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BTO Delayed? Consider These 5 Alternative Housing Ideas

Ohmyhome

Ohmyhome

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Update as of 14 May 2021: With Singapore going back to Phase 2 for the month of May, we have added a discretionary warning to those who are considering the co-living option. We have also added the purchase of an HDB resale flat as a temporary housing option.

In the past year, we’ve seen the effects of the pandemic affect sectors and industries nationwide—including the construction industry. As a result, this has put a shocking halt to massive BTO projects all over Singapore, following supply chain disruptions and the lack of manpower to commence construction. The border restrictions and the high number of COVID-19 cases globally have also made it a challenge for construction firms to bring workers into Singapore. 

With the devastating state of the country’s COVID-19 surge in India, the new arrivals from which work in Singapore’s construction sector, the city-state has enforced an entry ban from anyone with recent travel history to curb the spread of the pandemic. 

As a result of the dwindling numbers of able and active construction workers in Singapore, project delays are expected to continue. 

Close to 85% of the country’s BTO projects have been significantly delayed in April, with no clear end in sight. Most of these projects are between six to nine months behind schedule, causing a wave of uncertainty among BTO homeowners.

If your household has been affected by the BTO delay, here are four viable housing options to consider while waiting out the storm. 

5 alternative housing options to consider if your BTO flat is delayed

#1: Rental flats 

handing over house keys
Getting a rental HDB flat is one of the most affordable and quickest temporary housing options.

Property rentals are a temporary and affordable housing solution for newlyweds waiting for their BTO. Depending on their preference and budget, they can either rent from an existing homeowner or the HDB directly. 

While renting from the open market is the more conventional option, HDB offers unique rental schemes to support property transactors. 

The Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) provides temporary housing options for families who require short-term housing as they wait for the completion of their new flats. 

On some occasions, tenants may have to share their space with the landlord if they happen to be residing in the same unit. If privacy is one of your primary concerns, you may want to consider looking for a unit in the open market that’s being rented out as a whole instead of just a room.

While this housing option may not be your first choice, there’s no harm in starting your marital life in a humble rental apartment as you wait for your home to be completed.

#2: Stay with parents or relatives 

asian family laughing at home
While staying with family can be complicated at times, it is one of the quickest options you can consider.

Who said staying with your parents or in-laws was such a bad idea? In most Asian households, including those in Singapore, staying with your family until adulthood is relatively common and not frowned upon unlike in Western households. With that said, why not use this to your benefit? 

Instead of viewing the delay as a hurdle that has put an indefinite pause on your plans, you can use this golden opportunity to bond with your parents, build mutual care and support whilst living together, and save more for future BTO expenses. 

While staying with family can be complicated at times, it may be best to make the most out of the situation at hand. 

#3: Co-living option 

friends laughing and cheering drinks
Co-living spaces might be better suited to young couples who don’t mind sharing a living space with others.

Just like co-working spaces, co-living spaces might be an option you’d like to explore. The idea behind communal living revolves around enjoying private accommodation while sharing communal facilities under one roof. This can be especially interesting for couples who enjoy meeting different people and don’t mind sharing a space with them. More often than not, these arrangements can be much cheaper than other housing options, which can generate a great deal of savings for you. 

While this may seem like an exciting adventure to embark on with your friends or close family members, this arrangement may not be for everyone. In light of the ongoing pandemic and returning to Phase 2 this month, consider this option cautiously and be mindful of the following safe-distancing measures, especially with the number of community cases rising in recent weeks.

If you asked me, house sharing doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Compared to renting an entire flat on your own, this option would suit my budget best and give me the opportunity to meet new people along the way. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone! 

#4: Dual-key condominium units 

floorplan of a dual-key condo unit at woodleigh residences
An example of a dual-key condo unit at Woodleigh Residences, with a shared foyer.

We are all familiar with private and executive condominiums. But have you heard of dual-key condominium units? 

