ECSG No Comments

Anchorvale Lane EC site up for tender

HDB has released executive condo (EC) site at Anchorvale Lane for sale by public tender. It is the only EC site on the confirmed list for the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme this year.

The 226,199 sq ft plot can potentially yield about 635 residential units and has a 99-year lease period.

The site beside Punggol Reservoir is very likely to be the only EC land parcel offered for sale in 2016, according to Nicholas Mak, executive director and head of research and consultancy at SLP International. “In view of the existing steady supply of EC projects to be launched in the coming months, and the absence of any attractively located EC sites on the current reserved list, it is unlikely that any developer would trigger a reserved-list EC site for tender this year.”

Mak expects this site to attract about 5 to 8 bids with the estimated top bid ranging from $183.2 million to $196.8 million ($270 to $290 psf ppr).

The tender exercise ends at 12pm on August 23.

Source: HDB


ECSG No Comments

Applications for Treasure Crest EC to open 1 July

Property developer Sim Lian Group will launch its 504-unit Treasure Crest executive condominium (EC) project at Anchorvale Crescent for e-applications this Friday (1 July), with unit prices ranging between $735 psf and $755 psf on average.

This comes a week after e-applications opened for Northwave EC in Woodlands at a slightly higher average price of $760 psf.

Treasure Crest comprises 84 three-bedroom units, 364 three-bedroom premium units and 56 four-bedroom units, spread across eight 15-storey residential blocks. Unit sizes range from 958 sq ft to 1,345 sq ft.

The 99-year leasehold project is being marketed by ERA and OrangeTee. It is within close proximity to the Sengkang MRT station and bus interchange.

Other nearby amenities include Compass One, Oasis Terraces, Waterway Point, The Seletar Mall and Anchorvale Community Club. Established schools such as Nan Chiau Primary School, Nan Chiau High School and CHIJ St. Joseph’s Convent are also within the vicinity.

The project is expected to receive its TOP by 2019.

Sim Lian’s Group Executive Director Kuik Sing Beng expects the project to “appeal to new home buyers and upgraders alike”.

In 2015, the qualifying income ceiling for ECs was raised to $14,000. In addition, first-time buyers are eligible for CPF Housing Grants of up to $30,000.

PropertyGuru understands that prospective buyers will have a choice of a normal payment scheme or a deferred payment scheme.

E-applications will close on 10 July, while bookings start on 16 July.


ECSG No Comments

Sim Lian Group launches new executive condominium at Anchorvale Crescent

MAINBOARD-LISTED Sim Lian Group on Tuesday announced the launch of its executive condominium (EC) project, Treasure Crest, with units priced at S$735 to S$755 per square foot on average.

E-applications for the 99-year leasehold development will open on July 1 and close on July 10, while balloting and booking will take place on July 16.

Treasure Crest is a 504-unit EC located in Sengkang that is conveniently located near transportation nodes, lifestyle amenities and several schools.

The development is a short walk away from Sengkang MRT station and bus interchange.

Lifestyle amenities located close to Treasure Crest include Compass One, Anchorvale Community Club and Sengkang Polyclinic.

The EC is also within one km of popular schools such as Nan Chiau Primary School, Nan Chiau High School and CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent.

The three- and four-bedroom units at Treasure Crest will range in size from 958 sq ft to 1,345 sq ft, and the project is expected to receive its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) by 2019.

Prospective buyers may visit Treasure Crest’s sales gallery at Anchorvale Crescent, between 10am and 7pm daily, during the e-application period.

OrangeTee and ERA Realty are the marketing agencies for Treasure Crest.


ECSG No Comments

Buying an Executive Condominium a no-brainer for those who qualify

Executive Condominiums (ECs) have been among the best-selling projects this year. Six of the 10 top selling projects in April were ECs.

