Executive Condo Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Buying an EC in Singapore (2022)

·19-min read
Executive Condo Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Buying an EC in Singapore (2022)
Executive Condo Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Buying an EC in Singapore (2022)

The executive condo (EC) is one of the most popular housing types in Singapore. 

They are more ‘atas’ than HDB flats and compared to private condominiums, ECs in Singapore are more attractively priced and come with comparable facilities and designs. 

From EC downpayment to income ceiling, eligibility and upcoming EC launches in 2022, our guide outlines all there is to know about executive condos in Singapore.

What Is an Executive Condo Singapore (EC)?

Known as the “sandwich flat”, an EC Singapore is 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 too expensive.

ECs are developed and sold by private developers but are subsidised by the government. As such, while they have condo-like attributes such as swimming pools, gyms, clubhouse, and better design, they are cheaper than private condos. As former National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan puts it, it’s like buying a Lexus at the price of a Corolla.

The flip side of being a hybrid development, however, is that Singapore ECs are considered HDB properties for the first 10 years, which means they’re bounded by HDB’s rules. These include the 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) rule, HDB’s various eligibility schemes, HDB’s selling restrictions, and the resale levy (if you’re buying it from a developer). 

However, once executive condos hit their 11th year, they will be privatised – and that’s when they truly shine, as the EC price will because higher and you can sell it to a bigger pool of buyers. Alternatively, renting out privatised condos can also rake in good profits. In the Singapore Property Market Report Q3 2022, private property asking rental prices registered spikes in anticipation of returning expatriates, and we can only expect this trend to continue as borders reopen.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying an executive condominium:

Pros 

Cons

New executive condos are eligible for CPF housing grants 

Bound by HDB’s rules for the first 10 years

Cheaper than private condos 

Usually located at more “ulu” locations

Good value and potential appreciation 

Not eligible for HDB housing loan

Turns private from the 11th year onwards

Few HDB EC launches   

Designed for own-stay purposes 

Pros:

1. HDB Executive Condo Are Eligible for CPF Housing Grants (First-Time Buyers Only)

One of the good things about buying an executive condo during the HDB EC launch is that you’re eligible for CPF Housing Grants, which can help to offset some of the cost. There are two types of grants available for ECs:

  • Family Grant

  • Half-Housing Grant

You will need to make sure you’re eligible to buy an executive condo though. Other than being a first-time buyer, your gross monthly income has to be $14,000 and below. Apart from that, your citizenship and housing status (i.e. if a co-applicant is a second-timer) matters too. 

Below is a table of how much you can get from the Family Grant and Half-Housing Grant:

Family Grant

Average monthly gross income of applicants/occupiers

Singapore citizen (SC) household

SC/Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) household

$10,000 or lower

$30,000

$20,000

$10,001 to $11,000

$20,000

$10,000

$11,001 to $12,000

$10,000

Not eligible

$12,001 to $14,000

Not eligible

Not eligible


If you’re a first-timer buying an executive condo with a co-applicant who has previously taken a housing subsidy, the good news is that you can still receive ‘half’ of the CPF Grant in the form of the Half-Housing Grant. Here’s the grant amount you can get:

Half-Housing Grant

Average monthly gross income of applicants/occupiers

Half-Housing Grant

$10,000 or lower

$15,000

$10,001 to $11,000

$10,000

$11,001 to $12,000

$5,000

$12,001 to $14,000

Not eligible

2. Executive Condominiums Are Cheaper Than Private Condos

Everyone likes buying things at a discount right? 

When you buy an executive condo during the launch, you’re technically buying a government-subsidised condo from HDB.

This means not only are you buying a condo at a slightly cheaper price, but you’ll also get to enjoy facilities typically found in condos such as swimming pools, tennis courts, BBQ pits, function rooms, and gyms. All ECs, including the upcoming EC launches in 2022, also come with fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms, as well as finishings that are comparable to private condos. 

On top of that, you can also take advantage of the CPF Housing Grants mentioned earlier, which are handy to help offset the cost.

3. ECs Become Privatised After the 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 5-year MOP period is up, you can still sell your EC to Singapore Citizens or PRs or rent it out.

Also, the value of ECs generally appreciate over the years. Remember that when you buy an executive condo from HDB, you buy it at a subsidised price. However, once the property hits the MOP and the 11th year, the capital gains are generally higher than resale condos.  

4. ECs Are a Good Option for Middle-Income Singaporeans

The income ceiling for buying an HDB-launch EC 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. ECs Are Designed for Own-Stay Purposes

Because of the eligibility criteria, ECs are targeted at owner-occupiers (buyers who own and live in the house), which is quite different from private condos, as it also attracts investors. This is the reason why executive condos usually start from three-bedroom units, whilst private condos usually have one-bedrooms. 

As such, not only are Singapore EC units typically bigger than private condos, but the demographic usually consists of local families, whilst private condos are more diverse. 

