EC demand tipped to stay buoyant

JUL 29, 2017

Wong Siew Ying

Executive condominiums (ECs), a hybrid of public and private housing, have also been swept up in the resurgent property market.

Demand for ECs was brisk in the second quarter as developers shifted 954 new units even though no fresh project went on sale.

And that was before Hundred Palms Residences in Hougang sold all 531 units in just seven hours on July 22 - meaning bumper third- quarter figures are also likely.

In the second quarter, home buyers picked up the units from previous launches, running down the unsold uncompleted EC stock to the lowest level in more than four years at 2,742 units, as at June 30.

Figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday showed that a total of 2,026 new ECs were sold in the first half of the year, a hefty increase of 8.5 per cent over the 1,867 moved a year earlier.

Analysts told The Straits Times that EC buying interest will remain buoyant amid tight supply of such units, more affordable prices and improving market sentiment.

Ms Tricia Song, research head at Colliers International Singapore, said: "ECs tend to be priced 20 to 30 per cent lower than a comparable private condo and, hence, would be the more economical option for the middle-income young families."

However, demand for ECs is not uniform across the board. " Looking at the sales of various projects, it seems demand for ECs in the northern region is not as strong as compared to other regions," said OrangeTee head of research and consultancy Wong Xian Yang.

The other EC project launched this year - the 497-unit iNz Residence in Choa Chu Kang, which launched for sale in March - still had 233 unsold units at the end of June.

"The success of Hundred Palms is not solely due to the lack of upcoming supply of ECs, but it is also attributed to its location, which is within a mature HDB estate and there is a lack of competition of ECs," noted Dr Lee Nai Jia, head of research at Edmund Tie and Company.

New EC supply is set to be limited with only one site offered under the government land sales programme for this half of the year, in Sumang Walk - yielding up to 815 units.

Another factor that could support EC demand is the little changed resale prices of HDB flats, which will restrict the amount upgraders can pay for their next home, said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ZACD Group.

"With HDB resale prices staying flat and prices of new condos possibly inching up, I don't think HDB upgraders will pocket enough to pay $1.5 million or more for a condo... they may look at ECs, which are more affordable," added Mr Mak.