Wandervale, the top seller in March, saw about 50 per cent of its units sold during its launch weekend. Launched developments are also seeing a pick-up in buyer activity. The Terrace was the best seller in February and has been seeing a constant stream of buyers, with nearly 80 units sold in March and April. A total of 51 units were sold at The Vales in April, while Bellewaters, an EC launched in 2014, is now close to 90 per cent sold. Projects approaching completion, such as Ecopolitan, Forestville and Sea Horizon have also managed to find buyers for almost all their units.

A hybrid between public and private housing, ECs cater to the needs of the “sandwich” class — those whose household incomes exceed the ceiling for public housing but are not quite yet able to afford a private property. As such, ECs come with a set of eligibility criteria to ensure affordability for this select group.

As with public housing, EC applicants must either form a family nucleus or join up with other singles if they are at least 35 years old. They must also not exceed the household income ceiling of S$14,000. Only Singaporean couples and Singaporean/permanent resident couples can buy an EC unit. Also, buyers have to fulfil a mandatory five-year minimum occupation period (MOP) before they are can rent out or sell the EC unit.

Despite these restrictions, ECs come with a full suite of condominium facilities and are generally comparable to private developments in design.



ECs appeal to two main groups of buyers. The first group is made up of first-timers who are looking to get married in their early 30s. At this age, some couples would have a combined monthly income of about S$10,000 and some savings. This group also tends to be more financially savvy and are aware that at their level of income, they have a choice between applying for a Build-to-Order Housing and Development Board flat and buying an EC.

Those who choose to buy an EC are doing so for the lifestyle. Essentially, an EC is a subsidised private condominium. First-timers are eligible for a Central Provident Fund family grant of up to S$30,000. They are also exempt from paying the resale levy, which could be as much as S$50,000. All in all, first-timers stand to “gain” as much as S$80,000.

We observe that income levels of first-timers are clustered around the S$10,000 threshold, which indicates that most of the first-timers are buying ECs to maximise the grant amount. In some EC projects, first-timers account for the majority of the buyers.

The other source of demand of ECs comes from upgraders, or second-timers. This group mainly consists of families with children and they are looking to make the transition to private housing. In upgrading, they choose between an EC and a private development.

Here, ECs hold an advantage. ECs are physically indistinguishable from private developments and come with condominium facilities. In today’s competitive market, some ECs are also coming up with innovative ways to differentiate themselves. For instance, The Visionaire at Canberra offers 28 free lifestyle classes to residents. In addition, it is also the first EC to incorporate smart home technology.

Yet, ECs hold a clear pricing edge over condominiums. Despite being essentially the same housing product offering the same quality of living, ECs are typically sold at a discount of about 20 per cent to comparable private condominiums. The only difference is the five-year MOP and resale restrictions from the fifth to the 10th year.



As the adage goes: Location, location, location. This is, without a doubt, one of the most important considerations when buying a property. Also factored in are any future plans by the Government as these usually have an effect on property values.

An upcoming residential hotspot is the Northern Region, comprising Sembawang, Woodlands and Yishun. The Urban Redevelopment Authority, in its 2014 Master Plan, outlined plans for the development of the Northern Region, spearheaded by Woodlands Regional Centre. Currently in its gestation stage, Woodlands is envisioned to grow into Singapore’s third regional centre, after Tampines and the Jurong Lake District. It will become a major employment hub and this is expected to have spillover effects on housing demand in the neighbouring towns of Yishun and Sembawang.

In addition, various infrastructure improvements have been introduced to improve connectivity. The North-South Corridor and the Thomson-East Coast Line are two major projects that will reduce travelling time to and from the north for commuters and drivers. This will further increase the attractiveness of housing estates in the north.

The North-East Region is also a popular destination for EC buyers. In May, the best-selling ECs were all located in Punggol and Sengkang. Anchored by the Punggol Creative Cluster and Learning, Punggol is set to be transformed into a space for innovative new industries, creating many employment opportunities in the process. Seletar Aerospace Park is another important development in the North-East Region. Currently home to multinational companies such as Rolls Royce and Airbus Helicopters, it is envisioned to create up to 10,000 jobs when completed.

