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The Complete Guide to Purchasing a New HDB Flat

Purchasing a new flat is an exciting milestone in many people’s lives. However, navigating the process can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. This guide aims to provide you with a step-by-step overview of the entire process, from applying for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter to collecting the keys to your new home.

The duration of the entire buying process for a HDB flat in Singapore can vary depending on several factors. On average, the process of obtaining the HFE letter, submitting an application, and booking a flat typically takes approximately 3 to 4 months. The duration of the overall process can vary based on the type of flat you choose, with Build-To-Order (BTO) flats generally having the longest waiting period. 

1. Apply for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter (21 working days)

You will need to determine your eligibility to purchase a flat by applying for a HDB Flat Eligibility letter. This letter will be valid for 6 months from the date of issue. The HFE letter will help you understand your financing options, CPF housing grant options and eligibility for new flats. 

In the case of second-time buyers, the letter also provides information regarding the resale levy/premium that you will need to pay if you are intending to purchase another flat directly from HDB.

 It takes around 21 days for you to receive your HFE letter. The processing time could be longer during peak periods. It is thus recommended to not wait till the last minute to apply for the HFE letter. 

Log in to the HDB Flat Portal using your Singpass to apply for a HFE letter.

2. Submit an application to participate in sales launch or open booking of flats (1 week)

There are 3 modes of sale: Build-To-Order (BTO), Sale of Balance Flats (SBF), and open booking of flats. BTO launches are released 4 times a year, while SBF and open booking of flats are released twice a year. 

Once a sales launch is announced, you have the opportunity to apply for a flat online through the HDB Flat Portal within the application period. It is important to note that a non-refundable administrative fee of $10 (inclusive of GST) must be paid.

There will be an application period of about 1 week for BTO and SBF following each sales launch.

At the end of the application period, HDB will place all eligible applications through a computerised ballot to determine the queue order to book the flats. You will receive notification of the ballot results within approximately two months after the closure of applications. 

The timeframe may vary depending on factors such as the sales launch and flat availability. When the ballot results are available, you will receive an email notification to log in to the HDB Flat Portal to check the results.

For open booking, the application is open throughout the year and closes when all available flats are booked. You will receive a queue number based on a first-come-first-served basis.

For first-timer applicants and those with more urgent housing needs, priority schemes are in place to improve your chances of securing a flat in the BTO and SBF exercises. Find out more about the various priority schemes here.

If the application is unsuccessful, you’ll have to wait for the next sales launch to try again.

Read more: The Differences Between BTO, SBF, Open-Booking, and Resale HDB

3. Wait for your invitation to book your flat (2 days to 4 weeks)

You will receive an invitation to book your flat based on your balloted queue position. You may be notified as early as the next working day in the case of open booking of flats, to 4 weeks for BTO and SBF launches after the ballot results are released.

To access the invitation package, you will need to log in to My HDBPage using your Singpass. This package will include the list of available flats and the necessary documents you need to bring for the appointment.

4. Book your choice of flat (minimum 2 weeks) 

When you book a flat, an option fee must be paid. This will also form part of your down payment.

Flat TypeOption Fee
4-room and bigger$2,000
3-room$1,000
2-room Flexi$500

Source: Housing & Development Board

You will be notified of your appointment about 2 weeks beforehand. Refer to this booking appointment checklist that contains all documents required for the flat booking. Remember to submit the documents of all persons listed in your flat application via MyDoc@HDB prior to your appointment.

You must attend the flat booking appointment in person. If you are unable to do so, complete the authorisation form and have your authorised representative submit your documents during the booking appointment on your behalf.

Read more: HDB Living for Young Couples: Should You Choose a 3-Room or 4-Room Flat?

5. Sign Agreement for Lease (up to 9 months)

You will be invited to sign the Agreement for Lease within 9 months of booking your new flat, where you have to:

1. Choose if you want to opt for staggered downpayment scheme

First-timer couples and flat owners who right-size to a 3-room or smaller flat in non-mature estates have the option to explore the staggered downpayment scheme. This scheme helps you pay this portion of the downpayment in two instalments. A portion of the down payment is paid when you sign the Agreement for Lease, and the remaining amount is paid when you collect the keys to your flat.

2. Pay down payment (part 1 of 2)

This table contains the amount you have to pay for the down payment. Do note that the option fee paid during flat booking will be deducted from the down payment.

