Did you know that there 3 different ways to purchase your home from the HDB? While most of us choose to go the conventional route by purchasing a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, there are 2 other ways to you can buy a flat directly from the Housing Board. Let’s discuss the differences between buying a BTO flat, a Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) and a Re-Offer of Balance Flat (ROF).
Under this scheme, potential buyers apply to ballot for a chance to select a flat in a proposed site. If you are successful, you can then take part in a booking exercise to select your preferred unit. As this is a balloting system, when you get to book your unit depends on your queue number. Once you have selected your flat, you put down a down payment. Your flat will be ready between 3 to 4 years. HDB recently announced that it would be launching BTO flats with shorter waiting time in the 2nd half of 2018. Under this exercise, buyers can expect to move into their new home within 2.5 years from the time they apply to purchase their flat.
The advantage of this scheme is that you will be able to choose your preferred unit relatively unencumbered – depending on your queue number, that is. Buyers at the start of the queue are presented with more choices, while those at the back of the queue would be left with fewer units to choose from.
There is also a chance that potential buyers may not get a queue number if a particular development garners high demand. This is especially the case with developments located in mature estates. But if you are a first-time buyer, HDB has a priority system in place to allow you a greater chance in your subsequent ballot.
If you are looking to buy a Build-To-Order flat, the first step is to check out the HDB website for upcoming sales launches.
Sale of Balance Flat
This scheme gives potential buyers the opportunity to apply for balance flats from earlier BTO sales launches, surplus Selective En Bloc Redevlopment Scheme (SERS) replacement flats and repurchased flats.
The advantages of purchasing SBF units include a shorter waiting time as you are buying a unit that is already in construction, near completion or completed.
The buying process is a little different from the BTO scheme. Interested buyers are required to submit their application within the application period. HDB then does a computer ballot to determine the queue number to book flats. If the unit is already built, homebuyers need only wait 3 months to collect the keys to their new home. If the SBF unit is still under construction, homeowners would have to collect their keys when the flat is completed.
Because the waiting time is shorter and buyers get to choose the location of their home (as opposed to being limited to the sales launches of the month), SBF is rather popular. HDB even recognises that interest in SBF units are strong, and recommends buyers to apply for a new flat through the BTO system if they are unsuccessful.
Re-Offer of Balance Flat
ROF sales launches pool together all unsold flats from SBF exercises and offers them to potential buyers. This is aimed at buyers with more urgent housing needs, or those who are not as particular about the location of the flat.
While the waiting time is shorter, applicants have fewer choices when it comes to choosing their preferred flat type and estate. If you are shortlisted in this exercise, you will be informed of the outcome of your ballot within a week of the closing of the application period. Following which, you will be invited to select and book a flat if there are available units.
As with the other HDB sales launches, priority is given to first-time homeowners. The Housing Board has indicated that ROF exercises will be held twice yearly in February and August alongside BTO exercises. For upcoming sales launches of ROF units, visit the HDB website.