Another area to take note of is Jurong. In Budget 2016, the Jurong Innovation District was unveiled. Scheduled to be completed by 2022, it aims to bring together students, researchers, innovators and businesses to create the industrial park of the future. The employment generated is expected to boost housing demand in the vicinity.

In conclusion, ECs provide a very viable option for buyers to consider, either as their first home or an upgrading option. However, not just anyone can buy an EC. The purchase of an EC is only for those who meet the stringent eligibility criteria. This select group of people should capitalise on this opportunity to own an EC and with it, a whole new lifestyle.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Eugene Lim is Key Executive Officer and Seah Yao Hui is Research Analyst at ERA Realty Network.


ECSG No Comments

HDB reminds EC developers against dangling pre-sale carrots

The authorities have weighed in on the issue of e-applications for executive condominiums (ECs), saying that developers of ECs are not allowed to offer incentives to buyers who have not booked units.

Developers are also required to engage independent auditors to audit their sale processes to ensure they fulfil their obligations.

A spokeswoman for the Housing & Development Board (HDB) said: “The Ministry of National Development (MND) and the HDB take a serious view of any malpractice by developers. Any feedback on malpractice by EC developers or their marketing agents is fully investigated. The authorities will not hesitate to take action against errant parties.”

HDB added that while EC developers may decide on the mode of sale and engage marketing agents to handle the process, they must comply with the Conditions of Tender and the Building Agreement to conduct the sale of EC units fairly and transparently.

These comments to The Business Times follow the newspaper’s recent study of EC projects launched since 2014, which had showed poor sales in many EC projects – contrary to the strong e-application numbers that developers claimed to have received.

During their launch weekend, half the 14 EC projects fell short of a 20 per cent conversion rate – that is, the number of e-applicants who went on to buy a unit. This 20 per cent was at the lower end of what most industry players deem reasonable in today’s market.

Nine projects were over-subscribed for their available units; three others were almost fully subscribed during the e-application stage.

Some industry players warn of a potential supply overhang of ECs in the short-term, particularly for projects launched back to back in the same area; such projects end up vying for the same pool of eligible buyers and may have overlaps in e-applicants.

But market talk has been rife about e-application numbers being bumped up to create an impression of high demand; some developers were said to have offered agents supermarket or cash vouchers to incentivise e-applications. There have also been unverified tales of e-applications from earlier EC projects being used for subsequent ones, and agents signing up friends or relatives as e-applicants.

As expressions of interest without cost or obligation, e-applications do not require buyers to submit documents showing their eligibility. But developers have wasted little time trumpeting strong e-application numbers to the press ahead of booking day.

ECs are public-private hybrids with initial-buyer eligibility and resale restrictions, which are fully lifted a decade after the completion of the project. The government awards EC land parcels through public tenders to private developers, who undertake the development and sale of the ECs to eligible buyers.

The HDB spokeswoman said that under the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme (Eligibility) Regulations, an “applicant” refers to any person who has applied to buy an EC, including e-applicants.

“For e-applications, there are built-in checks in the system to ensure that applicants meet the eligibility criteria,” she said. “While developers are in charge of managing and processing the applications, the HDB also counter-checks the income and supporting documents subsequently submitted by the buyers to verify that they meet the eligibility criteria.”

Applicants may not go on to book a unit for a variety of reasons. For instance, the units they want may not be available by the time their turn is due, or checks reveal that they have fallen short of the eligibility criteria.

At the pre-launch briefings typically held for developers of upcoming EC projects, the HDB has lately reminded developers to ensure that the e-applicants are eligible for this class of housing and have genuine buying interest.

Two EC projects are slated to begin their e-application this month or the next, namely Hao Yuan’s Northwave in Woodlands and Sim Lian’s Treasure Crest in Anchorvale Crescent.

A spokesman for Hao Yuan told BT that the 358-unit Northwave will conduct its e-applications “in a manner that complies with the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme Act”, and that it will require e-applicants to submit their personal documents so that their identities, relationship and income level can be assessed for eligibility.

