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Guide To HDB Sale Of Balance Flats (SBF) 2024

30 Jan 2024

Are you considering purchasing a Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) in Singapore? This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the SBF scheme, from eligibility criteria to the application process.

hdb sale of balance flat sbf 2024

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What is an SBF?

A Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) is basically an unsold unit from a previous Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise.

It may also include surplus units from a Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) replacement flat or other repurchased flats.

The vast majority of flats under the SBF exercises are either newly constructed flats or flats that are already being built.

While there were typically two SBF launches per year in the past, HDB has recently announced that there is only one SBF exercise in 2024.

There are a range of flats available during SBF launches, from 2-room, all the way up to 3Gen HDB flats.

Who is SBF for?

The SBF launch serves as an additional option for individuals or families who cannot afford to wait 4-5 years for a BTO flat and are in need of housing urgently.

BTO flats will only begin construction once 70% of the flats in the project have been booked and the BTO application exercise has been completed.

But for SBF, construction would already have begun prior to the SBF application exercise.

As a result, the wait time for SBF units can be as short as 1-2 years.

Any remaining unsold units after the SBF launch will then be made available through the Open Booking of Flats launch.

What are the key differences between SBF, Open Booking of Flats, BTO, and Resale?

If you’re confused about the different types of flats, don’t worry.

All you need to know is that there are two kinds of flats: new flat or resale flat.

The former is purchased directly from the HDB while the latter is purchased from a homeowner on the resale market.

For new flats, HDB has three modes of sale: (i) BTO (ii) SBF (iii) Open Booking of Flats.

 Build-To-OrderSale of BalanceOpen Booking of FlatsResale
DescriptionNew flats that are launched by the HDBUnsold units from previous BTO exercisesUnsold units from previous SBF exercisesHDB flats that are currently owned by someone else
Launches4 times a year1 time a year2 times a yearAvailable throughout the year
Waiting period4-5 yearsAnywhere from 1-2 years*Within 3 months
Leasehold99 years99 years**Varies
Allocation quota and priority schemesStandard allocation quotas and priority schemes applyFirst come first served basisNA
Grants

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

 

Step-Up CPF Housing Grant

Enhanced CPF 

 

Housing Grant

Proximity Housing Grant

Flat selection appointmentFrom 6 weeks after application exerciseFrom 2 months after application exerciseFrom the next working day after applicationNA
Chances of getting a flatDecentSlimDepends on your wallet

*For completed flats, key collection date can be within 3 months of selection

**With the exception of flats that HDB has repurchased

Source: HDB

Generally speaking, purchasing a new flat (i.e. BTO, SBF, Open Booking of Flats) directly from HDB is considered cheaper than buying a resale flat.

Is it true that SBF units are undesirable?

You may have heard of some people who refer to SBF units as ‘leftover’ units which no one wants to book.

For example, this might include:

  • Flats on low floors
  • Flats which receive afternoon sun (east and west facing walls)
  • Flats directly next to the multi storey car park
  • Flats directly facing a road junction
  • Flats with non-ideal orientation (i.e. master bedroom opposite neighbour’s service yard)

This is true in some sense, but it’s important to remember that not all SBF units are made up of such flats.

Some flats sold through SBF are actually older flats repurchased by HDB through SERS or in cases where the owners have difficulty selling their flat due to the Ethnic Integration Policy quota.

Or sometimes, these flats are made available from couples who have successfully booked a flat under the BTO exercise but then break up before collecting the keys.

More importantly, the perception of being ‘leftover’ (or undesirable) has not stopped prospective homeowners from applying for SBF launches.

SBF launches are notorious for the slim chances of getting a queue number that falls within the supply of available flats.

In fact, application rates for SBF launches are typically much higher than BTO launches for different types of flats across the board.

Just to give you an idea, in the May 2023 SBF exercise, there were:

  • 207 applications competing for 7 SBF 5-room units in Punggol (12.9 application rate)
  • 287 applications competing for 10 SBF 5-room units in Sengkang (13.8 application rate)
  • 84 applications competing for 3 SBF 4-room units in Bishan (19.7 application rate)
  • 239 applications competing for 9 SBF 4-room units in Kallang/Whampoa (21.7 application rate)
  • 145 applications competing for 6 SBF 4-room units in Pasir Ris (18.5 application rate)

For the full number of applications received in the May 2023 SBF exercise, you may refer to this.

Who is eligible to apply for an SBF?

The eligibility criteria for applying for an SBF is generally the same as applying for a BTO flat.

Eligibility schemes

You’ll must apply for an SBF under the HDB’s three existing eligibility schemes:

1. Public Scheme

2. Fiance/Fiancee Scheme

3. Orphans Scheme

Citizenship status

At least one of the applicants must be a Singapore Citizen

At least one other applicant must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore PR

AgeApplicants must be at least 21 years old
Income ceiling

$14,000 (families)

$21,000 (extended families)

Existing or prior property ownership

Applicants must not own other property (overseas or locally) or disposed of it within the last 30 months

Applicants cannot own private property from the date of the flat application till after the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Applicants have not previously bought a new HDB/DBSS flat or EC or received the CPF Housing Grant before

Or, you have only bought one of those properties previously and only received the CPF Housing Grant once so far

Source: HDB

But the most important thing you should take note of is the Housing Flat Eligibility (HFE) check that has to be done before submitting your SBF application.

If your queue number falls within the available supply of units, you will need a HFE letter when going for your flat selection appointment.

For more information, please read our guide on HFE letter applications.

How do I apply for an SBF?

Step #1 Apply for a HFE letter

You will first need to undergo a preliminary HFE check. This involves you filling out various applicant and income details.

Within the next 30 days, you will need to apply for an HFE letter and indicate your preference regarding your housing loan.

This basically assesses your HDB flat eligibility, CPF housing grant eligibility, and HDB loan eligibility all at once.

For those taking a bank loan, you will need to apply for an in-principle approval (IPA) from your selected financial institution or bank on the HDB flat portal.

Step #2 Apply for a unit during the SBF launch

When HDB announces the opening of the SBF launch, you may proceed to submit your online application.

The application window typically lasts for one week so there will be no need to rush, provided you have your HFE letter ready.

Note that the HFE letter is valid for 6 months from the date of issuance, so you can actually apply for it in advance.

Step #3 Book a flat at your flat selection appointment

You will be shortlisted via a computerised ballot and subsequently informed if your application is successful.

This usually takes place about 6 months after the application exercise has completed.

If your queue number falls within the supply of available units for the SBF launch, you will then be invited to a flat selection appointment.

This will be done according to your allocated number in the queue of applicants.

At this point, you will be able to access the relevant documents required for your appointment on the HDB flat portal.

In summary, here is an overview of how the entire SBF process works:

hdb sbf application guide
Source: HDB

When is the next SBF launch?

The next chance to apply for a sale of balance flat will be in the same period as the February 2024 BTO launch.

Can I apply for both BTO and SBF launches?

Unfortunately, you cannot apply for both launches at the same time. You can only apply for one or the other.

How long does it take to get a HFE letter?

It takes approximately 21 days for you to receive the outcome of your HFE letter from the HDB. However, you should note that the processing time may be longer in the period leading up to sales launches.

What would Beansprout do? 

With just one SBF exercise in 2024, we will make sure we are well prepared ahead of the launch in February 2024. 

As a start, we will  familiarise ourselves with the HFE application process with our step-by-step guide to a HFE letter application.

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

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

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