Perks of being Singaporean: the BTO scheme


During my college years in the States, my college roommate said something that left a deep impression on me. He said: “The most valuable thing about being Singaporean is that we qualify for government-subsidised housing.” He was referring to the belief that HDB homes are goldmines for monetisation. This belief, as I understand it to be, was perpetuated by the government in the 1960s, to get Singaporeans to become homeowners.

Whether or not HDB homes are still ‘goldmines’ of yesteryear is debatable. The cost of BTO homes have risen in cost several fold, compared to early years when the home ownership scheme was first implemented. Still, there are occasional stories today of HDB homeowners making a windfall from flipping HDB homes.

In most cases, I’d reckon that selling your BTO home could still make homeowners a tidy profit today. However, most sellers would then have to consider that their next options are resale and private property, which are really expensive options. You could potentially go for the BTO scheme again, but as a 2nd-timer, things might be tough.

BTO scheme remains popular

One thing is for certain: the BTO scheme is certainly still popular and value-for-money for most Singaporeans. Hence, I’d definitely agree that the BTO scheme is the most valuable perk of being Singaporean. Obviously, there are other great things about being Singaporean, such as the high standard of living and safe environment.

HDB homes are remain cost-efficient, if we compare them to private property. In the most recent February 2018 BTO launch, 4-room flats in Choa Chu Kang were reportedly priced starting from $190,000. That’s a pretty good deal for those just wanting a roof over their heads. Of course, if you’re thinking of flipping it, then you might want to consider that the north west and northern regions of Singapore tends to have lower resale value.

Probably the most important advise I can give is this: time one’s purchase during the trough of the property market.

My housing journey

Somehow it has been enshrined in Singapore culture that buying a BTO = getting married. Certainly, I had wanted to take advantage of my citizenship, to buy cheap housing. But, more importantly, finding a good wife takes precedence over rushing to buy a HDB home.

And so I did. I found a good partner in 2013, proposed to her, and then applied for housing. To me, there was no other sequence of doing this, although I’ve heard many stories of couples who applied for HDB housing for the sake of it. And when the relationship soured, so did their deposit money.

I successfully balloted for my flat in 2014 and collected the keys in 2017. Moved into my new home about 1.5 months later, after renovating it. Read about the first stage of my renovation in my post: “My Renovation Journey: The Concept”.

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