Talk about BTO unit selection and you would hear of BTO-ers of 2 extremes. The first is the group of people who are so easy going, they are ok with any unit, so long as they get a house. Then there is the second group of people who are the direct opposite. They have very specific units they want in a specific BTO project and would rather forgo the selection opportunity than get a unit they don’t love. So, who should you follow and what exactly should you consider when selecting the unit? To answer that, we’ve broken this down into 2 sections – one, how do you decide on the BTO project you want to apply for, and two, which unit is best for you.
Every year HDB releases a couple of BTO projects in different batches, each with varying locations of the BTO sites. These releases are somewhat seasonal, and are often held during the months of February, May, August, November. A few months before the release of the next batch of BTO projects, HDB will usually release a preview of the locations of the upcoming projects and the number of units available for selection. You can check them out here.
But the exact details of the projects (e.g. prices, exact number of units available for each room type, flat layout) are only released by HDB during the actual application period. Given that the application period only lasts for about 2 weeks, it’s essential that you get the following factors sorted out first, before the start of the BTO application period:
Firstly, is there a specific estate that you would like to apply for a BTO unit in? It could be an estate that you’re already living in, or if you’ve a favourite hangout location, you might want a unit in estates with easy access to these hangouts. Your choice of location could also vary depending on whether you’re looking for a unit in a mature estate or non-mature estate. Mature estates tend to have more facilities and amenities, and provide easier access to transportation, and daily necessities, but are also pricier than non-mature ones.
The next factor to consider is your finances versus the cost of your home purchase. If you have a BTO project you’re interested in, try to get a rough idea of how much the flats will likely cost. Of course, the actual cost differs based on the actual unit you select (e.g. the higher up the unit, the more costly it gets), whether you take up the Optional Component Scheme, and your financing means.
Although many new home buyers tend to calculate their budget based on future wealth (i.e. I don’t have the money now, but if I continue to earn income at this rate for the next few years, I would have enough money to finance my house), we would advise you to consider your budget based on existing wealth. True, you do not need the full 100% of the home purchase cost in your pocket right now, but you’ll never know what happens in the future, and you wouldn’t want to empty out your entire savings for a house that you can barely afford.
Another factor to consider before hand is the duration of the project. Not all BTO projects take the typical 3-4 years to complete. Some BTO projects have more units to be built and tend to take much longer. We have seen before BTO projects that are estimated to take over 4 years for completion.
The last factor to consider in selecting your BTO project is the likelihood of getting a BTO unit you prefer. As you might know, ‘hot’ BTO estates like Bidadari or Kallang are infamous for having over-subscription for their units. Unless lady luck is usually on your side, there’s a lower chance of getting a good queue number. Especially for those picky ones, the last thing you want is to get a balloting queue number that is within the number of units available, but at the last few slots. That would then mean that not only will you not be able to get a unit you want, but will also be marked as having given up a chance at BTO selection, if you decide not to take it up in the end.
When you’ve decided and applied for a certain BTO project, the next thing you need to consider are the units you would like to buy, based on the following factors:
One common factor home buyers consider is the direction that the unit is facing. If the last you want is a unit with the scorching afternoon sun heating up your flat, then avoid flats that are east or west facing. If you hate dark and gloomy units, then avoid North or South facing units as well. Many argue that the better units are those that are either south-east facing or north-east facing. These units tend to get the indirect morning sun (which is bright but not too hot) and get a cooler afternoon, so you don’t have to come back to a hot home after a day’s work.
Another factor in BTO unit selection, is the floor that the unit is on. There are different perks of having a unit in the higher floors and the lower floors. Units on the higher floors often tend to offer a better view and air flow but are also more costly and more likely to attract dust. Units on the lower floors, on the other hand, tend to be cheaper, but are also likely to have busier human traffic.
The next factor to consider is the flat location. Even within the same BTO project, different flats have varying popularity, due to a few factors like whether they are nearer to car parks, eateries, road, or public transport, and whether they offer a better exterior view. Some home buyers tend to avoid those units directly beside/above eateries and public transportation stations, for fear of noise pollution.
The last key factor to consider in your BTO unit selection is your unit layout. As a home renovation platform, we have had homeowners coming to us to ask for advice on how to design their homes because they have awkward corners in their unit. So if you’re particular about your home design, you might want to be sure the unit layout is the one you like, to avoid having home design troubles later on.
Whatever your preferences maybe, do ask yourself if the BTO units options you have, are what you truly want. You wouldn’t want to lock in your home purchase only to regret buying it much later. And in any case where your preferred units are not available, consider that there will always be new BTOs upcoming. Who knows, an even better BTO project might be coming up soon, right? But do remember, you can only forgo your BTO selection twice, before you get a penalty imposed by HDB, depending on the category of applicant you belong to (more details here). Good luck with your BTO application!
Have a question on BTO matters? Drop us an email at [email protected], and we’ll help you find an answer to your BTO doubts.