Applying for BTO in Singapore: Key Items to Consider Before FOMO-Ing and Registering for the Next BTO Launch (2022)

Eugenia Liew
HDB’s announcements of the May and August 2022 Built-to-Order (BTO) flats have, as always, received plenty of attention. The upcoming HDB BTO launch in May 2022 will see about 5,300 new BTO flats in neighbourhoods such as Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, and Yishun. On the other hand, the August 2022 HDB BTO launch will offer about 6,300 to 6,800 BTO flats in estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Queenstown, and Woodlands.
Based on the neighbourhoods alone, you can expect the upcoming BTO projects in the central region, such as Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, and Ang Mo Kio, to be oversubscribed, following the trend of the February 2021 BTO launch where flats in Bidadari and Kallang/Whampoa were oversubscribed in just 24 hours. Even more specific is 2020’s launch of BTO units in Geylang, which was 14 times oversubscribed.
Now, if you’re FOMO-ing that all your friends are applying for an HDB BTO flat and preparing yourself for “The Great BTO Ballot”, please don’t jump the gun and pop the question to bae first.
So while you may be raring to move on to the next step in your relationship and the next phase in life, here are some financial planning to help you jump right in.

Key Considerations Before You BTO

BTO EligibilityCan you and your partner even apply to BTO?
Location – Proximity to parents or in-lawsHow close do you want to live to your parents and/or in-laws?
Home Loan EligibilityWhich home loans (bank vs HDB) and how much loan can you take?
Mortgage AffordabilityHow much in mortgage repayments can you afford each month?
Renovation and FurnishingHow much must you spend to renovate and furnish your BTO before it is ‘move-in ready’?

Check Your Eligibility for Buying an HDB BTO Flat

You want to BTO, but can you even BTO?
The first step to getting your new HDB BTO flat is to check what you’re eligible for. Well, some of these key criteria include your citizenship, income ceiling, if you have any other property (maybe your parents put another house in your name), and so on.
Since this article is on asking your partner if they want to apply for BTO flat with you, we’re assuming it’s your first time applying for an HDB BTO flat, you’re at least 21 years old, and that you’ll be applying under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme with no children in tow.
Do take note that you’ll need to solemnise your marriage within three months of getting the keys to your flat. You’ll also need to submit proof to HDB of your marriage by way of a photocopy of your marriage cert.

Decide How Close You Want to Be to Your Parents (Or Your In-Laws)

If you share a strong bond with your parents (or in-laws), it’s only natural to want to hang out often. Living nearby is also excellent if you need help with your kids (and they’re willing to help), if you often worry about your parents, or if your mum loves to cook.
However, some couples prefer to be in their own world without unannounced visitors showing up at their door ever so often.
Those who need to get an HDB BTO flat in Singapore as soon as possible can utilise this proximity to their parents to enhance their chances through various priority schemes.

Married Child Priority Scheme

For example, the Married Child Priority Scheme helps a married child and his/her parents live with or close to each other for mutual care and support. This extends to Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme applicants too. You’ll need to apply for a BTO flat within 4km from your parents (or with your parents), and there is a 5-year Minimum Occupation Period where both parties cannot move house.

Multi-Generation Priority Scheme

There’s also the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, in which the couple and the parents get new flats in the same precinct. They can make a joint application for two flats in the same BTO project, provided there are 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats available.

Be Realistic About What You Can Afford

It’s one thing to want to live in a 5-room flat in Bishan but realistically, your household income may not support that. Even if you scrimp and save to pay the cash outlay, how sustainable is that in the long-term, especially if you’re planning to have a baby?
Granted, the salary you’re drawing now may not be the salary you’ll be taking home in four to five years’ time when the keys to your BTO flat are finally ready. Nevertheless, it’s better you stay woke and be practical about what you can afford to pay for your new home.
In 2021, Singapore’s median monthly household income from work was $9,520. Assuming that a combined $3,522 goes into their CPF Ordinary Accounts each month, and that they opt for an HDB Loan at 3.16% interest over 25 years, here’s how much cash outlay they could be paying for various BTO units in Singapore:
3-room BTO Flat(Non-mature estate)
4-room BTO Flat (Non-mature estate)
5-room BTO Flat (Non-mature estate)
3-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)
4-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)
5-room BTO Flat (Mature estate)
With our rising median monthly household income, many Singaporeans can likely still afford a 5-room BTO flat in a mature estate. Although those who earn lesser than the median monthly household should consider if they’d want some balance in their CPF OA for their retirement, and if they can continue paying the cash outlay.
For a more detailed look at how much you can actually afford, check out PropertyGuru’s mortgage affordability calculator. When working out how much monthly mortgage repayments you can afford, be sure to also keep the Total Debt Servicing Ratio and Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) in mind.

