Every year, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has four Build-To-Order (BTO) sales launches in February, May, August and November (Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) are in May and November). If you didn’t already know, competition is insanely high.
One possible reason for recent BTO application rates being so high is that more are worried about the BTO construction delays and long waiting times.
Moreover, just in February 2022 alone, 3,953 new units were up for grabs in four estates: Geylang, Kallang/Whampoa, Yishun and Tengah. HDB will offer around 5,300 BTO units in Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, and Yishun in May 2022. Then, in August 2022, HDB will offer around 6,300 to 6,800 BTO units in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Queenstown, and Woodlands. If you notice, the number of units available is gradually increasing as HDB plans to launch up to 23,000 flats per year in 2022 and 2023 across mature and non-mature towns.
In other news, HDB, Sport Singapore and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have announced that about 1,660 HDB BTO flats will be launched in Farrer Park within the next three years. On the Keppel Club site in the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW), over 6,000 Housing Board units will be erected, with the first BTO project set to go on sale in three years. Yup, that is a lot of BTO flats to look out for in the coming years!
Now let’s dive back into how you can improve your HDB BTO application ballot chances!
HDB BTO Application Rates for Feb 2022 (for First-timers)
BTO application rate (3-room flat)
BTO application rate (4-room flat)
BTO application rate (5-room flat)
Tengah (Parc Flora @ Tengah)
Tengah (Parc Flora @ Tengah / Plantation Creek)
Yishun * (Yishun Boardwalk / Grove Spring @ Yishun)
Geylang (Dakota Crest)
Kallang Whampoa (King George’s Heights)
Note: The BTO application rate is the number of applicants divided by the allocated flat supply. The BTO application rates indicated above are the overall rate for first timers, but you can find the detailed breakdown on HDB’s website.
As you probably already know, BTO application rates have been insanely high of late. Flats are usually oversubscribed – and by quite a bit too. As a case study, let’s look at last year’s August 2021 HDB BTO launch. In particular, the Hougang BTO flats drew 11,420 applicants for the 459 four-room flats on offer. This is one of the few times demand for a BTO project in a non-mature estate outweighed that of a mature one (i.e. the Kallang/Whampoa August 2021 project).
Unsurprisingly, many families do not get a BTO queue number on their first try. It’s not impossible though – this article will run you through the various priority schemes, as well as more tips on how to increase your chances of a successful ballot.
How Does the HDB BTO Balloting System Work?
Before we get into how you can improve your chances, we must first understand how the HDB BTO balloting system works.
It’s quite straightforward: when applications open, home buyers will apply for their desired estate and flat size (e.g. Toa Payoh, 4-room) on the HDB website. Then, after applications close, HDB will use a computerised balloting system to assign queue numbers. The queue number is the order in which applicants will get to pick their flats.
This means that if your queue number is within the flat supply (e.g. there are 124 units available and your queue number is 124 and below), then you are likely to get a flat.
If your queue number is higher than the flat supply (e.g. there are 124 units available and your queue number is 125 and up), then you will only get the chance to pick a flat if someone ahead of you in the queue decided to pass up their chance.
Queue Numbers Are Assigned Randomly
HDB has a few priority schemes (which we will talk about in a bit) to help increase your chances of getting a queue number. However, queue numbers are assigned randomly, so there is no way to somehow get a better queue number.
What this means is that while you can double your chances of getting a queue number, you can’t do anything to get ahead in the queue and pick first.
First-Timers Get Double The Chances
By default, if you’re a first-timer, you get 2X the ballot chances as compared to second-timers. Remember this when you’re making your first application so you don’t waste it.
Racial Quota / Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP)
The ‘racial quota’ that most people are aware of is the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), which was introduced in 1989 to encourage racial integration. Basically, for every HDB block or neighbourhood, there is a limit on the total percentage of homes that can be occupied by a certain ethnicity.
Although it’s not something you can do anything about, this affects your BTO chances because the actual number of units you’re eligible for depends on it.
Say, you got queue number 100, and there is a total flat supply of 124 units. There is a chance that you may not get a unit if the racial quota was already met before your turn. For example, if you’re Chinese and all 90 units allocated for Chinese households were already snapped up, you would not get a chance.
In this case, your application will just be voided, and you will not be penalised for rejecting a BTO flat (because well, you didn’t).
In addition to that, one out of every four Singaporeans has experienced racial prejudice while trying to rent a home. One of the most regularly reported incidences is discrimination in the form of landlords selecting renters based on their race, ethnicity, and/or nationality. PropertyGuru has a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of racial discrimination. Should you encounter such a situation on PropertyGuru, do not hesitate to report it. We will then investigate the situation and respond as soon as possible.
Related article: Discrimination Has No Place on PropertyGuru
How to Improve Your HDB BTO Application Chances
Now, onto the main reason you clicked into this article: how to improve your ballot chances, featuring the various HDB priority schemes.
