We Brought An EC. Here’s Why!

Side Note: We made the decision to buy the Executive Condo (EC) way before Covid hit, and before housing prices got crazy.

Buying your first home is a tough decision. The persistent sting in your mind of whether you have made the right selection, the multiple scenarios playing out in your mind of how your life would be in your new home, and the constant worrying of whether your potential neighbors are friendly.

Obviously, not forgetting the never-ending loop of calculating your finances to make sure you can afford it. You need to cater in the costs of renovations and furnishing post-purchase of the home, and they may run high if you intend to have grand renovations or good-quality furniture.

However, we think that it is important to get a home in Singapore to start a family and after pursuing the path to being homeowners for close to 3 years, we finally settled on getting an Executive Condo (EC) in Singapore to be our first home!

Usually, the de-facto choice amongst Singaporeans is to go for an HDB BTO as their first home, before considering upgrading to a Condo once their finances are more stable. However, we decided to take the road less traveled due to a number of reasons. Read on to know why!

We’re tired of waiting for the HDB God

As Singaporeans, we have the privilege to buy subsidized housing twice. This includes getting either HDB Build-To-Order / Sales of Balance Flats / Reoffer of Balance Flats (BTO / SOBF / ROF) or Executive Condos (ECs).

Our ideal path was to get an HDB BTO, mainly because of how affordable it was for 2 fresh graduates like us, and we like how it gives us time to save up money, plan for renovations, and make other important adult decisions, while we have the certainty that we have our home ready in x number of years.

However, after countless attempts at BTO and SOBF for 2.5 years, we simply gave up. We just could not get a queue number for any of our BTO selections. Before you go – “Oh, you are going for the popular mature estates” – no, we aren’t. We mainly opt for locations that are non-mature, and opt for the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) to live close to one side of the parents. Unfortunately, we simply could not get a queue number within 200% of the flat supply.

Given that we observed that HDB are getting more expensive with each passing BTO exercise, and similar projects launched after a year are priced at least 1% to 2 % higher, we decided that the HDB God is not gonna bless us with an HDB queue number after all.

We set on to look for alternatives. We realized that Executive Condo (EC) is a semi-subsidized housing that is a joint project between HDB and private property developers and they have a really efficient balloting system. Once a project is launched, you can simply submit your application, know your ballot results, and select your flat unit, all within a couple of weeks.

If you want to know how efficient the balloting system is, you can check out the sell-out rate from Hundred Palm Residences in 2017. Basically, Hundred Palm Residences sold out within a day. This means you can know whether you can get a unit within 1 day. Talk about efficiency.

Shorter time to wait

We love how ECs have a shorter waiting time to build and collect keys. On average, HDBs will take 3.5 years to 5 years to build. On the other hand, ECs take about 2.5 to 3 years to build. This means we do not have to wait so long before we get to collect our keys to our home.

After waiting for close to 3 years to get a queue number for HDB BTO but to no avail, we decided that we wasted enough time. If we continue trying for an HDB BTO, we are not guaranteed a queue number and we do not want to delay our family planning due to a lack of home. Getting an EC allows us to fast-track our homeownership journey and gives us an opportunity to get our home earlier.

Eligibility for grant

When we started our homeowner journey, we were eligible for grants. Unfortunately, as our applications kept getting rejected, our eligibility for grants dropped as our income increased the longer we worked.

While HDB is subsidized housing, we didn’t like the idea of our potential neighbors paying a lesser amount for their units than us. Think about it, if your neighbor had taken some form of HDB grant, they can potentially lower their home price when they put up their unit for sale as their buying price is lower than what you paid for. This may potentially undermine our bargaining power and may push down our home price should we decide to sell it a few years down the road.

On the other hand, EC has a higher income eligibility for grants, and we were still eligible to get some HDB grants to help us with the downpayment of the house. This is considered a pretty high selling point for us as compared to getting an HDB.

Owning a private property after 5 years

It has been our future plan to be able to upgrade to a condo after we are more financially stable (the Singapore dream). Since EC is a hybrid housing, it means that it will be semi-privatized after 5 years and fully privatized after 10 years. At the same time, they are marketed to be subsidized compared to the private condo offerings by private developers. The price of an EC is about 10% to 15% lower than a private condo.

Given that the price of an EC is lower than the private condo we intend to purchase a few years down the road, and we intend to stay in a condo as our permanent home in the future, it seems like a fast forward of our plans.

Lesser effort to renovate

EC comes with complete furnishing like a private condo. This includes tiles, shelves, kitchen, and toilet furnishings, and a whole lot of other furnishings that HDB does not have. We honestly do not like to waste time sourcing for different vendors, planning for our home renovations, liaising with different contractors, and the 1001 work to be done to make the home livable. As such, the idea of getting a ready-made home seems to work for us. We do not have to put as much effort into the home renovation.

While it is much harder to “make it your home” with an EC, it saves a lot of headaches for us. We can quickly move into our home after some basic renovations and furniture purchases. Again, this works for us as we do not like to deal with the hassle of renovations.

Facilities within distance (literally)

This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I love how many facilities there are in an EC – ranging from BBQ pits to swimming pools to tennis courts. Depending on the condo, some even have added facilities like a basketball court, function room, karaoke room, and more. Obviously, the more facilities there are, the higher the cost of the maintenance fee.

On the other hand, the monthly maintenance fee can get pretty high, though it is justifiable. If we break down the figures, a condo maintenance fee is technically comprised of the usual Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) fees that HDB charges, a parking fee for 1 car, and a minimal gym membership. In addition, you get the added security and the fact that all the facilities are literally right at your doorsteps and shared by a smaller group of people.


Everyone has different housing needs and different plans for their future. It is important that your housing decisions be planned carefully to ensure that you do not overstretch your finances. In Singapore, buying subsidized housing requires you to stay there for a minimum of 5 years. You should never rush into making rash housing decisions due to the HDB’s long building and waiting time. The consequences will follow you for the 5 years you are staying in the house.

If you would like to consider getting an EC like us, you should definitely check out our guide on how much an EC costs. If you decide to get an HDB BTO, you can also check out our guide on how much a BTO costs to guide you on your finances.

Last Updated: 15 Nov 2023

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