From the various schemes to the never-ending acronyms, purchasing a BTO in Singapore can be daunting if you’re a complete newbie. To help you out, we’ve cut through the clutter and compiled an easy-to-follow guide on all you need to know about being a homeowner in Singapore!
So you’ve decided to take the leap and commit your life (and bank account) to the long and sometimes arduous process of owning your very first BTO Singapore home — congrats! But with every ounce of excitement comes an equal amount of nerves and confusion. The Built-To-Order road is, after all, paved with tons of paperwork and complicated processes.
While a quick Google search could give you all you need to know, the sheer amount of info would probably send any first-timer into overdrive. That’s where we come in — we’ve curated all the essential information about landing your very first home in this ultimate BTO Singapore guide, perfect for the clueless and those looking for a quick lunchtime read.
Step 1: Check Your BTO Eligibility!
This is obviously the most crucial step before you send yourself down the BTO Singapore rabbit hole because what’s the point if you can’t purchase one, right? An important thing to note is that the type of flat you’re eligible to apply for is determined by six schemes, however, to qualify for those schemes, you’d need:
✅ To have at least one Singapore Citizen applicant
✅ To be at least 21 years old
✅ To ensure all applicants do not own other property overseas or locally, and must not have disposed of any within the last 30 months
Step 2: What Kind of BTO Can I Get?
If you’ve met the above BTO Singapore requirements, you may now proceed to the next step. What type of flat are you eligible for?
🏡 For 3-Room HDB Flats & Bigger
|Eligibility Scheme||Public Scheme (Family Nucleus)||Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme||Orphans Scheme|
|Requirements||👉🏻 You + Spouse (and kids, if any)|
👉🏻 You + Parents (and siblings, if any)
👉🏻 You + Kids, applying as a divorced/widowed single parent
|👉🏻 You + Future Spouse (and future kids, if any)|
*You’ll need to solemnise your marriage within three months of collecting the keys to your flat.
|👉🏻 You + Siblings* are orphans and are all single (i.e. unmarried, divorced, or widowed) |
👉🏻 At least one of the deceased parents was a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
*If purchasing under this scheme, siblings cannot buy or rent flats separately.
🏡 For 2-Room Flexi Flat (Non-Mature Estates*)
*mature estates = residential areas more than 20 years old (usually more developed and equipped with better amenities and public transport infrastructure)
non-mature estates = residential areas less than 20 years old
|Eligibility Scheme||Single Singapore Citizen Scheme||Joint Singles Scheme||Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme|
✅ Single (i.e. unmarried, divorced, or widowed)
✅ At least 35 years old if unmarried or divorced, and at least 21 years old if widowed
✅ Single (i.e. unmarried, divorced, or widowed)
✅ At least 35 years old
✅ All Singaporean Citizens
✅ For 2 – 4 Applicants
|✅ First-timer |
✅ Spouse must be holding a valid Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass
*If you have a child from the marriage, and they are a Singapore Citizen / Singapore Permanent Resident, then you can apply for a flat under the Public Scheme
💡 Note: If you fall under the Public, Fiancé/Fiancée, or Orphans Schemes, you’re immediately eligible to apply for a 2-Room Flexi Flat in mature estates!
🏡 Income Ceiling
This depends on (and determines) the type of flat you intend to apply for. If your average gross monthly household income (that’s your salary before CPF deduction) exceeds the income ceiling, then you, unfortunately, do not pass the BTO vibe check.
You’re eligible to apply for a flat if you meet the following income ceilings:
|2-Bedroom||3-Bedroom||4-Bedroom or more|
|S$7,000||S$7,000 or S$14,000|
👉🏻 depending on the BTO project
👉🏻 for extended families and/or multi-generation households
Everything looking good so far? Great! You’re now one step closer to becoming a BTO Singapore homeowner. 🎉
However, with the approval comes a whole new world of responsibilities — crucial financial decisions included. These million-dollar question(s) includes:
(A) How Much Will My Flat Cost?
