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Executive Condos: Guide to Buying ECs in Singapore (2023)

Executive Condos: Guide to Buying ECs in Singapore (2023)
Executive Condos: Guide to Buying ECs in Singapore (2023)

Executive condos (EC) are one of the most popular housing types in Singapore. They are more ‘atas’ than other HDB flats (e.g. BTO flats, Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) units, and Open Booking of Flats (OBF) units).

Also known as ‘sandwich flats’, ECs in Singapore are a public-private housing hybrid catered to middle-income Singaporeans who don’t qualify for an HDB flat due to the income ceiling cap, but still consider private condominiums out of their budget. Compared to private condominiums, ECs in Singapore are more attractively priced and come with comparable facilities and designs. 

Watch Our Video on Buying Executive Condos in Singapore

What is the Difference Between Executive Condos and Condos?

Housing type

EC Singapore

Private condo

Price

More expensive than HDB flats

More expensive than executive condos

Lease

99 years

99 years or freehold

Public or private

Public for the first 10 years

Private

Who can buy

Only Singapore Citizen (SC)-SC, or SC-Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR)households

Anyone

Can singles buy?

Yes, only if you’re 35 years old and above, and buying with another single

Yes

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Five years

Doesn’t apply

EC Income ceiling

$16,000

No income ceiling

Eligible for CPF housing grants?

Yes (first-timers only)

No

Selling/renting restrictions?

Yes, during the first 10 years

No

Location

Usually in outskirt locations that are not immediately near MRT stations

Some condos are near MRT stations, while others are not

Launch frequency

Fewer, about one to two per year

More, over 20 per year

Pros of Buying ECs in Singapore

1. First-time buyers of Executive Condos Are Eligible for CPF Housing Grants (Family Grant and Half-Housing Grant)

Income ceiling

Family Grant amount (for Singapore Citizen (SC)-SC households)

Family Grant amount (for SC-Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households)

Half-Housing Grant amount (if you are a first-timer SC and your co-applicant is a second-timer who has previously taken one housing subsidy)

$10,000 or lower

$30,000

$20,000

$15,000

$10,001 to $11,000

$20,000

$10,000

$10,000

$11,001 to $12,000

$10,000

None

$5,000

SC-SPR households who apply for the CPF Housing Grant can receive an additional $10,000 when the SPR converts to an SC by applying for the Citizen Top-Up housing subsidy within six months of eligibility.

2. Executive Condos Are Cheaper Than Private Condos

When you buy an executive condo during the launch, you’re technically buying a government-subsidised condo from HDB. All ECs also come with fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms, as well as finishings that are comparable to private condos. 

3. Executive Condos Become Privatised After Their 10th Year, With Generally Good Value

When an EC gets privatised from the 11th year onwards, it means you can sell your executive condo to foreign buyers. Sure, the first 10 years might be a bit of a drag, but once the MOP of five years is up, you can still sell your EC to SCs or SPRs or rent it out.

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Also, the value of ECs generally appreciates over the years. Remember that when you buy an executive condo from HDB, you buy it at a subsidised price. Once the property hits the MOP and the 11th year, the capital gains can often be higher than resale private condos.

4. Executive Condos Are a Good Housing Option for Middle-income Singaporeans

The EC income ceiling is $16,000 (which was raised from $14,000 previously). As such, ECs appeal more to middle-income Singaporean families who can’t meet the income eligibility for BTO flats due to the income cap.

5. Executive Condos Are Designed for Own-stay

Because of the executive condo eligibility criteria, ECs are targeted at owner-occupiers (buyers who own and live in the house). This is in contrast with private condos, which also attract investors. This is the reason why executive condos usually start from 3-bedroom units, while private condos usually start from 1-bedroom units.

Cons of Buying ECs in Singapore

1. Executive Condos Are Bound by HDB’s Rules for 10 Years

As mentioned above, ECs are considered as HDB properties in the first decade. During this period, you must abide by HDB rules, such as HDB’s MOP, where you’ll need to reside in your home for five years before you can sell/rent it out (only to SCs and PRs). Note that the MOP period only begins once the development receives its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP).

2. Executive Condos Are Mostly Located in ‘Ulu’ Locations

To keep EC prices low, they must be built in areas with lower land costs. That’s why ECs are typically located in the outskirts of Singapore such as Sengkang, Punggol, Woodlands, Choa Chu Kang, and Sembawang. Apart from that, most ECs aren’t ‘near’ to MRT stations or bus interchanges either.

3. Executive Condos Can Only Be Financed by Bank Loans

Unlike an HDB loan, a bank’s Loan-to-Value limit (LTV) is 75% of the property valuation or price (whichever is lower). This means you need to fork out at least 25% from your own pocket for your EC down payment. Out of this, 5% must be paid in cash, while the remaining 20% can be a combination of CPF and cash.

Also, you’ll need to take the Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) rules into account. For MSR, you can only use 30% of your monthly income to service your home loan. As for TDSR, your total debt repayments – which include car loans, credit cards, and student loans – cannot be more than 55% of your monthly income.

4. EC Launches Are Far and Few

Whenever there’s an HDB EC launch, it usually prompts people to make a mad dash to buy it. That’s because even though the demand for ECs is high, only a handful of launches happen yearly.

