“Singapore enters Phase 2 Heightened Alert”. “HDB launches could face further delays following ongoing Covid-19 challenges”.
If you’ve secured your BTO or are looking to buy one, your stress levels must be through the roof: budgets stretched, plans disrupted, and dreams deferred.
If this sounds like you, do read on! We talk about how the BTO market has changed in 2021 to help you cope with these changes.
A Quick Refresher on the BTO Process
BTO, or build-to-order flats, are usually the first homes that many Singaporean families buy; they are incredibly important milestones!
Typically, the price of a BTO flat is influenced by factors like its location, proximity to malls and schools, its layout, and other market movements.
This graphic by NTUC Income best sums up the BTO process.
The process of applying for a BTO flat summarised nicely. (Credit: https://www.income.com.sg/blog/guide-to-bto-for-newbies)
Keeping Up-to-Speed: How Is the 2021 BTO Market Looking Right Now?
We completely understand that 2021 has been really, really stressful.
To save you some trouble, we’ve tracked the latest changes in the market and have some general advice for you to adjust your plans.
1. BTO launches have been delayed due to the pandemic.
Many ongoing BTO projects have been delayed by up to a year. This is due to border restrictions curtailing manpower, reduced construction activity in light of safety measures, and global supply chain disruptions.
If you’ve secured your BTO for the next two years, you may have to save up more for the wait. Many of you may be anxious about working from home, living arrangements, and family planning.
We know it’s frustrating. Stop and take a deep breath.
A viable option for some is to rent an HDB resale flat or condo unit while waiting for their BTO. This option gives you much-needed space and privacy for WFH and family purposes.
That being said, renting isn’t an easy decision. You must take your finances, current lifestyle, and other unique needs into account. The rental and resale market has also become more expensive. The good news, however, is that the market is stabilising.
If you and your loved ones are having trouble with alternative housing, HDB is offering assistance. Of course, you may always speak to a property agent to work out your options.
2. However, there will be a BTO sales launch in August—including many attractive mature estates!
Here’s some good news: the BTO launch set for August 2021 has been greenlit!
This launch features 4,900 units across 7 locations, many of which are located in increasingly popular mature estates like Queenstown and Jurong East. Popular locations like Hougang and Tampines are also up for grabs.
So, if you’re a first-timer worried about availability and a good location, don’t worry—you’ll still have options even in this pandemic!
However, these units sell out VERY fast, particularly so for mature estates. If you’ve made your decision, hurry up and make your purchase (of course, be sure to be extra sure)!
One tip to secure your BTO is to go for non-mature estates: they’re exciting, equipped with the latest technologies and facilities, and easily accessible.
A link to the August launch can be found at the end of this article, under ‘Good Resources’.
3. There have also been multiple changes to grants and eligibility criteria in the past two years.
The latest changes include the introduction of the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) scheme, raised income ceilings for bigger flats and eased eligibility rules for single and/or unmarried parents.
Firstly, as of 2019, the EHG has replaced the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) and Additional Housing Grant (AHG). This has simplified the BTO process and potentially makes units in mature estates more affordable!
- Every set of grants now has an income ceiling of $9,000 a month instead of different ceilings for different sets.
- The maximum grant amount is now $80,000.
- The EHG now applies to both BTO and resale flats irrespective of location and size.
Secondly, to qualify for four-room or bigger flats, the income ceiling for these flats have been raised to $14,000. If you’re buying a flat with your extended family as co-owners, this figure goes up to $21,000. If you were over the income ceiling before, now’s your chance to try again!
Finally, hurrah—the family nucleus rule has been loosened! Divorced and widowed parents can form a nucleus with their children (whom they have legal custody over) and buy a flat of any size and location from age 21 onwards under the Public scheme. The same goes for unwed parents, who can now buy up to three-room flats, albeit only in non-mature estates.
Do note that unwed parents only receive the same EHG grant as that of a single buyer (half of that of a couple), and their monthly home loan repayment cannot exceed 30% of their household income.
You may refer to all the policy changes under ‘Good Resources’ at the end of this article.
4. Finally, for future BTO owners, BTO announcements will be staggered.
We confess: even we were surprised by this move by HDB!
Starting May 2021, HDB will “indicate only the estates of upcoming projects and the types of flats available six months ahead”, as reported by the Straits Times. Exact site locations and total numbers will only be released after another three months.
What does this mean for you, a potential buyer?
Though delayed, crucial details like location and supply are still released three months in advance. You’ll still have enough time to plan and move forward. We also suggest that you consider your decision to BTO more carefully, using the additional time to be as informed as possible before committing to a plan.
So, what’s in it for you this year?
So many delays and changes. So much uncertainty.
Perhaps, for you and me, this is a good time to slow down and think about our decisions more thoroughly and carefully.
Perhaps this is also a reminder to us that life doesn’t always go to plan. Many things are out of our control.
But we’ll come out of this stronger. We’ll be more flexible and prepared for whatever life throws at us. We’ll be less afraid of seeking help.
And here, at Smart Property Upgraders, we’re always here to help with no obligations. Let’s get through life together.
After all, a BTO is a huge life decision—you don’t have to deal with that, and the pandemic, alone.
Till next time, be safe and follow us on Facebook. Have a blessed day!
- Guide to the BTO process: https://www.income.com.sg/blog/guide-to-bto-for-newbies
- August 2021 BTO launch: https://www.singsaver.com.sg/blog/hdb-bto-launches-2021#HougangAve3Aug21
- Changes to grants and eligibility income ceilings: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/more-first-time-hdb-flat-buyers-to-get-higher-grants-income-ceiling-for-eligible
- Eligibility for single parents: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/about-us/news-and-publications/publications/hdbspeaks/helping-singleparent-households