A Singaporean's Step-by-Step Guide: Applying For Sale of Balance Flat

A Singaporean's Step-by-Step Guide: Applying For Sale of Balance Flat

profileJoel Koh

In my limited time on this earth, one piece of life advice that stuck to me comes from the song You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.

As the lyrics go:

You Can't Always Get What You Want Rolling Stones
Source: Gifquotes

Buying a home is a daunting task, especially if you are looking to apply for a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat (we got you covered)

Due to the meticulous planning made by the Ministry of National Development, our public housing system is able to meet the wants and needs of many Singaporeans.

However, it is not perfect as there will still be groups of people who will not be able to get a BTO flat they want, despite doing everything right.

Maybe you have not really unlucky with the BTO balloting process or maybe you don’t have the luxury of the time to wait 3-4 years for a BTO.

You may also not be keen on resale flats for whatever reason.

Waiting General Hospital
Source: Giphy

Whatever the situation, there’s no harm trying other options, who knows? You might just get what you need with the HDB’s Sale of Balance Flats (HDB SBF) scheme.

*Do note that although because the waiting time for getting a HDB SBF is shorter than getting a BTO, demand for these flats are high. May the odds ever be in your favour.

TL;DR: The Comprehensive Guide to Buying a HDB Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) in Singapore (2020)

  • What is a HDB Sale of Balance Flat (SBF)?
  • Who is eligible to buy a Sale of Balance Flat?
  • What happened to the HDB Re-Offer of Balance of Flat (ROF) Exercises?
  • BTO vs Resale Flat vs Sale of Balance Flat (SBF)
  • Step by Step Guide: How to buy a HDB SBF Flat?

Feel free to bookmark this article. We will update this piece with listings and prices once the information is available.

What is a HDB Sale of Balance Flat (SBF)?

Well I’m glad you asked.

An SBF flat is a flat sold under the HDB SBF scheme.

The flats available are pooled together from three main sources:

  1. Balance flats from past BTO sales launches
  2. Extra Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme(SERS) replacement flats
  3. Repurchased flats – older flats sold back to HDB for various reasons

Do note that you can only apply to one type of launch at one time. So if you are applying for a BTO, you cannot apply for an SBF.

South Park One at A Time
Source: South Park | Giphy

The application process is also very similar to the BTO application process, as applicants will have to ballot for SBFs.

When is The Next HDB Sale of Balance Flat Sales Launch?

The previous HDB SBF sales launch was held in November 2019. 3,599 flats were offered in areas such as Tampines, Bedok, Sengkang, Yishun and Clementi

HDB SBF sale launches occur twice a year, usually in May and November.

They also tend to coincide with BTO sales launches (FYI the latest one is out!).

The next HDB SBF sales launches have yet to be announced, but it is most likely to be held in May 2020.

Scraping of the HDB Re-Offer of Balance of Flat (ROF) Exercises

In the past, all flats leftover from the HDB SBF scheme will then be transferred put up for another round of balloting under the ROF Exercises.

In an effort to simplify the process and make it easier for vulnerable groups like single unwed parents to obtain housing, HDB has scraped the HDB Re-Offer of Balance of Flat (ROF) Exercises exercises.

This was announced in parliament and will take effect after 4 Mar 2020,

As a result, all unsold flats from the HDB SBF sales launches will be made put up for open booking instead.

HDB Singapore
Source: Unsplash

Check out our guide to the HDB Open Booking of Flats scheme if this interests you!

BTO vs Resale Flat vs Sale of Balance Flat (SBF)

Just to make things a little bit clearer here is a table comparing the differences between a BTO, Resale flat or SBF.

Build to Order (BTO) vs Sale of Balance (SBF) vs Resale Flats
BTO FlatsSBF FlatsResale Flats
Flat Cost $
Grants AvailableUp to $80,000Up to $80,000Up to $160,000
Renovation Costs$$$$ - $$$
Generally higher but also depends on age and condition of flat
Wait Time3 - 4 years3 months - 2 years~8 weeks
Location ChoiceLocations limited to the BTO sales launchMore location choices compared to BTO but less than resaleCan choose flats from all over Singapore
Choice of Flat Can only choose prefered location and flat sizeCan choose block, unit number & view ethnic quotaVirtually any flat on the open market
Ethnic Quota RestrictionsGenerally available for all racesMore restricted than BTOs due to quota being almost filledMore restricted than BTOs due to quota being almost filled
Potential Growth in Value Full 99-year lease leaves room for price growthClose to 99-year lease leaves room for price growthGenerally less than BTOs and SBF due to less years on lease

Who is eligible for a Sale of Balance Flat?

