From preparing a whole list of unit numbers you wouldn’t mind getting to deciding if you want to go with the HDB fixtures, here is a list of things to prepare before you head down to HDB to choose a unit.
If you’re reading this article — congratulations! Lady Luck must be shining on you as you’ve successfully beaten the other many Singaporean couples who have been trying to apply for either a BTO flat or an SBF flat (and paying the S$10 application fee every round).
Even though the gruelling part of praying and waiting is over, the process doesn’t get any better. Aside from handpicking units out of the hundreds that are available, you’ll also have to sit down and calculate your finances to ensure that you have enough before you fully commit to a unit. Will you take an HDB or a bank loan?
All these are considerations that you’ll have to discuss with your partner before you select a unit during your appointment with HDB.
Here’s a list of things you can prepare beforehand so you don’t need to scramble before your first appointment.
1. Decide on a bank loan or HDB loan
For most young couples, choosing an HDB loan over a bank loan is an easy decision, since HDB loans come with less downpayment, which many young couples are more comfortable with. But if you have the financial means, a bank loan might help you save more in the long run.
Though HDB loans give you more stability and peace of mind knowing that the interest payable per month is relatively fixed at 2.6% p.a., the interest is usually higher than that of bank loans. However, bank loans are less lenient in terms of repayments, and any early or late repayments will result in a penalty fee.
Instead of leaving the decision to the night before, you and your partner have to decide early as this will determine whether you’ll need to prepare the HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter or an Approval-In-Principle (AIL), which will be needed on the day of your selection appointment.
2. Get your home loan documents ready
One of the biggest administrative matters you’ll have to settle before your appointment date is your HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter, which essentially proves that you are financially qualified to take up an HDB loan.
You’re required to fill in your personal particulars and employment details which include your monthly income. It usually takes about a few days for your HLE to be approved, so it’s better to get that done early. However, if you’re not intending on getting an HDB loan, you can apply for an Approval-In-Principle (AIP) from your desired bank.
On top of your HLE that you can submit online, you’ll also need to bring along your NRIC and income documents. You can refer to the checklist here.
Have these sorted a few days before your appointment so that you can head down to HDB with peace of mind.
3. Do all financial calculations beforehand
Before you officially commit to your unit, you’ll want to run through your finances for a better gauge of your financial situation and the maximum you’re willing to pay for your house. If your limit is S$500,000, you might want to avoid higher units that tend to be more costly.
At the unit selection stage, you’re also supposed to pay the option fee:
- S$500 for two-room Flexi flats
- S$1,000 for three-room flats
- S$2,000 for four-room or larger flats
On top of that, you’ll also want to apply for any housing grants that you’re eligible for.
4. List all units you want and rank them
Unless your number is below 10, you shouldn’t expect to waltz down to HDB and get that corner unit on the highest floor that has the best view. You’ll have to start listing down all the units that you wouldn’t mind getting and then ranking them.
This is when you should start prioritising the characteristics of a unit that you want. Do you want a high floor or a low floor unit? How much do you value the privacy of a corner unit? Are you okay with your unit getting afternoon sun all year round? Are you superstitious about certain unit numbers?
Once you reach a consensus on the kind of unit you want, you should start listing down all the individual units and then ranking them. This will be especially useful for you leading up to the date of your appointment.
Depending on your queue number, you’ll have to gauge how many units you’ll have to get on your list. For example, if your number is 150, you’ll have to have at least 100 units compiled in your list, assuming that some people will pull out of the BTO exercise.
5. Monitor the flat closely in the days leading up to your appointment
Once you have your list locked down, this is when the tedious part comes in. As soon as the HDB selection process kicks in, you would have access to a list of units that are still available in real-time. This means that when another couple chooses a particular unit, that unit will be reflected in the system as unavailable. You should meticulously refer to the website and check all unavailable units off your list. This gives you an idea of how many units are left, and whether you are still able to get a unit of your choice.
However, if you have a queue number that’s way in the back, we suggest only compiling your list of units and closely monitoring them one to two days before your selection date, based on the units available. This prevents you from wasting precious time looking at units that will be taken up within the first few days.
HDB strictly follows your queue number, so don’t show up five hours before your appointment time thinking that you can skip ahead of the queue.
6. Decide if you want HDB design fixtures (BTO only)
If you’re getting a BTO flat, you’ll also want to spend some time thinking if you want to opt-in for the Optional Component Scheme (OCS), which aims to make your home closer to move-in condition when you collect your keys. Under OCS, you can choose which design fixtures you want to be installed in your home, such as a wash basin, a shower set, doors for bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as floor finishes for your living room and bedrooms.
If you’re purchasing a short-lease two-room Flexi flat, you also have the option of installing elderly-friendly fittings like built-in kitchen cabinets with induction hob and cooker hood, kitchen sink, tap and dish drying rack, a built-in wardrobe, water heater, lighting, window grilles, a mirror and toilet roll holder in your bathroom.
Of course, this comes at an additional price that is not included in the buying price of your property, and features come in a limited range of designs and colours.
While this is convenient, this takes away the freedom of aligning these design features according to your preferred aesthetic for your house. Depending on whether you value convenience over aesthetics, you’ll have to discuss this with your partner and decide on the day you choose your flat.
With these tips in mind, we hope that you’ll have a smooth-sailing HDB selection day!
Read these next:
How Much Do You Need To Buy Your First Home In Singapore?
Step-By-Step Guide To Buying Your First HDB BTO
HDB Downpayment Guide 2022
The Real Cost: Breaking Up Before Your BTO Flat Is Ready
HDB Loan Vs Bank Loan: Which One Should You Go For?