Applying for the May 2015 BTO launch or SBF? Some things you may want to consider.

May 2015 BTO SBF

If you’re in the market for a new home, you’ve probably noticed that HDB has just released the sale of over 9000 Built – To –Order (BTO) Flats and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF May 2015).

9431 units all around Singapore to be exact. This is part of the Government’s drive to increase the supply and possibly to drive down prices to make HDB flats more affordable.

The price of new flats are certainly very tempting, but before you submit an application for a unit, here are a few factors you need to consider.

1. Resale Levy

A lot of prospective buyers of new flats are not aware that they would need to pay a resale levy if this is their Second Subsidized HDB Flat.

What is a subsidized HDB flat?

It is one of the following

A) A flat that you purchased directly from HDB either from a previous BTO or SBF or if you’ve purchased it a while ago, from the ‘Walk-In Selection’ scheme that HDB used to have. Flats bought directly from HDB are typically cheaper than those bought on the open market.

B)A resale flat purchased using a grant, typically the first timer grant of $30 k or a family grant of $40k.

According to HDB, the resale levy is “ meant to reduce the subsidy on the second subsidised flat so as to maintain a fair allocation of public housing subsidies between first- and second-timer citizen families.”

This ensures that owners of subsidized properties cannot or shouldn’t profit excessively from the sale of the first flat.

How much Resale Levy do I need to pay?

The amount of resale levy you pay depends on the size of your first flat.

Resale Levy Table

[Please take note that you might also be affected by the old resale levy policy that was in force before 3rd March 2006. ]

3)Loan amount you are entitled to.

The method of calculating the HDB loan amount you are entitled to or the MSR has changed as part of the Government cooling measures. Even if your income situation has not changed since your last Housing Loan Eligibility (HLE), you may not be eligible for the same loan amount.

As of 9 December 2013, based on the new MSR rule, your HDB or EC loan cannot be more than 30% of your salary. The loan tenure has also been reduced to 25 years.

You should also take note of the no of years left that you are eligible to take a HDB loan.

4) Nearing Retirement age and Minimum Sum

If the purchase of the second BTO takes place while you are nearing 55, you should be aware that you would need to set aside half of the minimum sum in your retirement account (RA), so you would need to plan your timeline properly to avoid being in a situation where you do not have sufficient funds to pay for the BTO/SBF.

4) Miscellaneous costs for renovation

Although getting a BTO may seem like a great deal, you should factor in miscellaneous costs like renovation, furniture etc . Certain developments may come with built in wardrobes, toilet accessories,  but you may want to also hire your own contractors.

You should also read our article on the comparison between BTOs and Resale Flats

5) The falling prices of flats

The introduction of new flats in the market is meant to stabilize the demand and supply. High Demand and insufficient supply led to sky high prices and the Government is working hard to stabilize prices though the injection of supply.

However, this also means that the price of your current flat might fall. Falling prices does not mean that you should not sell your flat. It just means that you should include a buffer amount when doing the calculations to determine your profit.

Good Luck! 


Singapore Condos : Which one should I buy? New Launch, Recently TOP or a Resale Unit?

Buying a private property in Singapore

If you are looking to find out more information on executive condos, click here instead

Which Singapore condo development should i choose

It’s come to that point in your life where you know the time is right for you to get an investment property  to rent out in Singapore. ( For purposes of this article, we shall refer to properties that you rent out as rental properties).

You’ve been patiently monitoring the market and you are ready to swoop in. You’ve done your finances, reorganized your property portfolio around the additional buyers stamp duty (absd). 

Continue Reading

How to sell your house for a higher price in a slow market? Home Staging : An additional Perk or a Must Have?

How to Sell my home at a high price

How to set up your home to appeal to the buyers.

At the point of writing this article, the Singapore Property Prices have faced consecutive quarters of price decline. This may be a result of the various Government cooling measures which have been effective in cooling the red hot market.  With the impending massive supply of BTOs and Private Housing entering the market in 2014- 2018, you might be keen to sell your unit now before the prices drop much further.

However, you may have heard that it is a currently a buyers market. Coupled with the TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio) that has limited affordability, Buyers are also adopting a wait and see approach before purchasing a unit.

How then can a property owner take control of the selling process to ensure he can command a high price when the demand is low?  One way is to stage the home to ensure that it appeals to every buyer that walks through the door.

[Read more…]

A Quiet 2014? What does this mean for buyers and sellers of HDB Flats in Singapore

HDB Flats in Singapore

Recently, several newspapers have been publishing forecasts of a quiet 2014 for the real estate market including HDB Flats in Singapore. (For example, this one by Straits times.) This, in addition to all the cooling measures rolled out by the Singapore Government since the September 2009. As an observer who owns a HDB or need one pretty soon, its no wonder you’re confused about how it’s going to affect you.

