• Timothy

BTO or EC: What’s The Difference?

Updated: Feb 27

Buying a house will probably be the first and yet the largest financial commitment a young couple in Singapore will make in their lives together. It is a huge decision which may potentially even make or break their marriage.

For most couples, the Build-to-Order (BTO) route would be the one to take. For others, buying an Executive Condominium would be the option to go for. Lastly, if both options are not feasible, then either a Sale of Balance, Resale, or Private Condominium might be on the cards.

Most recently, my fiancee and I tried to ballot for both a BTO and an EC, but epically failed as we didn’t get any/good ballot numbers on both attempts.

This series of blog posts will try to walk you through the processes we went through, so that you can roughly know what to expect.

What’s the Difference? Build-To-Order Flats

The Build-To-Order flats are your typical HDB, very much subsidized by the government to ensure that most Singaporeans, regardless of social status, would be able to afford to own a home*. They operate on a 99-year lease, which means the couple would be legally allowed to reside in their home for 99 years. What happens after 99-years? If the estate for whatever reasons do not get en-bloc, then it returns to the government with a nil-value (meaning the couple does NOT get a single cent back).

Most couples would aim for a 4-room (969 sqft) or 5-room (1130 sqft) flat. In BTO lingo, a 4-room flat comes with 3 bedrooms, and a 5-roomer would come with 4 bedrooms.

Projects are launched every quarterly, with hundreds to thousands of new flat being made available via a balloting procedure. Application is made via the HDB website.

*there is a long-running side conversation as to whether we are actually home-owners, or lease-owners, but that’s a separate conversation altogether. If you’re interested in finding out more, read here and here.

Executive Condominiums

This is also a subsidized form of housing. You can kinda think of it as subsidized private condominium. The couple purchasing this would enjoy the usual amenities found in a condominium, like a swimming pool, barbecue pit, gymnasium, media room, etc. Some of the newer projects even have fancy stuff like lazy pools and a teppanyaki pit!

They come in different shapes and flavours, with 3-roomers coming in sizes of between 884 sqft to about 1200 sqft. Note that in EC lingo, a 3-room apartment means that it comes with 3 bedrooms (a.k.a. the equivalent of a 4-room HDB flat).

These are thus of course much more expensive than the BTO flats. The average per square foot (psf) price tend to hover around 770 – 850 sqft, depending on the location.

As ECs are ‘lesser’ than a proper private condominium, their location tend to not be as ideal. Of course, we would typically find private condominiums located near MRT stations, or central town areas. ECs projects would usually pop-up in non-mature estates like Seng Kang, Punggol, etc.

EC projects will not in the foreseeable future be so common, with only 1 EC project slated to launch in 2018. Applications are made at the showflat, assisted by a property agent that is tagged to you when you visit the showflat. Bookings are made via a balloting procedure.

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