How This Student Couple Managed To Get A BTO With One Party Under 21 Years Old

12 June 2023 | BY

Getting a BTO at the young age can be daunting, but here’s one couple’s success story and how they managed to get their HDB under 21.

How This Student Couple Managed To Get A BTO With One Party Under 21 Years Old

Singles might want to skip this article – we’re not liable for any feelings of envy caused. But even if you’ve successfully conned someone into settling down with you, the process of applying for a BTO flat is still a stressful one. 

Under 21 BTO - mature estatesImage credit: Development Bank of Singapore Limited

It’s common knowledge that getting a BTO flat in Singapore is no walk in the park. Well before a couple’s home-owning journey begins, they’re already well primed to know that applying for a BTO is akin to playing 4D, the success rate is unknown, but the odds don’t look good. Still you wait with anxious hope that this application will finally be the jackpot.

Some exasperated but hopeful homeowners wait years before they can finally get a favourable BTO queue number, but Ann and her boyfriend were the exception to the rule. The couple successfully clinched a 4-room flat at Central Weave in Ang Mo Kio while Ann was just 20. Here’s how they did it:

Eager to settle down after 5 years of dating 

Under 21 BTO - student btoImage credit: @annclarissa

After dating for 5 years, Ann and her boyfriend were ready to embark on the next phase of their life – happily ever after, and of course, a BTO. They were initially hesitant about applying due the fact that she was still under 21 at the time and the whole process just seemed so overwhelming. To make matters worse, there seemed to be a lack of information on how to go about bidding for a unit.

Many friends and family members had also warned them that due to Ann’s age and their full-time student statuses, it’d be near impossible for them to actually get a low queue number for a launch they were interested in due to the fierce competition. 

Applying via the Fiancé/Fianceé scheme

Eventually she sought the help of HDB, and staff informed her that she and her partner would be eligible to apply via the Fiancé/Fiancée scheme – where the couple’s parents on either side had to sign a consent form to prove that they approved of the marriage, as well as the purchase of the BTO flat. The catch: the couple would have to register their marriage within 3 months after collecting the keys to their new home. 

Under 21 BTO - Fiancé/Fianceé schemeImage credit: Lemon8

“Neither of us knew where to get the parental consent form, but thank God the process went smoothly and the HDB staff were kind in guiding us through at our first appointment!”

Ann also shared that the form would have to be submitted within 7 days of the unit selection appointment to prevent any further delay in the application process. Marriage was definitely on the horizon for the pair, so with all that in mind, they started their first application in August 2021 and got their flat in just 4 tries.

Difficult decision between a PLH BTO or normal BTO

Under 21 BTO - Prime Location HousingImage credit: Property Guru

The couple had first set their sights on King George’s Heights in Kallang, back in February 2022. The only issue was that the project was classified as a Prime Location Housing (PLH) – this meant they’d have to grapple with a 10-year MOP period and would only be able to sell their house after an entire decade!

The heavy commitment of the PLH was a bit too much commitment than they were willing to take on, since the pair had already envisioned themselves upgrading to another home once their MOP period was up. And with their finances not fully in order, they decided to apply for a BTO project in the non-mature estate of Yishun instead. Sacrificing the central location of the PLH was a hard pill to swallow, but the 5-year MOP period of an ordinary BTO project would grant them the flexibility to flip the flat in the near future.

Ultimately, fate worked in their favour with them successfully applying for a 4-room flat in the mature estate of Ang Mo Kio.

“We used the tools HDB provided on their website to calculate the monthly cash top-up on top of our CPF contributions.” When the couple agreed on a loan repayment amount that worked for them, they went ahead to lock in their decision. decide on whether to bid for a 4 or 5-room at that location.”

Planning their finances

As students, Ann and her partner’s savings were limited to whatever they’d earned from working part-time jobs and from CNY angpaos they’d been hoarding since their childhoods. The pair knew that they’d face some financial strain from the purchase and would have to be extra thrifty in the following years.

