Why Singaporeans still love buying executive condominiums

5 min read

In July 2017, Hundred Palms Residences made history by becoming the most oversubscribed executive condominium. Over 2,700 applications were made for 531 units, causing the whole development to be sold out in just seven hours.

Here’s why executive condominiums keep topping the demand list for Singaporeans:

1. Executive condominiums are still the best value buys

ECs are a hybrid of public and private housing. This sort of “sandwich” class properties have traditionally done well, such as the DBSS flats and maisonettes of the past. The reason is simple: they’re a chance to buy private property, while still getting government subsidies.

Also, ECs often feature the same range of a facilities offered by private condominiums, but at a fraction of the cost.

Consider this: a typical 5-room HDB flat costs between S$500,000 to S$600,000. On the other hand, mass-market suburban condos can easily hit the S$1.3 million mark.

Now HDB flat buyers have an income ceiling of S$14,000 per month. Consider a family that makes a little more than that, say $16,000 a month (the income ceiling for ECs). They get to choose between an EC, and a private condo.

Condo in Singapore

If this family were to buy a S$1.3 million private condo, with a 25-year loan at around 2% interest per annum*, the monthly repayment would be S$4,133 per month.

However, they can buy an EC with comparable facilities, at around S$1 million. After deducting the CPF housing grants of S$30,000, they’re looking at a total purchase price of S$970,000.

Using the same 25-year loan at 2% per annum, the family’s monthly repayments are just S$3,084 per month. An extra S$1,000 savings a month can make a big difference, especially for newlyweds having their first child.

And this comes without any loss of quality, as executive condominiums are full-suite condos built by private developers.

*The maximum loan quantum is 75% of the property value

2. Resale price gaps are closing between executive condominiums and private condominiums

Initially, there were complaints that the resale value of an EC would be lower than that of private condos. However, the gap has narrowed over the years. At the time of writing, the average price gap between ECs and private condos after the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) is around 9%. After privatisation, the gap narrows to around 5%.

In addition, given that ECs are bought with government subsidies and at generally lower prices than nearby private properties, there is significant room for capital appreciation.

3. The “drawbacks” of executive condominiums are completely irrelevant to most buyers

Most Singaporeans buy their condo to live in, not to rent it out or flip it for profit. As such, the drawbacks of an EC are meaningless to them.

To an owner-occupier, it doesn’t matter if they can’t sell or rent the unit out during the five-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), as they’re going to live in it anyway. The 10-year wait for privatisation is likewise irrelevant to most owner-occupiers; by the time they’re ready to upgrade or move again, it’s likely that the 10-year period will already be up.

Again, this makes ECs the equivalent of a cheaper and subsidised private property, with no discernible drawbacks.

4. Interest rate hikes have happened, and the market has decided they’re tolerable

Prior to 2016, a common worry about ECs was how buyers had to use bank loans for them (there are no HDB loans for ECs). This led to worries that a spike in the interest rates could make mortgages less affordable.

True enough, rates have risen in 2016, 2017 and they’re still set to increase further – it’s quite likely the low-interest environment that lasted from 2008 is ending. We won’t go into details here, but suffice it to say in 2008/9 you could find home loan rates as low as 1.4% per annum, whereas they’ve now risen to about 2.7 per annum%.

However, the market has adapted to it. Banks have driven a switch to board rates, in which mortgages are not pegged to the rising Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR). Most importantly however, we’ve been through two interest rate hikes, and the market seems to have decided they’re tolerable after all.

Read this: SORA-pegged home loan: 5 key things to know if you’re switching from SOR or SIBOR

The use of bank loans is now less off-putting to EC buyers than they were before. Although we should point out that, due to the need for bank loans, EC buyers must fork out at least 5% of the property price in cash.

Looking for other public housing options? Why not consider jumbo flats and HDB terrace flats?

Are you looking to buy an executive condo? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Has the price gap between private and executive condominiums changed? and Why it’s more attractive to buy an EC post cooling measures.

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto 99.co’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co.

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

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