Balloting for a built-to-order (BTO) flat from HDB is like buying the lottery. To be precise, a lottery that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But hey, it’s still the Singaporean dream to own a home. And when you do get a low ballot number, it’s definitely a sign to buy 4D.
So whenever a new BTO launch is announced, one can imagine the excitement and hopes of those who’ve been waiting forever.
Alas, there’s good news and bad news about the November 2018 BTO launch.
To be blunt, many of the other places could fit the Singaporean definition of “ulu”, i.e. in a godforsaken place. There are three non-mature estates, Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun, that have made the list.
Then, there’s the totally new location, Tengah, which the government has grand plans of making it the next big thing.
Oh, and there’s the excruciating wait for your BTO flat to be ready.
But there are upsides to some of these less developed locations as well, if you’re patient. Also, there’s at least one mature estate listed in the November 2018 BTO exercise – good old crowded Tampines is on the list.
Have a look at the estates that are available for you to ballot. And if you really strike the BTO lottery, it’s never too early to start planning how you can finance your future dream home.
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What you need to know about the Tampines November 2018 BTO launch
Location: Junction of Tampines Avenue 2 and Bedok Reservoir Road
Nearest MRT: Tampines West
Nearby amenities: Tampines Mall, Century Square, SAFRA Clubhouse
Schools: East View Primary School, Junyuan Primary School, Temasek Polytechnic
Tampines is the main highlight of the new launch sites, and it’s the most developed area on the list.
The site is located at the junction where Tampines Avenue intersects Bedok Reservoir Road: the south end faces the Bedok Canal and nearby Bedok Reservoir, while the northern end of the site is near the Tampines West MRT station.
This area is situated almost two kilometres from the main hub of buildings around Tampines MRT station. This includes Tampines Mall, the CPF building, the bus interchange, etc.
But this is a good distance – it’s close enough to major amenities to be convenient, but far enough that you’re spared traffic congestion and noise pollution (especially on the weekends).
Nature lovers will also appreciate the quick access to Bedok Reservoir, and the cluster of neighbourhood parks between Tampines Avenue 2 and 4.
Overall, this is a solid location that’s likely to draw the most demand. Tampines, like Marine Parade, is practically a self-contained hub in the east. People living here can go three or four months without venturing outside their neighbourhood, and not get bored.
Balloting chance for the Tampines November 2018 BTO launch
We are going to be brutally honest – this will be a hotly contested BTO. It’s not going to be easy to get a flat here, even with the apparently high number of units.
It has all the necessary amenities you need, most importantly the Tampines West MRT station that brings you to central locations such as Orchard easily via the Downtown line.
If you do get a low ballot number, congratulations. But we would caution against getting your hopes high for this BTO estate.
What you need to know about the Sembawang November 2018 BTO launch
Location: Junction of Canberra Crescent and Canberra Walk
Nearest MRT: Canberra MRT when it opens in 2019
Nearby amenities: Sembawang Sports and Community Club, Sembawang Shopping Centre, Sembawang Public Library
Schools: Canberra Primary School, Endeavour Primary School, Sembawang Primary School
Located at the junction of Canberra Crescent and Canberra Walk, the Sembawang BTO site is close to a cluster of private housing, which includes The Visionaire, The Brownstone, and Canberra Residences. As private housing tends to be less packed, the area is a little less noisy and crowded than a thick HDB cluster.
Sembawang Shopping Centre, just a little over a kilometre away, can supply most retail and grocery needs. There’s also the nearby Sembawang Sports and Community Club - ideal for physically active residents.
To be frank, this isn’t one of the easiest places to get to right now. But once the Canberra MRT station is up and running, a lot of this site’s accessibility issues will be resolved.
Balloting chance for the Sembawang November 2018 BTO launch
Most people would balk at how far north Sembawang is and the sheer effort to get to town. But if you don’t mind the long commute, then you have a good chance with the Sembawang BTO.
That said, you are still subjected to the luck of the draw. But at the very least, this should not be as oversubscribed as Tampines.
What you need to know about the Sengkang November 2018 BTO launch
Location: East of the junction of Seletar West Road and Yio Chu Kang Road
Nearest LRT: Fernvale LRT, connecting Sengkang MRT over three kilometres away
Nearby amenities: Seletar Mall and some interim sports facilities
Schools: Fernvale Primary School, Fernvale Gardens School, Sengkang Green Primary School, Pei Hwa Secondary School
Before you even consider this area, make sure you’re happy to use the bus or LRT, or have private transport.
