By : Andy Lim and Sheryl Chua
27 October 2015
We are just like any other young Singaporean couple ready to enter the next phase of our lives – settling down and building a home and family.
And like most Singaporean couples, we applied for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat and planned well ahead for it. We thought that it would be interesting and helpful to note down our thoughts and considerations and share them with aspiring home owners. So, let us get started!
We’re happy to share our BTO flat journey!
Start with the Research
There was a lot of reading to do, from the HDB InfoWEB to forums, and online blogs. These were the platforms that we got information from. But as every couple’s circumstances may be different, it is best to check with HDB on things you are unsure of. In our case, Andy is a sign-on regular with stipend while I am getting stipend for my PhD study. We were pleasantly surprised when we checked and were told by HDB that we were eligible for the Additional Housing Grant!
Sorting out Finance Issues
We were also eligible for the HDB Staggered Downpayment Scheme. Through this scheme, we paid 5%, instead of the full 10%, of the purchase upon signing the Agreement for Lease. The remaining 5% will be due when we collect our keys.
We had to plan our finances carefully to make sure that we could afford the 5% downpayment (about $25,000). The Additional Housing Grant ($5,000) also helped to cover the shortfall.
In addition, we checked our Housing Loan Eligibility (HLE), and HDB also did a second credit assessment to ensure that we were able to afford the flat purchase – all of which helped ease our financial worries.
Faith and trust in one another is part of the process as well
Trust and Commitment
Applying for a BTO flat is a big decision. We had heard stories of couples breaking up before they got their flat and the messy aftermath. As we had gotten to know each other well during our university days, we were surer of our commitment. We knew enough about each other’s ways and habits – both good and bad – to take the plunge.
We decided to apply for the Ghim Moh Edge BTO project during our third year together in 2013. We were apprehensive at first as both of us were still schooling and not sure if we could afford a BTO flat. However, given that our BTO flat will only be completed in 2017, we thought that the timing was right as by then, both of us would have started working already.
Some people think that applying for a BTO flat is akin to “tying each other down” but we do not agree. We think that it represents a commitment and the mutual trust to set up a family together in the future. We also wanted to plan ahead for our home as we both agreed that during the first few years of our marriage, we would not live with either of our parents. We want to be independent and establish our own family culture and values from the start.
Taking the First Step – Paperwork
There were no complicated steps. We visited the HDB InfoWEB often to check for new BTO flat launches. The BTO application and submission of supporting documents were all done on the HDB website as well.
We chose Ghim Moh Edge, as it is almost equidistant to where both our parents live. Getting to work will also be easy as it is within walking distance to the nearest MRT station.
We were contemplating between getting a 3-room flat or a 4-room flat. We eventually decided to get a 4-room flat after doing some finance planning and also because we intended to live there long-term. Plus, since we plan to have a large family in the future, a 4-room flat would be appropriate.
We cannot wait for our BTO flat to be ready and start our own family. At our age, we feel that it is the right time to settle down and focus on starting a family. We hope that the BTO flat will be home not only to us as newlyweds, but also to our children, and in our old age.
(All photos courtesy of Andy and Sheryl)