Are you looking to buy a new apartment in Singapore? One of your choices might be an executive condominium(EC). The EC are apartments built by the Housing Development Board (HDB) in Singapore, but they are not considered fully public housing. On the contrary, ECs have all the facilities similar to a mass-market private condominium. For instance, the newest EC in Singapore, Tenet EC Tampines, has a swimming pool and barbecue pits.
This public-private housing hybrid is suitable for first-time Singaporean homeowners who might not qualify for new or resale HBD flat grants due to the income ceiling of $9,000 and $14,000 respectively. On the other hand, private condominiums might not be within their budget. If you fall into this category, here are the top 5 questions that people usually ask about ECs:
Can I take up any housing grants for EC?
For first-time home buyers purchasing new ECs as a family, you can take two types of CPF Housing Grants from developers.
The first is the Family Grant. The Family Grant provides a grant amount of up to $30,000 with the actual amount differing based on the total monthly household income of all applicants including occupiers.
The second is a half-housing grant, which is offered to couples where one person is a second-time applicant. The Half-Housing grant means any grant amounts given are halved. So if you previously qualified for a $30,000 grant as first-time applicants with a household income of $10,000 and below, you will now get $15,000. However, whether you take up the Family Grant or Half-housing grant, you will need to meet all eligibility criteria at the point of booking the EC apartment. That leads us to our next question…
Who are eligible for EC housing grants?
To buy a new EC with CPF Housing grants, you first need to be a Singapore Citizen. Only couples who form family nuclei are eligible to buy a new EC and take up CPF housing grants.
That means you need to either apply under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme if you are engaged or as a married couple with children. You can check your eligibility on HDB portal here. In addition, first-time applicants will also get a higher grant amount. You will be considered a first-timer applicant if you have not received any housing subsidy from HDB previously.
Foreigners are not eligible to buy new ECs, but if your spouse is Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR), you can apply for the housing grant under the Singaporean’s name. The grant will be fully disbursed to the Singaporean applicant. If the SPR applies for citizenship, later on, there is a $10,000 subsidy top-up. Singles also cannot buy a new EC.
There is also an income ceiling of $16,000 for those who wish to buy new ECs and take up CPF housing grants.
You cannot take a CPF Housing Grant to purchase resale ECs because these apartments are now sold on the open market as private housing. That means, even single Singapore Citizens and SPRs above 21 are eligible to purchase an EC. Singles applying under the Joint Singles Scheme (i.e you are buying a flat with other singles) must be 35 and above.
Additionally, after the 11th year, there are no restrictions for purchase. Foreigners and even companies are able to buy resale ECs.
Can you take an HDB loan for EC?
The short answer is: No. You cannot take an HDB loan, so you will need to look for a bank loan to finance your EC.
While CPF housing grants may ease the financial burden slightly, take note that, unlike an HDB flat where the down payment can go as low as 10%, the down payment is 25% for an EC.
Additionally, 5% of the downpayment is paid in cash as the option fee or booking fee. For example, if the down payment is $50,000, then you’ll need to pay $2,500 at the point of application.
Beyond the buy price, you need to pay legal fees (approx $2,000) and valuation fees of about $200 for a new EC. There is also the Buyer Stamp Duty, which is 3% of the purchase price or 4% if the purchase price is above $1 million. Check this website for more EC financing information.
Can we use CPF to pay for EC?
Yes, you can use your CPF savings to pay for the rest of the downpayment (20%) and to finance your bank loan. However, there is a limit on the amount that you can use. It is usually up to 120% of the Valuation Limit (VL)* of your house with a bank loan, but it depends on your age and property type. You can check how much CPF savings you can use in the handy CPF property purchase calculator.
Also, you’ll need to return the CPF monies used with the interest rate, when you sell the house. So cash or CPF?
Well if you’re strapped for cash, you might want to use your CPF. But if your finances are healthy, cash might be better as you can accumulate CPF monies for retirement. If you’re unsure, seek the advice of a trusted financial advisor before you decide.
You can also use your CPF savings to pay for other miscellaneous fees, such as stamp duty and legal fees.
Apart from EC, what are the housing grants available in Singapore?
While ECs are a great choice for those who do not meet the income ceiling for new BTO flats, know that there are other options such as resale HDB flats. You might be able to take up other housing grants if you meet the eligibility criteria. Find out more about housing grants on our blog here. Here’s a quick summary of EC housing grants:
|New ECs||Resale ECs|
|Only a Singapore citizen, and Permanent Resident forming a family nucleus can apply.||After the 11th year, no criteria. Singles and foreigners are eligible.|
|Grants avail||Family grant
Half housing grant
|Min income ceiling||$16,000||
Whether you purchase an EC or other types of housing, you must also consider ways to protect your family against unexpected debt if something happens to you. Taking up Term Insurance is one way to protect your finances in the event of death, total permanent disability (TPD), and critical illnesses. This prevents the loan from becoming a debt if one party meets a death or TPD situation.
Contact us below to find the most competitive and best coverage on term insurance for mortgages.