Cons: 

1. ECs Are Bound by HDB Rules for 10 Years

As mentioned above, ECs are considered as HDB properties in the first decade. During which you need to abide by HDB rules, such as HDB’s five-year 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).

Apart from that, you’ll also need to meet the other rules, including the income ceiling cap, the property ownership rule, the resale levy rule, and the various eligibility conditions (see below). 

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

To keep EC prices low, they need to be built in areas with lower land costs. And 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. You Can Only Apply for a Bank Loan

That’s right, ECs aren’t eligible for HDB loans. This means you need to get a loan from a bank or financial institution.

Unlike an HDB loan, a bank’s loan-to-value ratio (LTV), which is basically the maximum amount you can borrow from a bank, 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 downpayment. Out of this, 5% must be paid in cash, while the remaining 20% can be a combination of CPF and cash. For example, if you’re thinking of buying one of the new EC launches for $1 million, you must fork out $50,000 in cash. 

You also have to be prepared for the fluctuating interest rates for bank loans (which might not be a bad thing considering bank rates are more competitive than the current HDB loan interest rate). 

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 60% of your monthly income. 

Related article: Home Loans in Singapore (2022): How to Apply for A Mortgage

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Need expert advice to work out a financing strategy, or want to compare the best home loan rates in Singapore? Speak to our Home Finance Advisors on PropertyGuru Finance. You can also find and compare bank loans in Singapore. 

Don’t forget to try our free-to-use affordability calculator to get an estimate for the maximum loan amount and downpayment needed to finance your home. 

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. 

For instance, Rivercove Residences Condominium in 2018 saw close to 80% of its total number of units being sold on its first day. Then, Piermond Grand EC in 2019 was the first new executive condo launch in nearly two years. Parc Canberra and OLA EC were the only EC projects in 2020, and unsurprisingly, they were also highly subscribed. 

Thankfully, there are four EC launches in 2022. The first EC launch of 2022 – North Gaia in Yishun – saw 3,500 visitors during its preview weekend, with nearly 27% of the total number of units being sold then.

In addition to North Gaia, the other new EC launches in 2022 include Tengah Garden Residences, and projects at Tampines St 62 and Bukit Batok West Ave 8.

In other words, you’ll be facing stiffer competition because there’s a lot of demand but not enough supply. Good thing they’re subsidised!

Now that you know what the pros and cons of buying an EC are, let’s a take at how ECs defer from regular condos:

What’s the Difference Between an EC and Condo?

Here’s a quick table comparison between ECs and condos:

Housing type

Executive condo

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 SC + SC, or SC + PR households

Anyone

Can singles buy?

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

Yes

Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP)

Five years

Doesn’t apply

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 

How to Buy an EC in Singapore: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility

As with HDB properties, you’ll need to fulfil certain requirements when it comes to buying an executive condo. 

Family Nucleus

For starters, you’ll need to buy under one of the eligibility schemes; namely, the Public Scheme, Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, Orphans Scheme or Joint Singles Scheme.

What

Who

Public Scheme

Your spouse, children, parents, siblings, or children under your legal custody (if you’re widowed/divorced)

Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme

Buying with your spouse-to-be

Orphans Scheme

Buying with your siblings (both must be single and orphaned)

Joint Singles Scheme

Buying with up to three other co-applicants who are all SCs. All applicants must be single, at least 35 years old, and must be co-applicants

Age

All buyers will have to be at least 21 years old and above (for singles buying under the Joint Singles Scheme, you need to be at least 35 years old). If you’re planning to buy alone, you can only buy a resale EC and won’t be eligible for a CPF Housing Grant.

See all ECs for sale on PropertyGuru here.  

Citizenship

At least one of the buyers will need to be SC, with the other applicant an SC or PR. When buying under the Joint Singles Scheme, both buyers will need to be SCs who are 35 years and above.

Income Ceiling

The combined average monthly household income must not exceed $16,000. For Option to Purchase (OTP) granted before 11 September 2019, the income ceiling is $14,000. 

Property Ownership

All applicants cannot own another property, both local and overseas, or have disposed of them within the last 30 months. You must also not have bought, or have only owned/received one of the following in the past:

  1. An HDB flat

  2. A Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS)

  3. An EC

  4. CPF Housing Grant

Read more on HDB’s eligibility schemes here.

Step 2: Sort Out Your Finances

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, you’ll need to sort out your finances next. 

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

Securing your AIP will also determine the LTV amount, which is based on your income, age, loan duration, and if you have any outstanding loans. As mentioned above, the maximum LTV amount for a bank loan is 75% of the property, with a downpayment of 25% (at least 25% must be in cash). 

Remember, buying a home isn’t just about the purchase price — there’s also tax and other fees to consider. These include the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), option fee (5% of the purchase price, non-refundable), legal fees, fire insurance, and resale levy (if this isn’t your first HDB purchase).

