(updated 2 Sep 2020)
The boy and I had been dating for quite a while before we decided to ballot for a HDB flat.
We didn’t want to ballot early because it takes time to get a flat. We wanted to be certain about each other before we try our luck in getting a flat.
We balloted for multiple times in different locations. We stay quite far from each other, with him being in the East and me being in the prime location.
Disappointment in BTO-ing for our flat
But we were unlucky. We almost got to choose our flat for our second ballot try, then the night before our flat selection appointment, we were informed that the ethnic quota for Chinese has been filled so we are unsuccessful in our ballot.
Can you imagine our disappointment that night when we received that fateful message. From discussing which unit to take, to anxiously monitoring the units left each night. It was a bummer, seriously.
Then we found out about the HDB Open Booking of Flats.
What is HDB open booking of flats about?
HDB sells flats in 3 sales modes:
- Build to Order (BTO)
- Sale of Balance Flats (SBF)
- Open Booking of flats
Some people view it as, you BTO for your first try because that is when there is the largest supply of first hand flats available, your chance of getting a flat is the highest and IF you get a decent ballot number, there are more unit choices to choose from.
Then if you want to get a house faster, HDB has the Sale of Balance Flats exercise that happens twice a year, once in May and another time in November. In this exercise, it is the leftover unselected flats from the BTO exercise held earlier. So the unit choices you can choose from are lesser but you usually can find decent flats like units at higher floors for those non-mature estates.
So after the SBF exercise, if there are still unsold flats, HDB rounds them up and put up for sale via the Open Booking of flats. And that was what we went for eventually.
Note that the price of the flat when sold at BTO exercise is the cheapest, each time HDB tries to sell the flat at the SBF exercise and open booking exercise, the price of the flat will go up slightly. So the price of the flat at open booking exercise will be higher than the price at SBF exercise. But it is not a very big increase.
HDB Offering more balance flats for Open Booking Exercise
So in the past, HDB had the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises but it wasn’t well received. To help home buyers get flats more quickly, they decided to scrap ROF.
This spells good news for us as all the unsold BTO flats will first be offered through SBF and those that remain unselected will be offered for open booking, instead of going through another round of balloting.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Apply for Open Booking of flats?
1) Check Your Eligibility for HDB Open Booking of Flats
So in the past, we had already applied for BTO before and the eligibility criteria, income ceiling, housing schemes is the same as that for open booking.
Use the eligibility check to check if you can apply for HDB Open Booking Of Flats.
2) Decide How You Want To Finance Your Flat Purchase from the HDB Open Booking Of Flats
There are 2 methods to finance your flat, either you take the HDB loan or a bank loan. And also, you would need to obtain the HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter as you will need it when you select the flat.
3) Submit Your Open Booking Of HDB flats Application Online
4) Selecting Your HDB Flat From Open Booking Exercise
When preparing to go down for your HDB open booking flat selection appointment, you will need to bring along the following documents:
- Identity cards (if you’re in the SAF, SCDF or SPF, you’ll need to provide a certified true copy of your NRIC from your Personnel Department)
- Passport for non-citizens
- Doctor’s certification of pregnancy or birth certificates of your children (if you apply under Parenthood Priority Scheme)
- Your birth certificate and your parents’ marriage certificate (if you’re buying the flat under the Multi Generation Priority Scheme or Married Child Priority Scheme)
- Marriage certificate (if you’re married)
- Divorce certificate (if you’re divorced)
- Death certificate of your spouse (if your spouse is deceased)
- Student Pass or Letter from School or College or Institute of Learning for persons who are >18 years
- Income documents for assessment of income ceiling to buy or take CPF housing grant(s)
If you’re opting for an HDB loan, you’ll also need to submit your HLE letter at this point. But if in the super suay case, you applied for your HLE but it is still processing, fret not, you can still select your flat. (cos that happened to us).
