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Buying Your First BTO Flat? Here're 8 Things You Should Pay Attention



You’ve found the right partner and want to settle down. The first logical step is to apply for an HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) flat.


BTO flats are flats that are yet to be built and when completed, come with a fresh 99-year lease.


In today’s article, we will delve into 8 things you should look at when buying your first BTO flat.


1. Check your eligibility



To apply for a BTO flat, you must meet the eligibility. Different eligibility conditions apply depending on which flat type you are applying for, whether it’s a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat, or a normal HDB flat.


For normal HDB flats, if you are applying with your spouse or future spouse, at least one person must be a Singapore Citizen and your partner should be another SC or a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) and both must be 21 years old and above.


The average gross monthly household income (income ceiling) is $14,000 and both of you must not have ownership of other local or overseas properties or have disposed of them within the past 30 months.



2. Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG)


Buying the first property is a huge commitment financially and fortunately, there are several HDB schemes to help with homeownership.


If you and your spouse/future spouse have a combined average gross monthly income for the 12 months before your flat application, of not more than $9,000, you can apply for the EHG.


If you and your partner are young working professionals applying for the first time, you can qualify for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000.


The lower the household income is, the larger the EHG amount.


Once you ascertain how much is the EHG amount you are getting, you can then work out your finances and plan for the next step accordingly.


Please refer to the below for the calculation of the grant amount.




3. Deciding which HDB flat type


After finding out the EHG amount and sorting out your financial situation, it is time to decide on which flat type to apply.



Planning for the future will also allow you to make a decision on which type of flat to apply for.


If you are starting a family and are financially sound, the obvious choice would be a 4 or 5 bedroom.


Bear in mind the price difference in different estates.


The cost of five-bedroom BTO flats in non-mature estates is from $420,000 to $520,000 whereas the same flat type in a mature estate would cost between $420,000 to $720,000.

4. Utilise your CPF or top up by cash


The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is designed to help citizens save up for retirement.



Your savings in the CPF Ordinary Account (OA) earns a legislated minimum interest of 2.5% per annum and the interest rate for Special and MediSave Account​ earns 4% per annum.


Both interest rates are reviewed quarterly.


So if you used your CPF to pay for your flat, you’ll need to return the principal as well as any accrued interest, which you would’ve earned if the amount were not withdrawn.


However, it is not quite possible to pay cash for your flat, therefore, it is best to study your financial situation carefully and decide how much you want to use the CPF funds.


5. Applying for an HDB loan or financial institution loan



If you wish to take out an HDB housing loan, you need to first apply for and obtain an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter.


The HLE letter will inform you of the loan amount you can receive, based on your financial situation.


It is therefore prudent to obtain an HLE letter before you start searching for a flat, as knowing the available housing loan amount will help you to estimate your flat budget.


When you take a housing loan from HDB, you can later refinance the loan with another housing loan from a financial institution (FI). However, if you take a housing loan from an FI, you will not be allowed to refinance the loan with an HDB housing loan subsequently.

When you take a loan from HDB, you have the option of retaining up to $20,000 in your CPF OA. The rest of the available CPF OA balance must be used to pay for the flat purchase.


If you decide to take a loan from an FI, bear in mind that they must be regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).


When choosing a housing loan from an FI, assess the different housing loan packages offered and decide which is the best option for you. Look out for key terms and conditions (T&Cs) such as lock-in periods, interest rates, and other financial considerations.


6. HDB's BTO website


For all information on BTOs, visit HDB's official website here.


Here, you can view past and upcoming BTO launches, flats available for selection and application status.


They even have a calculator to help you with your financial planning.


The information found here can also help you to decide on the estate that you want to apply for. You can view the map of the actual location and nearby amenities as well as the flat types available and the number of units for each flat type.



7. Low floor or high floor preference



We all dream of an unblocked view from our flat, but it is not always possible.


You can live on the highest floor of your block but if it is facing another block of a similar height, you will end up looking into your neighbour’s home instead.


It is best to study the map provided by HDB and see the surrounding.


Also bear in mind that the higher the floor, the cost of the home is also higher by approximately half a percentage point.


8. Unit layout


After identifying the estate you want to apply for, you should then study the unit layout.


It is best to avoid layouts with odd corners. You should also study the direction that the unit is facing.



As a rule of thumb, north and south-facing units are the most popular.


Use a compass to find the direction of the sunrise and sunset. Avoiding direct sunlight will result in a cooler place when you return home after work.


Have a question? Feel free to comment below.


Are you looking for a new home? Head to Mogul.sg to browse your preference of properties for sale or rent in Singapore.





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