How to Sell Your HDB Resale Flat On Your Own
10 Steps to “DIY” selling your flat without a real estate agent
If you own an HDB Resale Flat that you would like to sell on your own, this article explains how. Keep reading and you will learn how licensed real estate agents market and sell these flats on behalf of homeowners.
Step-by-step “DIY” process for selling your flat without a real estate agent:
1. Registering Your “Intent to Sell”
Before doing anything else, you must submit your “Intent to Sell,” which you can easily do online via the HDB Resale Portal. In years past, this was known as the Resale Checklist. Now would be a good time to become familiar with this portal as you will be returning to it several times throughout the process, for the registration of your HDB resale transaction, the acknowledgment of documents and to make payments.
When you register your “Intent to Sell” this acts as confirmation that you are eligible to sell your HDB flat.
Once your registration is complete, the portal will display information on the following:
- Singapore’s Ethnic Integration Policy / Permanent Resident Quota in effect for your block: This will tell you whether there are any restrictions in place for selling your flat to particular races or to Singapore Permanent Residents at the moment. This information is updated on the 1st of each month, which means it’s only valid for the duration of that month. You will need to check back when the status changes at 12:00 a.m. on the 1st of the following month and subsequent months after that.
- Status and billing of costs related to upgrading: Home Improvement Program (HIP), Lift Upgrading Program (LUP), or Main Upgrading Program (MUP).
- Prices of the most recent HDB resale transactions in your vicinity and more precisely, in your block. Our article on How to Price Your Property Right may be helpful.
Next, it’s time to start crunching numbers. Fortunately, the HDB Resale Portal is equipped with a calculator to help you determine how much money you’ll likely pocket from the sale using your proposed selling price.
It’s important that you calculate this correctly, so that you will know how much cash you will have on hand to finance the purchase of your next home.
2. Marketing Your Flat
Now that you’ve set the price on your flat after researching prices in your area, you will have to figure out how to effectively market your unit to prospective buyers without spending an arm and a leg. Your options include advertising your unit in the Straits Times Classified Ads and/or posting it online.
Unfortunately, newspaper ads these days garner very little results, so if you go that route the only people you’re likely to hear from are real estate agents who want to list your flat. On the other hand, posting your unit online with great photos and perhaps a video should get you a good response. The key is using the targeted search functions to reach buyers in your area. We recommend that you not bother with newspaper ads as you’ll be wasting your money.
Now that you know that online marketing is your best bet, you’ll need to take some fabulous photos of your unit to post online. For this you’ll want a great camera and excellent lighting. So, if you were planning to use your cell phone and interior lamps for this project, you might want to reconsider.
Rather than take the pictures yourself, you could hire a reputable real estate media company like LandScan to shoot professional photos and also create a virtual tour of your unit. Their fees are very affordable, between $200 - $500 depending on the size of your flat and which package you choose.
When you have a video tour of your flat posted online, prospective homebuyers can view this before making an appointment to see your flat in person. This way you don’t have to waste time showing your flat to unqualified buyers. People who are genuinely interested will call you for an appointment, giving you a chance to screen them first.
Since your listing is posted as For Sale by Owner, it does leave you with fewer options. For example, popular real estate portals like PropertyGuru and SRX will not allow you to post your listing as they only allow listings posted by CEA-registered real estate agents. Also, posting your property on 99.co will only generate calls from real estate agents because they’re the only ones who can see it. Therefore, it would be best to post your listing on platforms where property owners have no restrictions, like Facebook Marketplace, Carousell and Gumtree.
3. Getting Ready for Showings
Once your flat has been posted online, you will start getting calls. This gives you a chance to screen prospective buyers by asking about the following:
- What is their price range?
- How familiar are they with your neighbourhood or block?
- Why are they interested in buying there? Do they want to be near family or their children’s school? Or are they just shopping around?
- Are they first-time buyers? Or are they interested in a contra facility?
- If you need an extension of stay of no more than 3 months, can they accommodate your request?
When the time comes to start showing your unit, you must adhere to Covid-19 regulations, which limit you to no more than 8 visitors per day. Your options are to schedule a limited Open House or stagger the showings for different days and/or times. Make sure that you reconfirm the showing the day before. You can do this with a simple text like this, “Hi, I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at 10 a.m. when you come to see my flat at 109 Bishan Street 12 #13-168, Singapore 570109. Please confirm that you are still coming. Thanks.”
Prior to showing your flat, make sure that you do the following:
- Get rid of the clutter as your flat will show much better when it’s neat and clean.
