It all starts with a knowing wink of an eye to your beloved and that nationally beloved phrase that is weighty enough to make any enamoured lady swoon -- “Wanna apply for an HDB together?” sets off an evaluation of checklists from pros and cons of Mr. Right to the tedious process of applying for an HDB flat.


The bad news is that there is a whole host of time-sensitive steps to be taken and the bureaucracy can be trying. The good news is that many have braved the process and emerged proud home owners, so there are plenty of resources to guide the future couple.


We’ve listed the steps of buying an HDB flat for you, in the hope that you’ll find the process as easy as ABC.  

Step 1 – BTO, EC or resale

The considerations are between new or pre-owned, more affordable or more luxurious and mature or new estate. Build-to-Order (BTO) is an allocation system for newly built HDB flats that negates the need for forwarding demand projections.



Executive Condominium (EC) are more expensive but also more luxurious apartment types. They are closer in design, construction and layout to private condominiums.

Step 2 – Check eligibility

Eligibility depends on strictly defined schemes as laid out by the Housing and Development Board. It determines whether a prospective homeowner is allowed to buy a new flat or a resale one.


The main considerations here are marital status, resident status and family. Preference in housing is given to married couples, with locally born couples having the greatest choice in housing and access to subsidies and grants.


Permanent Residents are also given preference but fall somewhere between full citizens and non-residents. The proximity of the flat applied for to parents’ residences and even a scheme for orphans further takes into consideration the unique set of circumstances each group of applicants face.



Step 3 – Planning finances

With the cost of home ownership comprising one of the largest expenses of a person’s life, unless a scion or self-made, it is a long-term commitment to most individuals. Living within one’s means is the key takeaway here.


Being unable to make payments such as the various deposits, fees, option fees, mortgage payments within the specified time can lead to financial penalties such as forfeiture of monies or even foreclosure.


Make sure you have sufficient funds in the CPF account, in cash and by way of housing loans if required. The first amount to fork out is the down payment. For those with an HDB loan, this is 10% of the flat’s purchase price and can be paid with CPF money and/or cash.


For those with a regular bank loan, the down payment is 20% of the flat’s purchase price, of which 5% has to be paid in cash while the remaining 15% can be fulfilled with CPF money and/or cash.


Other fees that are due include purchase option fee, stamp duty, legal costs and salesperson’s commissions if buying a resale flat.



Securing a loan of a sufficient amount to cover what remains of the sales price is also subject to several variables. Chief amongst these are the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), which, takes into consideration all other debt such as vehicle loans and drawn down credit lines.


The length of employment, industry, and employment status are also considerations that a lending institution thinks about when deciding on the loan quantum that it can offer. If this amount is sufficient, obtain an “in-principle” approval.


Carefully consider the loan terms and the ability to service the loan over the tenure. If everything is acceptable, execute the loan offer in the stipulated time.

Step 4 – Search for your home


This is an ongoing process that should have commenced and continued throughout. If looking for new flats, be on the lookout for sales launches on the HDB website. Resale units can be found at the usual online and print resources.

Step 5 – Apply / Make an offer

Once the perfect apartment has been found, make an online application to purchase for new flats or make an offer to the property agent in the case of resale flats.



For those buying a resale flat, be sure to check on your eligibility as stipulated by the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quotas which delineate the demographic make up of each block of flats.

Step 6 – Pay the option fee

If the application is approved and the price is right, the next step is to pay the option fee, either to HDB in the case of new flats or to the seller. At this point, buyers of new flats will select their desired unit.


Those buying a resale flat will receive an option to purchase form. They will also have to request a valuation report, which has to be submitted to the loan issuing institution. After that is done, buyers must complete the resale checklist which can be found on the HDB website

Step 7 – Exercise the option to purchase



Once exercised, HDB will inform the buyer of new flats to sign the lease agreement, at which point all legal fees, stamp fees and down payment will have to be made.


Subsequent to this point, one then only needs to collect their keys and move into the completed flat or prepare themselves for making the move once it is completed. Buyers of resale flats will have to hand over the deposit.

Step 8 – Resale application

(Relevant for resale flats only)

Both buyer and seller must complete and submit a resale application online. They will later be required to attend a meeting with HDB for a resale meeting. If all goes well, the sale will be permitted and notice will be made at the second resale meeting. Thereafter, ownership of the flat will be formally transferred.


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