HDB To Reserve More BTO Flats For First-Timers, Applicants Will Lose Priority If No Selection Done 

Up To 40% Of BTO Flats Reserved For First-Timers From August 2023 Launch

Over the years, the increasing difficulty in securing a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat has become a more prominent topic among prospective homeowners.

On Thursday (2 Mar), National Development Minister Desmond Lee shared that from the August 2023 BTO exercise, up to 40% of BTO flats will be reserved for first-time applicants.

First-timers BTO

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

However, Housing Development Board (HDB) will also be tightening some of its policies, reported The Straits Times (ST).

First-time applicants who do not select a BTO flat when invited will be considered second-timers in subsequent flat applications for a year.

Up to 40% of BTO and 60% of SBF units reserved for first-timers

From the August 2023 BTO exercise, up to 40% of flats will be reserved for first-time applicants under the priority scheme, up from the current 30%.

Besides that, up to 60% of Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) units will also be reserved for them, up from 50% now.

HDB will also introduce a new subset of first-timer families — those with Singaporean children aged 18 and below as well as married couples aged 40 and below.

Those under the new First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) priority category will also get one additional ballot chance in their applications.

This means they will have a total of three ballot chances, reports ST.

First-timers will lose priority for a year if flats are not selected

Speaking during the debate on the Ministry of National Development’s (NMD) budget, Mr Lee also announced tightened measures for first-time applicants from the August 2023 BTO exercise.

Those who do not select a BTO flat when invited will be considered second-timers in subsequent flat applications for an entire year, essentially forfeiting their priority status.

There are fewer flats set aside for second-time applicants — only about 5% of four-room and larger flats are reportedly set aside for them as compared to at least 95% for first-timers.

Source: Desmond Lee on Facebook

HDB hopes that this will reduce the number of people who decline to pick a flat.

This way, the board can allocate units more efficiently, allowing those who need a flat to secure one sooner.

The current rule states that first-timers will only be moved to the second-timer category for a year if they do not book a BTO flat twice.

From the August 2023 BTO exercise, second-time applicants will also face stricter rules.

Those who do not pick a BTO flat when invited have to wait one year before applying for a flat again. Currently, this will only happen if they fail to book a flat two times.

ST reported that the only exceptions to this new rule are when applicants have 10 or fewer BTO flats, or five or fewer SBF flats, to choose from.

Nonetheless, HDB understands that there might be extenuating circumstances and they might exercise flexibility in waiving the rule.

Mr Lee said tightening the rules for non-selection of BTO flats will strike a balance between applicants with urgent housing needs and being fair to those who successfully balloted for a flat.

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Featured image adapted from Housing & Development Board on Facebook.

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