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HDB BTO Application Rates: 6 Tips to Improve Your Chances

HDB BTO Application Rates: 6 Tips to Improve Your Chances
HDB BTO Application Rates: 6 Tips to Improve Your Chances

Every year, there are four HDB BTO launches. They happen in February, May, August, and November. The May 2023 BTO launch has just dropped with applications closing on 5 June 2023.

The May 2023 launch offers 5,495 flats across four estates in Kallang/WhampoaBedokSerangoon, and Tengah. Securing an HDB BTO ballot number is probably at the top of many young couples’ and prospective homeowners’ minds.

Watch Our Video on How to Improve Your HDB BTO Balloting Chances

To help you, we’ve put together this article to help you improve your HDB BTO ballot chances. We will run you through the various priority schemes, as well as more tips on how to increase your chances of a successful ballot.

Note: Effective 9 May 2023, you’ll have to submit your preliminary HFE letter before applying for an HDB BTO flat. Read more about the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.

How Was the HDB BTO Application Rate for February 2023 BTO Launch?

While the HDB BTO application rates have been really high in recent sales exercises, the overall application rates for the February 2023 BTO launch were rather measured. They were 16,993 applicants vying for 4,428 flats.

HDB BTO Application Rate for February 2023 BTO Launch (for First-timers)

Estate

HDB BTO application rate (3-room flat)

HDB BTO application rate (4-room flat)

HDB BTO application rate (5-room flat)

Jurong West (Jurong West Crystal)

1.5

2.0

Tengah (Brickland Weave)

1.9

1.5

2.0

Kallang/Whampoa (Farrer Park Fields and Rajah Summit)

1.6

3.4

Queenstown (Ulu Pandan Glades)

0.6

2.3

1.9

Note: The HDB BTO application rate is the number of applicants divided by the allocated flat supply. This works out to an overall application rate of 3.8 times for the February 2023 BTO launch. The HDB BTO application rates indicated above are the overall rate for first-timers, but you can find the detailed breakdown on HDB’s website.

The measured response can be due to the BTO projects being situated in non-mature estates. Brickland Weave in Tengah, for example, is located on the outskirts of the estate and therefore, not within close proximity to a nearby MRT station. In response to previous high application rates, HDB has also ramped up its public housing programme, with 150 BTO projects to be built at the same time by 2025.

With this, buyers may have been more restrained while awaiting potentially more desirable flats in mature estates to be launched in the upcoming May 2023 BTO exercise (i.e. Serangoon, Kallang/Whampoa, Bedok, and Tengah), which could lead to a higher application rate during the next sales exercise.

Furthermore, on 2 March 2023, the Minister of National Development Mr Desmond Lee unveiled new HDB BTO balloting measures that will be implemented from August 2023 onwards. First-timer BTO applicants who secure a BTO ballot and do not select a flat will be considered second-timers for one year. On their second BTO application, if they still do not choose a flat, they won’t be able to apply for a BTO flat at all for one year. This is to help moderate application rates and improve the effectiveness of BTO flat allocation.

In lieu of the latest measures, it’s important to understand how you can improve your HDB BTO ballot chances within the new framework.

How Does HDB BTO Selecting Work? Explaining the HDB BTO Balloting System

Before we dive into the topic, we must first understand how the HDB BTO balloting system works.

When applications open, home buyers apply for their desired estate and flat size (e.g. Toa Payoh, 4-room flat) on the HDB website. After applications close, HDB uses an online BTO balloting system to assign balloters queue numbers. Typically, after three to six weeks, the BTO ballot results are released.

The BTO queue number is the order in which BTO applicants 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 lower), 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 higher), then you will only get the chance to pick a flat if someone ahead of you in the queue decides to pass up their chance.

HDB BTO Queue Numbers Are Assigned Randomly

HDB has a few priority schemes to help increase your chances of getting a BTO queue number. However, BTO queue numbers are assigned randomly, so there is no ‘actual’ way to somehow get a better queue number. 

What this means is that while you can double your chances of getting a BTO queue number, you can’t do anything to get ahead in the queue and pick first.   

HDB BTO First-timers Get Double the Chances

By default, if you’re a first-timer, you get twice the HDB BTO ballot chances as compared to second-timers. Remember this when you’re making your first application so you don’t waste it. 

In the Budget 2023 statement, it is announced that an additional HDB BTO ballot will be given to first-timer families with kids and couples under 40 years old buying their first home. This is to help support young families in securing their flats in a more timely manner.

Get Additional Chances After Multiple Unsuccessful Attempts in Non-mature Estates

To help those who have had many failed HDB BTO balloting 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. 

Number of unsuccessful HDB BTO applications in a non-mature estate

Additional chances (+one per application after two unsuccessful applications)

Total number of HDB BTO ballot chances (Including first-timer bonuses)

0 to 1

0

2*

2

1

3

3

2

4

4

3

5

Consider the Racial Quota/Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) for HDB

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, EIP affects your BTO ballot chances because the actual number of units you’re eligible for depends on the ratio of applicants who apply for a BTO flat’s races.

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 be nullified, and you won’t be penalised for rejecting an HDB BTO flat.

