It’s pretty tough to get a queue number these days, so don’t let it go to waste.
Although the odds of getting a queue number for a Built-to-Order (BTO) flat aren’t as bad as, say, your chances of striking TOTO (which by the way, is 1 in 14 million), you’ll definitely need Lady Luck on your side to get a successful ballot and that’s because the competition for BTO flats in Singapore has been pretty high recently.
Don’t believe us? Well, a quick peek at the application rates for the recent November 2020 BTO exercise on HDB’s website should convince you.
But to summarise, each flat type in every project was oversubscribed, with some even having a whopping 15 times (!) more applicants than the number of units available – like in the case of Bartley Beacon, which saw 2,170 applicants for a total of 144 five-room flats.
Therefore, if you’ve successfully balloted for a queue number in a BTO exercise, here’s your next step: Consider these four key aspects carefully before selecting your unit so that this golden opportunity doesn’t go to waste.
1. Your relationship – Are you ready to commit and wait together?
It’s sad, it’s heavy, but it’s also true – many couples have gone down the unfortunate path of having their BTO downpayment forfeited because of a falling out – which is why commitment to a long-term relationship is an absolute must before picking your unit together.
It’s important to note that the average BTO flat takes anywhere between 2.5 to 4 years to be completed (or even 5 years in the case of some recent BTO projects), plus you won’t be able to alter the specifics of your co-application during this period, such as changing applicants.
Hence, if you’re feeling unsure about your relationship, it might be more prudent to look towards the resale HDB market instead, or in the worst-case scenario, call off the idea of getting a home altogether.
2. Your finances – Do you have enough money?
It’s all ‘bout the money, so do you have enough cash, future homeowner? One way you can find out is by adding up both of your personal savings and CPF Ordinary Account (OA) monies as a couple – that should give you a rough idea of whether there’s enough for the 10% downpayment.
As for the remaining 90%, there’s the option of borrowing from HDB or the banks. If you’re going for an HDB loan, you’ll have to apply for an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter, which will also indicate key details such as your maximum loan amount, load repayment period as well as estimated monthly instalments.
3. Your future unit – Have you visited the site?
Seeing is believing. If you haven’t made a trip down to the site of your future flat, you’ll want to do so ASAP because it’ll give you a better idea of what life will be like there than Google Streetview can. And while you’re in the neighbourhood, you’ll want to take note of the following:
a. Sun direction
There’s a reason why “sunny” is a word that’s often used to describe Singapore. In warm months like April and May, you can expect daytime temperatures to reach up to as high as 34 degrees, and that’s when you’ll (hopefully) be thankful that you chose the right unit.
Generally, flats with north or south-facing windows will have less direct sunlight than their counterparts with east or west-facing windows. That said, these cooler homes could also possibly have the trade-off of darker spaces due to the reduced amount of natural light, so take note!
For the most part, corridor-facing windows are a feature of the past in modern-day BTO flats, but the same cannot be said for main entrances. So, if you’re someone who values privacy, pick a corner unit instead, or risk having your neighbours peering into your living room by accident or – shudder – on purpose.
Pun aside, believe us when we say that noise pollution is a very real and serious issue that’ll Strauss (stress) you out.
Depending on where your home is facing or even the neighbourhood it’s located in (Did you know that Serangoon, Clementi and Bukit Timah are among the noisiest places in Singapore?), you could end up being afflicted with poorer sleep quality, increased irritability, and maybe even hearing issues.
If possible, always opt for a unit that’s far away from car parks, roads/expressways, MRT tracks or for the matter, loud Koel birds.
Given that most homeowners would prefer a higher floor unit (better ventilation, nicer view and less smells), we’d like to point out that there are a couple of downsides to living up high as well as upsides to staying down low.
Homeowners who live on higher floors tend to have to clean their flats more often because of dust (or the occasional insect) blowing in on the wind and they’ll also experience longer waits for the lift. What’s more, higher units could be dangerous for families with young children.
Another significant point of note is that lower-floor units tend to be priced more affordably than their higher-floor counterparts, so if you’re on a budget, picking a home on the lower levels might not be such a bad idea after all.
4. Future development plans in your estate – What’s coming?
If you’re curious to know what’s up-and-coming in your neighbourhood (which you should be), a look at the sales booklets that are handed out at BTO exercises should tell you of the amenities to come. Otherwise, if you prefer, delving into BCA’s Master Plan will give you a good idea of upcoming developments in the vicinity.
Doing some research into this area is key, especially if you’re planning to sell your (new, but by then, old) flat and move elsewhere. Of course, only time can tell for sure how well your real estate investment is going to pay off, but until then, it doesn’t hurt to do your homework after getting your BTO queue number.
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