- Make sure your flat is cool and comfortable by turning on a fan or the air conditioner.
- Open the windows for good ventilation and to improve the natural light.
- Secure all valuables, like your wallet/purse, mobile devices, jewellery, and watches.
- Avoid doing laundry and having clothes hung up to dry.
Don’t forget to thank your prospective buyers when they leave and ask when they will call you with an update on their decision. We recommend following up with them within a week.
4. Granting an Option to Purchase (OTP) to Your Buyer
Once your listing is posted you may quickly find an interested buyer. If you are able to agree on the price, the next step in the process would be granting an OTP to your buyer. However, this can only be done after your “Intent to Sell” has been registered for at least 7 days. This allows sellers a cooling off period to ensure that they are absolutely certain about wanting to sell their flat.
To grant an OTP you can go online and download the proper sale and purchase agreement form, which is the HDB Option to Purchase (OTP). Each OTP form has a serial number, one that is unique to each particular transaction. This represents a legally binding contract that you and the Buyer have entered into to sell your flat at the agreed upon price. Because HDB is not currently accepting digital signatures, you will need to print out a copy of the form, fill in the blanks, and sign your name(s) as the Seller(s).
When granting the OTP to your Buyer there is an Option Fee that must be exchanged. It can be anywhere from $1 to $1,000, but the most common fee is $1,000. Now that the OTP has been granted the Option Period of 21 days goes into effect. This time period is set in stone, so you or the Buyer cannot ask for it to be any shorter or longer than 21 days. Executing this agreement means that you are prohibited from selling your flat (i.e. issuing another OTP) to anyone else during that 21-day Option Period.
At this point in the process, you simply have to wait. In the meantime, the Buyer will request an official HDB valuation should they be taking an HDB/Bank loan or using the CPF fund. The valuation report should be available in 7 – 14 days. At the same time, the Buyer will scan a copy of the OTP and submit it to the bank for processing their Letter of Offer if they are taking a bank loan. Buyers taking HDB loan should already have obtained HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (HLE) prior to receiving an OTP from a resale seller. Should the Buyer change their mind about buying your flat within the 21-day Option Period, you have the right to forfeit the Option Fee. You are now able to resume showing your unit to other prospective buyers.
On the other hand, if the Buyer decides to follow though and purchase your flat, they now must exercise their Option. If they can’t get their act together in time, their Option will expire at 4 p.m. on the 21st day. To exercise their Option, the Buyer needs to sign the Option to Purchase and pay the Seller (you) an Option Exercise Fee. When adding the Option Fee, which was paid earlier, to the Option Exercise Fee the total shall not be over S$5,000.
5. Submitting the HDB Resale Application
You and the Buyer have to collectively submit the HDB Resale Application to HDB. To avoid another trip, both you and the Buyer can submit the application once the Buyer has exercised their Option. After one party has submitted the HDB resale application, there is no time to waste since the other party’s section of the application must be submitted within a week. Thus if either of you has to wait, you both need to agree on a date for submitting the resale application to HDB.
These are the required documents that must be submitted with your resale application:
- Details of your Option to Purchase (OTP)
- Information on your particulars
- Information on the Buyer’s particulars
- Information on the type of loan on your existing flat
- Declarations regarding the purchase of your flat
For the submission to be successful, both portions of the application must be received by HDB.
In addition, you and your Buyer are required to pay resale application fees, which are determined by the type of flat. For 1- and 2-room flats the fee is $40, and for 3-room and larger flats, the fee is $80.
HDB will now evaluate the Seller’s eligibility to sell the flat and the Buyer’s eligibility to buy the flat. If everything looks good, HDB will issue a Letter of Acceptance, usually in about 2 weeks. But don’t get excited yet because this is just an acceptance, not final approval, which is something we cover in step 9 of the process. Once you receive the Letter of Acceptance it means that your resale application has been accepted. The 8- to 10-week process begins now, with the HDB resale officer setting the resale completion date. If both of you have another agreed date for the completion, either party can write in to firstname.lastname@example.org with attachment of scanned signed letter by both parties agreeing to complete the resale transaction at a specified date.
6. Hiring a Private or HDB Solicitor
You will need to hire a solicitor to handle the conveyance since you cannot legally do this yourself. If your existing mortgage loan is with a bank or another financial institution you will want to hire a reputable law firm to represent your interests in this HDB transaction.
