Buying Resale Condos in Singapore (2023): Are Fully-Privatised ECs Cheaper?

Cheryl Chiew
Buying Resale Condos in Singapore (2023): Are Fully-Privatised ECs Cheaper?
If you’re looking for a resale condo, you might be wondering if buying a five- or 10-year old executive condominium (EC) is any different from a ‘regular’ condo.
First introduced in 1999, ECs are first sold at a subsidised price to cater to the sandwich class of Singaporeans who want to live in a condo but do not earn enough to afford non-landed private properties yet.
After hitting its five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), ECs can be sold to Singaporeans Citizens and PRs. After 10 years, ECs become fully privatised in their 11th year. This basically means they drop their ‘EC’ title – they are no longer bound by HDB rules and you can sell the property to foreign buyers.
So comes the question: if you’re an HDB upgrader looking to purchase non-landed private property, which is better? Buying an EC in its 11th year or a resale condo in the same area?

EC Prices after Five Vs 10 Years

The list of completed ECs in Singapore is extensive. To answer the question of whether freshly fully privatised ECs are worth it, we’ll focus on five ECs which have recently crossed the 10-year mark.
Executive Condo in SingaporeProject TOP date
La Casa* at Woodlands Drive 1625/4/2008 (13 years old)
The Quintet at Choa Chu Kang Street 623/10/2006 (14 years old)
The Esparis at Pasir Ris Drive 422/6/2005 (16 years)
Whitewater* at Pasir Ris Street 721/3/2005 (16 years)
Park Green at Rivervale Link30/9/2004 (17 years)
* Whitewater and La Casa were completed in two phases, which means there are some blocks that received their Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) at a later date. In this article, we are using the prices of those with the later TOP date.
La Casa:
  • Phase 1 consists of Blocks 50, 52, 54, 56, and 58 which received their TOP on 22 February 2008
  • Phase 2 consists of Blocks 60, 62, 64, 66, and 68 which received their TOP on 25 April 2008
  • Phase 1 consists of Blocks 27, 29, 31, and 33, which received their TOP on 31 January 2005
  • Phase 2 consists of Blocks 21, 23, and 25 which received their TOP on 1 March 2005
Then we compared the median per square foot (PSF) transaction prices for resale condos in the same district. For a detailed breakdown in PSF price comparisons, scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Comparison of EC Vs Condo PSF Prices

Here’s the detailed breakdown of PSF prices for the selected ECs versus condos in the same district. The data is accurate as of 20 October 2021.

District 18: The Esparis and Whitewater

Browse all The Esparis and Whitewater units for sale on PropertyGuru.

District 19: Park Green

Browse all Park Green units for sale on PropertyGuru.

District 23: The Quintet

Browse all The Quintet units for sale on PropertyGuru.

District 25: La Casa

Browse all La Casa units for sale on PropertyGuru.
Without further ado, here are our key insights:

1. ECs Are Always Less Expensive Than Condos

ECs have condo facilities such as gyms and pools and obtain fully privatised status from their 11th year. In all respects, ECs function as a condominium after it has become privatised.
We know ECs are launched at a lower price than condos. But do prices eventually catch up? Turns out, the PSF prices of ECs are always cheaper than that of resale condos in their respective districts.
Notably, after ECs become fully privatised, their PSF prices largely hold stable, while private condo PSF prices continue to grow.

2. EC PSF Prices Remain Stable after the 10th Year

Though the five ECs come from different districts, their PSF trends are mostly similar, save for La Casa.
All the ECs see an increase in their PSF prices after they’ve fulfilled their five-year MOP, before prices typically peak when the property is eight years into their lease. PSF prices then dip and settle slightly above the PSF price at their five-year mark, remaining stable from the 11th year onwards, experiencing slow and little growth.
District 25’s La Casa is an anomaly in this regard. Its prices dipped from its fifth to 11th year (2013 to 2018), before showing some growth after it became fully privatised.
A possible explanation is that DBSS projects were introduced in 2005 and land sales for ECs were paused. La Casa was the last EC to receive a TOP between 2008 to 2013. Buyers may have been uncertain about ECs as an investment and those who could afford ECs may have gone for DBSS projects instead.
Regardless, if you are an EC owner looking to sell, data suggest the best time to do so is before your property becomes fully privatised.

3. Fully Privatised ECs See Significantly Less Price Appreciation Than Resale Condos

Like we mentioned in the previous point, EC PSF prices stabilise after the 10th year. For all the resale condos we compared the selected ECs to, we observed that the condo PSF prices continued to appreciate in time. From the 11th year onwards, the PSF difference between ECs and condos in their respective districts can differ by about 37% to 50%. That’s a lot!
So for those planning to buy an investment property, it seems that buying a resale condo from the get-go is the better choice, that is if you’re solely looking at PSF prices. However, if you are looking to purchase a property for own-stay, there are other factors to consider aside from PSF prices.
Enduring WFH arrangements have changed the way we shop for homes. As we continue to battle the Omicron variant in 2022, a permanent return to the office might occur later rather than sooner. So looking for a place to live means having to consider factors that raise your quality of life such as living close to nature and shopping malls, or having a bigger space for a more productive work-from-home experience.
ECs are designed for owner-occupation. Typically, the units built are large and have 2- to 4-bedrooms. In contrast, developers tend to build a fair share of 1-bedroom and/or studio units in private condominiums.
These smaller shoebox units are favoured by younger buyers and investors, as they tend to be more affordable. That’s also a contributing reason why condo units built have become smaller over the years. And it’s noteworthy to mention that smaller units like studio apartments within a project tend to sell at higher PSF prices.
Having more of such units being constructed and snapped up may have contributed to this price growth.

What Can We Learn From Resale EC vs Condo Pricing Patterns?

If you’re an HDB upgrader who wants to own a non-landed private property at a good price, buying an EC is the best option after it has become fully privatised. This is when prices have more or less stabilised.
But if you’re looking to buy an investment property with the intent of selling it in the future, ECs may not be the best bet. You’re better off buying a resale condo as they tend to see more capital appreciation in terms of absolute PSF prices. If you already have an EC and want to sell it, prices usually go peak in the 8th year.
Ready to buy? You can start by browsing condos and resale ECs for sale on PropertyGuru.
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More FAQs About Executive Condos in Singapore

ECs are bound by HDB rules and have to fulfil a 5-year MOP. Only after the 10th year is an EC privatised.

For new ECs, it can be worth buying because it’s your shot at buying private property at a fraction of the cost while getting subsidies.

Depending on the size and location of your EC, costs can start from $600,000 for a two-bedroom unit.

Only after their 10th year are ECs considered fully privatised.