Guide to Buying a New HDB Flat for those Who Cannot Afford a Long Wait

Wait times for HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) projects have been creeping up from as short as 3 years relatively recently to about 5 to 6 years today. For couples who cannot or do not want to buy a property from the resale market, it might be worth exploring these alternatives to BTO flats.

Sale of Balance Flats

Not all flats in a BTO sales launch gets sold. Furthermore, from the time of flat selection to key collection, some applicants may decide to give up their flat due to a variety of reasons. There are also units that have been repurchased by HDB or rehousing units from a Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme development.

All these flats are collated and released for sale under a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, which typically takes place twice a year in conjunction with the May and November BTO sales launches.

Due to the nature of SBF units, wait times range from immediate availability to various stages of completion.

However, do note that with reduced wait times, there is usually strong demand for SBF launches, and it is not uncommon to see oversubscription of multiple times for each available SBF unit.

Open Booking of Flats

Open Booking of Flats is a relatively new scheme launched in 2020. It replaced the Re-Offer of Balance Flats.

Essentially, any flats that were previously offered in a SBF exercise, but for some reason were still unsold, will then be re-offered for sale under the Open Booking of Flats. Thus, major injections of flats typically take place twice a year after an SBF exercise.

Unlike the SBF, applicants can view and apply for available flats all year round. Even though it might understandably  be slim pickings, it might be worth checking out and you might be lucky to secure something.

Queue numbers for flat bookings are issued on a first-come-first-served basis, and you might be invited to book a flat as soon as the next working day.

Executive Condominium

If your budget allows, and you wish to buy a new property, perhaps you can consider going the Executive Condominium (EC) route.

ECs are designed and built by private developers, but are sold under HDB rules, which means buyers might be eligible for CPF housing grants to buy their EC. Build times for ECs are around 3 years, which is considerable shorter than HDB BTO projects.

You can refer to this list of available EC projects and upcoming EC developments. You can also check out EC projects sorted by Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) dates.

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