Is Romance a Casualty of BTO-Driven Marriage Proposals?

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In Singapore, the equivalent of “Will you marry me?” often translates to “Want to apply for BTO together?”

The surging demand for housing has led many Singaporeans to embrace this approach. Additionally, with the average waiting time for the completion of a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat being three to five years, it has become customary for couples to ballot for one before formally proposing.

However, recent initiatives such as shorter waiting times for certain BTO flats and more booking options for Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) may have influenced how some Singaporeans perceive marriage proposals. Interestingly, a 2021 Valentine’s Day survey by Property Guru on Instagram Stories revealed that 55% of respondents considered a BTO proposal unromantic, while 45% disagreed.


#1: BTO or Resale Flats

HDB BTO flats offer an affordable option for property ownership in Singapore, as they are subsidized by the government with CPF housing grants available. After fulfilling the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), owners can sell the flat on the open resale market, often at a higher price.

Purchasing a resale home appeals to many as they have the freedom to choose a preferred location and are not bound by waiting times. Resale flats near MRT stations are particularly sought after, given that many Singaporeans rely on public transportation.

One of the significant advantages of buying a BTO is the potential to receive HDB grants, which can result in substantial savings. Grant eligibility varies, so it’s essential to carefully review the available grants to maximize benefits.

#2: Upgrade to Private Property

Profits from selling a property can be reinvested in another property, potentially allowing for renovation and investment. Some couples view their BTO as a stepping stone to upgrading to a private property.

#3: Discussion of Property Prices

Pricing plays a crucial role in the decision-making process of buying a home. Discussion of pricing elements is made easier with a partner. Properties in mature estates tend to be more expensive than those in non-mature areas. For instance, a 3-room flat in Kallang/Whampoa can cost more than double the price of a similar-sized flat in Jurong West.


#1: Lengthy Completion Time

One drawback is the lengthy process involved in BTO flats, with an average completion time of three to five years. This duration, coupled with the need to fulfill the MOP, means it could take up to a decade before profiting from the property.

#2: Ballot Basis of Flats

Allocation of BTO flats is determined by ballot, leaving success to chance. Applying for less popular projects may increase the chances of securing a unit. As popular launches often see high demand, it results in fierce competition.

#3: Potential Breakup

There’s the possibility of a couple breaking up and needing to cancel their BTO flat application. While forfeiting the application fee and deposit is a minor concern, it’s crucial to prioritize ending an unsuitable relationship over forcing a union.

Should You Apply for an HDB BTO Flat After Proposing?

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It’s essential not to rush into committing to a partner solely for property purchase reasons. BTO isn’t the only option as alternatives like renting or living with family can be considered.

Whatever decision is made, it should be mutually beneficial. Marriage is a long-term partnership, and buying a home is a significant step, so careful consideration of wants and needs is paramount.

Sources: 1 & 2

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