Should You Buy An EC Or BTO? [Case Study Inside]

[Case Study] Should You Buy An Executive Condo Or A BTO?


So you’ve bought the diamond ring, got on bended knee, and made her say yes.

Things are looking great!

Both of you eagerly and excitedly looking towards a beautiful future together.

Inevitably, the time has come to decide where your love nest should be.

And because it is your first time searching for a home… you naturally turn to friends and relatives for advice.

Now… I’m not one to generalize but I have a nagging suspicion that MOST of them will refer you to the ‘safer’ route… Do as most Singaporeans would… Get a BTO.


Despite their undoubtedly well-intentioned advice…

You might start asking yourself… “Is that truly the best way forward? Is it truly still… THE safer route?

Well my friend… There is a better alternative.

Get an Executive Condominium instead. (*If it’s within your means)

FREE Download: The Top 5 Executive Condominiums with the highest capital appreciation potential (minimum $250 psf in potential profits)

Ok I’ll admit.

Obviously, this isn’t an option every Singaporean can take.

So if you have done your sums and found it out of reach, please don’t feel left out. Other opportunities will come.

But if you have checked your sums and the numbers make sense, then you’d definitely want to read on…

Because in the next few paragraphs, I will be sharing with you (with proof) why owning an EC beats owning a BTO as a first property… IF you are concerned about reaping a huge profit in capital appreciation in the next 10 years.

So let’s get started!

A HDB Flat Was Never Meant For…


Yes. Your parents’ HDB flat might have doubled in value over the past ten years.

Your grandparents’ HDB flat might have quadrupled in value over the past few decades.

Well guess what?

So did the price of the same Kopi-O which used to cost 50 cents per cup.

In fact:

The brief period when Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) was the main focal point was just about the only feasible time where sellers could make a HUGE profit of their HDBs.

Cash-rich Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) willingly paid high premiums for HDB flats that they deemed were value for money.

And just look at the damage it did to the HDB resale market.

Young Singaporean couples were priced out of owning a home. Lots of discontent and unhappiness ensued.

Fast forward to today… that ship has long sailed.

SPRs will now have to wait a total of 3 years after gaining their PR status before they are eligible to purchase a HDB resale flat.

Coupled with the reduced 30% Mortgage Servicing Ratio and revamped home valuation process, HDB flats have successfully reverted to what they were originally intended to be – Public Housing.

BTO Prices Aren’t Anything To Shout About

It’s true.

With prices pegged to the resale market, prices aren’t as competitive as they used to be prior to the introduction of COV.

Just take a look at one of the recently launched BTOs – Clementi Crest.

Location wise, it has everything.

  • Malls
  • Cinemas
  • Supermarkets
  • Close proximity to Clementi MRT
  • Close proximity to Clementi Bus Interchange
  • Nearby to top schools i.e. Nan Hua Primary School, Pei Tong Primary School

Seems ideal right?

Well yes… if you are planning to own only one HDB for the rest of your life.

Here’s why:

Estimated prices of the 2nd floor units in Clementi Crest. Source: HDB

Estimated prices of the 2nd floor units in Clementi Crest. Source: HDB

A second floor 4 room flat in Clementi Crest would likely cost $478,000 onwards.

To put things into perspective, let’s compare it to a transacted unit just across Clementi Avenue 3 at the time the BTO was launched.

Transacted price of a 2nd floor unit in Blk 430 Clementi Ave 3. Source: SRX

Transacted price of a 2nd floor unit in Blk 430 Clementi Ave 3. Source: SRX

Location wise, there isn’t much to separate both properties. (Except the fact that residents in Blk 430 will have to cross one additional road to reach the various amenities.)

Price wise, the difference isn’t substantial either.

Purchasing the BTO gives you a discount of $22,000 off the price of the resale flat. (Shocking… I know.)

And if you add in the various CPF grants for the Resale Flat… It might even make more sense to buy the resale flat instead!

So my friends… Before you jump onto the BTO bandwagon, don’t do it without firstly checking your potential upside.

