use of available grants. But remember, these insider tips only improve your HDB BTO ballot chance; they won’t magically guarantee you a flat.

At Dollarback Mortgage, we recognise the significance of this milestone in your home ownership journey. By implementing the insider tips and strategies shared here, you can boost your chances of securing your dream BTO flat!

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