You’ve probably heard the term “Executive Condominiums” or ECs floating around in housing conversations with your fellow adulting friends. If your knowledge of ECs is limited to it being the next alternative to an HDB BTO flat if you “bust the income ceiling”, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s a deep-dive into executive condominiums in Singapore if you’re in the midst of house hunting and your combined income is creeping towards $14,000.
What is an Executive Condo?
Not to be confused with private condos, an executive condo possesses both traits of typical public housing and private condos. This means that while built by private developers, ECs sit on government-subsidised land, and therefore, are more affordable to us pleebs.
Amenities-wise, you’re likely to find that ECs sit within gated compounds and complete with all the frills of a privately owned condo: pool, tennis courts, bbq pits, jacuzzis and even steam rooms.
Ola EC at Sengkang looks like a resort with grand pools and landscaping.
Image credit: Singapore Property Website
The good news is that you can use whatever riches you and your partner have accumulated in your CPF accounts to finance this home purchase.
But with cheaper prices, come the fine print of HDB-unique terms and conditions with the likes of a 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), a general eligibility criteria, and a resale levy should you decide to sell.
On the bright side, ECs are regarded as government housing for a period of 10 years, but once the property hits its 11th year, it becomes privatised – that means the above mentioned T&Cs no longer apply.
Are you eligible for an EC?
Here’s a quick checklist to identify whether you’re eligible for an executive condo:
If you and your partner’s combined income is straddling the $14,000 income ceiling for a BTO property, but you can’t quite fork out the big bucks for a private condo or landed house, then ECs will be your saving grace with a raised income ceiling of $16,000.
Naturally, the other eligibility criteria such as citizenship and age still apply, but one thing that might work in your favour might be the fact that you can apply for an EC even if you’ve previously owned a BTO, DBSS or HDB resale flat.
Who can you apply for an EC with?
Fiancé/ Fiancée Scheme
Hunting for a marital home is a priority for most couples looking to tie the knot. As long as you’ve officially solemnised your marriage, you can slip your names under the Fiancé Scheme.
The legal aspect of solemnisation is a must!
Image credit: Clara Choo – Taken by Mathias of Yipmage
You’ll be made to submit a copy of your marriage certificate to HDB within 3 months of collecting your keys for your new EC unit.
With the Public Scheme, you can apply for an Executive Condo with:
- Your spouse and children
- Your parents and siblings
- Your children under your legal custody, care and control
While this scheme has its perks because it’s pretty all-encompassing, you have to be super-sure about who you’ll be staying with. In case of a nasty fallout episode two years down the road, you cannot throw out old names or include new ones to the list.
Under the Orphans Scheme, siblings who have lost both parents and are single will be able to apply for an EC together under the condition that at least one deceased parent had been a Singaporean Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Joint Singles Scheme
If breaking free of your parent’s home and renting a nest to call your own with your other single pringles has long been a dream of yours, you’ll be able to turn that dream into reality under the Joint Singles Scheme.
Up to three singles – divorced and widowed included – will be able to apply as long as all applicants are Singapore citizens and at least 35 years old.
What kind of grants can I use to offset the cost of an EC?
One good thing about leaning towards an EC is that grants are still very much within reach. And though not as large in amount as the grants available to BTO or HDB resale flats, the Half-Housing Grant and Family Grant will help you shave down the price tag of any EC you’ve set your sights on.
Note: Singles are not eligible for housing grants when applying for an EC.
In our wildest dreams, the half-housing grant would slash the total cost of your home by 50%. IRL, the Half-Housing Grant is one quite simply half of the actual grant amount you would’ve received if both you and your partner were first-time applicants.
If either only one half of your whole has previously enjoyed the benefits of HDB’s housing grants, then this is the grant that will let you still shave off a sizeable chunk of up to $20,000 off your EC. But before punching in those digits, make sure the first-time applicant is a Singapore citizen.
The Family Grant, as you might have guessed, extends to families looking to purchase an EC as their multi-generational home. Depending on how much your family’s combined income is, you’ll be able to receive up to $30,000 in grants to aid you in your home purchase.
Note: This amount will go towards the downpayment and subsequent payments for your EC, but is not to be used to pay off cash down payments or monthly mortgage instalments.