Alright. Let’s now move on to something more positive shall we?

ECs Are Heavily Discounted Condominiums (With A Catch)

If you have ever stepped into an Executive Condominium showflat, you’d immediately recognize that the finishings and materials used are comparable to that of a full fledged condo.

The only difference mind-boggling difference is the disparity in prices. And of course, the restrictions that come along with your EC purchase. (More on that later)

Now if you know me by now… No claim is made without a case study to back it up.

So recently, a new EC – Signature @ Yishun was launched.

And here are some of its recently transacted prices:

Transaction prices of recently launched Signature @ Yishun. Source: SRX

From the transactions, you can tell that the average psf of units sold there was $750.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Nearby this newly launched EC are two full fledged condominiums.

  • Skies Miltonia

Transaction prices of Skies Miltonia. Source: SRX

  • The Miltonia Residences

Transaction prices of The Miltonia Residences. Source: SRX

A closer inspection of the recent transaction prices reveal that buyers are paying an average of $1,000 psf for units in these condos.

That’s a whopping difference of $250 psf!

And just to illustrate what this $250 psf difference means…

Take a look at the worked calculations below.

Assuming you buy a 1,000 sq ft 3 bedroom unit in Signature @ Yishun.

“Value” of the unit – 1,000 sq ft x $1,000 psf = $1,000,000

Actual price you pay – 1000 sq ft x $750 psf = $750,000

Your immediate discount?


That’s the potential profit you could stand to realize even if property prices remained stagnant for the next 10 years!

And by the way…

I have not even factored in the $30,000 in CPF grants that First-Time buyers are eligible for…

Now at this point, I know exactly what you might be thinking in your head.

But an executive condominium is always inferior to a full fledged condo! How can you assume that its prices will be comparable to the surrounding condominium?

Well fret not… I’ve got that part covered for you too. 😉

While I can’t possibly tell you what will happen 10 years from now, I can definitely take you 15 years back in time and show you what happens to an EC after 10 years.

You ready?

A 15 Year Comparison – Parc Oasis vs Westmere Executive Condominium

Introducing our first contestant… Parc Oasis Condominium!

Total units – 950

Completed in – 1994

  • Next to Chinese Garden MRT
  • One train stop away from Jurong Gateway
  • Surrounded by 3 bus stops
  • Close by to both PIE & AYE
  • Near to Canadian International School
  • Near to 2 wet markets
  • Near to many other amenities
  • Some units even have a nice Lake View

All in all, an excellent location for a condo to be in.

And now… For our next contestant… Westmere Executive Condominium!

Total units – 280

Completed in – 1999

  • 10 minutes walk to Jurong East MRT
  • Close by to amenities at Jurong East Central, J Cube, etc.
  • Close by to both PIE & AYE
  • Near to supermarket in J Cube
  • Nearest bus stop is 5 minutes walk away

A rather decent location with a slight advantage of being marginally closer to the Jurong Gateway than Parc Oasis.

The reason why I chose to compare these two projects is because of their relatively similar location and age.

After 15 years since its completion, Westmere has obtained its “private” status and is now considered as a full fledged condo.

But what we really want to observe is… How does the market view such “condominiums”?

The answer might shock you.

Here is a chart showcasing the transaction prices of Parc Oasis and Westmere EC since 2002.

Price Comparison of Parc Oasis & Westmere EC since 2002. Source: URA

Judging from the price comparisons, it is obvious that once Westmere EC attained its private status in 2009, its prices have steadily leveled and became on par with its surrounding condominiums.

I’m not sure about you…

But that’s proof enough for me to believe that the only difference between an EC and a condominium is the 10 year transition period. (and of course the HEAVILY discounted prices)

Now It’s Your Turn

Are you now on the brink of submitting your application for the latest BTO?

Or are you now seriously considering getting an EC instead?

Let me know in the comments section below!

P.S. If you have friends who are in this exact situation, share this post with them if you think they would benefit from it!

