Budget debate: HDB flat-buying process to be streamlined; buyers can apply for bank loan on flat portal

New initiatives will be rolled out this year to further streamline the process of buying and selling of a HDB flat. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE - Flat buyers can soon submit their documents and be assessed for grants and loans in one application, instead of having to send multiple applications.

Buyers can also apply for housing loans from participating financial institutions directly on the Housing Board flat portal, without having to submit separate applications, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Thursday (March 4).

These are among the new initiatives to be rolled out this year to further streamline the process of buying and selling of a HDB flat, said Mr Lee during the debate on the Ministry of National Development's (MND) budget.

Currently, flat buyers are assessed separately on whether they are eligible to buy a new or resale flat, and how much of an HDB housing loan and CPF housing grants they qualify for.

These three eligibility checks will now be streamlined into one application, made through the HDB flat portal. The outcomes will then be sent to applicants in a new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.

"This provides upfront clarity and holistic information on their housing and financing options to facilitate their housing choices," said Mr Lee.

Where possible and with applicants' permission, HDB will also link up with other government agencies to retrieve applicants' particulars needed for the assessment, thus reducing the need for applicants to manually enter their particulars.

On the HDB flat portal, buyers can also access an integrated housing loan application service which allows them to apply for in-principle approvals and letters of offers from participating banks.

The banks will then inform the buyers on their application outcomes.

This reduces the need for buyers to submit loan applications to various banks, as well as the loan application outcome to HDB.

Buyers will also be guided through their flat-buying journey, from application to key collection, via a new digital platform on the HDB flat portal.

"The platform will consolidate all relevant information and present it to buyers at the appropriate milestones... and enable them to book the necessary appointments seamlessly," said Mr Lee.

Launched in January, the HDB flat portal consolidates information on current and upcoming flats sold directly by the HDB.

It also includes financial calculators for would-be buyers to estimate their housing budget and compare their housing options. SingPass is needed to access some services.

Mr Lee had previously said that the HDB flat portal may include HDB resale flat listings in subsequent phases.

In recent years, the HDB has made a number of changes and leveraged technology to simplify sales processes for flat buyers, noted Mr Lee.

A separate platform for resale flats was launched in January 2018. It is where potential buyers commence their application for their resale flat of choice.

The resale portal halves the transaction time to eight weeks when there are no hitches and reduces the number of in-person appointments with HDB from two to one.

More details on the new features will be provided by the HDB later this year.

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