BTO flat buyers hit by construction delays may appeal to cancel booking without penalties

Victor Kang9 Jul 2021

HDB will waive the option fee and one-year wait-out period for successful appeals. 

Buyers of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats affected by construction delays may appeal to the Housing Board for the cancellation of their flat booking without penalties, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Many BTO projects face construction delays of up to one year or more as the construction industry struggle with labour shortage due to tighter border controls to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“We recognise the challenges faced by flat buyers given the Covid-19 situation and HDB will consider waiving forfeiture based on an assessment of the flat buyers’ specific circumstances,” said the Ministry of National Development (MND) in various written parliamentary replies on 5 July.

The ministry noted that there may be buyers looking to cancel their BTO booking to acquire a resale flat to meet urgent housing needs.

Recommended read: Should You Buy a Balance Flat (HDB SBF/Open Booking) or a Resale Flat?

Buyers who cancel their flat booking typically forfeit either their option fee which could be between $500 and $2,000, or the 5% of the unit’s purchase price that was paid in advance.

Moreover, they would have to wait out a one-year period before they could apply again for another subsidised flat – either a new HDB unit or a resale flat with grants.

“These measures are in place to ensure that buyers are serious when they buy a flat and do not deprive others with urgent housing needs of the opportunity to do so,” said MND as quoted by ST.

But if the buyer’s appeal is granted, the financial penalty and one-year wait-out period will be waived by the HDB.

“The waiver of the one-year wait-out period will allow first-timer families with urgent housing needs to receive housing grants if they decide to buy a resale flat,” explained MND.

Eligible buyers can get up to $160,000 in grants once they acquire a resale flat.

Among those who were able to successfully appeal for the cancellation of their BTO flat booking was a 27-year-old buyer who wanted to be identified only as Ms Low.

In March 2020, Ms Low and her husband applied via open booking for a five-room BTO flat in Tampines GreenVines, believing the project would be swiftly completed since it had been launched in 2018.

Notably, it was their sixth try, with their first five attempts not yielding a queue number.

“When HDB first notified us of the nine months’ delay after the circuit breaker period, we were already thinking of cancelling the BTO flat. But it wasn’t easy to get one so we decided to wait,” she told ST.

“But when we heard news of even further delays, we decided we need to get a resale flat so we engaged a property agent while submitting the appeal to cancel the BTO flat at the same time.”

Low described her appeal, which took around two months, as a “tedious process”. Nonetheless, she considers herself lucky to have been granted a full waiver.

The couple have since purchased a resale four-room flat in Canberra, which is currently undergoing renovations.

“Because of all these delays, we now have to throw our savings into a resale flat which is more expensive than a BTO flat. But if we held on to the BTO flat, we would have to delay our plans to start a family till much later,” she shared.


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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email:


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