How To Buy an EC in Singapore

1. Executive Condo Eligibility

Eligible applicant/ Family nucleus

You qualify for at least one of the following schemes: Public Scheme, Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, or Orphans Scheme

Citizenship

At least one of the applicants for the flat must be a Singapore Citizen, and at least one other is a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR)

Age

At least 21 years old (widowed or orphaned) or 35 (unmarried or divorced) 

Income ceiling

You are within the income ceiling of the flat you want to purchase

Property ownership

You don’t own any other property locally or overseas and haven’t disposed of any within the last 30 months

You haven’t bought a new HDB/DBSS flat or Executive Condominium (EC) or received any CPF Housing Grants before, or you’ve only bought one of those properties and only received one CPF Housing Grant before

2. Sort Out Your Finances

First, you need to get an In-Principle Approval (IPA) from your bank. An IPA is basically how much a bank is willing to lend you. Getting the IPA is crucial as it helps to set your budget for your property purchase.

Securing your IPA will also determine the LTV amount, which is based on your income, age, loan duration, and if you have any outstanding loans.

Other fees to consider include Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), Option to Purchase (OTP) fee, legal fees, fire insurance, and HDB resale levy (if this isn’t your first HDB flat), and restrictions including MSR and TDSR.

3. Submit Your Application

Check with the developer on the documents needed such as IC, proof of income, and marital status. After submission, the developer will go through your application to check your eligibility again and give you a ballot number. It will include the appointment date for you to select a unit of your choice.

4. Book Your Flat

On the day of your appointment, you can visit the show flat and pick a unit of your choice. Note that you still have the option not to proceed with the purchase if the unit that you want isn’t available. 

Should you choose to proceed, however, you need to present a check to the developer to secure the OTP. This will include the 5% booking fee, which must be paid in cash.

Once that’s done, you’ll be presented with a set of Property Details Information (PDI) documents such as floor plans, site plan, rules and regulations, and the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA). You will need to read and agree to the terms. The developer will then provide you with a copy of the OTP.

HDB will then review your application. This process can take up to four weeks.

Send the CPF Withdrawal Form RPS/1A (Residential Properties Scheme) to CPF if you intend to use your CPF monies (which also includes any CPF Housing Grant you’re eligible for). 

5. Hire a Conveyancing Lawyer, Secure Your Loan and the Letter of Offer

Secure a Letter of Offer (LO) and appoint a conveyancing lawyer. You’ll need to provide the lawyer and your bank with the OTP copy.

Remember to get as many quotes from different banks as possible so that you can compare and select the best loan package for you. Compare the latest bank loan interest rates using PropertyGuru Finance’s mortgage comparison tool.

Note: Don’t sign the LO until your application for the unit has been approved. Otherwise, you risk losing your cancellation fees.

6. Sign the SPA and Pay Stamp Duties

Once HDB approves your application, you can expect to receive the SPA soon. Then, you must exercise the option, which you’ll need to exercise within three weeks if you decide to go ahead with the purchase.

If you choose to go ahead, you have to pay the remaining down payment/exercise fee, which is 15% (you can use your CPF). This is due at the point of signing the SPA, or within nine weeks of signing the option, whichever is later.

Last but not least, you must pay stamp duties on the SPA within two weeks of signing. If you choose not to go ahead, however, you need to forfeit 25% of the Booking Fee.

7. Wait for the EC to Complete, and Make the Rest of the Payments

After exercising the S&P agreement, you need to decide how you want to pay for your condo. For ECs, there are two options: 

Progressive Payment Scheme (PPS)

  • Pay the 5% OTP fee in cash

  • Sign the Sale & Purchase Agreement and pay off the remaining 15% downpayment (CPF funds can be used)

  • Settle any stamp duties (Also possibly with CPF funds)

After which, loan disbursal – and your monthly repayments – will begin. These will be on a staggered basis, in tandem with the property’s construction progress. Here’s how the loan disbursement and repayments (80% of purchase price) generally play out:

Completion of stage

Repayments (as a percentage of purchase price)

Foundation work

10%

Reinforced concrete framework

10%

Partitions and walls

5%

Ceilings

5%

Internal plumbing and plastering, door and window frames, and electrical wiring

5%

Roads, drains, and car parks

5%

Receipt of Temporary Occupation Permit (residents can move in)

25%

Completion (receipt of Certificate of Statutory Completion)

15%

Total

80%

Deferred Payment Scheme (DPS)

You only need to pay a 20% down payment (5% option fee + 15% sale and purchase agreement). The remaining 80% can be paid once the project receives its TOP. The caveat to this is that you need to pay more for the EC. 

DPS is attractive to those with outstanding mortgage loans who want more time to repay the existing loan (the LTV limit for one home loan is 45% or 25%). 

HDB Resale Levy for ECs in Singapore

Read here for our guide on HDB resale levy in Singapore.

Can I Buy a New EC if I Currently Own an HDB Flat?

Yes, you can. But you must only own/have owned one of the following before your application:

  • A flat bought from HDB (i.e. a BTO flat)

  • An EC/DBSS flat bought from a developer

  • Resale HDB flat bought using CPF Housing Grant (only for first-time applicants)

Eligible SCs can buy the above properties twice in total, and not twice per type of property. In other words, you can own an HDB flat and an EC, but not two ECs, two HDB flats, etc.

However, if you have already bought two such properties, you will not be eligible to apply for an EC or be listed as an essential occupier in an application.

For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.

Looking for a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.

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