Housing is a tricky topic. It can make a person rich if bought and sold at the right time, but at the same time there are thousands of bankruptcy cases because decisions are made on impulse and without proper planning. Despite that, no one can argue that housing is a basic human need, because everyone needs a roof over their heads. As public housing, HDB flats in Singapore were created for that purpose, i.e. to fulfill the basic human need for shelter.

[Read more…]

First Timers Dilemma : HDB BTO or Resale Flat?

Should first -timers buy a HDB Build to Order (BTO) Flat, HDB ROF (Re-offer of Balance Flat) or Resale Flats?

In Singapore, HDB (Housing and Development Board) is the main developer of public homes. High rise apartments, or better known to those living in Singapore as HDB Flats, is home to more than eighty percent of Singaporeans.

Each Singapore Citizen married couple (or Singaporeans within accepted criteria) is given 2 chances to purchase apartments directly from HDB. These include HDB BTO ( Built- to - Order), SBF (Sales of Balance Flat), ROF ( Re-offer of Balance Flats) as well as Executive Condominiums (ECs). Flats purchased from HDB are usually 'subsidised' or relatively cheaper compared to the existing developments in the area. However waiting time can be substantially longer as you purchase them while they are being developed. The exact duration you have to wait depends on if you purchase a BTO, SBF, ROF Flat.

The difference between BTO, SBF and ROF.

Most Built- to -Order flats (BTOs), Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) and Re-offer of Balance Flat (ROF) start out at the same point. HDB releases a site, and invites Singaporeans to purchase a unit. Singaporeans enter their names in a ballot for a BTO and they are able to select a flat based on their ballot numbers. ( The number of times your name is entered in a ballot depends on the priority schemes you are entitled to. ) 

Unselected flats from that round will be put in the pool for the next SBF. Eligible Singaporeans apply for the SBF and if there are flats that are still unselected, it would end up in the ROF pool. The ROF was previously held twice a year but HDB has recently announced that they will offer the ROF flats throughout the year.  This would reduce the waiting time for a ROF, because the flat would probably be ready for key collection by then. 

However, HDB has also started to offer resale flats which have been returned to them for various reasons ( divorce, death, inability to pay mortgage, unable to sell on the open market etc). These flats are also included in the pool of SBF but the reasons are not disclosed during the sale. You are also unable to see or check out the condition of these flats before you purchase. 

HDB has also started to place 're-purchased flats' into its pool of SBF/ROF flats. When selecting flats, you should be aware that not all of these are brand new flats. 

SBF Flats - Flats that are taken back by HDB

Take note that not all flats sold by HDB during their SBF/ROF is brand new.


Simply put, ROF flats are flats that have not been selected by previous potential buyers because of their attributes. This should be a critical factor for Singaporeans who wants to buy a new flat for its potential appreciation.

ROF FB comment Re offer of HDB flats

What should first - timer couples do? 

For newly married couples excited to begin their lives, there’s always the choice between buying a new HDB (BTO,SBF or ROF) or a resale flat. Until recently, resale flats in the open market have been too expensive for most first timers, with COVs ( Cash Over Valuations i.e. the cash premium above and beyond the flat’s valuation) going for an average of $30 000 to highs of $100 000. With other expenses to consider like wedding, furniture, renovation etc, the COV can be a deterrent to young couples. 

COVs have been falling to the point that it is no longer a norm, however it may still exist if you purchase a flat above the valuation price. (Confused? Don’t worry, we break it down in this article. Does $0 cov mean no cash upfront?  If you need more info regarding the steps to buying a resale flat, read this, " Buying a HDB resale flat ")

However, for new couples, settling into your own home as soon as possible can be one of the single most crucial steps in life. Unless you’ve been living together prior to marriage, a practice not very common to Asians, you would treasure the privacy that a new home provides, allowing you and your new spouse the opportunity to negotiate simple things in married life (like who cooks and does the dishes) and slowly work on constructing your lives.

HDB BTO, ROF or Resale? 

If you are one of those still undecided about if you should be buying a flat directly from HDB (BTO or ROF) or a HDB Resale Flat, these are some facts you can consider.



Resale Flats

Waiting Time

From the time of launch, the waiting times have an average of 2-4 years depending on the developer’s schedule.

HDB hasn't confirmed the duration it will take to get the keys to a flat but we estimate it would take between 3- 4 months.  

Once you decide on a house and exercise the option to purchase, it would take about 3- 6 months to the point you receive keys to the flat. 


For newly married couples, getting a BTO means that you have to live with either set of parents, which can result in a lack of privacy, having to meet the expectations of the In-laws etc.

Getting a flat direct from HDB which you can move right into after marriage is ideal. 


The privacy that comes with your own space, having a room with an en suite is most ideal

Flat Sizes

New flats in BTO and SBF are typically smaller in size.

ROF which are  new flats are typically smaller in size.

Resale HDB flats are much larger in size

Settling on one with an Size and Ideal Position.

