First-time BTO applicants must select flat when invited or lose priority status for a year

The rule will be implemented from August, and is meant to help those who need a flat to secure it more quickly.

Justin Hui

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Published: 2 March 2023, 6:23 PM

First-timer applicants who are successful at the balloting stage but do not select a Housing Development Board (HDB) Build-To-Order (BTO) flat will be considered second-timers in subsequent flat applications for a year.

The new rule will come into play from the August sale exercise, and is meant to reduce the number of BTO applicants who decline to book a flat or do not turn up at their selection appointments. Approximately 40 per cent of current applicants do not select a flat, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Thursday.

Currently, first-timers are only penalised if they do not select a BTO flat twice. When the new rule comes into effect in August, first-timers who fail to choose a flat once will be considered second-timers for a year.

Second-timers who choose not to select a flat when offered will not be able to apply for a flat for a year. 

“Understandably, some would rather give up the opportunity to select a flat now, and wait longer for a better flat. But whatever the reason, such applicants do crowd out other home buyers who may have more pressing needs,” shared Mr Lee in Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.

With at least 95 per cent of new BTO and Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) set aside for first-timer families, the move will ensure more efficient allocation, so that those who need a flat can secure it more quickly, said Mr Lee.

Also starting from August, first-timer families who have children or are married couples aged 40 and below will enjoy three ballot chances and higher priority as First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) applicants, or FT(PMC).

The current Parenthood Priority Scheme will be expanded to include the new FT(PMC) applicants and will be renamed the Family and Parenthood Priority Scheme. 

Under the new scheme, up to 40 per cent of the BTO flat supply and up to 60 per cent of the SBF supply will be reserved for FT(PMC) families, up from 30 per cent of BTOs and 50 per cent of SBFs.

First-timer families will also get an additional ballot chance for each subsequent BTO application in non-mature estates, if they have been unsuccessful two or more times. 

“With these new changes, first-timer parents and married couples should be able to select a flat within fewer attempts, especially if they apply for a four-room or smaller BTO flat in the non-mature estates where demand tends to be more moderate,” said Mr Lee.

HDB will offer between 5,200 and 6,200 flats in Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Bukit Merah, Kallang Whampoa and Queenstown in August.

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