As most of you already know, SX and I recently got married and it was definitely a life changing event. & like any wedding, we had months of preparations done before the actual day because we didn’t want anything to go wrong!
Which was what we also did when we were buying our future home. We spent months thinking about what was the best option for us. We finally decided to apply for a BTO flat from HDB.
SX said for newlyweds like us who have never bought a HDB flat before, BTO is the way to go because we can enjoy better chances, priority schemes and grants. We didn’t want to put a strain on our pockets for our first property, so we decided not to look at an Executive Condominium (EC) or private condominium because we figured that with the wedding, honeymoon and house renovation all added up together, we will have to come up with a really large sum of money.
1) Deciding on our preferred location
SX and I have lived in the East our entire lives. I stayed in the Katong area since birth and for him, it was the Joo Chiat area. So it just felt like the East was our home and we knew our future home had to be in the East too. Even though many of my friends prefer living in a central location as they feel that it is more convenient, we didn’t want to try other areas because we know the East like the back of our hands. So we waited for HDB to launch BTO projects in the East. SX, my husband, is a property agent, so I let him handle most of the research, including checking for the latest launches because he knows best.
We decided to apply for a BTO flat in Bedok (Feng Shan)! It is located right behind Bedok 85 market, the one with so many famous food stalls and always crowded..haha. SX and I knew it would be a popular choice because the market is literally a 3-minute walk away. But because we loved the area so much, we went ahead and submitted our application anyway… and 1.5 months later, we received our ballot results. To our surprise, we managed to get a queue number that was within the first 60% of the total units offered! About 1-2 weeks after we got our queue number, we went down to HDB to select our unit!
SX did most of the research when it came to unit selection – calculating where the sun rises and hits at noon (which is the hottest), how far the unit is from the main road (so that it will not be noisy) and all that. Haha, I just went ahead with what he thought was the best unit and yes, that was how we secured our new home. After we selected our flat, we then applied for an HDB Loan Eligibility letter so that we could take a HDB Loan for the flat. That’s it!
2) Application process – a breeze!
It is seriously a pretty straightforward and fuss-free system that makes a complicated process like buying a home, so simple. HDB made everything so convenient for us, like sending a SMS reminder the day before our HDB flat selection appointment so that we didn’t wait too long for our turn when we arrived at HDB Hub! The customer service officer assisting us was really helpful and patient in explaining to us the grants we were eligible for, and the things we needed to take note of, like the paying of the option fee. She really made sure that we understood all the documents that we have to sign on.
3) The perfect size for us
We settled for a 4-room HDB unit which was good enough for us, and even when we have a baby along the way, there would be enough room for him/her. We didn’t splurge on a 5-room flat because it costs more and we just felt that it was unnecessary to spend that extra money since a 4-room flat also has 3 bedrooms, just that maybe the living room is smaller but we are OK with that.
4) BTO - an affordable option for young couples
And as we both applied for our unit when we were in our early twenties, we really appreciated that we had that 3-3.5 years of waiting period where we could grow our savings and prepare ourselves for hefty home renovation and furniture expenses. So when some of our friends complained that the waiting time for BTO is too long and they rather buy a resale flat, we will always not share the same view because a BTO flat is a brand new house as compared to resale, and you may even need to spend more money renovating and cleaning a resale flat.
Most of our friends around us all also opted for BTO and were able to qualify for substantial grants. If you are interested in purchasing a BTO flat, I suggest you visit this page to see all the different schemes and grants that you qualify for - http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/new/first-timer-applicants
Our house will be ready by 3rd quarter of 2017 and we cannot wait to move in and start renovating and building our new home.