Buying a BTO is similar to buying an item virtually or online. You view it on a screen, put in your order and be patient until its delivered. You are unable to see the view, whether you face your neighbours, the direction of the wind, the afternoon sun etc. 

Unfortunately for HDB BTO, there is no return policy if you are not fully satisfied with it.

You pick the flat from a list and you are not able to know how the unit looks likes, the direction it faces etc. 

When buying a resale flat, you would put in an offer to purchase the flat if you are totally satisfied with it. This includes being satisfied with the size, the location and the position of the flat i.e. the direction it is facing, the view, etc.


The cost of a Build to Order flat is subsidized by HDB which means that it is cheaper.

This means that you will NOT be able to utilize your first timer or proximity grants. ($40k - $70 k )

However if the total income of you and your spouse is less than $6500, (depending on the size and location of the flat you select), you will be eligible for the

Additional Housing Grant and the Special Housing Grant.

Also, if your order for the BTO is not put in at the initial launch, i.e. you buy it at the SBF (Sale of Balance Flat) Exercise, the price may have risen substantially to be similar to flats in the resale market.

The cost would be similar to a SBF. It would not be as cheap as a BTO as the unit is already completed. However, it will still be considered subsidised compared to a flat sold on the resale market. 

Resale Flats prices are pegged to the market rate of houses in the area and the current Real estate prices at that point in time.

For first time buyers, HDB provides a grant of $40 000 - $50 000 or more depending on your household income.

This is not inclusive of the $20 000 Proximity grant that you can get if you pick a flat close to your parents/ parents-in-law

You may also qualify for the Additional Housing Grant  of up to $40 000 if your combined income is less than $5k.

Renovation Costs

New BTO flats come unfurnished and you have to factor in renovation costs.

However, as they do not have existing floorings, cabinets etc, you can save quite a lot on hacking costs. You basically have a blank canvas to create your ideal living space.

Another positive point for new couples is that buying a flat that would only be ready in the future enables you to save up for renovation costs instead of paying additional interest on loans

Renovation costs of brand new flats are cheaper, but if you selected a 'repurchased' flat from the SBF/ROF, it would be similar to a resale flat which needs a total makeover

With regards to Renovation Costs, there 2 are scenarios which can happen.

A) You can select an apartment in good condition and save time and effort and money.

B) If you want to redo the flat, you would need to spend more on hacking and tearing down the current furnishings.

Old homes may also come with defects that form over time, for example leakage in pipes, crack in ceilings etc.


New flats in new estates usually do not have established amenities in the neighbourhood.

Similar to new BTO/SBF if they are brand new but similar to resale flats if they are repurchased. 

Mature housing estates have amenities conveniently within the neighbourhood

Potential for appreciation

If you bought a BTO and are able to select one with the best attributes, i.e. good unit in a good location, that is not faced with ethnic quota restrictions, you can somewhat count on an appreciation. 

Flat prices may appreciate to match the resale prices but you may find it hard to find a buyer because of the flat's attributes.

Flat prices might not appreciate as much as BTOs or SBF Flats.

If you are ready to purchase a resale flat but you are not sure where to start, you may find this article useful : Buying a resale flat.

HDB Resale Flat - Where to start

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? I’ll probably steal the jars instead!

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your kitchen but the purse strings aren’t long enough at the moment, you may want to consider smaller eye catching projects that would instantly perk up the room. Clearing out your kitchen countertop of everything but coordinated storage jars will immediately bring in a new aura to your kitchen. Try these DIY Projects for unique creations nobody else would have.

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Location… Probably Heaven.. Homes you can’t stop dreaming about

Your home is your personal heaven. After a hard day’s work, you want nothing more than to come home to a place which melts away all your stress, and admit it, validates your choice to work so hard to pay off that mortgage.

These are 9 homes that we are so in love with.

1) The one where you can walk on water. 

[Read more…]

HDB Living Rooms you can live in forever…. and ever… and ever….

I know we said forever and ever, but, sorry we lied. HDB leases are only for 99 years.

Still, the appealing designs of these HDB flats really makes us want to stay in there, forever and ever.

1) Industrial Chic.

HDB deco inspiration

Source :

2) Earthy Tones

Disclaimer: We’re not quite sure if this is a HDB Flat but, the layout seems similar.

HDB Deco inspiration


3.  Moroccan / Spanish Tile chic.

Beautiful Home Decor

4. Black and White.

This is a kitchen, but we sure wish the tiles follow us back into the living room.

Unique  HDB Flat Decor

Source :

5. Minimalism at its best

HDB Inspirational Decor Source :

The 36 Things you Obviously need in your (Singapore) home

So you’re dying to make your home so unique, money’s no object. Here’s 6 options that suitable  for your Singapore Property, that might stoke your fancy.

Source: BuzzFeed’s ‘The 36 Things You Obviously Need in your home’.

Obviously, right?

[Read more…]