Down payment at Lease Signing (part 1 of down payment)
Housing Loan from HDB/ Not taking any loan
Housing Loan from Financial Institution
Loan-To-Value) Limit of 75%Loan-To-Value) Limit of 55%
Downpayment10% using CPF-OA or cashMin. 5% cash payment

Remaining 15% using CPF OA or cash

Min. 10% cash payment

Remaining 10% using CPF-OA or cash

Staggered downpayment scheme (pay in 2 instalments)5% using CPF-OA or cashMin. 5% cash payment

Remaining 5% using CPF-OA or cash

Min. 10% cash payment

Source: Housing & Development Board

3. Pay stamp duty and legal fees

Stamp duty is based on the selling price of the flat, calculated as such:

  • First $180,000: 1% 
  • Next $180,000: 2% 
  • Next $640,000: 3% 
  • Remaining amount: 4%

You may also use the Stamp Duty Calculator on the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) website to calculate the stamp duty payable for your flat purchase.

Legal fees are calculated as such:

  • First $30,000: $0.90 per $1,000 
  • Next $30,000: $0.72 per $1,000 
  • Remaining amount: $0.60 per $1,000 

Please note that the legal fee is rounded up to the next dollar, before applying GST. The minimum legal fee chargeable is $21.60 (inclusive of GST).

For open booking of flats, you will sign the Agreement for Lease and collect the keys to the flat within 9 months after booking it. For BTO and SBF, HDB will let you know when development will be completed. From there, all you need to do is wait to collect your keys.

6. Key collection (1 to 5 years)

Once your booked flat is ready and the keys are available, you will receive an invitation to collect the keys.

There are some payments you have to make before collecting the keys:

1. Down payment (part 2 of 2)

You can pay by cash, CPF savings, housing loan (if eligible), or a combination of these.

Down payment at Key Collection (part 2 of down payment)
Housing Loan from HDB/ Not taking any loan
Housing Loan from Financial Institution
Loan-To-Value) Limit of 75%Loan-To-Value) Limit of 55%
Down payment10% using CPF-OA or cash5% using CPF-OA or cash25% using CPF-OA or cash
Staggered down payment scheme (pay in 2 instalments)15% using CPF-OA or cash15% using CPF-OA or cash35% using CPF-OA or cash

Source: Housing & Development Board

Second-timer applicants are required to pay a resale levy for the purchase of a second subsidised flat, before they can collect the keys to the flat. If the first subsidised flat was sold after collecting the keys to the second subsidised flat, the resale levy will be subtracted from the net proceeds, and any remaining amount must be paid in cash. If the first subsidised flat was sold beforehand, the resale levy has to be paid in cash during the key collection for the second subsidised flat.

2. Registration fee

There are 2 types of registration fees:

  • Lease In-Escrow registration fee of $38.30
  • Mortgage In-Escrow registration fee of $38.30 (if taking HDB housing loan)

3. Survey fee

The survey fee payable is based on the flat type you are buying.

Flat TypeSurvey Fee (Inclusive of GST)
1-room and 2-room$162
3-room$229.50
4-room$297
5-room$351
Executive$405

Source: Housing & Development Board

4. Stamp duty

The stamp duty for the Deed of Assignment is payable if you are taking a housing loan. It is calculated at 0.40% of the loan amount, subject to a maximum of $500.

5. Home Protection Scheme Premium 

If you used your CPF savings to pay for monthly housing loan payments, you will be insured under the Home Protection Scheme (HPS), which is a mortgage-reducing insurance administered by the CPF Board. The amount you pay as a premium will be determined by factors such as your age, gender, loan amount, and the coverage percentage you have declared.

Read more: Mortgage Insurance: All You Need To Know About Home Protection Scheme

6. Fire Insurance Premium

If you obtained a housing loan from HDB, you would have to buy a fire insurance policy from FWD Singapore Pte Ltd. It is important to note that this insurance policy only covers the structural components, fixtures, and fittings provided by the HDB. It does not encompass home contents such as furniture, renovations, or personal belongings. The insurance is valid for a 5-year period and renewal is done once every 5 years.

Flat Type5-Year Premium (include 8% GST)Sum Insured
1-room$1.63$29,000
2-room/ 2-room Flexi$2.73$48,700
3-room$4.91$60,400
4-room$5.99$82,000
5-room$7.19$97,300

Read more: Fire Insurance: What Is It and Why Should You Get It?

A new journey ahead

Embarking on a new journey with a new home is an exhilarating chapter filled with possibilities and new beginnings. Refer to this guide so you’ll know in advance what to expect, making for a smooth and pleasant experience. As you enter this exciting phase, allow yourself to incorporate your personal flair through home renovation, crafting an ambience that mirrors your distinct style and preferences.

Read more: Budget Hacks: 10 Tips to Save On Renovation For Your First Home

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