Remember when you turned 21 and were presented with a key (the cliche necklace pendant or key-shaped cake), thinking it was the rite of passage to adulthood? Silly you!
Fast forward a couple of years later, and getting the keys to my own home soon is finally making me feel like a full-fledged adult. This bird is leaving her nest, but before we get to the happy part, the process of applying for a HDB flat is long and tedious — you wait to rush, and rush to wait. Sounds familiar?
I’ve put together a guide for first time home-owners to overcome the seemingly insurmountable paperwork and nail-biting moments while waiting for the results.
May the odds be ever in your favour. Good luck, people!
*Disclaimer: It’s going to be a long introduction but stick through with me. Know these terms and you’ll soon have an idea of the types of flats that you’d like to get.
At this juncture, you have to ask yourself certain questions; “Are we in a rush to get our own home?”, “Can we wait for five years?”, “How many rooms do we need?”.
(a) Build to Order (BTO): BTO consists of entirely new public housing projects. Similar to window shopping, you can take your time to peruse upcoming launches until you find a specific location of your preference. Sign up for the HDB e-Alert services to be updated with the latest launches.
The downside: You’ll most likely have to wait for about four to five years before getting your keys, and you probably won’t know where your flat will face until it’s built.
(b) Sale of Balance Flats (SBF): If you like the idea of having a BTO sans the five-year wait, try looking under the Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) option. Some of them may be old flats, but most are likely to be newly built projects that have vacant units. You can expect to get your keys about nine months to a year after your application once it is approved.
Tip: You should have a specific location in mind, and your best bet would be to apply to one that has quite a substantial amount of projects and units available. Head down for a site visit to experience the estate’s environment and see if you’re comfortable living there.
(c) Resale: Unlike BTO and SBF, these flats have been pre-occupied by previous owners for at least five years or more before being let out into the open market for sale.
Want a bigger space? Then consider this option, as these blocks of flats were built years before the demand went up and flats became smaller. Also, it is the fastest way to get the flat of your dream.
(d) Design, Build and Sale Scheme (DBSS): These flats are designed, built and sold entirely by private developers. They are priced more than a BTO/SBF for their design and in-built furnishings, and are sold under the same eligibility conditions as HDB. They are like Executive Condominiums (EC), which will be explained below, but without a clubhouse, swimming pool, gym or other amenities.
(e) Executive Condominium (EC): Also built and sold by private developers, ECs become fully privatised after 10 years, and they include premium amenities. Read up more to find out if you’re eligible to apply.
Simply click on the “Apply Online Now” function within the project’s page when it becomes available for application. Fill up and submit the form within the one week period.
You need not provide any documents yet, but, do have your SingPass account and password ready for the later stages.
Once you’re done submitting your forms, it’s time to wait and pray.
When your excitement is just about to wear off, your first letter from HDB should appear by post — stay calm — it’s only to inform you that your application has been well received, along with the stipulated period when the results will be out, which would take about two months.
That fateful month will catch you off guard when your second letter/email appears. Only rejoice if you’ve been balloted with a queue number that is within the supply of flats on offer.
Mine was 137 over 176 units. I wasn’t quite sure if I was happy as it’s considered quite far down the line and we were uncertain if we could get our first choice. So, start looking for alternative units that you can fall back on.
Now, you’ll have to start thinking about taking out a loan. It may be from HDB or a bank so do some research and calculations and opt for the one that best suits you.
If you’re intending to take a loan from HDB, you’ll have to apply for a HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter, which requires your SingPass. Remember to keep your loan application updated with your latest CPF statements, especially if you’ve have a change of job.
Here’s the annoying part! Prepare a set of income and supporting documents, scan and attach them to the form: (a) latest three months’ payslips or a letter of certification from your current employer stating your job designation, date of commencement and salaries for the last three months. (b) latest 15 months’ CPF contributions.
Don’t worry if your initial loan is on the low side, your credit will be evaluated again before your first appointment to choose your unit.
Your next letter/email/SMS will be to inform you of the date and time to select your flat. During the weeks leading up to our first appointment at HDB, I was a compulsive stalker refreshing the page every few hours to see if the desired units had been taken. Yeah, you could call me crazy.
Things to bring: Your NRIC and HLE letter, income documents for loan and grants eligibility, CPF contributions history.
Be prepared to answer a slew of questions by the officer, select your unit, pay a booking fee of about S$1,000 to S$2,000, and sign your life away. Never mind if you’ve missed out on some details, you’ll be given a bit of leeway to submit the required documents within a time frame after your first appointment.
You’ll have to wait again for about four months till your second appointment.
Things to bring: NRIC, valid HLE letter if you’re taking a loan from HDB/letter of offer from a bank, your bank passbook, latest CPF statements.
Psst, make sure your HLE hasn’t expired from the 6 months validity, and be sure to reapply if there’s a change in CPF contributions, otherwise you’ll have to reapply again.
Here’s where you bid goodbye to your CPF contributions – they will be wiped out. It’s okay to tear while looking back on all the years you’ve worked so hard for this very moment.
If you’ve applied for a flat under the SBF scheme and your flat is already completed, your second appointment and key collection will be on the very same day.
After an approximate three-year wait: you’ll be married by now, and probably with a little addition to your family.
You’ll have to apply for a fire insurance for your home before going for the third appointment.
Things to bring: NRIC, latest CPF contributions (again), marriage certificate, certificate of insurance if you’ve taken a loan from HDB, Giro Form for paying monthly loan instalments.
Pop the champagne!! You can now start looking for an interior designer. Hmm, I should probably write an article dedicated to home furnishing next. Stay tuned!
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