HDB recently launched a new HDB Sales scheme whereby would-be home owners can choose to apply for unselected flats from the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (‘ROF’) pool at any time of the year! This was the “new scheme” that the National Development Minister was talking about on his blog back in February 2019. Being curious, Heartland Boy decided to delve deeper into this new scheme and see see which group of aspiring home owner can potentially benefit from it!
Open Booking of Unselected Flats from ROF Pool
Funny thing is that the Ministry did not come up with a new name for this scheme. It simply refers to this as the “open booking of unselected flats from the ROF pool”. Even without a new name, you can already imagine the difficulty that first-time owners face when having to learn about the differences between Build-to-Order (‘BTO’), Sales of Balance (‘SBF’) and Re-offer of Balance (‘ROF’)! Not to worry, Heartland Boy has come up with a table to detail the key differences between the various sales schemes as shown in Diagram 1.
Basically, this open booking of unselected flats from the ROF pool is considered an enhanced version of the ROF exercise (No.3 in Diagram 1) as aspiring home-owners can choose to apply for a HDB unit listed on the website at any time of the year! Previously, flats in the ROF pool were only made available during semi-annual sales exercises. The government has allocated a total of 123 unsold/repurchased flats to “open this new scheme”. There will be 2 periods where fresh supply of unsold HDB apartments will be injected into the ROF pool and this will take place during February and August annually. During such periods when the supply will be replenished, members of the public will not be able to apply for the “open booking of unselected flats from the ROF pool”. Do note that the other types of sales mode (No 1 to 3 in Diagram 1) will continue to take place as scheduled unless the government announces otherwise.
Popular Units Largely Unavailable
Having explained how the open booking of unselected flats from the ROF pool works (yes, its quite a mouthful), do note the trade-offs for an almost unrestricted sales window are:
- Lesser proportion of larger units
- Lesser proportion of higher-floor units
The trade-offs listed above are expected as popular units would have been taken up in the earlier sales exercises listed in Diagram 1. Another point to note is that the number of flats available would be dependent on your ethnicity.
As shown in Diagram 2, only 26 out of the 123 flats listed in the ROF pool are available to the Chinese race. 7 out of the 26 available are located in mature estates, which shows the vastly reduced choice a Chinese applicant would face.
Do bear in mind that the “open booking of unselected flats from the ROF pool” is meant for those who have more urgent housing needs and are less particular about location and flat attributes. If those factors are important to you, you may have to try your luck in the earlier sales exercises.
Move In The Right Direction
Having personally waited almost 5 years for his own BTO flat to be completed, Heartland Boy knows painfully well the anguish of such a long arduous wait. Many unpredictable events can happen during this time. In his own circle of friends and colleagues, he has witnessed some who chose to postpone marriage and even childbirth plans because of this long wait. Although they have gone in with their eyes open (i.e. exercised the option to purchase knowing a 4-year wait was in store, the actual wait could turn out to be more intolerable than first imagined.
Even till today, Heartland Boy remembers having to field the dreaded same question on the status of his home when asked repeatedly by friends and relatives during gatherings (CNY). While he has thankfully “graduated unscathed from the scheme”, he had long wished that something be done about it.
This is why that despite the trade-offs listed above, Heartland Boy still thinks that this move is a step in the right direction by the Singapore government. This has made HDB flats more accessible to a group of aspiring home-owners whose immediate housing needs outweigh other factors.
How To Apply For Unselected Flats In ROF Pool
If you are eyeing any of these flats, make sure you have done the necessary due diligence so that you will select the best unit available (regardless of how limited the options are). All the HDB apartments listed for sale are available online so you have ample time to visit the location itself to do your homework.
If you would like to apply, take note that application period opens from 18 June 2019 Tuesday 12.00am. Yes, the precise timing matters because it is on a first come first served basis. (yes, it might sound deja-vu for university students who have experienced bidding for modules)
Here’s a pro tip: Make sure you have a strong internet connection and camp in front of your computer before the stroke of midnight! If you have previously applied for a flat, HDB should have your information stored in its system and this should expedite the process.
Here’s wishing all applicants good luck!