Chief Editor October 12 2023

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Lowest BTO flat application rate for October exercise

A total of 9,848 applicants eagerly vied for the 6,800 newly available Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) October housing allocation exercise, with this number recorded as of 5 pm on Tuesday, October 10th.

This translates to an application rate of 1.4 applicants for each of the available units, marking one of the lowest BTO application rates witnessed in recent years. The application window closed at 11.59 pm on that same day.

Analysts attributed this "underwhelming" response to the introduction of stricter regulations regarding non-selection of units, which took effect with this exercise.

For comparison, the last time the BTO application rate was relatively close to this level was in November 2017 when the rate stood at 1.7 for 4,829 flats launched. In the interim period, subscription rates for BTO launches maintained a healthier range between February 2021 and May 2023, varying from 2.5 to 8.1 times the number of available flats.For instance, the February 2023 exercise drew over 16,000 applicants for 4,428 flats, while more than 20,000 hopefuls applied for 5,495 flats in the May 2023 exercise.

The 6,800 BTO flats released in October's exercise were distributed across eight projects situated in Choa Chu Kang, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown, and Tengah.

Based on application numbers recorded at 5 pm, most first-time families applying for these projects have a high likelihood of securing a BTO flat. Notably, five-room and three-generation flats were particularly sought after among first-timer families.

The application rate for first-timer families for five-room and three-generation flats at the Rail Green I and II @ CCK projects was 1.6, as it was for the 313 five-room flats at Plantation Edge I and II in Tengah. Five-room flats were only available in the non-mature estates of Choa Chu Kang and Tengah during the October exercise.

For four-room flats, which were available in the Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Kallang Whampoa, and Queenstown BTO projects, the application rates among first-timer families ranged from 0.8 to 1.0 times.

In contrast, application rates among second-timer families remained relatively high. For instance, five-room flats in Tengah and Choa Chu Kang received application rates of 27.0 and 15.3 times, respectively, among second-timer families.

As of 5 pm, the most popular projects appeared to be Plantation Edge I and II in Tengah, closely followed by Rail Green I and II @ CCK. On the other hand, projects in mature estates generated less enthusiastic interest from applicants. The Kallang Whampoa projects, including the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) project Verandah @ Kallang, achieved an overall application rate of 1.3 for the 2,922 flats launched.


The noticeable drop in applicants this October was anticipated due to the stricter non-selection rules, dissuading those who are not yet ready to commit to a purchase or remain uncertain about their buying decision from applying for a flat.

Starting from August 2023, first-time homebuyers who decline to book a flat when invited will face a year-long relegation to second-timer status. Subsequently, if they continue to decline, they will be excluded from HDB sales exercises for a year. Given that almost all, or at least 85 percent, of BTO flats are reserved for first-timers, these new rules are designed to expedite the waiting time for flats and ensure that those in genuine need of housing can secure their accommodations promptly.

Last but not least, a new requirement mandates that applicants must possess the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) Letter before they can apply for a BTO flat. 

The Homebuyer Eligibility (HFE) letter provides you with information about your qualification for flat ownership, CPF housing grants, and an HDB housing loan. This all-in-one application streamlines your path to purchasing a home.

The processing of an HFE letter application typically takes around 21 working days, roughly equivalent to one month, after HDB has received all the necessary documents. Please note that during peak periods, especially around sales launch dates, processing times may be extended.