“The e-application will culminate in a balloting exercise, overseen and witnessed by external auditors on-site, which will determine the order these successful applicants get to select their units for purchase.

“We will not be providing potential buyers with gift incentives for e-applications, although we might extend discounts and/or freebies to eligible e-applicants when they eventually decide to buy a unit.”

Sim Lian group executive director Kuik Sing Beng said the group has not incentivised marketing agents for e-applications in the past.

“That’s why our conversion rates have been high,” he added.

Its Wandervale EC project in Choa Chu Kang hit a 33 per cent conversion rate on e-applications; the take-up rate on available units during its March launch weekend was 49 per cent.

E-application for the 504-unit Treasure Crest is to start in early July.

But some industry players observed the lack of clear boundaries for pre-sales marketing of EC projects.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: “It would be useful for HDB to set up clear guidelines for developers so that they can follow them in the spirit of fair play and transparency.”

At the end of the day, it is the conversion rates that matter, he added.

But Century 21 Singapore chief executive Ku Swee Yong said that fairness and transparency in the conduct of EC sales can be compromised if genuine investors feel pressured by media releases of high subscription rates and the crowds in the showflats.

“I think that e-applications should all be vetted, and only qualified buyers being allowed to get balloting numbers. If we make sure that all e-applicants are qualified buyers, the conversion rates will be much higher.”

Earlier this month, the Controller of Housing issued a circular to licensed housing developers, reminding them to comply with the rules when offering any incentive scheme to buyers of private residential properties.

Developers were reminded, among other things, not to offer any incentive to buyers before the exercise of the option to purchase, if such incentives circumvent the requirement for buyers to pay the minimum booking fee.

This came on the heels of creative incentives by developers to move units. Among them was the “specimen cheque scheme” introduced by the joint developers of GEM Residences, which offered potential buyers cheques of S$7,500 or S$10,000.

These potential buyers, who used these cheques for their expressions of interest, were told that the cheques would be used to offset the booking fees on balloting day. But the developers were later directed by the Controller of Housing not to proceed with the use of these 2,500 cheques because the scheme goes against the requirement of a minimum 5 per cent booking fee when buying a home.


This article was first published on Jun 22, 2016 by The Business Times

ECSG No Comments

Northwave EC to launch at $760 psf on average

Northwave, Hao Yuan Investment’s newest executive condominium (EC) at Woodlands Avenue 12, will open for e-applications this Saturday, 25 June.

Located near the upcoming Woodlands Regional Centre, the 358-unit project comprises two- to five-bedroom units and penthouses. Apartment sizes range from 678 sq ft for a two-bedder to 1,722 sq ft for the largest penthouse unit.

A source told PropertyGuru that the project’s average price is $760 psf.

Northwave is close to Sembawang MRT station, the future Thomson-East Coast MRT line and the North-South Corridor.

Other nearby amenities include Republic Polytechnic, Causeway Point Shopping Centre, and the upcoming Woodlands General Hospital, which is set to become Singapore’s largest general hospital.

“Northwave is a thoughtfully conceived project which reflects the millennial Woodlands, characterised by the rapid transformation of Woodlands Regional Centre into a vibrant live-work-play business hub,” said Tan Zhiyong, Managing Director of MCC Land, the project manager of Northwave.

The 99-year leasehold project is expected to obtain its TOP in February 2019.

The sales gallery is located at Woodlands View. E-applications for Northwave EC will close on 7 July, while bookings start on 9 July.


ECSG No Comments

5 best-selling projects in May 2016

New private home sales, excluding executive condominiums (ECs), rose by 41 percent month-on-month in May to a ten-month high of 1,056 units, helped by the launches of Gem Residences and Stars of Kovan, as well as broad-based pickup, revealed a Credit Suisse report citing data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Year-on-year, developer sales surged by 64 percent from the 638 units sold in May 2015.

However, sales of new ECs plunged by 39 percent month-on-month to 332 units in May, due to the lack of new EC launches, said Credit Suisse.

