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Becoming Home Owners (Part 1): Booking a Flat

As of 3 Nov 2015, B and I are officially a step closer to owning our first property! Super exciting hehe. In this post I’ll be documenting the insanely long process it took to even get to this stage. 

We first attempted to get a HDB flat in Feb 2015, for the BTO in Geylang. It was oversubscribed by about 7x, but we held on to hope that we had a chance. More than a month later, we received the bad news that we did not even get a queue number AT ALL. We were kinda disappointed, but were told by many that it must be God’s plan, and that it’s only our first time so we should try again. When the next round in May 2015 came, we realised that we didn’t really like the BTO locations (Clementi & Tampines), so we decided to try for SOBF instead. We’ve heard many horror stories of how much worse SOBF would be compared to BTO, but were pleasantly surprised that for our location of choice (Bukit Merah), there were 338 4-room flats available! By the end of the application period, it was oversubscribed by only 3x! Which is actually a pretty decent chance. More than 2 months later, we got the news that our queue number was 399, which we felt quite meh about. I mean it was a step up from not getting a queue number, but it would mean another agonizing wait to see if enough couples drop out for us to even select a flat. And even then, the flat would prob not be a great one. Thus, we tried not to get our hopes up, though we were starting to get worried as our combined income would burst the $10k limit in less than a year’s time, and there weren’t going to be many chances left. 

Then 2 months later (Oct), I happened to check the myHDB portal and realised that we had received an invitation for an appointment to book a flat!! We were beyond ecstatic! A hardcopy invitation with the application letter and all the specific flat details (like unit number & flat price) were sent a few days later. We immediately applied for the HLE letter, having read that it takes about 2 weeks for it to be approved after hardcopy documents are submitted. To our surprise, we did not even need to submit any hardcopy details & our HLE was approved in days. As the 2 weeks to our appointment approached, we (okay more like just kancheong me) checked the flats available for selection on a daily basis to gauge how many would be left by our turn. I even noticed a trend that weekends have a higher take up rate than weekdays. It was kinda demoralizing seeing the no. of flats available drop daily, and having to cross out more flats in the list provided. Especially with the racial quota severely limiting the number available to Chinese. Perhaps Bukit Merah is a more Chinese dominated area? Over one of the weekends, we decided to drive by the several properties on offer – Depot Heights, Telok Blangah Ridgeview, Telok Blangah Parcview & City Vue @ Henderson, just to have a feel what the areas are like and what amenities are nearby. I highly recommend this, as it proved really useful in helping us make a decision later on. B really liked the locale of City Vue as it’s near to both red hill & Tiong Bahru MRT stations, but unfortunately all units were gone by the time it reached our turn. We both then narrowed it down to both Telok Blangah properties as we liked the area a little better than Depot Heights. 

The night before our appointment, B and I sat down and separately ranked our choices (8 because there were going to be 7 queue numbers before us). We did it separately so as not to make a biased decision. We then came together to discuss our choices, and surprise surprise, our top choices were completely different and we could not agree. So we decided to take the matter to his Dad, to get a more grown up perspective on it haha. Thankfully for me, his Dad sided with me as he really did not like the idea of having a unit right next to the lifts and centralized rubbish chute (which was the unit B liked). Strangely enough, it was the first unit taken on the day of our appointment, so we wouldn’t have been able to choose it anyway! God’s plan indeed. 

I read on many forums that you should arrive very early for your appointment, as there would be things to see there (such as 3d site plans etc.) before your turn. So we grabbed breakfast and headed there about an hour and a half early. BAD CHOICE. There was nothing to do at all haha. The 3d models were only for the recent BTOs & not for the SOBFs. So for anyone heading for your flat selection, please don’t be kiasu like us. I would think 15 mins before is plenty sufficient. Maybe slightly longer if you wanna look at the optional components or the 3d models. 

We were called promptly for our turn at the stated time, despite us arriving so early to get a queue number. A very efficient pregnant Malay lady served us, asked for our documents, let us choose our flat, sent us down to pay the option price of $2k, got all our paperwork done, and after signing tons of papers, we were done! All within the span of half an hour. We were all smiles as we left the HDB hub, and we kept saying “We have a home!” We were really lucky to have gotten our first choice flat out of the 26 available to us. It’s not a high unit as there were none left, but we really loved that it has a view of Telok Blangah Hill Park, is the ultimate corner unit of the whole BTO plot (meaning very quiet) and is away from the lift and rubbish chute. 

After meeting a friend for lunch at Alexandra, we decided to drive down to our future home since it’s nearby! Took a bunch of happy photos to commemorate this milestone in our lives (: Our flat is so low it can actually fit into our selfie with us haha. Oh well, at least we don’t have to take the lift and can take the stairs for extra exercise~

  

  

XOXO,

Daryl

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