Singapore Property Cheat Sheet: BTO vs Resale vs EC
 
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Singapore Property Cheat Sheet: BTO vs Resale vs EC

Kenneth Lou
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Every Singaporean’s Dilemma: Should I Get A BTO, Resale Or An EC?

Planning to buy your first property but don’t know which?

Spongebob Thinking
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | giphy

Unsure of what the differences are between an HDB flat and an Executive Condominium (EC)?

Want to know the pros and cons of the various types of housing available?

Well, you’re in luck.

I’ll be sharing my experience when it comes to choosing which property to get.

So by the end of this article, you should have a better idea of where to start.


TL;DR: EC vs BTO vs Resale? Here Are The Factors I Considered

As with any other kiasu Singaporean, my fiancee and I went through the whole process of applying for BTOs back in 2016.

We chose projects which were in mature estates and…

Lo and behold.

We balloted on 6 occasions, including one Sale of Balance Flats (SBF), and got nothing.

Yes, the odds are real.

Here were our considerations when picking a place:

Factors to considerReasons
Location (most important)Near to MRT, not too far away from our family, accessibility to workplace
PriceAffordable repayment schedule
Potential resale valueAfter 5 years, will this property have appreciated in value
Condition of houseHow much effort and money needed to make it our dream home

Ultimately, we chose not to apply for an EC.

And in case you’re wondering which EC… it was Hundred Palms, the most over-subscribed EC in the history of Singapore’s property market.


A Simplified Guide For Property Newbies

Seedly Property Singapore EC vs Resale vs BTO

Note: the prices indicated here are correct as of 2016, back when I was figuring out which property type I should get.

1. BTO: Brand New HDB Flats

These are the most common type of HDB flats built and offered by the Singapore government.

Mainly built for first time home buyers, they are offered at the lowest entry price possible.

There are also plenty of grants given by the government to help you ensure that you can afford your first purchase.

This is also why there’s high demand and it is often tough to ballot for projects built in more popular or mature estates.

  • Non-mature sites (eg. Punggol, Choa Chu Kang): 3 room HDB BTO costs about $130,000
  • Mature sites (eg. Toa Payoh, Geylang): 3 room HDB BTO costs about $380,000

2. Resale: Older HDB Flats

After BTOs, Resale HDB flats are the next most common option.

However, this is on the secondary market, which also means the prices are set by demand and supply accordingly.

It’s a free market and you can use sites like 99.co and PropertyGuru to find your dream home.

  • Non-mature sites (eg. Punggol, Chua Chu Kang): 3 room HDB Resale costs about $350,000
  • Mature sites (eg. Toa Payoh, Geylang): 3 room HDB Resale costs about $450,000
ProsCons
Can come with some existing furnishingLimited appreciation potential (limited life)
Get to choose your locationsLimited subsidies available
Can move in immediately after purchasePotential re-design needed (e.g hacking, ID)

3. Executive Condominium (EC)

The least most common type would be ECs.

Typically, you’ll only find one to two launches in a year.

These became popular in the 1990s where there was a need for an upper semi-public housing option with full facilities.

These properties will also get privatised around 10 years after the completion date.

  • Non-mature sites (eg. Punggol, Sengkang): 3 room ~$750,000
  • Mature sites (eg. Toa Payoh, Geylang): 3 room ~$950,000
ProsCons
Fully furnished condition (with cupboards, toilets etc)Most expensive with many fees (legal, stamp duty)
Highest appreciation in short time 3 to 5 years (privatised in 10 years)High downpayment and unable to take HDB loan option
Full ammenties available (eg swimming pool, tennis courts, gym)Need to stay for minimum 5 years before renting or selling

So… Should I Get A BTO, Resale Or An EC?

To continue from the story above, we decided NOT to go ahead with the Hundred Palms EC.

And here are the reasons why:

Cost

As compared to HDB flats, regardless of whether it’s a BTO or a Resale, the cost was a huge barrier.

Plus we did not want to borrow from our parents in order to finance the purchase of it.

We did a calculation (for a 4-room EC) and realised that we had to wipe out our CPF Ordinary Accounts (OA) completely AND do a cash top up just to make the $192,000 downpayment:

EC No joke - Hundred Palms Seedly

Security

Besides it being a HUGE commitment financially, the monthly repayments were a huge problem too.

Given the state of the economy,  the fear of losing our jobs is also very real.

Plus it also means we have to stay in our current jobs for at least the next 10 years or more just to make the monthly repayments.

Meaning we cannot afford to take a sabbatical. Or decide to uproot ourselves and live overseas even if we wanted to.

Location

The EC was also not close to any MRT station.

So ideally, it would be best for couples or families with cars.

Our Decision?

We decided not to go for the EC and to focus our energies on finding an appropriate priced HDB option in a more ideal location instead.

It was better to have less financial stress to worry about and to have a more comfortable monthly payment and duration to deal with.

We concluded that it was better to have less financial stress to think about and have a more comfortable repayment amount and duration.

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About Kenneth Lou
Passionate about helping people make smarter financial decisions.
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