The report stated that the launch of Sim Lian’s Treasure Crest EC may be delayed after sales at Parc Life EC in Sembawang were muted, with only 71 of the 628 units sold to date.

Meanwhile, the five top-selling projects last month were Gem Residences, Stars of Kovan, The Poiz Residences, Bellewaters EC and The Vales EC.


Bellewaters Executive Condominium

Bellewaters Executive Condominium

ECSG No Comments

BTO vs EC vs Resale – Which is the better money maker?

A lot of Singaporeans think of their house as a retirement plan. Come the age of 65, when we walk out of the office for the last time, we’ll need some sort of income. If the plan is to look at the house, then it’s logical to ponder which type is the real money maker. Not everyone can get a condo, so…should you look at BTO, ECs, or resale for the most profit?

BTO vs EC vs Resale...Which is the best option if you were to choose?

BTOs vs ECs vs resale…Which is the best option if you were to choose?

A caveat: location trumps all

For the purposes of argument, assume that the following pertains to units in the same general location. Otherwise, location is a more significant determinant of flat values, when compared to the type of flat in question.

  1. BTO flats

The main advantage of Built-to-Order (BTO) flats is that initial prices are the lowest. Singaporeans tend to over-estimate the cost of BTO flats, perhaps because of an old (and no longer relevant) practice of HDB to peg new flats prices to resale prices.

With new and old flats being “de-linked” in 2011, the prices of BTOs are much more affordable. In 2015, for example, eight in 10 BTO flats (four-room units) were sold for under $350,000. In non-mature estates, such as Punggol, four-room flats could be had for as little as $295,000.

The most famous examples of BTO appreciation are in Punggol and Sengkang. Between 2003 to 2005, these estates were (and still are) non-mature. They had fewer amenities than estates like Bedok or Queenstown, which had already seen a build-up of malls, parks, eateries, etc. over the years. In order to compensate for this, BTO prices were low.

In Punggol between 2003 to 2005, the price range of BTO flats was between $138,000 to $178,000. As of 2015, the resale price range is between $373,000 to $575,000. This is a 223 percent increase in around a decade!

During the same period in Sengkang, BTO flats ranged between $129,000 to $202,000. As of last year, resale prices were around $356,000 to $615,000. This is an increase of about 204 percent.

Note, however, that supply is also a factor. It is unlikely that similar profit margins will be seen in Punggol and Sengkang in the coming years; this is because more new flats have now been launched there, and once these BTO flats go on the resale market (after a Minimum Occupancy Period of at least five years), the rising supply will put downward pressure on the prices.

Ultimately, BTOs derive such high profit margins because you are buying at a discount. Apart from the usual housing subsidies, you are being compensated for putting up with initial inconveniences – you have to wait two to three years for the flat to be built, and you will probably have a flat in an underdeveloped estate. The pay off will only come much later, when the amenities in the estate are built up.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 4.31.13 PM

  1. Resale flats

To be blunt, buying a resale flat is probably going to net you the lowest profit when you sell it again. This is because resale flats are primarily bought for reasons beyond profitability.

As an example, consider the famous “million dollar” resale flats, such as a Maisonette at Bishan that was sold for $1.01 million on April 2015, or a Queenstown flat that sold for a comparable price in September 2012. It goes without saying that the buyers of these units don’t expect to make huge profits – given that they have already paid large sums for their resale units, it’s unlikely that the value will appreciate beyond the sums they’ve paid in even 10 or 15 years.

But let’s come down to more typical resale flats. Prior to 2014, you could see the premium you were paying on the flat, before you bought it. This was the Cash Over Valuation (COV), which was paid in cash, on top of the actual value. Under new regulations the COV is hidden – you negotiate the price and get the Option to Purchase first, then a valuation is conducted (and you find out if you paid more or less than is necessary). In addition, information regarding COV is no longer published by HDB.

