8 Hacks To Improve Your HDB BTO Ballot Chances

Ching Sue Mae

Ching Sue Mae

Last updated 01 March, 2023

You’ll be needing a low queue number and lady luck on your side. But we’ve got some ways to help you make it more than just luck.

Applying for a HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) flat has seemingly become a rite of passage for couples in Singapore. This application represents a commitment towards the next stage of your lives together.

If you're looking for a BTO, the August 2021 BTO has just been launched, with flats in seven projects located in Hougang, Jurong East, Kallang Whampoa, Queenstown and Tampines. This time round, more than half of the flats on offer are located in mature estates. Applications are open from 11 August till 17 August 2021, 11.59pm.

If you're not quite ready, you can always wait for the next BTO launch. The November 2021 BTO will feature projects located in Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang Whampoa and Tengah.

To apply for a HDB BTO flat, you have to meet these eligibility criteria set out by HDB. Most notably, your average gross monthly household income cannot exceed S$14,000 if you are looking to apply for a 4-room or bigger flat.

Here are 8 ways you can improve your HDB BTO ballot chances, lest you become the couple in this IG post.

#1 Choose a non-mature (less popular) estate 

Select an estate in a non-mature town, one that is less sought after. Examples from recent BTO exercises include Sembawang, Tengah, Woodlands and Jurong West. Non-mature estates are likely to be further from town or the CBD, and could also be a distance away from the nearest MRT. However, these units also tend to be more affordable. 

With remote working potentially becoming the future of work, as shown by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could be looking at less time in the office and more time at home. Living closer to the heart of Singapore might not be the biggest consideration going forward.

How it improves your chances: Looking back at the May 2021 BTO exercise, a 4-room flat in Bukit Merah (a mature estate) received 3,474 applications for just 70 units. This means that for every unit available, there were 49.6 applicants vying for it.

Source: HDB

Compare this to the 1,023 applications received for 265 4-room flats available in Tengah (a non-mature estate), with an application rate of 3.9. With less than four applicants contesting for each unit, applying for a flat in Tengah would see a higher probability of getting a queue number compared to applying for a unit in Bukit Merah, or Geylang.

#2 Stay near your parents (or with your parents)

Improve your chances by applying for a project that is within 4 km of the HDB flat or private residential property that your parents are living in. You can measure this based on the block in the project that is nearest to your parents’ address. If your parents own more than one property, the property which they reside in will be the one used for the proximity reference. 

Do note that if you apply under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), after collecting the keys, your parents who helped you qualify for the scheme must continue to live within 4 km of your new flat throughout the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP).

Main scheme: Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)

How this improves your chances: There is a quota set aside just for applicants under the MCPS. Up to 30% of BTO/SBF units are reserved for first-timer families that apply under the MCPS and up to 15% of BTO units (3% of SBF units) are reserved for second-timer families. 

To get first priority within this quota, you can apply under the MCPS to live with your parents. Your parents must then be included in your flat application and continue to live with you throughout the MOP. 

#3 Become neighbours with your parents

If your parents are looking to get a new flat, or if you would like to stay near your parents within the same estate, you can apply for two flats in a BTO project through a joint application with your parents. This is only possible if the BTO project offers 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats.

If successfully balloted, both parents and married child will have the opportunity to choose flats on the same floor or elsewhere within the BTO project, from a pool of pre-identified flats. You will receive three queue numbers: 

  • One queue number under the MGPS: Both households can choose their flats together
  • Two queue numbers under the Public Scheme: Choose a flat as a public applicant

You can decide if you want to book the flats jointly under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) or as public applicants depending on the ballot results.

Main scheme: Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)

How this improves your chances: Up to 15% of the 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats are set aside for parents that apply under the MGPS. A corresponding number of 2-room Flexi or larger flats will similarly be set aside for the married child. 

#4 You can expect better chances if you’re expecting. Or, apply when you have children.

Couples that already have children (that are Singapore Citizens aged 18 years old or below) or have a baby on the way can consider applying for a BTO. To apply for this scheme, you must be a first-timer applying as a married couple. 

Main scheme: Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)

How this improves your chances: Up to 30% of BTO units are allocated to applicants under the PPS.

#5 Consider having more children  

In Singapore, our fertility rate fell to a historic low of 1.1 in 2020. This is far from the replacement figure of 2.1 in developed countries. To help encourage the formation of larger families, the HDB has available the Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS).

If you and your spouse have more than two children, you can tap on the TCPS to improve your BTO ballot chances. To apply, your family must consist of at least three children. The third child must be a Singapore Citizen while the other children have to be either a Singapore Citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident. 

Main scheme: Third Child Priority Scheme (TPCS)

How this improves your chances: Up to 5% of BTO flats are allocated for applications under this scheme. 

Do keep in mind that the children who helped you to qualify for the TCPS must continue to live with you in the new flat.

#6 Apply even after a failed (or unfortunate) marriage

A failed marriage is never the end of the world. You can still be a homeowner and create your own dream home. 

If you have a child in tow, you can tap on this assistance scheme which is targeted at divorced or widowed persons with children. Under this scheme, you must have at least one child aged 18 years old or under and you must not have acquired any interest in an HDB flat or private residential property (except for your matrimonial flat or property), after the date of divorce/separation or demise of your spouse.

Main scheme: Assistance scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/Widowed parents) (ASSIST)

How this improves your chances: Up to 5% of BTO 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates are set aside under ASSIST. However, this quota is shared with the 30% quota set aside for second-timers. 

#7 Take the step to own your own home (rather than rent)

Singapore’s rental market saw a rise in HDB rental prices of 1.2% for the whole of 2020. If you and your family have been living in an HDB public rental flat for at least two years, you can consider making the leap to become a homeowner by applying for a BTO flat. 

Main scheme: Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)

How this improves your chances: Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO units are set aside for those applying under the TPS.

#8 Make your first application count

If you are applying for a BTO flat, be sure to make the most of your first application. 

First-timer applicants enjoy privileges and priority in flat allocation, as your housing needs are more pressing. HDB sets aside more flats for first-timers during sales launches and gives first-timers an additional ballot chance. First-timers get two ballot chances while second-timer applicants get one single ballot chance.

However, the queue number to book a flat is randomly generated for flat applicants who are successful in the ballot, with no priority or privilege given. 

You can find all the priority schemes on HDB here.

Try and try again

Don’t be disheartened by failed attempts to get a queue number for your BTO application. There will continue to be new BTO sales launches every quarter. Should you be unsuccessful in your BTO application at least twice for a home in a non-mature estate, you will get an additional ballot chance per subsequent application.

If all else fails, you can always consider applying for other types of HDB housing such as resale flats or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF).

Read these next:
HDB BTO Launches In 2021
HDB Sale Of Balance Flats 2021 – Everything You Need To Know
HDB Loan Vs Bank Loan: Which One Should You go For?
Complete Guide to HDB Grants: Find Out What You Qualify For With These Five Easy Questions
The Real Cost of Breaking Up Before Your BTO Flat Is Ready


A flat white, an adventure-filled travel and a good workout is her fuel. Sue Mae enjoys sharing knowledge on personal finance while chasing the dream of financial independence.


Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!