Buying A HDB BTO Flat: A Step-by-Step Guide (2023)

By Beansprout • 07 May 2023 • 0 min read

Looking to buy a new HDB BTO flat in 2023? Our comprehensive step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know, from eligibility criteria and financing options to the application process and beyond.

HDB BTO Flat Step by Step guide
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Most Singaporeans dream about having their own space to call home. However, applying for an HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Singapore can be a daunting process. 

Fear not, for we've got you covered. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know before buying a HDB BTO flat in Singapore.

Step-by-step guide to buying a HDB BTO flat 

#1 - Check Eligibility for HDB BTO Flat

Before you dive into the application process, it's important to understand whether you meet the eligibility requirements for a BTO flat. Here are some of the key factors to consider

Household income ceiling
  • To apply for a BTO flat, your household income must fall within certain limits.
  • As of May 2023, the income ceiling for most BTO projects is S$14,000 per month.
  • It's important to note that your income will be assessed based on the average monthly income over the past 12 months.
Citizenship and Age
  • At least one applicant must be a Singapore citizen, and applicants must be at least 21 years old at the time of application.
  • If you're applying as a couple, both of you must be listed as co-applicants.
Existing or Prior Property Ownership
  • Both you and your partner must not own any other residential property, either locally or overseas.
  • If you do, you must have disposed of them 30 months prior to applying for a BTO flat.
Eligibility Schemes
  • You must form a family nucleus to be eligible for a BTO flat.
  • There are various eligibility schemes under which you can do so, such as:
  • Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
  • Married Couples and/or Parents with Children
  • Multi-Generation Families
  • Orphaned Siblings
  • Families with Non-Residents
  • Each scheme has its own set of eligibility criteria, so it's important to do your research to see which one applies to you.
  • Singles aged 35 and above are allowed to apply for a BTO as well. However, they are limited to 2-room Flexi flats in non-mature estates.

For more information, you may refer to the HDB website.


#2 - Look out for HDB BTO Flat Sales Launches

HDB BTO sales launches are typically held four times a year, and they offer a range of flats in various locations and sizes to cater to different needs and budgets.

There are two types of BTO projects: mature estates and non-mature estates.

It is important to check the HDB website regularly to stay updated with news regarding upcoming sales launches.

The good thing is that HDB publicly announces the upcoming BTO projects 6 months ahead of the launch.

Source: HDB


However, only general details such as the site location, type of units, and number of units available are provided.

Specific details such as the price of the different units, site plan, and flat layout will only be provided much later.

The actual date of the BTO launch has, in recent years, tended to fall on the last few days of the stipulated month.

So if you’re anticipating the launch date, it’s best to keep a lookout on the last week especially.

#3 – Get a valid HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter

Previously, applicants would only apply for a HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter after getting a successful ballot number.

HDB has since introduced a new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter that replaces the HLE.

From 9 May 2023 onwards, buyers must have a valid HFE letter when they apply for a flat during a sales launch.

In other words, you need a HFE letter before you apply for a flat.

This allows HDB to streamline the flat purchase process by combining the various eligibility assessments for a full spectrum of applications for flat purchases, grants, and loans.

There are two important steps required for the HFE letter application.

First, applicants must undergo a preliminary HFE check on the HDB flat portal.

HDB will then conduct a preliminary assessment which gives them an overview of their eligibility to (i) purchase a flat (ii) receive CPF grants (iii) take up a HDB housing loan.

Second, applicants must also apply for a HFE letter on the HDB flat portal.

Once obtained, this HFE letter will be valid for 6 months from the date of issue.

Importantly, these two steps must be completed within 30 calendar days of each other.

Source: HDB


#4 – Make a first appointment for HDB BTO flat Selection

You will then receive an email with the results of your application.

Note that the results of the ballot will typically be released 3 weeks after the application period.

After successfully getting a queue number within the flat supply, you will proceed to shortlist your flat.

At this point, you can login to the HDB portal to access various documents that provide details about the site location.

From here, you can analyse the layout of the different blocks and mark out your preferred units ahead of your appointment.

Source: HDB


You will also be able to see which units are left remaining up till the day you go for your first appointment.

Once you have selected your unit, you will be required to pay the option fee:

  • $500 (for 2-room Flexi flats)
  • $1,000 (for 3-room flats)
  • $2,000 (for 4-room or larger flats)

The entire selection period will generally take a few months to complete.

While you wait your turn, bear in mind that there are cases of applicants who drop out of the selection process at this stage.

As such, it is possible that you will be bumped up in the queue.

#5 Make a second appointment for lease agreement

The second appointment is when you will be asked to sign the lease agreement.

This appointment can take place anywhere from 4 to 6 months after your first appointment.

Here are a few things you’ll need to decide on at this point in time: 

a. Decide on HDB or bank loan

As you make your downpayment for the HDB BTO flat, the amount you will need to pay depends on whether you are opting for a HDB or bank loan.

If you are going for a HDB loan, you will have to pay 20% of the purchase price using a combination of CPF and/or cash.

If you are going for a bank loan, you will have to pay 25% of the purchase price, of which 5% must be in cash, and the remaining can be paid in CPF and/or cash.

Undecided about whether to take a HDB loan or bank loan? Find out whether a HDB loan or bank loan is better for you with our guide. 

There will also be additional fees in the form of legal fees and stamp duties.

The rates of the stamp duty are as follows:

  • 1% for first $180,000
  • 2% for next $180,000
  • 3% for the remainder of the amount

For first-timer couples applying under the Fiancé/Fiancée scheme, you may opt for the Staggered Downpayment scheme.

This means you will only need to pay 5% at the second appointment using CPF or cash.

b. Decide on ownership status

Finally, another important thing to note is that you will be required to decide on the ownership status of the HDB flat.

Here, you can choose between a joint-tenancy agreement or tenancy-in-common agreement.

For the former, both parties will have full ownership of the flat, with the right of survivorship should either party pass away.

Think of it as both owning 100% of the flat.

For the latter, both parties will own a portion of the flat each, which may be split 50-50, 70-30, or any other proportion.

#6 – Collect your keys! 

After 4-6 years of waiting, you will be invited to collect your keys!

The remaining downpayment of 5% or 10%, depending on the LTV limit for your housing loan, will also be paid at this stage.

Source: HDB

For those who opted for the staggered downpayment scheme, this may either be 5%, 10%, or 15%.

Source: HDB


Overall, key collection is more or less a straightforward process, and you will officially be a homeowner.

Remember to save the date and bring the required documents needed.

This is also where it is important to inspect your flat for any defects and inform HDB accordingly before you start your renovation.

After which, you will finally be able to enjoy your home.

What would Beansprout do? 

Buying a HDB BTO flat is a key milestone for any Singaporean, and we should make sure we are financially prepared to make such a commitment. 

To get started, you can look at various ways to maximise your savings and make your cash work harder for you. 

When you are ready to take the plunge towards a HDB BTO flat, find out if you should take a HDB loan or bank loan

If you are taking a bank loan for your HDB flat purchase, read our step-by-step guide on how to choose the best one that meets your financial needs. 

Join the Beansprout Telegram group to get the latest updates on Singapore stocks, bonds, REITs and ETFs. 

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