Image: www.hdb.gov.sg

What with all the Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones memes floating around, you might have missed the update that HDB is about to launch 3 new BTOs in May 2019.

The two big ones are the Kallang/Whampoa BTO – a straight-up sequel to the box office smash that was HDB’s Feb 2019 BTO launch – and the Tengah BTO – also an anticipated follow-up to the oversubscribed first Tengah release in Nov 2018.

Apart from these two giants, there’s also an under-the-radar Woodlands BTO which might be more a feasible and economical option. Read on for our review of each project (prices included):

HDB BTO launch May 2019 overview

HDB has just released the prices for the May 2019 BTO launch. Here they are. Note that these are the starting prices (“from $X”) so the price of your actual unit may differ.

While updating the HDB BTO prices, I noticed a couple of things:

Prices for the Kallang/Whampoa BTOs have gone up since the previous Feb 2019 BTO launch in the same area. Previously, a 3-room flat started at $374,000 (vs $387,000 now) and a 4-room at $523,000 (vs $562,000 now).

Not only that, the starting prices for the larger Tengah BTOs have also gone up! A 4-room flat used to start at $290,000 (vs $309,000 now) while a 5-room started at $397,000 ($415,000 now).

Meanwhile, Woodlands BTO prices remained pretty constant – I checked them against the Nov 2018 BTO launch in nearby Canberra and they’re about on par.

You draw your own conclusions – but I believe HDB might be exercising “surge pricing” because both Kallang/Whampoa and Tengah were oversubscribed in the previous rounds.

Kallang/Whampoa BTO launch (May 2019)

In February, HDB launched 850 BTO units in the super-central Kallang/Whampoa district to great national excitement. A whopping 7,084 people applied for these ultra-coveted BTOs. You do the math.

If you were one of the 6,000+ unsuccessful applicants from the previous HDB BTO launch, here’s your second chance: HDB is releasing another 580 units in Boon Keng.

This batch is going to be just as hot, though, because it’s right next to the MRT station and all the amenities nearby.

For the uninitiated, Boon Keng is a mature estate sandwiched in between the rapidly-gentrifying Farrer Park and Potong Pasir towns, so you can bet loads of people will be eyeing this as an investment home.

Tengah BTO launch (May 2019)

We got the first glimpse at the new HDB town of Tengah in Nov last year, when HDB launched the first batch of 1,620 Tengah BTO units, called “Plantation Grove”.

What was notable about the Tengah BTO launch was that, although there’s absolutely nothing in the vicinity, the flats weren’t really all that cheap.

The starting price for a 4-room BTO flat in Tengah was $290,000, significantly higher than counterparts in existing estates like Sembawang ($251,000) and Yishun ($259,000).

Still, the inaugural Tengah BTO was actually oversubscribed.

We’re expecting a similar response and pricing for the latest batch of Tengah BTOs – a massive 2,180 units.

For buyers expecting a “repeat performance” of the Punggol/Sengkang success story, bear in mind that you’ll have to wait about two decades before Tengah will fully mature, so it’ll be some time before you can cash it in.

Woodlands BTO launch (May 2019)

My personal favourite among the May 2019 HDB BTO launch is the Woodlands BTO, which also happens to be the (projected) cheapest option out of the bunch.

That’s because the batch of 720 units here is located just a couple of minutes’ walk from the upcoming Woodlands South MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line. The station is slated to open by the end of 2019, so shrewd types might want to ballot for this one before the price goes up.

As long as you don’t mind living in the far north, I think the Woodlands area is sufficiently developed to offer a decent quality of life.

There’s a shopping mall, a bunch of schools, supermarkets and shops, even a park connector linking the development to the main town centre (Causeway Point and the bus interchange) around Woodlands MRT station.

One foreseeable problem is that there are only 720 BTO units being launched, which means there might be significant competition. 

Next step: HDB BTO application procedure

Applications are now open for the May 2019 HDB BTOs. Everything you need to proceed is over at the HDB BTO May 2019 microsite. The application period is from 22 May to 28 May 2019 (11:59pm).

You have a week to review all the information before making your choice. Yes, you can only choose 1 town, so choose wisely! And do note, it’s not on a first-come-first-serve basis so as long as you submit your application by 28 May, you’re in.

A $10 admin fee is required for your application and if you win this round of HDB’s “lucky draw” (ballot), you’ll get invited to come down and choose your unit.

Still feeling lost? Check out our complete guide to applying for an HDB BTO.

Alternatives: HDB Sale of Balance Flats / upcoming BTOs

If you don’t want to fight the hordes of people trying for Kallang/Whampoa or Tengah BTOs, consider going for the Sale of Balance Flats which also has the same application window.

These are flats left over from previous BTO launches and there are a lot to choose from, even in coveted mature estates like Queenstown and Geylang.

If you need a flat urgently, consider Tampines, Yishun or Sengkang as these have the most balance “stock”.

If you’re still unsuccessful, don’t worry – HDB has upcoming BTO launches in August and December and they’ve already put up some info so you can start planning. For easy reference, they are:

Aug 2019 BTO launch: Punggol, Tampines

Dec 2019 BTO launch: Tengah, Ang Mo Kio, Tampines


This article was first published in Moneysmart Singapore.

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