Sale of Balance Flats 2022: Guide to Buying an HDB SBF Flat in Singapore

Sale of Balance Flats 2022: Guide to Buying an HDB SBF Flat in Singapore
Sale of Balance Flats 2022: Guide to Buying an HDB SBF Flat in Singapore

Note: The November 2022 Sale of Balance Flats exercise has been launched. Applications close on 1 December 2022, 11.59pm.

First-time homebuyers who can’t afford to wait four or five years for a BTO flat or pay for an HDB resale flat – which prices continue to climb upwards, rising by 10.7% in the third quarter of 2022 can fast-track the process by applying for the HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2022 (SBF) or Open Booking of Flats unit.

HDB SBF 2022 flats will definitely be an ideal option for young couples looking to obtain an affordable home in Singapore fast. However, the exercise can be competitive, with the success rate for SBF has dropped from 52% in 2017 to 17% in 2021. Meanwhile, the success rate for securing a unit during the Open Booking of Flats exercise also dipped to 65% in 2021, compared to the 100% success rate when it was first launched in 2019.

In this article, we’ll explain the HDB SBF 2022 exercise and how it compares against a BTO flat and an Open Booking of Flats unit. And should you decide that you’d like to apply for an SBF HDB unit, we’ll also guide you through the eligibility criteria and application process for the HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2022 exercise.

What Is the Sale of Balance Flats 2022 (SBF HDB)?

SBF HDB scheme is essentially an exercise that pools unsold flats from past BTO launches, surplus flats from Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects, and any flats repurchased by HDB.

The SBF exercise occurs twice yearly, usually in May and November. These SBF HDB flats are released alongside the BTO flat launches in those months.

Number of SBF Units Launched (Nov 2020 to Nov 2022)

Nov 2022

1,071

May 2022

1,952

Nov 2021

1,798

May 2021

2,494

Nov 2020

5,220

What Happens to Unselected Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Units?

With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly
With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly

Previously, all unsold flats from HDB SBF exercises will be first offered through the ROF exercises. If these flats remain unselected, they will be made available for open booking. However, in March 2020, the government announced the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) scheme would be removed to allow home buyers to obtain their flats more quickly.

With the removal of ROF exercises, all unsold BTO flats will first be offered through the SBF HDB exercise. If they remain unselected, these HDB flats will then be offered under the Open Booking of Flats exercise.

These flats under the Open Booking of Flats exercise are available on a first-come-first-served basis. That means once all the flats are booked, that’s it!

Currently, all units for open booking have been booked. A fresh supply of flats will be made available to view in March 2023. The commencement date for the online application will also be announced, so keep an eye out for them!

In summary, here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between the HDB SBF and Open Booking of Flats exercises:

What are they

HDB SBF flats

Open Booking of Flats flats

When they are made available

Twice a year, typically in May and November

Subject to HDB’s announcement, a fresh supply of flats will be made for viewing on March 2023

Flats offered

Balance flats from previous BTO launches

Balance flats from past HDB SBF launches

Number of flats offered

Varies, typically about 3,000

Varies, typically less than 300

Application period

One week

Open throughout the year (ends when all available flats are booked)

Unit type

Most unit types are available

Limited choices for unit size

Ethnic quota

Relatively spread out among different races

Usually, fewer units for Chinese buyers

HDB BTO Flats vs Sale of Balance Flats 2022: What’s the Difference?

Any unsold BTO flats will now first be offered through HDB sale of balance flats (HDB SBF). The unsold SBF flats will then be offered through an open booking, instead of going through another round of re-offer of balance flats (ROF) exercise
Under HDB’s Sale of Balance Flats scheme, you get to choose from a wider range of locations compared to the BTO scheme

1. Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Units on Offer Have a Shorter Waiting Period

The main difference between the HDB SBF and HDB BTO flat is the shorter waiting time for a completed unit.

Since the construction of BTO flats will only begin if at least 70% of flats are booked, this means the process is longer as the waiting time is usually about three to four years. But with construction delays, the estimated waiting times for flats launched in 2020 and 2021 range between three to five and a half years

In contrast, HDB SBF launches sell leftover flats from projects that are either under construction or have already been completed (that are ready to be moved into). As a result, you can anticipate receiving your apartment much sooner.

This is especially great for young couples who do not want to delay marriage until they have a home, or do not wish to spend money on rental homes while waiting for their BTO unit to complete. Single unwed parents and seniors also stand to benefit from the shorter waiting time for the sale of balance exercise.

In the BTO sales launch in November 2022, keen buyers can look forward to balloting for a flat in Bukit Batok, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown, Tengah, and Yishun. However, do take note that you can only apply for one scheme at any given time.

So, if you’re already planning to apply for the HDB BTO launch in November 2022, you can’t put in an application for the Sale of Balance Flats 2022 November exercise.

2. Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Offers You More Locations to Choose From

Since the scheme pools unsold flats from many projects, the Sale of Balance Flats launches are located in both mature and non-mature estates across Singapore. While there are fewer total units available for sale, you have more locations and options to choose from when applying for an HDB balance flat. 

3. You May Not Get a Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Unit You Like

When you submit an application for a flat under the BTO program, you’re essentially balloting for the opportunity to choose the best flat out of the bunch. However, applying for a flat under the HDB SBF 2022 exercise is different.

Since the HDB SBF units available are ‘leftover’ flats from previous sales exercises, these flats are sometimes considered ‘undesirable’ by previous buyers due to the units’ location. For example, lower floor units that are close to the centralised rubbish chute disposals, west-facing units or units with obstructed views. 