HDB BTO priority scheme
What it is
Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
Stay within 4km of your parents’ home or live together with them
Up to 30% of BTO units for first-timers (Up to 15% for second-timers)
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
Apply for the same BTO project as parents
For parents, up to 15% of the 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats (min. 20 units). For the married child household, the corresponding number of 2-room Flexi or larger flats.
Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)
For first-timers expecting a child
Up to 30% of BTO units
Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)
For families with more than two children
Up to 5% of BTO units
Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (ASSIST)
For divorced or widowed persons with children
Up to 5% (for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates only). Quota is shared with the 30% quota for second-timers.
Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)
For those who were previously renting an HDB rental flat
Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO units
Senior Priority Scheme (SPS)
For elderly residents who want a familiar environment or to live near their family
40% of 2-room Flexi units (subject to a minimum 100 units for each BTO project) are allocated for the elderly. Of this, half is set aside for this scheme
1. Stay Within 4km of Your Parents – Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
HDB reserves up to 30% of BTO units for those who apply under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), which is when you apply for a BTO project within 4km of your parents’ home (HDB or private).
One key thing to note is that if you apply through the MCPS, the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) will apply to your folks too. They must continue to live within the same radius of your home until the five years is up.
2. Or Better Yet, Live With Them – Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
Under the same scheme, you can also apply to live together with your parents (i.e. you apply for the BTO with them). This will give you first priority within the MCPS quota.
3. Apply for the Same BTO Project as Your Parents – Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
If your parents are also looking for a home, you can both apply to the same BTO project to increase your chances. This is for those who want all three generations of the family to live close by.
Under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, you can make a joint application for the two separate flats. Your parents can only apply for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats, so the BTO project you pick must have this unit mix.
4. Have a Child, or More Children – Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) & Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)
For obvious reasons, if you are expecting a child, your application is prioritised because you probably need the home more urgently. If you’re an expecting married couple BTO-ing for the first time, you’ll be glad to know that up to 30% of the units are set aside for the Parent Priority Scheme.
If you have three children, you may also qualify under the Third Child Priority Scheme. The flat allocation for this one is lower at up to 5% of the BTO units.
If you qualify for both, your application will first be balloted under the TCPS. If unsuccessful, it will be balloted again under the PPS.
Other HDB Priority Schemes
There are other HDB priority schemes listed above that will increase your chances for the BTO ballot, but these are for niche groups of applicants like divorced/widowed parents, rental flat tenants and elderly applicants.
Bonus: Don’t Give Up, You Get Additional Chances After Multiple Unsuccessful Attempts!
To help those who have had many failed attempts, don’t lose hope! If you were unsuccessful for two or more tries (in a non-mature estate), you will get one additional chance per subsequent application.
No. of unsuccessful applications in non-mature estates
Total ballot chances (including first-timer bonus)
0 to 1
What Happens if You Give Up Your HDB BTO Queue Number?
In some cases, applicants get a queue number or ballot number, but end up passing up the opportunity. There are several (completely understandable) reasons why:
If your queue number is far behind, the units left for selection may not be suitable.
Couples may have broken up and chosen not to BTO.
Some applicants also drop out due to unexpected financial difficulties like job loss, etc.
As you would’ve noticed, first-timers already get improved ballot chances. So what happens if you apply, receive a queue number, but then decide to give it up?
You get one ‘free’ pass. However, if you forfeit your flat selection opportunity twice…
For First-timer Households:
Any additional chances accumulated from your past unsuccessful BTO attempts will be considered used up
You will be placed in the second-timer category for one year
During this year, if you turn down another two chances, the one-year period will be extended
For Second-timer Households:
You will have to wait one year before you apply again
For Applicants Under the Singles Scheme:
You cannot apply under the Singles Singapore Citizen Scheme, Joint Singles Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme for one year
There you have it – everything you need to know to maximise your HDB BTO ballot chances. Generally, if you want a new HDB flat, we would encourage you to continue trying until you are successful. As mentioned earlier, your chances actually improve from your third try onwards.
However, if you do not have the luxury of time – especially since the timeline for BTO flats is in years – then you may want to consider an HDB resale flat. With CPF housing grants, the gap between BTO and resale flat prices have narrowed, and it’s very possible to find an affordable resale flat.
Do the Priority Schemes Also Apply to Sale of Balance Flats?
Yes, similarly, priority schemes such as MCPS, TCPS, PPS and TPS also apply for SBF applicants.
First-timers: up to 30%
Up to 5%
Up to 50%
Up to 10%
Additionally, the allocation is also based on whether it’s a Mature or Non-Mature estate. You may read more on HDB’s site here.
But if you can’t wait for a BTO flat, you can opt for an HDB resale flat instead. Not sure how to go about it? Here are some articles to get you started:
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