Check Your Housing Loan Eligibility: HDB BTO Flat Downpayment

In addition to affordability, you’ll also need to check your housing loan eligibility and how much downpayment you need to make for your HDB BTO flat.
As housing is a shared cost, pool your savings together to see how much upfront cash you can afford for the downpayment and other fees, and do discuss if you’d prefer a bank loan or an HDB loan (each has its merits). You should also check if you’re eligible for any CPF housing grants.
For young couples who don’t have a lot of cash, opting for a HDB loan is the common choice as it allows a higher Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit. However, do note that with the recent property cooling measures, the maximum loan amount that can be issued has dropped from 90% to 85%. The remaining 15% downpayment for an HDB loan can be fully paid for with your CPF OA monies.
Meanwhile, a bank loan has a lower LTV limit of 75%. You’ll also need to pay at least 5% of the 25% downpayment of your bank loan in cash (that’s $25,000 on a $500,000 BTO flat), with the balance payable with your CPF OA monies.
However, there are couples who prefer to opt for a bank loan as the interest rate may be currently lower than what HDB offers. Those who choose a bank loan must also be mindful that the rate tends to fluctuate according to the economy, and that one should explore refinancing every few years to get the best rate. Furthermore, just this year the Federal Reserve on announced a half percentage point increase. According to Mr Christopher Wong a Southeast Asia portfolio strategist, the multiple rate hikes this year, will continue to put upward pressure on interest rates in Singapore.
Want to save more on your mortgage? Compare the best mortgage rates on PropertyGuru Finance, or contact us for more personalised advice and recommendations:

Renovation and Interior Design Costs for a BTO Flat

Chances are, while your BTO flat is on its way, you’ll also be busy sourcing for a renovation contractor or an interior designer. At the very least, you’ll need to install lights, paint the walls, and do your flooring, toilets, kitchen, and window grilles/blinds/curtains.
Even if you’re going super bare-bones, you’ll need to purchase furniture, appliances, and other necessities for your home.
One good news is that BTO flats, unlike their resale counterparts, are cheaper to renovate as there’s less/no hacking involved. Here are some cost estimates, provided by Qanvast:
BTO flat typeExpected median renovation cost in 2022
3-room BTO flat$35,000 to $38,000
4-room BTO flat$40,000 to $46,000
5-room BTO flat$47,000 to $56,000
Costs vary, depending on the HDB fittings you’re opting for, how elaborate you want your renovation to be, if there’s any hacking involved, if you want built-in furniture or other customised work done, the cost of the actual fixtures/furniture, and so on.

How Much Money Should You Set Aside to Buy a BTO Flat

If you just want a TL;DR version on applying for a BTO flat as you’re keener on planning your dream proposal, here goes:

Total Estimated Cost of Getting a BTO Flat in Singapore

Submitting application
May be done multiple times, if the ballot isn’t successful
Booking of flat
Option fee: $1,000 to $2,000
Depends on the size of your flat; forms part of your downpayment
Signing of Agreement for Lease
Stamp duty and legal fees
Depends on the cost of your flat (Stamp Duty Calculator)
Downpayment (10% for HDB loan; 25% for bank loan)
Those on an HDB loan can use CPF; those on a bank loan need to pay at least 5% in cash
Depends on the cost of your flat
Collection of keys
Stamp duty and legal fees
Home Protection Scheme
Compulsory if you’re using CPF to pay for your housing loan
Fire insurance
Compulsory if you’re taking an HDB loan
Balance of the purchase price
~$1,400/month over 25 years
Depends on the cost of your flat and the interest rate of the loan
Contractor/Interior Designer
Cash or renovation loan
Depends on your desired renovation works
Do keep in mind that these are just estimated costs; the actual costs vary, depending on the actual cost of your flat, loan type and LTV limit, extent of the renovation, amount of available CPF OA monies, as well as any possible changes to HDB policies in the future.
All set to apply for your BTO flat with bae right now? For a start, check out the May 2022 HDB BTO launches to see if anything catches your fancy. Otherwise, you can always shop for HDB resale flats too.
For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.
Are you looking to buy a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.
Already found a new home? Let PropertyGuru Finance’s home finance advisors help you with financing it.
This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.

More FAQs on BTO in Singapore

Build-To-Order (BTO) flats are HDB flats where construction will begin only if 65-70% of the apartments in the flat have been booked. The construction will be aborted if this requirement is not met.

Yes; but you must be eligible under the 2 schemes: Single Singapore Citizen Scheme and Joint Singles Scheme.

When there is a HDB sales launch, submit your flat application online via HDB InfoWEB at during the 1-week application period. The result will be determined by a ballot.

BTOs have a wait time of three to five years from the date the construction begins. As the start time is dependent on when HDB receives enough applicants, the actual wait time may increase. Currently, due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, construction is expected to be delayed by at least one year or longer.

BTOs in the new Tengah area have been progressively released during HDB BTO launches in the past years. The area is set to be a “forest city” yet is still close to Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Jurong, with two upcoming MRT stations on the new Jurong Region Line. Read the review of the Tengah BTOs in HDB’s May 2021’s launch.