A dual-key unit is a property type that shares one single address but is divided into two subtypes. Generally, the common area in these units is the entrance or foyer where all occupants enter from, allowing a single space to be shared by different individuals. 

Unlike house sharing options, dual-key units consist of their amenities within their respective spaces. For instance, most units comprise a studio and one-bedroom unit, with separate bathrooms and kitchen spaces. However, there are also units where kitchen spaces are shared.

While you’re essentially sharing your space with the stay-in landlord, you may not even cross paths with them, thanks to the layout of the house.

But if you’re still adamant about having an entire space to yourself, you’re still sharing a space with your landlord at the end of the day. Again, if complete privacy is what you’re looking for, you’d need to speak to your partner about this alternative housing option. 

#5: Resale HDB

hdb blocks red
There have been cases where BTO buyers forfeited their new flat so they can find a resale flat to move into immediately.

Technically, you cannot own two HDB flats concurrently, which means you can’t buy a resale HDB flat if you’ve applied to purchase a BTO flat. What you can do is forfeit your BTO flat application to be eligible for a resale flat purchase. 

There have been cases where BTO buyers forfeited their new flat so they can find a resale flat to move into immediately. With resale HDB flats, not only do you skip the standard three- to -four-year wait for the BTO project completion and less renovation work, but you’re also not limited to assigned locations in non-mature estates. Resale properties are also much bigger, making them better options for family planning in the future.

But there are consequences to this course of action, such as losing your deposit or losing your chance of priority booking for BTO flats in the future, depending on which stage you’re at for your BTO application. 

Here are the conditions you need to be aware of if you want to cancel your BTO, based on where you are at your BTO application: 

Stage of Application Financial ForfeitureAdditional Information for Applicants  
Application cancelled before flat selection N/A For first-timer families: 
Applicants that were invited to select a flat but failed to do so while there were units available would be considered as having rejected to select a flat once. Chances will be set to 0, including any that’s been accumulated from previous unsuccessful applications.

If you reject 2 chances to select a flat, you will have your first-timer priority suspended for a period of 1 year. If you continue to defer your booking after the 1-year suspension period, your first-timer priority will continue to be suspended. 

First-timer singles and second-timers:
Applicants that were invited to select a flat but failed to do so while there were units available would be considered as having rejected to select a flat once. If you reject 2 chances to select a flat, you’ll not be able to participate in any HDB sales for 1 year. 
Application cancelled after booking a flat, but before signing the Agreement for Lease Option feeUpon cancellation, you must wait out a 1 year period before you can apply or be included as an essential occupier for the following property types: 
– New HDB flat
– DBSS flat from developers
– Executive Condominium unit from the developers
– Resale flat with CPF Housing Grant
– Resale flat that has been announced for SERS

For first-timer families:
Any additional chances accumulated from your previous unsuccessful applications will be set to 0.
Application cancelled after signing the Agreement for Lease, but before key collection 5% of the flat purchase price*Upon cancellation, you must wait out a 1 year period before you can apply or be included as an essential occupier for the following property types: 
– New HDB flat
– DBSS flat from developers
– Executive Condominium unit from the developers
– Resale flat with CPF Housing GrantResale flat that has been announced for SERS

For first-timer families:
Any additional chances accumulated from your previous unsuccessful applications will be set to 0.
*HDB/your solicitor can assist by applying to IRAS for a refund of stamp duty paid upon cancellation of flat application. The conveyancing fee is expended for services provided by HDB. | Source: HDB

When choosing a home to stay in as you wait for your BTO flat to be completed, consider all the different factors before committing to anything. 

Find the most suitable housing option with Ohmyhome

Weighing out the various options available may be a challenging decision to make on your own. But that’s why we’re here to help. 

Whether you’re on the lookout for affordable property rentals or new launches, our Super Agents will be guiding you through every step of your property journey. 

Call us now at 6886 9009!


Contributed by Hannah Grey.

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