By : Nur Raihana
18 December 2012
You received a letter from HDB informing you about your successful ballot. You are happy and excited, but anxious at the same time because you don’t quite know what to expect at the flat selection exercise or how to select the best – or next best – flat for yourselves.
Fret no more – read these tips put together by first-timers like you who recently selected their brand new flat and chill….
Yes, like you, I was a bit apprehensive when I was selecting a new flat in Punggol some months back. Like you, I also consulted online forums which can be a great resource, but I found the volume of information in those threads a little overwhelming. I did the next best thing – asking friends who had gone through previous flat selections to find out more.
Truth be told, I actually found the entire flat selection process very fuss-free, a similar sentiment felt by my friends. However, there were some questions that I would have loved answers to while I waited for my own selection date, if only to calm my nerves.
So here’s what I’ve gathered, and let me share them with you …
Q: What factors should I consider when choosing a flat?
Prior to the appointment, HDB would have sent you a sales package with flat selection details such as the flat list and brochure. You can use this to whittle down the available flats to a select few. Some also find it useful to drop by the HDB Hub to check out the models on display.
Ultimately, the flat you select must make you happy, so be clear about what you really want. This will make it easier for you to make a sound decision when faced with varying options.
Are factors like the flat’s orientation and facing and storey height super-important to you? Is it vital that your flat be as close as possible to the multi-storey car park as you drive and don’t like to cover some distance on foot?
If you have young children, is it ideal that your flat is near the playground for the little ones?
Q. What if the flat I want is taken up?
That’s a real possibility especially if your queue position is way down the line. The best piece of advice I’ve been given is to have a good back-up plan. That means: keep your flat options open and be prepared to consider your ‘less-than-ideal’ choices which you should also put on a list.
The other advice is to shortlist flats only the night before the appointment. Oh, also note down the unit numbers of your selected flat choices. This will help when you are down at the HDB Hub on the selection day.
Q: How will I know if the flat I want has been taken up?
The list of flats still available for selection can be found in the HDB InfoWEB. If the unit number is blue, the flat is still available for you to choose. However, a red unit number means that the flat has already been booked. The same information will be displayed on the electronic boards at the HDB Sales Display area – available flats in blue, and booked flats in red. One other way I found really useful was to check “live” updates via Mobile@HDB on my smartphone. (Get the application for iPhone or Android if you haven’t already!)
Ethnic quotas also are in place for all HDB blocks, so once the limit has been reached for your ethnic group, you will not be allowed to select a unit in that particular block.
Q: What will I need to bring that day?
Enclosed in the sales package will be a letter detailing the documents you will need to bring. Alternatively, check the HDB InfoWEB for the list. It helps to keep things organised neatly in a single folder. It’s useful to pack them a week in advance and then check them again the night before.
Q: What can I expect at the appointment?
On the day of your appointment, head to the Sales Display Area and wait for your queue number to be called. (I suggest coming slightly earlier to check out the optional finishes on offer. Also, I’m sure you don’t want to miss your queue number!)
The friendly HDB Customer Service Officer (CSO) will then assess your eligibility to purchase a flat, based on the documents furnished that day. It is thus important to prepare a complete set of documents before you head down.
Thereafter, you will have to make a short detour to the payment counter on the second floor to pay an option fee in cash, through NETS or by cheque. After doing so, you will go back to the CSO where you’ll be invited to select your flat, opt-in for the additional finishes, and sign the Option to Purchase form.
This is also your chance to ask the CSO all the questions you have.
Q: I think I am eligible for a grant. How do I apply for one?
If you are eligible for a grant, you will be asked if you would like to take it up at the sales appointment itself. Do bring along the supporting income documents as outlined in your letter and the HDB InfoWEB.
Q: Do my fiancée/ fiancé and I need to be married before we can select a flat?
No you don’t!
The Fiancé/ Fiancée Scheme is meant for couples who intend to get married, so they can plan ahead and apply for a flat before the wedding. One point to note though is that the option fee is non-refundable and you will not be able to get the money back should the relationship dissolve. Furthermore, you will not be allowed to change the name of your co-applicant, so be sure to discuss future plans with your partner before taking the leap.
Q: How long will the appointment take?
It varies. A lot depends on the amount of paperwork that needs to be done, and the number of questions you ask your officer. On average, be prepared to spend about 30 to 45 minutes in all.
Q: What happens if I do not turn up for this appointment?
If you don’t turn up at your appointment for any reason (or are too late), you would be considered as having passed up on a chance to select a flat. If you are a first-timer applicant, rejecting two chances to select a flat will cause your first-timer priorities to be removed for one year in any HDB Sales Exercise.
Q: If I select my flat at this appointment, what happens to my other application that is pending?
Once you select a flat, any other applications that you might have will be voided. You cannot book more than one flat, even if they are in different housing projects.
Q: I hear there will be a second appointment with HDB. What is it for and when will it take place?
The second appointment with HDB usually takes place a few months later, after the flat selection process ends. In a nutshell, you will be signing the agreement for lease as well as paying the down payment and legal fees during this session. HDB will provide you with more details closer to the appointment date.
If you are eligible for housing grants, it is likely that your second appointment may come around slightly later. As the disbursement of grants may take some time, it is normal to have people with larger queue numbers go for the second HDB appointment before you.
Just remember that good things come to those who wait!
Flat-buying really isn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. Hopefully, you find this article useful when it’s your turn to select a flat. (And good luck to you!)
If you would like more information, MyNiceHome has some nifty quick guides for you too.