The cost of your flat depends on several factors, but *spoiler alert*, they’re the very same factors that make a BTO project attractive:
i. Location, Location, Location
It comes as no surprise that a BTO project’s location will affect its demand and price. After all, wouldn’t you want to live a walking distance from your favourite bubble tea store or just minutes from the train station or grocery store?
ii. Flat Attributes
Chances are, you want a unit with a stellar view of nature as opposed to the dusty, hectic highway — and so do the thousands of BTO applicants! There’s also size, orientation, story height, plus fittings and furnishes to consider.
No one would’ve thought they’d live to see million-dollar HDB resale flats, but here we are. The property market is powerful and unpredictable — but fortunately, HDB has promised to keep the prices of new flats as affordable as possible regardless of these unseen macro forces.
💡 Check out past BTO launch prices here!
(B) Can I Cushion The Blow With Grants Or Subsidies?
Yes, there are subsidies available! Meet., the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG).
If you’ve had friends who were in the market for BTO Singapore housing in the last few years, you’d have heard them talk about two very confusing subsidy grants. However, we don’t need to get into those because the EHG will henceforth be replacing the preceding two grants!
What Does This Mean For First-Time Applicants?
If you are purchasing your BTO as a family nucleus or as an engaged couple, you will get to enjoy grants of up to $80,000, regardless of your choice of flat or location. The great news is that the income ceiling for the EHG is set at $9,000 a month, which is higher than the previous grants, making owning a home a lot more affordable!
Find out more about the EHG and eligibility based on average monthly household income in the table below:
Image credits: HDB
Step 3: Submit Your Application aka Balloting
🚨 Once HDB officially announces the launch of the project, you have exactly one week to apply. This will be done via the pretty intuitive HDB application portal, HDB InfoWEB.
This is the part where you’ll be forking out your very first payment in the BTO process (don’t worry, it’s a small fee). At this stage you can also try to improve your chances of getting a queue number — but with limitations of course. HDB offers six priority schemes for you to tap into, depending on eligibility. However, because you’re a first-time homeowner, we’ll only share the three schemes that will likely be of interest to you.
|Parenthood Priority Scheme||Multi-Generation Priority Scheme||Married Child Priority Scheme|
|✅ For first-timer married couples with a child ages 18 and below. |
👉🏻 The scheme is also applicable for expecting couples.
|✅ For married children and their parents who wish to purchase flats in the same precinct.||✅ For a married child applying for a flat within a 4KM radius from their parent’s home.|
👉🏻 This scheme also applies to those under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.
🚨 Once you’re all set filling up those forms, you’ll have to pay a S$10 admin fee to seal the deal.
💡Tip: To avoid missing out on the launch exercise, opt-in for HDB’s email and SMS notifications
Just remember that applying to less popular estates could increase your chances — and more importantly, keep in mind that balloting for a BTO Singapore home is a game of chance. It really doesn’t matter how early or late you apply!
Step 4: The Balloting Outcome
So you’ve manifested at full moon, saged your room, and prayed to the gods. Now comes the moment of truth. It’s been approximately three (excruciating) weeks after the application window has closed — it’s time to receive your BTO Singapore balloting outcome.
🎉 Success! You’ve gotten a queue number to choose your flat — the lower the better (i.e. single or double digits) because it means that you have a lot more units to choose from.
🚨 To Note: Receiving a queue number doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely get a unit; your chances are simply higher than other applicants. For example, if your queue number is 150, but there are only 145 units available — it’s likely that you won’t get a unit unless other applicants drop out.
💡 This is the point that we recommend you start prepping your loan documents, which are required when you book your flat. Unless you already have enough cash in your bank account to pay for your flat, you’ll have to choose between an HDB Housing Loan or a bank loan.
While there isn’t a better option per se, there are pros and cons for both options. So the deal-breaker for either option will really depend on individual preference and financial goals. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main differences:
|HDB Housing Loan||Bank Loan||Our Take|
|Interest Rate||2.6%||1.2% – 2.5% — depending on bank and chosen package|
*You can choose between a fixed or floating rate loan package
|👉🏻 Banks typically have lower interest rates, but these percentages are only fixed for 2-3 years. |
👉🏻 Your HDB loan will remain at 2.6% throughout the entire repayment period.
|Loan to Value (LTV) limit||90%||75%||👉🏻 You can borrow 15% more from HDB, which is a pretty sizable amount. |
👉🏻 That being said, it also means that you’ll have to repay more.
|Down Payment Amount||10% paid fully via CPF||5% must be paid in cash. The remaining 20% can be paid using your CPF||👉🏻 It really depends on how much disposable cash you have on hand, and how much you’re willing to part with. |
Some Questions to Ask:
💡 Is there enough for your home reno?
