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HDB addresses long waiting times for latest launch of BTO flats, yet applicants continue to flag various issues

On Tuesday (30 May), the Housing Development Board (HDB) launched nearly 7,000 flats for sale, of which 1,500 are Sale of Balance Flats located across various estates.

The 5,495 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats offered are spread across five housing projects, three of which are in the mature estates of Bedok, Kallang/Whampoa and Serangoon, while the other two are in the non-mature estate of Tengah.

HDB had rolled out the virtual waiting room (VWR) feature since November last year “to better manage online traffic” in instances where there are many applicants accessing the system at once.

To participate in the May 2023 sales exercise, applicants are required to follow two steps. They need to obtain a preliminary HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) assessment by completing “Step 1: Preliminary HFE check.”

Once the preliminary HFE check is completed, applicants can proceed to “Step 2: Apply for an HFE letter” Within 30 calendar days of initiating Step 1, they must submit the necessary information to HDB to obtain the HFE letter.

Flat applications can be made online via HDB Flat Portal from 30 May, and close at 11.59pm on 5 June. Flats will be allocated through balloting.

“More difficult than buying Jacky Cheung’s concert ticket” say applicants

Numerous applicants have expressed their frustrations on the official Facebook pages of HDB and the Minister of National Development (MND), complaining about the waiting system and finding the application process tedious and user-unfriendly.

Some applicants revealed their experience of queuing for more than an hour, and some depicting instances where they encountered difficulties and got stuck during the application process, ridiculed that the whole application process “more difficult than buying Jacky Cheung’s concert ticket”

Following multiple complaints from applicants on social media, the HDB has responded to the issue in a recent Facebook post, and acknowledged the feedback regarding long waiting times in the virtual waiting room (VWR) during the May sales launch.

HDB: Long waiting time could be due to several factors, including higher application volume on combined BTO and SBF launch

HDB said they have been adjusting some system parameters since Tuesday (30 May) and made further enhancements in early next morning, to reduce the waiting time in the VWR.

HDB claimed that the waiting time to access the HDB Flat Portal has since improved, and ranged from about 3mins to 20mins on Wednesday morning.

HDB explained that the long waiting time in the VWR could be due to several factors, for example, higher application volume due to the combined BTO and SBF launch, some popular mature estate projects in this sales launch, and applicants who come into the HDB Flat Portal to browse the flats/ projects being offered.

“As the sales launch is open for a period of 1 week, and applicants are shortlisted via a computer ballot, not on a first-come-first-served basis, buyers can submit their applications anytime before the end of 5 June 2023.”

HDB explained that the long waiting time may also be caused by applicants applying for the HFE letter for the first time at this sales launch.

“Application for the HFE letter was opened on 9 May 2023 to give flat buyers sufficient time to work out their financial plans, and obtain at least a preliminary HFE assessment prior to the May sales launch. ”

“Most of those who have obtained their preliminary HFE assessment over the past 3 weeks will be able to apply for a flat in this sales launch.

“However, for those who have completed their preliminary HFE check, but are still unable to apply for a flat, HDB advise them to fill up HDB’s e-feedback form and HDB’s officers will get in touch with them.”

HDB will try our best to get back to them in good time to enable applicants to apply for a flat in this sales launch. As HFE is being implemented for this sales launch for the first time, we seek the understanding and patience of our buyers as we work through the system issues experienced over the last 2 days.”

More applicants still struggling and encountering various issues in the application process

Despite improvements in the virtual queue, more applicants have shared their experiences on the HDB’s Facebook post comment section.

While some acknowledged that the virtual queue has improved and they were able to submit the HFE letter successfully, others still expressed their struggles and encountered various issues or were stuck in the application process.

Applicants flagged errors on loading pages in the application process, difficulties in reaching the hotline 

Several applicants complained about encountering difficulties with the HDB portal, citing issues with loading pages. Screenshots shared by these applicants show the issue was due to “experiencing high traffic” volume at the time.

One applicant shared his frustration, stating that he had waited for a significant amount of time in the virtual queue, only to be unable to proceed with the application.

Despite attempting multiple times since yesterday, he still encountered the same issue. Moreover, he expressed difficulties in reaching the hotline and receiving a response after submitting feedback.

Applicants even faced difficulty to send feedback on the issues they encountered

Another applicant, shared a screenshot showing an error page on HDB’s website indicating “session timed out”, complained that he even faced difficulty to send feedback form.

A comment from another individual echoed a similar experience. Since Tuesday, she had been unable to successfully submit a feedback form. She noticed that HDB had provided some fields for HFE application status in their latest response. However, even after three attempts, she encountered an error when trying to post her feedback.

While acknowledging the improvement in the virtual queue since yesterday, she urged HDB to resolve the bugs promptly or consider pausing all applications until the issues were fixed.

“Horrible” application process

One applicant expressed frustration with the “horrible” application process, stating that the portal kept processing her application or displaying error messages halfway through. Even submitting the feedback form proved to be challenging for her.

An applicant suggests other to try their luck during non-peak timing

Meanwhile, a BTO applicant suggested others to apply during non-peak timing. The applicant said she faced difficulties in applying for a flat despite completing step 1 and step 2.

However, after the maintenance, she was able to successfully complete step 3, including the payment process, within just 5 minutes at 6 am, even though it was stated to require 15 minutes to complete.

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