Note: The Feb 2024 SBF launches have been released. Applications close on 28 February 2024, 11:59pm.
Getting an HDB SBF flat is a way first-time homebuyers who can’t afford to wait four or five years for a BTO flat or pay for an HDB resale flat to secure an affordable home. For the unfamiliar, “SBF” is short for “Sale of Balance Flats”.
Usually, the exercise is held twice yearly in May and in November. However, HDB announced that due to the “stabilisation of BTO application rates”, there will only be one SBF exercise and three BTO exercises held in a year from 2024 onwards much to the rue of some home buyers. The Feb Sale of Balance Flats 2024 exercise launched on 21 February 2024.
In this article, we’ll explain the HDB SBF exercise and how it compares against the BTO and OBF launches. We’ll also guide you through the eligibility criteria and application process.
Want to buy an HDB flat but don’t want to ballot for a February 2024 SBF unit? Browse all HDB resale flat listings on PropertyGuru.
What Is the Sale of Balance Flats Exercise?
SBF 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.
Watch Our Video On SBF Units in Singapore
Number of SBF Units Launched (Nov 2020 to Feb 2024)
HDB BTO Flats vs Sale of Balance Flats 2024: What’s the Difference?
1. SBF Units on Offer Have a Shorter Wait Time Than BTO Flats
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. Furthermore, while COVID-19 BTO construction delays have largely been alleviated, their effects still linger. These factors can weigh on first-time homebuyers who are considering marriage and having kids soon.
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 home 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 SBF exercise.
2. HDB SBF Launches Offer More Locations to Choose From Than BTO Flats
Since the scheme pools unsold flats from many projects, the HDB SBF launches are located in both mature and non-mature estates. While there are fewer total units available for sale, you have more locations and options to choose from.
The flat supply for the Sale of Balance Flats 2024 exercise is set at 1,588 flats across mature and non-mature estates. The bulk of the units available are 4-room and 2-room Flexi units.
If you’re hoping for a unit in a mature estate, you’re looking at Ang Mo Kio, Clementi, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown, and Tampines only. For non-mature estates, there are units available in Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Sengkang, and Yishun.
3. You May Not Get a Unit You Like
When you apply for a BTO flat, you’re essentially balloting for the opportunity to choose the best flat out of the bunch. However, applying for a flat under the Sale of Balance Flats 2024 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 SBF Units 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 HDB quota.
5. SBF Units Could Be Slightly More Expensive Than BTO Flats
Even though the government also subsidised HDB’s Sale of Balance Flats units, they can be slightly more expensive than BTO flats. However, they still cost much lesser compared to HDB resale flats.
6. 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 for Chinese persons.
7. It’s Harder to Secure an SBF Unit than a BTO Flat
Since there are much fewer HDB SBF units available compared to BTO flats and there is more interest in SBF flats due to the shorter waiting time, your chances of securing a unit tend to be slimmer.
Additionally, the SBF exercise favours first-timer families who are parents or already married the most. Those who qualify under the FT(PMC) scheme get three ballot chances, whereas other first-timer families/couples only get two ballot chances. So if you’re only engaged to be married, this is something you’ll want to take note of.
Second-timer families and singles get only one ballot chance.
HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2024 Eligibility Criteria
Eligible applicant/ Family nucleus
You’ll need to qualify for a new flat under one of HDB’s existing eligibility schemes:
At least one of the applicants must be a Singapore Citizen
At least one other applicant must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident
You must be at least 21 years old
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
1. You and all other applicants/occupiers listed in the flat application don’t own other property, whether overseas or locally
Note that the above criteria are only if you’re applying as a family nucleus, or with your fiance/fiancee/spouse.
If you are a first-timer single applicant, 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
What are the estates included in the HDB SBF February 2024?
The only HDB SBF launch held this year includes estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Clementi, Sengkang and Jurong West, with probable completion dates up to 2029. The units offered start from 2-room Flexi to 5-room.
How Do I Buy an HDB SBF Unit?
1. Secure Your HFE Letter
With effect from 9 May 2023, the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter replaces the old HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. What the HFE letter does is inform you of your HDB flat eligibility, CPF Housing Grant eligibility and HDB loan eligibility, as well as the amounts you qualify for and can loan.
You need a valid HFE letter if you intend to apply for the Feb 2024 SBF launch. Your HFE letter is valid for nine months.
As it takes 21 working days for you to receive the outcome of your HDB HLE letter and longer during peak periods (i.e. before and during the month of a BTO launch), do apply for your letter early. Don’t leave the HFE letter application to the last minute!
2. Apply for the HDB Sale of Balance Flats 2024 Exercise
From the HDB HFE letter, you’ll know how much you can loan and the grants available to you. Then, you can work backwards to figure out what type of housing you can afford.
Now that HDB has announced that the Feb 2024 SBF exercise is launched, you can proceed to submit an online application within the application period for your ideal flat. This is provided you meet all the eligibility criteria.
Each launch is about a week-long, so you do have some time to decide between the flats.
3. Await the Results
Following this, if your application is successful, you will be shortlisted via a computer ballot. The HDB SBF 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 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.
4. Book Your Flat With HDB and Get Your Finances in Order
Congratulations if you’re one of the lucky ones who got an SBF flat! 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.
This is when you will also need to pay the Option fee: it’s $1,000 for a 3-room flat and $2,000 for a 4-room and bigger flat. If you are buying a 2-room Flexi flat, the option fee is $500.
Also, you’ll want to get your finances to purchase your flat. If you’re taking out a bank loan or one from a participating FI, you should move to secure your In-Principle Approval (IPA). Not sure how? You can reach out to any of our friendly PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Experts to help you, at no cost!
5. Sign the Agreement for Lease and/or Collect Your Keys and Make the Downpayment
After you have booked your flat, you will be asked to sign the Agreement for Lease and to make the downpayment. Depending on how you are choosing to finance your HDB flat and how much your flat costs, the downpayment amount will vary. Once your home is completed, you will then be asked to collect your keys and make the full payment.
For those eligible for and opting for the Staggered Downpayment Scheme, you will pay your downpayment in two parts: the first when you sign the Agreement for Lease, the second when you collect the keys to your flat.
For flats that are already built, you can sign the Agreement for Lease, make the full payment, and then get your keys.
What Happens to Unselected Sale of Balance Flats 2024 Units?
Previously, all unsold flats from HDB SBF exercises would be first offered through the Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises. If these flats remain unselected, they will be made available for open booking. However, in March 2020, the government announced the 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 OBF exercise. These flats under the OBF exercise are available on a first-come-first-served basis. That means once all the flats are booked, that’s it!
SBF Vs OBF Flats
What are they
When they are made available
Once a year
Subject to HDB’s announcement
Balance flats from previous BTO launches, surplus flats from Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects, and any flats repurchased by HDB
Balance flats from past SBF launches
Number of flats offered
Varies, depending on supply; tentative 1,500 units on offer in the upcoming Sale of Balance 2024 exercise in February 2024
Varies, typically less than 300
Open throughout the year (ends when all available flats are booked)
Most unit types are available
Limited choices for unit size
Relatively spread out among different races
Usually, fewer units for Chinese buyers
To all those who are applying for the Feb Sale of Balance Flats 2024 exercise, good luck! If you are in urgent need of a home but are particular about securing an HDB flat with a long lease, you can check out this list of freshly MOP-ed HDB resale flats in Singapore to expect in 2023/2024.
Want to buy an HDB flat but don’t want to wait for the February 2024 SBF units? Browse all HDB resale flat listings on PropertyGuru.
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