💡 Do you plan to start a family?
|Late Repayment||More lenient, with a fixed 7.5% late repayment fee charged annually||Less lenient, with a $50 late payment fee per repayment||💡 #realtalk — if you’re making a purchase as big as this, a late repayment shouldn’t even be on the cards! |
|Early Repayment||$0 penalty||1.5% penalty||👉🏻 Good on you for wanting to clear your debt as soon as possible! |
Step 5: Booking Your Flat
A couple of weeks after the release of the balloting results, you’ll get the opportunity to pay a visit to HDB Hub to choose your unit!
💡 At this point, you should also already have either an HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (HLE) from HDB or an Approval-in-Principle from your bank, depending on which loan option you’ve opted for.
🚨 Remember to bring along your NETS card because this is when you’ll have to pay your option fee which forms part of the downpayment:
|Flat Type||Option Fee|
|4-room and bigger||S$2,000|
🚨 You’ll also need to apply for any HDB grants during this time, but fret not — the friendly HDB officer will guide you through the process.
Step 6: Signing Your Lease
After a four-month lull from the date you booked your flat, you’ll be invited back to the Hub to sign your BTO Singapore lease agreement — and to pay for the down payment and any other fees.
✅ For Those Taking An HDB Loan:
👉🏻 This means forking out 10% of the purchase price through CPF and/or cash.
✅ For Those Taking A Bank Loan:
👉🏻 You’ll have to pay a minimum of 5% in cash, and the remaining 15% through your CPF.
🚨 You’ll also need to pay your stamp duty and legal fees. There’s quite a bit of math involved at this point, so instead of overwhelming you with numbers, check out this cost list by HDB when you’re ready.
At this point, you’ll also have to decide on the ownership status of your upcoming BTO Singapore HDB flat! It’s pretty straightforward:
👉🏻 Both owners have an equal stake in the flat regardless of how much each has contributed
👉🏻 Both owners’ percentage of ownership is dependent on how much each person contributed
And now, you wait for 4-5 years.
Step 7: Collecting Your Keys
No more waiting with bated breath — the home is officially yours! Head down to the hallowed halls of the HDB Hub once more to collect your keys, and to make the final round of stamp duty, legal and other miscellaneous fee payments.
You can finally close the chapter on the long and arduous BTO Singapore journey, and embark on your exciting new adventure as a legal homeowner. We can’t promise that it won’t be riddled with anxiety and annoyance (hello, home reno), but we assure you that it’ll be an unforgettable one.
Congratulations, You’re A New BTO Singapore Home Owner!
In our lifetime, big-ticket purchases are likely few and far between. So when they do eventually happen, you deserve the right to shout from the rooftops (proverbial of course, please don’t stand on actual rooftops) and celebrate your success!
Once you’re done popping that champagne, it’s important you come back down to Earth and face the new debt-riddled reality — this means reassessing your spending habits (like cutting down on your weekend brunch dates), and spending more time building up your nest.
Of course, while people often make ‘debt’ out to be some sort of dirty word, remember that your eventual home purchase can become good debt i.e. things that help you build wealth and income over time — you just need to make sure you take your financial planning seriously.
While we might not be able to help you get discounts off your monthly BTO repayments, our YouTrip Card still comes in handy! Whether it’s a Taobao shopping spree for your future BTO, or for that long-awaited VTL trip out to anywhere and everywhere, just know that our Wholesale Exchange Rates and YouTrip Perks will always be here for you. A little goes a long way, after all!
If you still haven’t gotten your free YouTrip card, what are you waiting for? Stack and save with <BLOG5> for a free S$5 off your shopping spree! For more great guides like this, join our Telegram Channel (@YouTripSG) and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter here or down below!