In any case, I have compiled a curated list of ECs that I personally think are great buys (with at least a $250 psf potential profit.).

Inside this list will be a price comparison between the ECs and their surrounding condominiums so that you can cherry-pick the EC with the highest price disparity!

  • Swift justice says:

    Hi there. I would like to disagree with this article. I am even more disappointed knowing that you’re in the property market…

    • Marcus Sim says:

      Hi Swift justice =) Thanks for the comment, I’m sure every article out there is bound to have two sides to the coin. Perhaps for the sake of discussion, you might want to let us know why you disagree and more on your views?

  • A.S says:

    Disagreed. A subsidized Toyota will be sold at the same price as BMW after ten years when it is fully privatised?

    Will a foreigner or PR buy the EC at the same price as private condo, when EC ceiling height is 15~20% lower? when the wall of EC is built with drywall partition but not solid bricks? When EC uses homogenous tile for flooring instead marble?

    • Marcus Sim says:

      Hi A.S, thanks for sharing your thoughts =) However, I would like to mention that the selection of materials by developers have across the board “downgraded” over the years… and most suburban condos these days use homogeneous tiles as well.

      And with regards to the ceiling height, you might be right… most ECs standardise the height to about 2.8 metres. But then again… high ceilings in condos have only recently came into style and who’s to say ECs won’t follow suit due to customer demand? =)

  • K.L says:

    Hi Marcus,
    Nice comparison with clear-cut proof, well-done, u’ve done your homework 😉
    I’d like to bring up some points in which only those who own EC will understand (and glad) to purchase it.
    I’d like to highlight important matter between acquire, own, and living in a BTO, EC and Private Condo,
    however, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong yah.
    As most of the housing buildings built nowadays, there are some minor to major defects due to many reasons and conditions, “improper/insufficient” checks & controls during the construction, even during the warranty period, when the rectification works are done. Here it is…

    Unlike BTO flats that are relatively has “minimum defects”, as it is served “raw” (no shared facilities and fixtures) and almost everything are exposed and easy to spot, Condos (both EC & private) constructions are relatively more complicated and prone to some defects, mainly due to some designs.

    Now, the good thing about owning, staying or buying resale EC is that the people who stay inside, people who you meet everyday and strong bond between each other.
    Especially during the first ten years after TOP, when the developer+contractor are not fulfill what promised when they sell the units, or there are some defects on public area etc, EC residences are having stronger bonds each other, as they are most likely locals and owner-occupier, for example contacting the MA to pursue the Dev/Conts, or bring up that matters to the Town Council or CC. Not everybody like to involve to the group of common interests, but at least we know that our unit is the place that we will live in for at least 5-10 yrs ahead, so we fight for it, even when it is necessary to sue the Dev/Cont through legal.
    The same thing, when we have ideas to upgrade the looks and functions of the strata, it will be easier to be communicated and agreed.
    Therefore the common interests here are to have a comfort, high value building and to protect the whole building, and we are most likely we fight for it TOGETHER.

    Private Condos are owned by whoever can buy it, including for those who bought it for money generating assets (rent it out immediately to foreigners, or whoever wants to stay there and plan to sell it at least after around 5 yrs or so) … stamp duty.. stamp duty..
    Most likely they don’t know each other, some even don’t know the person next door.
    Got problems with Dev/Cont for your own unit or common facilities? Expect to fight & bleed out ALONE
    (sorry to put it on extreme..)
    Other units’ occupiers/owners, even the owner next door may not aware or even worse, they don’t care because it’s tenant not owner who stay there.. tenant will easily moved out to other place, anyway..
    So.. a nice looking, expensive, and exclusive Priv Condo may soon becomes “a rubbish”, if the relevant Dev/Cont is the heartless and cheater one, simply because less people care about it.
    Selling price in the future.. well.. you can imagine if so many “unsolved case”

    Having and stay in EC is more like staying in a BTO flat, with its warmth neighbourhood,
    enriched with plenty of facilities, “good looking” building, and security that give us even more peace of mind in Singapore already safe condition.

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