Sengkang MRT station – along with the key amenities of Sengkang Square – are just too far to be considered walkable at over three kilometres.
Most of the amenities in this area boil down to Seletar Mall for now. For grocery runs, there’s an NTUC FairPrice in the mall.
There are good long-term prospects: there is a new integrated Community Centre being built nearby, which will include a hawker centre, wet market, and child care centre.
Buy here if you’re patient enough to wait for amenities to build up, seek growth potential in your flat’s value, or actually prefer to be away from the urban hubs.
Balloting chance for the Sengkang November 2018 BTO launch
Similar to the Sembawang BTO, there is a limited number of flats available for the Sengkang BTO launch. There are only 330 units of 4-room and 5-room flats available. The number is seemingly small but you’ll have to consider that this BTO sits at the very edge of Sengkang.
Our guess is that there will be less applicants here, but similarly, your balloting chance is not as rosy given the limited number of flats available.
What you need to know about the Yishun November 2018 BTO launch
Location: Junction of Yishun Street 88 and Yishun Avenue 8
Nearest MRT: Yishun MRT (not really walkable, at around three kilometres)
Nearby amenities: Northpoint City (near Yishun MRT)
Schools: Gems World Academy, Northview Primary School, Northbrooks Secondary School
This is the most inaccessible of the BTO sites, even less accessible than the last Yishun site in August – so you can expect prices to probably be lower.
Also, it’s Yishun.
There isn’t much to say for this area, other than it’s great if you like a quiet estate with a lot of open space.
You should at the least be ready to use a bicycle – the nearest major retail hub is Northpoint City, and it’s quite some distance. The Yishun MRT station is also located near it.
And unless you want to contribute a hefty chunk of your income to Grab, take note that taxis are also harder to come by in this area.
Balloting chance for the Yishun November 2018 BTO launch
Most applicants struggle with the fact that their choices might be out of the way, or at the very edge of the town. This is true for the Yishun BTO, which we have to reiterate is relatively inaccessible.
Even though there are only 456 units of 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats available, there’s a relatively good chance that you might be picked in the balloting. Because it's Yishun. Just kidding. This is the real Yishun.
What you need to know about the Tengah November 2018 BTO launch
Location: Junction of Bukit Batok Road and Bukit Batok West Avenue 6
Nearest MRT: Bukit Batok (not walkable)
Nearby amenities: Nothing of note (for now)
Schools: Not unless you’re home schooling
This site will be part of a brand-new estate, Tengah Green Town. It’s slated to be Singapore’s first car-light town, with a completely car-free town centre.
This launch is the first batch of an estimated 42,000 homes, to be developed over a few decades, with the first phase of completion expected in 2022.
For now, there’s nothing here. Think of it as the new Sengkang from a decade ago. The Tengah BTO is relatively close to the proposed town centre, with a health and medical care somewhere nearby. Nothing is set in stone either as we see a few places of worship around the area.
While the closest MRT station is Bukit Batok once the estate is ready, residents can look forward to new MRT stations on the Jurong Region Line that will service the estate in 2026.
And really, that is our summary – this whole area is brand new, so it’s strictly for those with a pioneering mindset. If you buy a flat here, you’ll likely see price appreciation over the years as the estate is built.
Balloting chance for the Tengah November 2018 BTO launch
Remember how we mentioned that this is the first site of approximately 42,000 homes in the Tengah Green Town? That should give you an indication that there will be more than enough flats to go around.
This first batch of 1,620 flats will most likely be for those who are already planning way in advance for their home purchasing. You’ll also have to consider the fact that this location will require at least a good five to 10 years to mature.
With all that under consideration, home owners will think twice about jumping in for this. Combined that with the fact that there are over 1,000 units to choose from, that makes the Tengah BTO a good choice for someone who is patient.
In short, your balloting chances will be higher than the Tampines, Sengkang, Sembawang and Yishun BTOs in this November exercise.
Assuming you get lucky with this BTO launch
What's the next step? Quite simply, figuring out the home loan you need to take. The crucial question you'll need to ask is this - should you take a HDB loan with a fixed interest rate or a bank loan with the option to re-finance?
We've got a guide to decide between HDB or bank loan, and once you've made your decision, you can find a home loan that matches your budget
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Additional text by Seow Tein Hee