You will also be required to pay the option fee through cash/cashier’s order or cheque.
|Flat Type||Option Fee Payable|
|2-room Flexi Flat||$500|
|4/ 5-room and Executive Flat||$2,000|
5) Sign the agreement for lease for HDB Open Booking Of Flat
After you have selected your flat, you will need to go down again to sign the Agreement for Lease.
You will have to bring the original copy of the following:
- Identity cards
- Receipt of booking fee
- Bank passbook and photocopy of the page stating your name and bank account number
- Approval in Principle of loan letter from bank or financial institution
- Power of Attorney (if unable to attend the appointment personally)
- Latest CPF statements
You will also need to make downpayment for your flat. And if you are eligible, you can opt for Staggered Downpayment Scheme. Check your eligibility here.
Then if you intend to use your CPF savings to pay for your flat purchase, ensure that you have set-up- the 2-factor Authentification (2FA) for your SingPass. You will need to bring your mobile phone or Onekey token when you attend the appointment to submit an electronic withdrawal.
Note: The registration for SingPass and activation of 2FA will take up to 10 working days.
6) Collection of Keys
Whoo, the day has come to collect your keyyyy! Excited uh? 😉
So on the day of your key collection appointment, you must bring the original copy of the following documents:
- Identity cards
- Certificate of Fire Insurance (different from Home Insurance)
- Power of Attorney (if unable to attend the appointment personally)
- Latest CPF statements
- Completed GIRO form (if you’re paying monthly loan instalments partially or fully by cash)
Our experience in the HDB Open Booking of Flats
HDB Open Booking Of flats – First Come First Serve Basis
Unlike BTO application that is NOT first come first serve. Open Booking of HDB flats IS on a first come first serve basis.
The boy was like calling me while I was having my meeting WFH with my colleagues. He told me to quickly apply for the HDB Open Booking of Flats as it was based on first come first served. The open booking application commenced on 25 March 2020.
So according to HDB, if I were to apply on the day itself right after the clock struck 12, I would have been able to book a flat in the afternoon on the same day. See the table below. For more information, click here.
But I was already giving up hope on the open booking as so many locations had the Chinese Ethnic Quota filled. The remaining ones were like Yishun, Tampines, and Sengkang.
Open Booking Yishun BTOs location: quite decent levels but flats are like far away from amenities, it is 20-30 minutes away by bus from Yishun mrt.
Open Booking Sengkang BTOs location – it is near LRT. But we weren’t too keen on taking the LRT.
Open Booking Tampines BTOs location – low levels but near upcoming Tampines North Mrt
I applied on the day itself 25 March, around 2 pm + and at my confirmation page, we were informed on our HDB flat Open Booking selection appointment, which was about 2 weeks later, on 5 April 2020. Our number was 2000+.
So, this dawned on me that holy shit, if we go down we get to FINALLY CHOOSE OUR FLAT!
A few days before our Open Booking flat selection appointment, we sat down and pored over the units left. Only lower floors were left, as expected as this open booking is the 3rd time that HDB is putting the flat on sale. The good floors were already taken during the BTO and Sale of Balance period.
Usually the sequence is like this: BTO -> Sale of Balance -> Open Booking.
I was quite sian that there were only low floors left but after so many rounds of unsuccessful balloting, I was quite tired.
It is either we get a first hand flat or we go for resale flats that are expensive if we want to stay near our parents. And, coupled with that, the resale flats near our parents houses are very old.
So if we get a resale flat, highly likely we will be located at Punggol or Jurong, far away from parents OR we have to buy resale flats with very short lease. Resale flats also means if we want the interior design to look modern, we would have to shell out a lot on renovation. Yikes.
HDB Open Booking Of flats – Shorter wait for the flat
ECD refers to the Estimated Completion Date, the date that the contractor is expected to complete the construction.
EDPD is the Estimated Delivery Possession Date – it refers to the deadline that all the keys have to be issued to all the new owners.
We decided to take the unit as the ECD falls nicely into our plans. As the flats are already under construction, we didn’t need to wait as long as our Feb 2020 Toa Payoh BTO, that BTO will require 5 years of waiting period.
