HDB HFE Application: HFE Letter Guide for Singaporean Homebuyers (2023)

·7-min read
HDB HFE Application: HFE Letter Guide for Singaporean Homebuyers (2023)
HDB HFE Application: HFE Letter Guide for Singaporean Homebuyers (2023)

Are you intending to buy an HDB resale flat soon? Or applying for a unit during the upcoming May 2023 BTO launch on 30 May 2023? Then you’ll need to know all about the new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.

Effective from 9 May 2023, the HDB Flat Eligibility letter will replace the HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. So whether you’re intending to buy an HDB resale flat, BTO flat, or even a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) or Open Booking of Flats (OBF) unit, you now have to submit your HDB HFE letter application.

If you’re bamboozled by “HDB HLE” vs “HDB HFE” jargon, don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here is a comprehensive guide explaining the nitty-gritty of the HFE letter application process.

Table of contents:

  • What is the HFE letter?

  • Who needs to apply for the HFE letter?

  • How do I apply for the HFE letter?

  • What happens after I apply for the HFE letter?

What Is the HDB HFE Letter?

The new HDB HFE letter is a document that informs you of your HDB flat eligibility, CPF housing grant eligibility and the amount you qualify for, and HDB loan eligibility and the amount you can loan.

For second-timer HDB homebuyers, the HDB Flat Eligibility letter will also include your resale levy amount.

HLE vs HFE Letter: What’s the Difference?

Previously, the old HLE letter only allowed potential HDB homebuyers to check their HDB loan eligibility and amount. Your HDB flat eligibility and CPF housing grant eligibility occur at different stages of the home-buying journey.

Previously with HDB HLE Application

Type of flat

When to check for flat purchase eligibility

When to check for CPF Housing Grant eligibility

When to check for HDB home loan eligibility

New HDB flat

At flat application

At flat booking

At HLE letter application (before booking the HDB flat)

HDB resale flat

At flat application

At flat application

At HLE letter application (before obtaining an Option to Purchase (OTP))

With the new HDB HFE letter, you’re combining the assessment for these three eligibility criteria into just one stage.

All in all, the new HFE letter application aims to provide a more holistic view of potential HDB flat buyers’ options beyond financing. Dr Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager – Singapore, PropertyGuru agrees, adding that these changes may benefit first-time homebuyers most.

“Especially for first-time homebuyers, the greatest hurdle is often obtaining all the necessary information at the outset to make informed, confident decisions. No buyer wishes to be encumbered by complex purchase processes, and certainly what HDB has done is the right step forward,” said Dr Tan.

HDB HFE Application: Who Needs to Apply for It?

If you applied for an HDB flat before 9 May 2023, you’ll be relegated to the ‘old’ HDB homebuying process. For example, if you’ve been shortlisted to book a flat, you’ll be invited to apply for an HLE letter instead of an HDB Flat Eligibility letter.

For everyone else, you will need to go through the HDB HFE application process.

If You’re Buying a New HDB Flat (BTO, SBF, OBF)

  • For those applying for the May 2023 BTO launch (on 30 May 2023), you’ll need to have at least completed the Preliminary HFE check

  • When applying for your new home from the August 2023 BTO launch onward, you will need your HDB Flat Eligibility letter to be ready to go

  • For those applying for other new HDB flats (BTO, SBF, OBF) after the May 2023 Sales launch, you will also need a valid HDB HFE letter.

Pro tip: Don’t leave the HDB HFE application to the last minute! The process of applying to receive your HDB Flat Eligibility letter takes 21 working days. And this processing time is expected to be longer during peak periods, especially right before and during the month of a BTO launch.

So, take heed: apply for your HDB Flat Eligibility letter early for the upcoming August 2023 BTO launch!

If You’re Buying an HDB Resale Flat

Before 9 May 2023, you would have needed a Valid Intent to Buy (ITB) and HLE letter for those intending to take on an HDB-granted loan. But for those who are buying a resale flat from 9 May onwards, you’ll need to have a valid HDB Flat Eligibility letter or Intent to Buy (ITB) and HLE letter before you receive your Option to Purchase (OTP) and submit your HDB resale flat application.

Now, let’s move on to how to apply for the HDB HFE letter.

HFE Letter Application: How Do I Apply?

1. Log in to the HDB Flat Portal

Use your Singpass to log in to the HDB flat portal.

2. Retrieve Your Personal Information from Myinfo

This includes your household income and ownership of private property.

3. Input Information to Access Your Eligibility

This step is also known as the HDB HFE preliminary check. At this step, HDB will give you a general assessment of what type of HDB flat, CPF Housing Grant, and HDB home loan you’re eligible for, as well as the corresponding grant and loan amounts.

This will be helpful if you wish to proceed with buying an HDB flat (i.e. formally apply for an HDB Flat Eligibility letter) or reconsider your purchase and budget.

4. Upload Supporting Documents to Apply for Your HDB Flat Eligibility Letter

If you’re happy with the outcome of your preliminary HFE check, it’s time to apply for the HDB Flat Eligibility letter. Here, you’ll be prompted to submit additional supporting documents to confirm your HFE letter application.

5. Log in to the HDB Flat Portal to retrieve your HDB Flat Eligibility Letter

HFE application process for the HDB HFE letter.
Applying for the HFE letter? This is what the HDB HFE application process looks like. Source: HDB

HDB will send you an SMS once your HDB Flat Eligibility letter is ready. Your approved HDB Flat Eligibility letter is valid for six months. Just like that, congrats, you are one step closer to buying an HDB flat!

To retrieve your HDB Flat Eligibility letter, simply log back into the HDB Portal.

HDB HFE Application: What Happens After I Apply?

Financing Your HDB Flat with an HDB Loan

Similar to the HLE letter, your HDB Flat Eligibility letter will comprise an assessment of your HDB loan eligibility and the loan amount you can borrow. If you’re eligible for an HDB loan, you can apply directly through the HDB Flat Portal.

Financing Your HDB Flat with a Bank Loan

If you intend to finance your HDB flat using a bank loan or a loan from a financial institution (FI), pay attention.

You can now request an In-Principle Approval (IPA) and Letter of Offer (LO) from participating FIs via the HDB Flat portal. Additionally, you can review potential loan options from participating FIs:

  • DBS

  • Hong Leong Finance

  • Maybank

  • OCBC

  • Sing Investments & Finance

  • UOB

For those who intend to finance your HDB flat with a loan from an FI, Paul Wee, Vice President – PropertyGuru Finance cautions that it may difficult to assess which is the ‘best’ loan package to sign up for via the HDB Portal.

“Potential HDB homebuyers who apply for IPAs with the participating FIs through the portal are likely to lose out on critical, objective advice to help them choose the best home loans for them – especially if each participating FIs touts their packages as the best.”

“Additionally, the new HDB Portal will likely result in varying implications for different people. For instance, potential homebuyers with unique circumstances, such as those with variable and secondary income, or who receive dividends, may not be able to receive the most comprehensive assessment of their various HDB flat eligibilities.”

If you’re unsure which bank loan you should go for, you can always reach out to our friendly PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Experts. From finding the most competitive mortgage deals on the market to simplifying the home financing process, they can provide you with tailored advice – all at no cost!

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