While the Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise is the most common way for home buyers to purchase a new flat, there are other sales modes for them to consider – one of which is the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.
SBF exercises are launched twice a year in May and November, usually together with BTO exercises. You will have to decide which mode you want to buy a flat through – you can only choose one during the same launch.
One of the main reasons why people choose to apply for SBF instead of BTO flats is the relatively shorter waiting time. As its name suggests, many of the flats sold under the SBF exercise are balance flats remaining from earlier BTO sales launches. These units are either undergoing construction, or already completed. While SBF is definitely an option to consider, here are some things to take note before you submit your application.
1. Flat Information Made Available During Sales Launch
SBF comprises a variety of flat types located across different estates. In the last SBF exercise in May 2021, popular estates like Bishan and Bukit Merah were included as well.
Information about the available flats is released during the sales launch. These include the flat type, location and number of units available. Home buyers have a week to make their decision – from selecting a flat to submitting the application for the SBF exercise.
2. Flat Leases Can Vary
While the vast majority of SBF units are new flats left over from previous sales launches, the selection also comprises older flats such as surplus flats from Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects, and flats repurchased by HDB from previous owners. You’ll need to consider the lease length when choosing to purchase a flat from the SBF exercise.
3. CPF Housing Grants Are Applicable
As with BTO flats, home buyers can enjoy CPF housing grants such as the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000 and the Step-Up CPF Housing Grant of up to $15,000, depending on eligibility. More details on CPF housing grants here.
4. Demand Has Seen an Increase
Application rates have remained high for SBF flats as the shorter waiting time makes them popular among buyers, so do keep that in mind when considering SBF over BTO. As there is usually a smaller number of SBF flats available as well, your chances of successfully applying for a flat will vary.
Should You Opt for SBF?
The SBF exercise is a good option for home buyers looking to shorten the waiting time for a flat. This sales mode also offers more flexibility in terms of choice, thus suiting home buyers with specific housing needs. However, as SBF exercises are typically open twice a year, home buyers who are unable to wait may want to consider resale flats.