Then there are also the various restrictions the government has set in place, including the ones mentioned previously such as TDSR and MSR.

If you’re planning to use your CPF monies, be sure to check how much funds you have in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) and the amount you can use based on the valuation limit.

Overwhelmed by the numbers? Speak to our PropertyGuru Finance mortgage experts or use our mortgage affordability calculator to calculate the maximum loan amount you can borrow. 

Step 3: Pick an EC Project

Whew! We got most of the complicated stuff out of the way, but we’re not quite out of the woods yet.
Now comes the fun bit: Picking an EC of your choice according to your budget. 

So far, only North Gaia has launched in 2022. However, you can expect three more projects this year, at Tengah Garden Walk, Tampines St 62 and Bukit Batok West Ave 8.

Pop on by the show flat to view the units and get a good sense of the project. However, for EC projects that are yet to launch, developers will usually require you to register your interest online. This doesn’t mean you’re obligated to buy, it’s just to show your interest.  

Also remember to check with the developer on the documents needed such as IC, proof of income, and marital status. 

Read our reviews of past EC launches here. 

Step 4: Submit Your Application

Have your eyes set on an EC project? Submit your e-application when the submission period opens. Developers 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.

Step 5: 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 sale and purchase agreement (S&P). 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.

Be sure to fill in and 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). 

Step 6: Hire a Conveyancing Lawyer, Secure Your Loan and the Letter of Offer

While waiting for HDB to approve your application, you can use the time to resolve the details of the bank loan, secure the 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. Find the best home loan rates on PropertyGuru Finance.

Finalise the loan details and get your back to issue the LO.

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

Step 7: Sign the S&P Documents and Pay Stamp Duties

Once HDB approves your application, you can expect to receive the S&P documents 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 downpayment/exercise fee, which is 15% (you can use your CPF). This is due at the point of signing the S&P, or within nine weeks of signing the option, whichever is later.

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

Step 8: 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: 

  1. Normal Payment Scheme (NPS), or Progressive Payment Scheme (PPS)

  2. Deferred Payment Scheme (DPS)

Basically, NPS is how a buyer would normally pay, based on the property’s completion process. Here’s how NPS works: 

  1. Pay the 5% option fee in cash

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

  3. Settle any stamp duties (Also possibly with CPF funds)

  4. Pay 10% once the foundation work is completed (payment through your home loan)

  5. Pay 10% once the reinforced concrete framework is completed (payment through your home loan)

  6. Pay 5% when the partition and walls are done (payment through your home loan)

  7. Pay 5% when the ceiling is completed (payment through your home loan)

  8. Pay 5% when the internal plumbing and plastering, door and window frames, and electrical wiring (payment through your home loan)

  9. Pay 5% when the carparks, drains, and road are completed (payment through your home loan)

  10. Pay 25% when you receive your TOP (payment through your home loan)

  11. Pay 15% when you get the Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) (payment through your home loan)

Read more on the NPS here. 

Meanwhile, DPS works very differently. 

You only need to pay 20% downpayment (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%). 

Step 9: Collect Your Keys

Now all you need to do is wait for the EC to receive its TOP so that you can move in and start renovating it. 

Resale Levy for EC

You only need to pay a resale levy if you have previously bought a subsidised property from HDB, whether it’s a BTO flat or an EC from a developer (where the land sale was launched after 9 December 2013).

Simply put, you need to pay a resale levy if:

  • Sell your subsidised flat and buy another subsidised flat from HDB, or;

  • Sell your subsidised flat and buy an EC from a developer where the land sale was launched on or after 9 December 2013

You won’t need to pay a resale levy if you’re buying:

  • A Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat from a developer

  • An EC from a developer, where the land sale was launched before 9 December 2013

  • An HDB resale flat

  • A private residential property

The resale levy amount will depend on the type of flat, which could be up to $55,000:

First subsidised flat

Resale levy amount* 

2-room flat

$15,000 (households), $7,500 (singles)

3-room flat

$30,000 (households), $15,000 (singles)

4-room flat

$40,000 (households), $20,000 (singles)

5-room flat

$45,000 (households), $22,500 (singles)

Executive flat

$50,000 (households), $22,500 (singles)

Executive condo

$55,000 (households), not applicable for singles

* Note: The resale levy amount is based on the resale price of the sold flat, or 90% of its market valuation, whichever was higher. 

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. 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.

Get Expert Help to Finance Your Home, or Find an EC Unit on PropertyGuru

Looking for an EC unit? Whether you’re looking for a new or resale EC, find an EC on PropertyGuru now

Need help with the financing part? Speak to our mortgage experts on PropertyGuru Finance, or find and compare bank loans in Singapore. 

Don’t forget to try our free-to-use affordability calculator to get an estimate for the maximum loan amount and downpayment needed to finance your home.