However, if your existing loan happens to be with HDB, you have two choices, either to get an HDB-appointed solicitor to represent you or a private solicitor. If you decide on an HDB solicitor the legal fee would be anywhere from $300 - $500, whereas you would likely spend $1,500 - $2,000 if you choose a private conveyance law firm. Most sellers with an existing loan from HDB choose the lower cost option.
7. Endorsing Your Resale Documents
Upon HDB’s acceptance, in approximately 3 weeks’ time you will be asked to endorse your resale documents and you will be given 6 days to do this via SMS. These documents are your estimated proceeds from the sale, as well as the required forms and undertakings. The electronic endorsement of your resale documents saves you from having to go to an in-person appointment with HDB at their Toa Payoh HDB Hum, which was previously done on the so-called HDB 1st appointment.
It’s important that you read through these documents very carefully. If everything is correct, just click the Endorse button. But if you see any typos or other errors in these documents, reach out to the HDB resale officer requesting clarification before you endorse.
8. Payment of Legal Fees
Now that you’ve endorsed the documents, it’s time to pay your legal fees. Since just about everything is now being paid for online, you can pay with your credit card or scan the QR code with a supported mobile payment app.
Once you’ve endorsed the documents and paid your legal fees, everything should be in order. So, HDB will schedule their inspector to come out and have a look at your flat. The purpose is to identify any unauthorised alterations and make sure that the window meets BCA safety requirements.
9. Awaiting HDB Resale Approval
Once you and your Buyer have endorsed your respective documents, paid all legal fees, and the HDB inspector has submitted a satisfactory report, HDB will approve the resale, and this should occur within 2 weeks. Watch for an email or SMS from HDB telling you that they have accepted the application.
The approval letter will be displayed on the HDB Resale Portal, so you can view it anytime. Lastly, a date will be reconfirmed for an appointment to complete the sale and purchase transaction. Download the letter from HDB addressing the Town Council on the completion date of the resale. Take it to the Town Council and take care of the payment. You may also have to cancel any GIRO arrangement you may have made with the Town Council.
If you have the “Title Deed,” which is the Duplicate Lease in HDB, it must be given to the HBD resale officer at the HDB Hub at Toa Payoh whenever it’s convenient for you.
You should also let the Buyer physically inspect your flat as the date of resale approaches. This is usually done 2 – 3 days prior to completion. This provides the Buyer with assurance that the flat is vacant, and that the Seller has totally moved out all their possessions, which includes furniture and appliances. But if you and the Buyer have a Temporary Extension of Stay in place that you’ve agreed on, then this inspection would not apply.
10. Attending the Resale Completion Appointment
To seal the deal there will be an in-person resale completion appointment. You will receive an SMS notifying you of the date and time the appointment is scheduled for.
Here is what you need to bring to the appointment:
- Original ICs of all the Sellers
- Original of your Town Council Receipt showing that you have made full payment, up to the resale completion date, for service and conservancy charges
- Property Tax Bill showing that you are fully paid up to the end of the year. The Buyer will refund to the Seller in cash the pro-rata amount from the date of the resale completion to 31 December of the year
- Windows Declaration Form, which you can download from the HDB portal
- Original of your Option to Purchase (OTP)
- Keys to all doors as well as the access card (if there is one) of the flat. If there is a Temporary Extension of Stay agreed to between you and the Buyer, these are not needed.
If you have hired a private conveyance law firm to represent you, there is no need for you to be at the appointment as your law firm will be there on your behalf. You will meet with your lawyer separately at the law firm’s office. The purpose of the resale appointment is to sign the necessary mortgage and legal documents.
You or your law firm will receive a cashier’s order from HDB for the cash proceeds of your sale if there are some. You can look for your CPF monies to be refunded within 7 – 14 business days from the date of this appointment. Either you or your lawyer will officially turn over the keys to the flat to the new owners. The deal is now done!
Are you really suited for a DIY transaction?
After reading through our list of the 10 steps required to sell your HDB flat on your own, you can see how tedious and time consuming it is. Because this can be such an overwhelming process, we recommend that you go this route only if you have a lot of time to spare and are willing to deal with all the ups and downs that come with the selling process.
How long does the DIY process take?
Being realistic, it should take you about 3 months to sell your HDB flat, not including the time to find the right buyer. However, this can be a very unpredictable process if you have a demanding Buyer. Sometimes it takes longer to find a buyer, depending on the condition of your flat and how many other flats may be on the market at the same time. Do your research first to determine whether you’re willing and able to hang on for the duration, no matter how long it takes.
At Pinnacle Estate Agency, we strongly believe in sharing our real estate knowledge to the public. For more content like this article, check out our Singapore Property Guides.