What If I Get the Last Queue Number Invited for Selection at HDB?

If you’re lucky enough to get a ballot number, congratulations!

For those whose ballot numbers are two digits, you are pretty much assured that you can select the flat you want. But if you get a not-so-great queue number (we’re talking four digits), you may be wondering what the last queue number invited for selection at HDB will be.

First-timer applicants who apply for an HDB BTO project with an application rate of 1.7 or lower have a decent shot at selecting a unit. For reference, the dropout rate for the Queenstown November 2022 BTO launch was 40%. So depending on how many units there are for the launch you’ve applied for, you may still be able to secure a BTO flat.

How to Improve Your BTO 2023 Application Chances

Note: This list of HDB priority schemes is not exhaustive. There are other HDB priority schemes listed above that can help increase your BTO ballot chances, but these are for niche groups of applicants like divorced/widowed parents, rental flat tenants, and elderly applicants.

HDB BTO priority scheme

Eligibility criteria

Flat allocation

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 5% 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 (minimum 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 for first-timers

Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS)

For families with more than two children 

Up to 5% of BTO units 

Assistance Scheme for Second-timers (Divorced/Widows Parents) (ASSIST)

For divorced or widowed persons with children 

Up to 5% (for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates only). The quota is shared with the 15% 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 of 100 units for each BTO project) are allocated for the elderly. Of this, half is set aside for this scheme 

*From the August 2023 BTO exercise, the PPS be renamed the Family and Parenthood Priority Scheme (FPPS) and expanded to include a new priority subset, known as the First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) category, or FT(PMC). Eligible FT(PMC) applicants will be able to apply for up to 40% of BTO units.

Once the newly renamed FPPS is implemented from the BTO exercise on August 2023, FT(PMC)applicants will receive an additional ballot chance, and enjoy higher priority in BTO units. With stricter rules for the non-selection of flats and more effective allocation, young families will stand a greater chance to secure their flats sooner.

1. Stay Within 4km of Your Parents (MCPS)

HDB reserves up to 30% of BTO units for those who apply under the MCPS, which is when you apply for a BTO project within 4km of your parents’ home (HDB flat or private property). 

Note: 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 MOP is up.

2. Or Better yet, Live with Them (MCPS)

Under the same scheme, you can also apply to live together with your parents (i.e. you apply for an HDB BTO flat with them). This will give you first priority within the MCPS quota.

3. Apply for the Same HDB BTO Project as Your Parents (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 MGPS, you can make a joint application for the two separate flats. Your parents can only apply for up to 15% of either 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats, so the BTO project you pick must have this unit mix.

4. Have a Child, or More Children (PPS and TCPS)

If you are expecting a child, your application will likely be prioritised, since you’ll probably need your home more urgently under the PPS.

If you have three children, you may also qualify under the TCPS. 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, together with other public applicants.

5. Ballot for a BTO Unit in a Non-mature Estate

Non-mature estates tend to see less competitive HDB BTO application rates than mature estates because of:

  • Their distance from the city centre

  • Their distance from the nearest MRT stations (i.e. having to take a feeder bus)

  • Fewer amenities are offered in the immediate neighbourhood of non-mature estates

While these up-and-coming neighbourhoods may not be as developed as their mature estate counterparts, they usually still offer a good amount of F&B options, healthcare facilities, and other services. And though you may not get an MRT station at your doorstep, Singapore’s bus system is highly developed. You’ll likely still be well-connected to public transport systems.

Aside from being more affordable, HDB BTO sites located in non-mature estates can also be ideal for those who enjoy a slower pace of living in a quieter area. Sometimes, these launches are also close to greenery and can even offer unblocked waterfront views.

6. Apply on the Last Day of the HDB BTO Exercise

Successfully balloting for an HDB BTO flat is not contingent on how early you submit your application. It’s not a ‘fastest fingers first’ situation like the Open Booking of Flats (OBF) exercise.

If you really want to secure a flat, monitor the HDB BTO application rates for the various launches in an exercise. Throughout the application period, they are updated every few hours on the HDB website.

Then, on the last day of the HDB BTO application exercise, apply for a flat type in an estate that sees the least competition.

Pro tip: smaller HDB BTO units typically see lower demand, so consider going for a smaller flat if you’re in urgent need of a home.

HDB Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) Priority Schemes

Priority scheme

Allocation

MCPS

First-timers: up to 30%
Second-timers: up to 3%

TCPS

Up to 5%

PPS

Up to 50%

TPS

Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats

You may be wondering: do the priority schemes also apply to SBF exercises? Yes, similarly, priority schemes such as MCPS, TCPS, PPS, and TPS also apply to SBF applicants.

Additionally, the allocation is also based on whether it’s a mature or non-mature estate. You may read more on HDB’s website too.

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: 

  1. If your queue number is far behind, the units left for selection may not be suitable

  2. Couples may have broken up and chosen not to proceed with their BTO application

  3. Some applicants also drop out due to unexpected financial difficulties like job loss, etc. 

As you would’ve noticed, first-timers already get improved HDB BTO flat 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 HDB BTO flat 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

There you have it: everything you need to know to maximise your HDB BTO 2023 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 onward. 

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