Essential things to know when Buying a BTO flat in Singapore

Booking a BTO flat with your fiance/fiancee

1. Book a BTO with your fiance/fiancee. You will need to pay the option fee, a portion of the purchase price (10% for HDB loan & 20% for a bank loan), stamp duty and legal fees, all of which can be paid via your CPF or cash. The rest of the payment will only need to be made when you received your house keys (which is about 3 years later!).

The rough estimate of the timeline is available here:

2. You will not need to get married so early as well. For BTO, you only need to show your proof of marriage when you are going to collect your keys. So you can propose to your lover, book a flat and plan for your wedding.


It is always nice to book a BTO first and pay later, especially if the price of the HDB is low.

However, if for some reason, you and your partner’s relationship fail to reach the marriage stage, there are some points you need to know!

1. Cancellation before Selection

You cancel before you select the flat you want. This is after you have successfully balloted a flat.

There are no financial penalties involved.

2. Cancellation before Signing the Agreement for Lease

You have selected a flat but have not gone to HDB to sign the “purchase” agreement.

You will lose your option fee.

3. Cancellation before Collection of Keys

You have selected a flat, signed the “purchase” agreement, but have not received your keys (because your house is still being built).

You will lose 5% of the flat purchase price, plus stamp duties and legal fees paid.

Also, do note that you cannot change the name of the person in the application – you cannot remove your ex’s name and replace it with your new lover. But, although not recommended, you could be like the TV series ‘Spouse for House’ where you get married to your Ex for the house and sell the house 5 years later and share the proceed with your Ex.

Also read: CPF Cash Top-up Relief

BTO versus Resale



1. Price


Slightly more Expensive

2. Size



3. Renovation


Most works are done, slight

renovation required

Need to fork out from your own

pocket to renovate the whole house

4. Location

Usually Non-Mature

Anywhere that is for sale

5. Lease

99-year lease

At most 94 years

6. Income


3-room: up to $12,000

4-room or bigger: up to



7. Collection

Min. 3 years waiting after

successful balloting of one

Can move in the minute you got the

keys from the previous owner &

cleared HDB paperwork

8. Intention to sell

5 years after collection of

keys (8 years if you add the

time of waiting)

5 years after HDB puts the property

under your name

9. Sold your



Wait for 30 months before

you can apply for BTO

You can buy one immediately. You

can also buy one first, then sell your

previous property within the next

6 months

buying BTO flat singapore

1. Price

BTO is cheaper because it is subsidised by the HDB.

Resale flats are slightly more expensive because it is pegged to the prevailing HDB prices.

2. Size

While BTO flats are smaller than the older flats, if you calculate the cost of your home per-square-foot (PSF), they might not differ much at all. So your BTO might not necessarily be a lot cheaper than the Resale flat.

3. Renovation Cost

BTO saves renovation money because no hacking of existing structure is required. The floorings are already done. You only need to do some paint work, add new furniture and it is pretty much ready.

Resale requires more renovation as most of the existing structures (furniture, tiles, etc) would already be of a certain age. The money will need to be spent on hacking these structures, redo the flooring etc which usually is the main bulk of renovation cost.

However, if you are comfortable with the existing condition in a resale flat, you might be able to walk away with minimal spending on renovations (possibly less than buying a BTO).

4. Location

Most BTOs are in non-mature estates like Sembawang etc. However, these places are starting to be developed as green towns (like the Punggol Eco Town). They look beautiful aesthetically compared to the blocks of old HDBs in mature areas.

5. Lease

BTOs comes with 99-year lease period. You can own it for 99 years, possibly passing it to your children.

Resale flats are definitely at max 94 years (first 5 years of new flats cannot be sold). It might be even shorter if you are considering estates like Ang Mo Kio or Toa Payoh. In this case, you might not be able to leave them behind for your children.

But, if you are considering of buying another place years later, this number should not affect you too much UNLESS you cannot find a buyer for your place!

6. Income Ceiling (monthly)

To buy a 3-room BTO in non-mature estates, max income for the family is $6,000 to $12,000.

To buy a 3-room BTO in a mature estate, max income for the family is $12,000

To buy a 4-room or bigger BTO, max income for the family is $12,000.

To buy an extended or multi-generation BTO, max income for the family is $18,000

There is no income ceiling for Resale (you can buy it even if you earn $30,000 a month). However, your income will determine the number of grants and loans you are eligible for

7. Collection

You have to wait for your BTO to finish construction – which might take around 3 years minimal. It will be shorter if you took the Balance of Flat Sale (leftover units).

For Resale flats, you have the keys when the previous owner passes it to you, usually after signing the purchase agreement.

8. Selling

To sell your BTO, you can only do that 5 years after you get the keys. Not 5 years from the date you balloted your flat.

To sell you Resale flat, you just need to wait for 5 years after signing the purchase agreement.

The 5 years is known as Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

9. Sold your Previous Property

If you previously owned a property (local or overseas), you will need to dispose of it first. Then wait for 30 months before you can apply for a BTO.

For Resale flats, you can buy a flat first. Then you must sell your property(ies) within the next 6 months after buying a flat.

Also read:CPF Lease Buyback Scheme