Here’s a quick run-down of the subsidised amounts you can get:
Note: Although income ceilings are fixed at $16,000 for buying an executive condo, you’re only eligible for grants if your combined income rests below $12,000.
Image credit: HDB
Citizen Top-Up (for SC/SPR couples)
While the caveat is that Half-Housing and Family Grants are $10,000 less for those with a non-citizen bae, you can easily recoup this little loss if your partner is on track to obtaining citizenship or having a baby in Singapore later on.
Simply apply for your grant here within six months of being eligible.
A comparative look at ECs, BTOs & Resale flats
Aside from being your little hideaway, a home purchase is almost always viewed as an investment. And if you want to make the most of your dollar, here’s a list of pros and cons to help you discern if an EC is the right type of property for you.
Advantages of owning an EC
The biggest flex of living in an EC is probably living in a “subsidised condo” with prime access to private pools, indoor gyms and housing grants. You’ll also have much more interior space versus BTOs or HDB resale flats as some EC units can be over 2,000 sqft with roof terraces and balconies. Architecture-wise, many ECs also sport gorgeous floor-to-ceiling bay windows and expansive balconies.
After you’ve enjoyed the snazzy facilities and are ready to move out, selling your home reaps you more than you sowed. Since ECs officially receive the “private property” badge after 10 years of being recognised as a HDB flat, you can rake up those profits by selling at higher prices and to a wider range of willing buyers.
Waiting times aren’t super jialat, either. Where BTOs can take up to 5 years to build, ECs take just about 2.5-3 years. You can submit your application once a project is launched, know your ballot results, and select your flat unit all within a couple of weeks.
Disadvantages of owning an EC
The higher average price tag of $1.04 million might not be ideal for young couples who are just beginning to save up. Unless you’ve been working for some time, the mandatory 25% downpayment that’s only payable by cash or bank loans might burn your bank account.
Launches are also relatively few and far between – meaning that vigilant eyes and quick fingers will help you tons in your home-hunting journey. For a list of upcoming projects, make sure to keep an eye on HDB’s website.
Note to bubble tea fans: you might not find a Koi or LiHo outlet nearby your new home. Since executive condos are usually less-centralised, shopping malls, schools and MRT stations could be slightly far off. However, future launches give us a glimmer of hope – the newest Parc Canberra is just six minutes away from a MRT station.
How do you go about the application process?
Step 1: Keep a lookout for EC launches on HDB’s portal
Keeping tabs on new EC launches will give you ample buffer time in snagging a flat or ironing out your finances.
Step 2: Submit your application online or to your EC developer directly
Submit your application either on the executive condo’s official website or visit the showroom in-person. You might want to check with your EC developer on documents that should be brought along – such as your NRIC, marriage or birth certificates.
Step 3: Receive your balloting outcome
If you’ve been crowned victorious in the balloting game, your developer will call pronto. If not, try your luck for Sale of Balance (SBF) units or wait for another EC launch.
Step 4: Book your EC unit
Once you’ve laid your eyes on the one, it’s time to lay out some funds to chope your unit. You have to make a cash payment of 5% of the total flat price – in the form of an Option to Purchase (OTP) – and send in applications for any housing grants you’re eligible for. It’s also best to start prepping your bank loan options for future stages.
Step 5: Sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement
After two to three weeks of waiting, it’s time to sign away on your Sales and Purchase Agreement. Thankfully, the remaining 15% of downpayment that’s due can be settled using your CPF savings – together with stamp duties which you can easily calculate with this handy tool from IRAS.
While you’re swamped with a hefty load of finances here, don’t forget to submit your Letter of Offer to HDB, which should be delivered to you by your bank if you’re obtaining a loan from them.
Step 6: Collect your EC keys
EC folks, you can catch a breather here for your house is now confirm yours. The last hurdle is waiting for two and a half to three years before your flat is complete, after which your EC developer will prompt you to collect your keys.
Guide to buying an Executive Condo in Singapore
Although less popular than other housing types in Singapore, executive condos definitely lend a hand in securing a home for those hovering in the middle of Singapore’s income ladder. Whether you surpass income ceilings for BTOS or lack enough loot to purchase a condo, ECs can provide a cosy and comfortable space for both singles and young couples alike.