Tighter restrictions on first-timer BTO applicants a step in the right direction: Singaporean youths react to new BTO measures

However, some youths are also concerned about being forced to choose a “less than ideal” flat.

Farhana Subuhan

Published: 3 March 2023, 4:27 PM

Tighter restrictions designed to “ensure a more efficient allocation” of queue numbers for those applying for a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat will come into play from August.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced on Thursday (Mar 2) that first-timer applicants who fail to select a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat when invited will soon be considered second-timers in subsequent flat applications for a year.

This will “reduce the number of people who decline to pick a flat”, said Mr Lee.

Currently, first timers are only subjected to penalties when they do not select a BTO flat twice. Second timers who decline to select a flat when offered will also have to wait for a year before they can apply for a flat again.

Youthopia spoke to five youths to hear their views on the latest restrictions:

An automatic waiver should be granted to applicants who can’t select a unit due to circumstances

“I know there is some flexibility to waive the non-selection count, but how certain are we that people with genuine reasons will all be granted the waiver?

“I support the move to penalise applicants who don’t select their BTO flats, but an automatic waiver should be granted to anyone who can prove that they did not proceed with their flat selection due to personal circumstances.” — Mohamed Imraan, 22, NSF

The right move to ensure every couple receives a fair chance

“I have applied for a BTO in non-mature estates at least four different times with my boyfriend but we were never successful in selecting a flat. This a very fair move by the Government because there are people who are invited to choose a flat and they decline, stripping others a chance to pick a unit. I could have secured a home long ago if people thought their decision through before applying for a BTO project.

“A few applicants have taken the current measures for granted and just give their invitation up so perhaps they will now think through before randomly applying for different BTO projects to see if luck is on their side.” — Joey Lim, 28, Financial Management Analyst


From the August BTO exercise, first-timers who fail to choose a flat once will be deemed second-timers for a year. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/REAGAN TAN

Glad the Government will waive the non-selection count for applicants who have fewer than 10 flats to choose from

“My fiancé and I previously applied for a flat in the west side and while we were successful in getting a queue number, it also wasn’t an ideal one as we were one of the last ones to pick a flat. We weren’t impressed by the remaining flats and chose not to proceed with our selection.

“I am glad that the Government is being fair to those who have 10 or fewer flats to choose from. No one should be cornered to select a flat just because they were successful in getting a queue number. It all boils down to how far up or below your number is and that can determine the choices of flats you will be given.” — Renuka Mohanadas, 29, Customer Experience Specialist

A good deterrent for not-so-serious applicants

“This is fair and a strict rule. It deters those who are not serious buyers from balloting a unit, resulting in more opportunities for those applicants who are ready and want to buy a house. But as someone who is particular about my house, like floor level and sunlight direction, I would have concerns if I am placed in a situation between accepting a ‘not-so-ideal’ unit and applying it as ‘second-timer’ for the whole of next year.

“It would be a huge gamble to proceed with it knowing I am not happy with my choice or risk being a second-timer applicant just to get a more desirable unit. I may not even be lucky enough to get a queue number during the next BTO cycle.”  — Eng Chin An, 26, Freelance Photographer


A computerised system conducts basic checks on applicants’ eligibility and highlights cases for further verification. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/REAGAN TAN

Stringent rule will make applicants committed to purchasing a flat

“This stringent rule will now ensure that people who are applying for a BTO will follow through with their flat selection. When one applies for a flat with their significant other, they should be committed to purchasing it. Otherwise, they shouldn’t be applying and make way for others who may need a flat more than them.

“Many fickle minded applicants have gotten away with not selecting a unit and I think this rule should have been introduced earlier. The queue numbers are generated through a computerised ballot. Imagine a couple who applied just to try their luck getting a queue number ahead of another couple who urgently needed a home to start a family. It reeks of unfairness.

“They are also wasting administrative resources when HDB reaches out to them. I fully support this move by the Government. At least now there will be less competition for BTO units.” — Ameen Shah, 27, Research Assistant 

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