New-style ECs proving a hit with buyers

10 of 15 projects released since 2010 sold out or have under 10 units left

Published on Nov 24, 2012

By Esther Teo Property Reporter

EXECUTIVE condominiums (ECs) have emerged as one of the clear winners this year with strong buyer demand on the back of a string of new launches with high-end features.

About 7,100 EC units have been sold since ECs were re-introduced in 2010 with 10 of the 15 projects released either selling out or having fewer than 10 units left.

The big winners include Prive in Punggol, Belysa in Pasir Ris and Esparina Residences in Buangkok.

The other five projects, including Watercolours in Pasir Ris and 1 Canberra in Yishun, had about 780 units left at the end of last month.

But buyers keen on ECs need not worry about their range of choices being whittled down.

There are at least seven EC projects either being built or in the planning stages that have yet to be launched, including in Punggol, Pasir Ris and Woodlands.

Forestville in Woodlands, CityLife @ Tampines and The Topiary in Sengkang are expected to be pushed out before Christmas.

There are also ongoing tenders for two EC sites - in Sembawang and Punggol - on the government land sales programme, which will bring to nine the number of upcoming launches.

Experts say recent bids for EC sites continue to reflect optimism in the sector among developers and buyers.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said EC demand is still strong, especially for projects in mature estates like Tampines.

"They are still 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than mass market condos and cater to the aspirations of Singaporeans," he added.

OrangeTee managing director Steven Tan noted that the outlook for ECs remains positive as buyers believe their capital appreciation is more promising than other property segments. The lower price point and the fact that EC designs and facilities are fast catching up with private homes are also pull factors, he added.

Developers have pulled out all the stops in attracting Housing Board (HDB) upgraders and first-timers as they battle for buyers spoilt for choice by the flood of new home launches.

Penthouses and skysuites, for instance, have become increasingly common at EC projects. The upcoming launch CityLife @ Tampines, for instance, will offer a "presidential penthouse suite" of 4,349 sq ft as well as four and five-bedroom skysuites with a wrap-around open terrace.

Projects such as Heron Bay in Upper Serangoon View also feature tantalising extras that rival even private condos such as a jacuzzi or garden pond within a ground floor unit.

Overall prices, in turn, are also creeping up with more million-dollar condominiums being sold this year as demand for luxurious and larger-sized units grow.

More than 340 new EC units have been sold at over $1 million each since the relaunch of the housing category in late 2010, with half going in the first eight months of this year, noted consultancy Savills Singapore.

The average unit price of all new ECs sold also reached a historical high of $731 per sq ft in the third quarter this year.

ECs combine elements of private and public housing and often have premium furnishings and facilities. But they are subject to HDB rules that specify a monthly household income cap of $12,000.

They are also subject to a minimum occupation period of five years. They can then be sold only to Singaporeans and permanent residents. They become private property after 10 years and can then be sold to foreigners.

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