The eligibility criteria for the SBF scheme is actually quite similar to the BTO scheme. Applicants can either form a family nucleus or apply as a single applicant.

Here is what’s required of the family nucleus application process:

  • Applicants will need to form a family nucleus under either one of HDB’s existing eligibility schemes. (You can check your eligibility here)
    1. Orphans Scheme
    2. Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
    3. Public Scheme
  • At least one of the applicants has to be a Singapore Citizen while the other applicant has to be either a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident
  • Either one or both the applicants need to be 21 years or older
  • Applicants combined income does not exceed:
    • $14,000 for families
    • $21,000 for extended families
  • Applicants or occupiers listed in the flat do not own other local or overseas property
  • They also should not have not sold any property within the last 30 months
  • You have not bought more than one new HDB/DBSS flat or EC before.
  • You have not received more than one CPF Housing grant thus far.

Even if the criteria is fulfilled, family nucleus applicants are subject to the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) quota and the Singapore Permanent Resident Quota (SPR) if one of your applicants is a PR.

This will affect the location of the flats you can get

Can Singles Apply for a Sale of Balance Flat?

Short answer. Yes!

Single Man Holding Own Hand
Source: Giphy

In order to qualify as a first-timer single applicant, you will have to fulfil the following criteria:

  • You need to be a Singapore citizen
  • You need to be either:
    • Above 21 years of age if you are widowed or an orphan
    • 35 years of age and above if you are unmarried or divorced,
  • Your monthly household income cannot exceed $7,000

Even if the criteria is fulfilled, single buyers are subject to Ethnic Integration Policy quota. (This will affect the location of the flats you can get)

Step by Step Guide: How to apply for a HDB Sale of Balance Flat (SBF)?

Previously, we discussed the similarities between BTO flats and SBF. Turns out the application process is rather similar too.

After checking your eligibility, please remember to do your homework before making a decision to proceed.

Once you have done so, here is a foolproof seven-step guide to applying for an HDB SBF!

Step 1: Apply for Your SBF Flat

The first step is simple. When the HDB SBF sales launch is announced, head on over to submit your online application which comes with a $10 admin fee.

Do note that you only have about a one week to do this.

Step 2: Hope and Pray While Waiting for Results

After the application window has closed, you can only hope and pray while HDB conducts the automated balloting process.

White woman crossing fingers
Source: Giphy

Although this is essentially a lottery, HDB gives you a higher chance to get a flat if you fall into these groups:

  • Applying as a couple or family
  • If you are eligible for one of the HDB priority schemes (e.g. for living near your parents)

Step 3: Settle your home loan

Unless you are planning to pay for everything in cash, you will need to settle your home loan as it is required to secure a flat.

If you are looking to get a HDB loan, you will need to obtain a HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter.

To get a bank loan, you’ll have to obtain an Approval in Principle (AIP) letter from the bank.

Do read our comprehensive HDB and bank loan comparison if you are wondering which loan to get.

Step 4: Wait to Hear From HDB

After about 3 weeks after the application window has closed, you will get a golden ticket (letter) from HDB that has your ballot queue number.

Golden Ticket
Source: Giphy

If your ballot number has 4 digits, your chances are slim.

But, if your ballot queue number is not too big, there is a high chance that you’ll get a coveted appointment to enter HDB’s chocolate factory (HDB Hub) and make your flat selection!

Step 5: Go to HDB and Book Your Flat

The next step will be to head on over to the Chocolate Factory (HDB Hub) to choose from a range of flats available to you.

If you have found something you fancy, you can choose to book it on the spot and pay an option fee.

Flat TypeOption Fee Payable
2-room Flexi Flat$500
3-room Flat$1,000
4/ 5-room and Executive Flat$2,000

Which you can pay through:

  • Cash
  • Cashier’s order, or
  • Cheque

Step 6: Sign the Agreement for Lease

Once you have got your finances in order, and after HDB has done their due diligence, your journey is
almost complete.

HDB will then contact you to sign the Agreement for Lease.

Sign Lease
Source: Giphy

Following which, you will have to make the downpayment of either:

  • 10% of your flat if you’re taking an HDB loan
  • 20% of your flat if you’re paying via a bank loan

Step 7: Key Collection!

Assuming everything is swee swee (smooth). The next step will be to wait for HDB to notify you to collect your key.

This process will take anywhere from three months if you chose a flat that is almost complete to two years if your flat is from a previously-unsold BTO that just started construction.

There you have it. our complete guide to buying an HDB Sale of Balance Flat!

If you have any other more specific questions, the friendly Seedly Community is here to help!

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

Still have more questions after reading the article? Fret not, ask our community here!

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