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HDB to tighten restrictions on successful BTO applicants who fail to select flats

The new restrictions will take place from the August 2023 BTO exercise.

HDB public housing apartment blocks in Jurong West, Singapore. To illustrate story on tighter restrictions for the BTO scheme.
HDB BTO applicants who fail to select a flat despite successfully reaching the balloting stage will face tighter restrictions from August 2023 onwards. (kokkai via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — First-time Build-to-Order (BTO) flat applicants who do not choose a unit, despite being successful at the balloting stage, will face tighter restrictions, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee in Parliament on Thursday (2 March).

First-timers will soon be considered second-timers for a year when they ballot for a flat after receiving one non-selection count. Currently, first-timers will only be considered second-timers for a year if they have accumulated two non-selection counts.

In addition, second-timers will not be allowed to participate in HDB sales exercises for one year after receiving one non-selection count, down from the current two counts.

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The new restrictions will take effect from the August 2023 BTO exercise.

40 per cent do not select a flat

"Currently, 40 per cent of BTO flat applicants who are invited to select the flat decide not to take up the offer," said the minister during the Committee of Supply debate.

"There is probably a range of reasons. For some, the remaining flats may be out of budget. For others, they might be considering other housing options or prefer flats with specific attributes for specific reasons," Lee said. "Understandably, some would rather give up the opportunity to select the flat now and wait longer for a better flat".

But, "whatever the reason, such applicants do crowd out other homebuyers who may have more pressing needs," he said.

The minister also noted that some applicants may have genuine reasons for not selecting a flat and that the government wants to be fair toward such applicants.

"HDB will not issue a non-selection count if BTO flat applicants have 10 or fewer flats left to choose from. For sale of balance flat exercises, where the flat supply is much smaller to begin with, we will use a lower threshold of five flats," the minister said.

"Where there are extenuating circumstances, HDB may exercise flexibility to waive the non-selection count and not issue it in the first place," he added.

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