Financial Planning | Life | Personal Finance | Relationships & Family | Article

The Married Child Priority Scheme: It’s a Trap!

by Sophia | 28 Jul 2020 | 3 mins read

The BTO application process can be a little dicey and nerve-wracking for the first-timer. Everything seems to hinge on your ballot number; the lower the number, the better your chances are at getting the unit you’re eyeing. This is why some couples may adopt priority schemes as a way to get ahead of others in the queue, one of which is the Married Child Priority Scheme.

What’s the Married Child Priority Scheme?

This scheme is for couples who intend to move into a new BTO flat with their parents or within 4km of their parents’ home. Under this scheme, up to 30% of BTO units in a new launch will be reserved for MCPS applicants.

Priority of these units will go to couples who are moving in with their parents, before the rest go to the couples who are moving within 4km of their parents. In other words, you get first dibs — and, hopefully, that perfectly situated unit!

How the Married Child Priority Scheme Works

Applying successfully for the Married Child Priority Scheme enables a couple to be prioritised for a ballot number, that then allows them to select their unit ahead of other couples behind them.

However, this scheme does not affect how “good” a given ballot number is. It only increases your chances of getting a ballot number before you move on to choose your flat. Ballot numbers are randomly assigned by a computer.

Those who fail to get a BTO unit via MCPS will have another chance to gain a ballot number with public applicants. For couples who did not use MCPS for their first flat application, they may use it in the future to buy another flat from HDB, provided they meet eligibility criteria.

What’s the Catch?

Here’s the thing: while priority schemes are a good “hack” to ensure you get priority for BTO flats, your parents will not be able to move outside a 4km radius of your BTO for the next five years after you receive the keys of your BTO. In other words, they’ll only be able to move to an apartment that is more than 4km away from your new flat until after you fulfil the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP).

Thus if your parents have dreams of downgrading in the next few years and want to fund their retirement with sales proceeds, this might pose a problem for their plans if they can’t find anything within 4km of you.

What Can We Do About It?

It’s possible to ask your officer, upon selecting your unit, whether you can withdraw from the Married Child Priority Scheme. Withdrawal is not automatic, so if you don’t bring this up with your officer at the time of selection, you might not be able to get out of it and inadvertently end up locking your parents in with you for the next few years.

For couples who want to “get ahead” of the queue, it’s important to remember the downside to this scheme: your parents will not be able to move more than 4km away from you until after you fulfil the MOP in your BTO. If you don’t want to tie them down with these restrictions for a long time and give them the option to choose where they wish to live in the future, then remember to speak to your officer about this.