“Many friends have shared their surprise at how chill we are, considering the price of the flat. But for us, we both have agreed that it was a great decision and working hard is part of the process to obtain our first big purchase!”

For both Ann and her partner, it was comforting to know that the industries that they would join would guarantee them both a decent starting salary that would help bolster their loan repayments. On the whole, Ann shares that she and her partner try to be as frugal as they can on dates, and would rather hop across the border to live large in JB as opposed to spending money at trendy places in Singapore.

Buying an HDB flat at the young age of 21 is not something most of us can relate or even comprehend, but for Ann, owning a home has also helped Ann curb her impulsive shopping habits and encouraged her to be financially responsible. Ann shares that she views her financial commitments as a “positive stress” that has empowered her to manage her finances wisely and make better choices.

Pro tips for other students looking for BTO

If you’re young and madly in love, certain that you’ve found your missing half, applying for a BTO as a student isn’t all that bad. Just as in Ann’s case, do your research and be prepared for the costs you do have to pay along the way. Here are some helpful tips to help you out with the process.

Staggered downpayment and deferred income assessment for students

Buying a BTO comes with a lot of costs, but the good news is that for students, the government gives you the option to either stagger your downpayment to have it paid in two sessions, one when you sign the lease agreement, and the other when you finally collect your keys. Another nifty thrift you’re entitled to, is deferring your income assessment until after you graduate.

Under 21 BTO - deferred income assessmentImage adapted from: HDB
In order to purchase an HDB flat to begin with, you have to prove that you’re well employed to give HDB some sort of assurance you’ll make good on your loan repayments. In the special case of students who have yet to be employed, HDB allows the deferment of this income assessment to roughly 3 months before you’re due to collect your BTO keys.
This gives you a good amount of time to graduate and work your way to the corporate ladder to chalk up the 12 months of income needed for the income assessment.
Perks aside, you’ll still have to save up and pay for things like the application fee, the option fee which can go up to $2,000 for 4-room flats and above at the time of booking the flat.  

Recce the housing location

As desperate as you are to get yourself your own crib, it’s essential that you pay your projects of choice a physical visit just to get a feel of the locations, each estate’s surrounding amenities, and the distance you’ll have to travel to the nearest MRT or bus station.
Under 21 BTO - good housing location
Image credit: HDB

“Our non-negotiable when it came to locations was also the accessibility to nearby MRT stations. Both of us stay opposite an MRT station currently so it would be hard to adapt to a location which requires a further walking or bus transit distance. It would add a lot of time to our daily commute, which was undesirable for us.”

Study the market trends of flats in that area

Before making your BTO decision, it’s important to analyse the market trends in the desired area. Check out resale flat prices, floor plans, and overall market conditions. 

Under 21 BTO - upcoming bto launchesImage credit: HDB

Even if you’re eyeing a PLH project that might come with a hefty price tag, studying the market prices around the existing PLH BTOs can help you forecast the scale of profit your purchase might make you.

Do research prior to the BTO launch

When asked for tips, Ann had some words of wisdom for us: “Do your research BEFORE the application dates start. Don’t wait until the launch application period to discuss everything. Look at previous launches to anticipate the demand for the next launch. Study the market prices for property around your desired BTO location.”

Here’s a valuable tip from Ann: “We used the block numbers, sun direction, rubbish chute/lift, nearby amenities and walking distance from the MRT station as a guide to ranking the units of our choice.” From this method, the couple were able to shortlist the units they favoured prior to the application date itself.

Getting a BTO as students in Singapore

Under 21 BTO - successful bto ballotImage credit: @annclarissa

BTO applications are just as stressful as taking our PSLE papers, except you don’t study for 6 years in preparation to buy a house. Hopefully, Ann’s successful experience will help ease the pressure and reassure you that HDB as an institution doesn’t discriminate against Gen Zs, unlike middle managers with a boomer mindset. Ahem. 

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Cover image adapted from: @annclarissa, TheSmartLocal

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