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The Advantages and Disadvantages of The Different Categories Of HDB Flats

It is a norm that everyone know about the different categories of HDB flats from coffeeshop chit chat with their friends. Therefore, you may be wondering if you should apply for a BTO flat, SBF or resale unit? What are the advantages and disadvantages for these three options?

The ideal answer for you is that you should proceed and buy a BTO unit if you are not in need of a flat right now. In addition, by purchasing a BTO unit, a sales launch can have the location that you desire.

Let us go in depth about the advantages and disadvantages of the different categories of HDB flats in Singapore to assist you in the selection of your ideal HDB flat.

#1 Build-to-order (BTO)

BTO is the most sought-after option for a home sweet home amongst Singaporeans. What are the reasons for choosing a BTO flat?

Price & Grants:

BTO is an affordable housing option especially for numerous young couples and families in Singapore. Hence, BTO has the lowest price among the lot. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that the low price for BTO only applies to non-mature estates because for mature estates like Toa Payoh and Tampines, the price tends to be higher.

For BTO applicants, grants are plentiful with the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG). You can be entitled up to $80,000 for a BTO flat according to your household income.

Waiting Time:

BTO flats are built upon ordering. It usually requires approximately 3 – 4 years before you are able to collect your keys for your flat. Therefore, a BTO flat is only suitable for you if you are not urgently seeking a home. If you are urgently seeking a home, then BTO is out of the question and your only options are resale and SBF flats. 

Location & Amenities:

For location and amenities, it really depends on whether you are searching for launches at non-mature estates or mature estates. Transportation services, shopping amenities and Community Centres require considerable time to become a reality and it will be worth the wait. Take Punggol for an example. Punggol used to be a non-mature estate whereby everyone will avoid. However, over the years, Punggol BTO flats have been overly subscribed because of the waterfront living and improved shopping malls like the Waterway Point Shopping Mall and the Oasis Terraces Shopping Mall. In addition, there is also a convenient Punggol Polyclinic that serves the residents in Punggol very well.

Ready Product:

For BTO flats, there are usually limited choices because each sales launch only features 2 – 4 areas. In addition, your BTO queue number also decides your priority in unit selection. You will get to make your choice if your queue number is lower. But if your number is extremely high, then you may not be able to get the units that you desire. Hence, BTO is a suitable choice if you are not too picky and are comfortable with any unit or floor you are on.

Future Value & Growth:

The most attractive feature of a BTO unit is that you will be getting a brand new flat with a 99-year lease. You will also get to have new amenities and developments around your BTO flat which will increase the value of your home as time goes by.

#2 Resale

The advantage of resale flats is there are already existing amenities like MRT stations, reputable schools and shopping centres. The disadvantage of resale flats is that the flats are usually older or a better word is “mature”.

Price & Grants:

A resale flat is usually more expensive than a BTO or SBF flat because a resale flat is more matured. In this case, resale flat usually has more desirable amenities nearby. HDB resale prices has been on the gradual decline and it is a good time to look for a resale unit now.

There are also numerous grants for resale flats such as the CPF housing grants or the popular Proximity Housing Grant. 

Waiting Time:

The waiting time for a resale flat is usually the shortest. For this reason, if you are urgently looking for a place to stay, then resale units can be a good option.

Location & Amenities:

Many desirable amenities are available for resale flats, such as well-established MRT lines, bus stops, shopping malls and nearby markets.

Ready Product:

The advantage of a resale flat is that you are able to view, touch and even smell the unit before purchasing it. You can also get huge advantage by choosing the unit based on its floor level, closeness to the lift, interior layout, sun facing and more. 

Future Growth & Value:

Resale units usually are already developed, hence there may not be that many more new amenities as compared to BTO flats. However, resale flats usually have the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to rejuvenate an aging HDB block. The disadvantage of a resale flat is that it will have a shorter lease remaining and this may affect its future value.

#3 Sale of Balance Flats (SBF)

SBF can be bit similar to BTO units except that they are already built and they are left-over units from BTO launches that have not been purchased.

Price & Grants:

The advantage of a SBF unit is that it is usually priced cheaper than resale flats as it is in a non-mature estate. The disadvantage of a SBF unit is that it is priced higher than a BTO flat because you need not wait to get your flat.

Waiting Time:

The waiting time for SBF flats are usually very quick. You can literally move in within weeks as the units are already built. However, similar to BTO units, SBF units are partially bare and hence you need to take into consideration for the time required for renovations and furnishing.

Location & Amenities:

Just like BTO units, SBF units are likely to be located in non-mature estates and you will have to be patient for new amenities to come by.

Ready Product:

SBF units are usually “unwanted” units left-over from BTO launches. However, you still get to view the unit before actually buying it similar to you getting a resale flat.

Future Growth & Value:

SBF units are pretty new and therefore their lease should be close to 99-years. Just like BTO units, you can expect more amenities to be built in the area and hence the value for SBF can increase as time goes by.


Regardless of whether you are going to buy a BTO flat, Resale Flat or SBF flat, you need to seriously consider the advantages and disadvantages carefully. Hence, do make an effort to do more research and identify the best option out there before you make your purchase.

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