In addition, my queue number was like 2.5x the supply rate, so even if I get to choose, it will also be low level and the Toa Payoh would be at the expressway. Comparing both low levels, the Tampines Flat from Open Booking would be completed earlier and we really liked that aspect.
HDB Open Booking Of Flats – Optional Component Schemes (OCS)
We thought that just like BTOs, we get to choose the OCS components, such as the packages:
Package A: Flooring for Bedroom and Living room
Package B: Doors and Sanitary Fittings.
We arrived early for our flat selection appointment, and we checked out the tiles sample at the HDB hub, the showflat was closed due to the COVID measures.
We were deciding on which package to get and when we were telling the HDB staff the unit we decided on, that was when we found out from the staff that for Open Booking of HDB flats, you cannot choose the OCS as the flat is already under construction.
You can only choose your flat. Bummer.
HDB Open Booking Of Flats – What We Thought About The Home Loan Eligibility
We quickly applied for HLE a few nights before our flat appointment and were panicking over it. During our appointment, we informed the staff that we didnt have our HLE as it is still pending processing.
Thankfully, without our HLE, we were still able to select our flat, PHEW!
HDB Open Booking Of Flats – Documents to bring
If you intend to apply for a grant, you need to prepare 12 months worth of payslips. But if you are not applying for a grant, 3 months is enough. As our appointment is on 5 April, I thought that the 3 months payslips meant Jan till March. But no, it meant Dec to Feb.
But not to worry, the HDB staff told us that we can go to MyDoc@HDB to upload the outstanding documents.
We signed many documents during our Open Booking Flat selection appointment, it felt surreal to finally leave HDB with the orange file that we have been waiting so long for. And finally, we can tick ‘ buying a flat’ off our to-do-list. Another milestone checked!
HDB Open booking – the much awaited second appointment
4 months after selecting our flat, we received a sms informing us of our appointment to sign the Agreement for lease on 16 Aug 2020. It was a very fast appointment, 15 minutes.
At this appointment, we had to choose whether we want joint ownership meaning both of us are owners. Or we want like 1 person be owner, the other person be occupier.
Paying the first 5% of our downpayment
Then we had to fill in some forms on HDB website, the officer guided us along. And because I’m below the age of 30, we opted for Staggered Downpayment Scheme.
Stamp Duty and Legal Fees
At this stage we have to make payment for the stamp duty and legal fees.
The stamp duty is based on the selling price of the flat:
On or after 20 Feb 2018
- First $180,000: 1%
- Next $180,000: 2%
- Next $640,000: 3%
- Remaining amount: 4%
We thought that the orange file was needed and brought all the documents including the receipt, end up no need. ><
But all is good, and of course, the much awaited moment is when we ask our officer the estimated key collection date.
Tolong tolong, hope covid doesn’t delay our key collection date.
If you have read this far, you are probably deciding between getting an open booking flat or waiting for a BTO.
HDB Open Booking of Flats VS BTO
When i first balloted for a BTO, i had many expectations, such as like:
- the flat must not have the afternoon sun
- the flat must be high floor
- must be mature estate
- must be near mrt
- must get the flat when i am 30 years old
But after so many unsuccessful attempts, 6 attempts, in fact, my expectations got lowered.
Because it is just so difficult to get a flat near my parents that is a hot favourite and the flat is sooooo expensive.
My dream was to have my own place before I get married or at least, get married then move into my own place shortly.
I chose this Open Booking flat primely due to the shorter wait for the house to be ready, and it is near an upcoming Tampines North MRT. I stay at the ground floor so although my unit is low level, it was an upgrade and I can climb stairs to my unit! No need to wait for the lift! 😀
Personally, I feel the Open Booking of Flat is for buyers who are not picky on the flat, like the unit must be on high floor. Because the good floors are already taken during the BTO and Sale of Balance Flat stages. It is more for buyers who prefer first hand and want the unit fast.
Unless you don’t mind waiting and trying your luck for a middle to a high floor, BTO may be a better choice for you 🙂
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