However, this does not mean the COV has vanished. The seller of a resale flat (with the current exception of the present, see below) is almost certainly going to want a premium. After all, if you bought the flat as a BTO, wouldn’t you want to sell for a profit after five to 10 years?

The reason buyers tolerate the higher price is that the flat is already built. There’s no wait time, and it is one way to immediately get a flat in a mature area. Also, some buyers – such as families with only Permanent Residents and no Singapore citizens – can only buy resale flats.

Note that, at present, it’s possible to get a resale flat with no COV, or even under valuation. This is because of the current property downturn, which has created a buyer’s market. You can view some of these properties on

Expect higher initial prices, of around $400,000 to $500,000 for a four-room flat, and over $600,000 for five-room flats. Rental yields tend to be around 7 percent. Potential resale profits depend on when you sell (right now it could even be zero or a loss), but will probably never rival BTO flats on account of the higher initial cost.

  1. Executive Condominiums

The price gap between Executive Condominiums (ECs) and private condominiums narrow significantly after privatisation. As of 2015, it’s been noted that the price difference between ECs and private condos is around nine per cent after the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), and just five percent after privatisation.

In short, given enough time to reach privatisation, the returns from an EC come close to that of a private condo, with about a difference of five percent. And condo prices are, hands down, the ones that seem to appreciate the fastest.

Let’s go back to Sengkang, the favoured example of those who treat BTOs as an investment. Yes, it’s impressive that the prices here appreciated by around 204 percent, but it took around a decade to do so. Condos in the Sengkang area, however, appreciated from $874 per square foot to $1,094 per square footbetween 2011 and 2014 alone. That’s over a 25 percent increase. If we compare HDB flats in Sengkang at the time, they rose in price from $418,000 to $420,000 – or less than one percent.

Or consider condos in developed areas – within the same period of 2011 to 2014, condos in the Bedok area rose from around $900 per square foot to over $1,072 per square foot, an increase of around 19 percent. By contrast, flats in the area rose around 16 percent, from $450,000 to around  $530,000.

Rental yields from condos tend to be lower than flats however, at around just four percent.

While BTO flats may show impressive returns over 10 years, they are still not quite on par with condos. This suggests that, if you have an eye toward capital gains, condos are still your best bet. And an EC comes close to the performance of a private condo, given time – your main hurdle will be waiting for it to get privatised.

So in order of making money, our estimation is that ECs come first, followed by BTO flats, and resale units last.


ECSG No Comments

Dearth of EC launches in 2017

UPDATED: Despite the increase in land supply for new private homes in the confirmed list of the second half 2016 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme, no new sites were released for executive condominium (EC) development.

Credit Suisse said this is the first time since the start of 2008 that no EC site was released on the confirmed list, but it didn’t come as a surprise due to oversupply concerns in the market.

In fact, 13 EC projects already launched have only sold an average of about 50 percent of units, revealed a report from the financial services company.

Separately, OrangeTee noted that there are still 4,010 unsold EC units as of end-April 2016.

In a report, the property agency said, “Assuming that the Sumang Walk EC site (released for application under the reserve list of the second half 2015 GLS Programme) is not activated, and the 15 month waiting period for developers remains unchanged, the tapering of EC land supply could lead to a dearth of EC launches in 2017 and the first half of 2018.”

Two EC projects at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 and Yio Chu Kang Road are expected to launch next year, while only one project at Anchorvale Crescent is set to hit the market in 2018, said OrangeTee.

In a blog post, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the government considered several factors in determining the land quantum for the second half of the year.

“We are mindful that excessive supply in a weak market can exacerbate a decline in prices. At the same time, insufficient supply can result in a future shortage and an unwarranted spike in housing prices when demand picks up.

“We will continue to monitor the market closely, and find the right balance to ensure sustainable housing prices and a stable property market,” added Wong.

On Wednesday (8 June), the government launched four sites for sale under the confirmed list for the second half of 2016, and an additional 11 sites on the reserve list. This could yield up to 7,550 residential units, compared to the 7,420 units in the first half of the year.