Having said that, this isn’t the case for every leftover flat. Some desirable units might have ended up in the pool due to previous buyers being indecisive, financial constraints, or having to give up the unit for other reasons like a breakup. Therefore, depending on your luck, you might just find your perfect unit.

4. There’s More Information About the Sale of Balance Flats Compared to BTO Flats

Another perk of the sale of balance scheme is that HDB provides information down to the last detail.

In addition to the location, type, flat size and map (things that are provided in BTO sales), you will also know the block and unit numbers of the balance flats, as well as the ethnic quota when you want to apply for HDB SBFs. 

5. Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Are Slightly More Expensive Than BTO Flats

Even though the government also subsidised HDB’s Sale of Balance Flats, they are slightly more expensive than BTO flats. However, they still cost much lesser compared to HDB resale flats.

6. HDB SBF Units Are Subject to the Ethnic Race Policy (EIP)

Buying an HDB Sale of Balance Flats unit also comes with a race quota restriction: it might not be available for certain racial profiles, particularly Chinese.

Related article: HDB Ethnic Quota in Singapore: 4 Mixed-race Couples Share How the Policy has Affected Them When Buying Flats

7. It’s Harder to Secure an HDB Sale of Balance Flat 2022

Since there are much fewer HDB SBF units available compared to BTO flats, thus your chances of securing an HDB SBF unit are slimmer.

With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly
With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly

Want to get an HDB SBF flat? Here’s an overview of the eligibility criteria for HDB SBF Flats 2022.

HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Eligibility Criteria

Eligible applicant/ Family nucleus

You’ll need to qualify for a new flat under one of HDB’s existing eligibility schemes:
1. Public Scheme
2. Fiance/Fiancee Scheme
3. Orphans Scheme

Citizenship

At least 1 of the applicants must be a Singapore Citizen

At least 1 other applicant must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident

Age

You must be at least 21 years old

Income ceiling

You are within the set income ceiling for the flat that you want to apply for:

$14,000 for families


$21,000 for extended families

Property ownership

1. You and all other applicants/occupiers listed in the flat application don’t own other property, whether overseas or locally

2. You have not disposed of any property within the last 30 months


3. You and all other applicants/occupiers listed in the flat application cannot invest in private residential property from the date of the flat application till after the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

4. You haven’t bought a new HDB/DBSS flat or EC or received a CPF Housing Grant before


5. Or, you have only bought one of those properties prior and only received 1 CPF Housing Grant thus far

Note that the above criteria are only if you’re applying as a family nucleus, or with your fiance/fiancee/spouse.

Since 2020, unwed parents can now buy 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats in non-mature estates if they have stable employment and/or adequate funds, and will also be considered for public rental flats should they have insufficient finances.

If you are a first-timer single applicant buying an HDB SBF flat, you’ll need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must be a Singapore citizen

  • You must be at least 35 years of age if  you are unmarried or divorced, or 21 and above if you are widowed or an orphan

  • You must meet the EIP and SPR quota for the area your flat is in (this is more likely to impact the location of your flat)

  • Your monthly household income doesn’t exceed $7,000

How Do I Buy a Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Unit?

how to buy an HDB sale of balance flat now that the ROF scheme is scrapped.
how to buy an HDB sale of balance flat now that the ROF scheme is scrapped.

Here’s a rundown of how to apply for an HDB SBF:

1. Apply for a Unit During the Sale of Balance Flats Exercise

Once HDB announces the sale of unsold flats, you can proceed to submit an online application within the application period, provided you meet all the eligibility criteria. Each launch is about a week-long, so you do have some time to make a decision about the flats. 

2. Await Results and Get Your Finances in Order

Following this, if your application is successful, you will be shortlisted via a computer ballot. The results are usually announced in about one and a half months. 

If luck is on your side and you have a short queue number, then your chances of getting the flat you really want are much higher. Check out the SBF flat distribution for non-seniors in mature and non-mature estates on the HDB website to better understand your chances.

3. Get Your Finances in Order and Book Your Flat With HDB

Congratulations if you’re one of the lucky ones who got an SBF flat! You’ll now want to get your finances to prepare for the flat purchase. If you’re getting an HDB loan, you’ll need to apply for your HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. If you’re taking out a bank loan, you’ll need to request an Approval-in-Principle (AIP) letter from your bank.

Don’t know the difference between an HDB loan and a bank loan? Read our quick guide to get up to speed.

You will then be invited to book your flat according to your allocated queue number and unit availability. You’ll be shown what’s available to you when you go to the HDB Hub for your appointment, and if you like what’s available, you can make the booking on the spot. There’s an option fee payable, which is $500, $1,000 or $2,000, depending on the size of your chosen flat.

4. Collect Your Keys

For flats that are already built, you can collect the keys and move in within three months. For flats approaching completion, you will be able to collect the keys once the flats are ready.

With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly
With the re-offer of balance flats (ROF) scrapped, all unsold bto flats will first be offered through hdb sale of balance flats (hdb sbf), and the remaining unsold units will be offered through an open booking. this allows home-seekers with urgent needs to obtain their flats more quickly

Alternatives to the HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2022 Exercise

As you can see, the HDB SBF exercise offers the attractive prospect of getting a brand-new HDB flat, but with shorter waiting times than an HDB BTO flat. But the chances of a successful application can be slim.

Alternatively, you can take a look at HDB resale flats for sale if you need a home in a hurry. For those who are particular about wanting an HDB resale flat with a long lease, check out this list of freshly MOP-ed HDB resale flats in Singapore to expect in 2022/2023.

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