Good news for flat buyers this week – starting in the middle of the year, you’ll be able to book a flat the next working day after applying. This is a big change from the old system, and flat buyers will benefit in a number of ways:
What is the new sales exercise?
The new sales exercise offers flats on a rolling basis, which you can book anytime throughout the year.
Under the older system, unsold BTO flats are only available during a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) or Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF). These events are semi-annual, so you have to wait for them to come around, to get a shot at scooping up those unsold BTO flats.
Under SBF or ROF, you have to wait for a week after applications close, to find out if you were successful or not. Under the new sale exercise, you’ll know as soon as the next working day.
Another feature of the new exercise is that you don’t need to specify the flat type or location you want. It’s simply first-come, first-serve; and you pick from any unit that you’re eligible to own.
The new sales exercise will be tested out on a small first batch (120 flats), sometime “in the middle of the year” according to Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong.
We don’t yet know how many flats will be available each time under the new sales exercise, or how often the pool of available flats will be refreshed. More details will be revealed later (our guess is that it’s determined by the results of the initial run).
How does this impact flat buyers?
There are three main ways this will impact flat buyers:
- It’s better for flat buyers in urgent need
- It further minimises the need for rental
- It makes the home-buying process more flexible
1. It’s better for flat buyers in urgent need
Sometimes, you don’t want to go through the hassle of picking a specific type of flat or location. Whether it’s in-laws driving you crazy, or a child on the way soon, you sometimes need to get just any flat. The priority is simply speed.
This means you can’t wait two to three years for a normal BTO launch; even SBF and ROF are too slow, occurring just twice a year. For these cases, the new sales exercise – which allows you to grab a flat by the next working day – will be a godsend.
2. It further minimises the need for rental
Some flat buyers end up having to rent; either because they can’t get a flat, or because they’re waiting for the flat to be built. The new sales exercises stacks with SBF and ROF, further minimising the odds that Singaporeans will have to rent-while-waiting.
Mind you, this doesn’t apply to those who are choosy about which flats they’ll get. If you’re one of them, you may want to look up some affordable resale flats on 99.co instead. That way you can get the location and flat type of your choice, as fast as possible.
3. It makes the home-buying process more flexible
In case it needs to be said, being able to grab a flat anytime during the year makes it easier to plan.
For example, ROF or SBF may roll around at a time when you’re financially strapped (e.g. just after your wedding or some other big ticket expenditure), and have outstanding debts which affect your Mortgage Servicing Ratio. Under the new sales exercise, you can start going for a flat as and when you’re financially comfortable to do so; and you don’t need to worry about delays in getting your flat because of the wait.
That being said, the first-come, first-serve basis can push some into a rushed decision
You already know which flats will be left if you’re slow: those further away from schools and MRT stations. This isn’t a big issue as, again, we expect many buyers to be motivated more by urgency than amenities, location, etc.
But it will be interesting to note how the pool of available flats are refreshed. Our natural kiasu-ism will compel us to rush and see the moment the pool is refreshed; even if we’re not being picky, we’ll still probably want the best of what is available.
This could pressure some people into a rushed buy, as they don’t want the unit to be gone the next time they visit the site.
Are you eager for HDB’s new sales exercise? Voice your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook community page.
If you enjoyed this article, 99.co recommends Guide to Sale of Balance Flats (2018), and Quick Guide to BTO, SBF, and Resale Grants for Couples.
Looking for a property? Find the home of your dreams today on Singapore’s largest property portal 99.co!