It is clear that many young Singaporeans are flocking to SBF and open booking units.
Since 2017, the rate of young couples acquiring apartments through these means has dropped. However, they are still viable options.
The process of buying a flat through an open booking house or SBF campaign is different.
What is an open booking?
It includes any units left over from the SBF campaign that will be pooled together and reoffered again through an open booking campaign.
Prior to this, any unsold SBF units were offered through the Re-Offering of Balance Units (ROF) program.
In the same way that SBF units are surplus units from BTO activity, ROFs consist of balance units from previous SBF activity.
Prospective purchasers must also apply for ROF during a specific biannual window. if unsold units are still available, they are available through open reservation.
In March 2020, the ROF program was eliminated to make the process more efficient; unsold SBF units will be immediately available for open reservation.
Buyers can apply for units online at any time during the year and reserve units as early as the next business day.
What is the Sale of Surplus Flats (SBF) exercise?
HDB Sale of Surplus Flats (HDB SBF) refers to unsold flats from any previous HDB BTO activity, Selective Entire Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) projects or HDB buy-back of flats.
SBF activities occur twice a year (in May and November), with BTO flats being launched in those months.
Unlike BTO flats, which usually take three to four years to complete, flats launched under HDB's SBF campaign are already completed or construction has already started.
Hence, getting SBF is faster and a good option for those who do not like to resell their HDB flats.
In addition, since HDB SBF flats are unsold flats from past BTO sales, you have more areas to choose from, while BTO launches are limited to three to four areas at a time.
While HDB SBF flats and open reservation flats are new flats sold by HDB, resale HDB flats are sold by previous owners in the secondary market.
These flats have reached the 5-year minimum occupancy period (MOP) and are older.
The CPF Housing Grant is different for HDB open booking flats, SBF and resale flats.
This is because the flats launched in the Open Booking and SBF exercises are already subsidized by the government, while resale flats are priced on a "voluntary buyer, voluntary seller" basis.
Therefore, in order to make resale units more affordable, buyers, especially first-time homebuyers, tend to enjoy higher CPF housing subsidies.
For example, buyers of open reservation units and SBF are eligible for CPF housing subsidies, namely the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) (for first-time homebuyers; up to $80,000) and the Incremental CPF Housing Grant (for second-time homebuyers; up to $15,000).
Meanwhile, buyers of resale units are eligible for EHG, as well as the Proximity Housing Grant (up to $30,000) and the Family Grant (up to $50,000).
In total, buyers of resale units are eligible for grants of up to $160,000, which is more than you would receive if you were purchasing a new/balanced unit.