Step-by-Step Guide to Buying an Executive Condo (EC) Unit in Singapore

Step By Step Guide Buying EC

If you want to live in a swanky apartment with a swimming pool but aren’t willing to pay ridiculous private property prices, then the executive condominium (EC) might be for you.

ECs are a cross between public and private housing — they have all the frills and facilities of a private condominium, but are sold through HDB (so you’re subject to their restrictions, sorry singles!) and are eligible for CPF housing grants.

But best of all, 10 years from the date of the TOP, ECs become private property, meaning you can sell them to foreigners and singles.

Sounds good? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to buy your very own EC.

Step By Step Guide Buying EC

First things first — check the HDB EC eligibility schemes & rules

Before doing anything, you must first check your eligibility to buy an EC. To buy an EC, you will unfortunately have to play by HDB’s rules, which means qualifying under any one of these schemes:

Public scheme

One citizen and at least one other citizen or PR applying as a family nucleus, meaning spouse and kids (if any), parents and siblings (if any), or children under your legal custody (only for widowed/divorced applicants)

Fiancé/fiancée scheme

Fiancé and fiancée, and prepared to register your marriage before taking possession of your EC if applying for additional or special CPF housing grants, or within 3 months of taking possession of the flat.

Joint singles scheme

A group of 2-4 single citizens, all aged over 35.

Orphans scheme

Orphan and siblings who are single (unmarried, divorced or widowed), and have at least 1 deceased parent who was a Singapore citizen or PR.

On top of that, there are restrictions on property ownership and household income.

Property ownership rules

You must not own any property overseas or locally. If you do, you’ll have to dispose of it within 30 months of applying for an EC.

EC income ceiling

For ECs, there’s an income ceiling of $16,000 per household, no matter what scheme you’re applying under.

Step-by-step guide to applying for an EC in Singapore

Checked all the boxes? Good. These are the next steps.

Stage  What to do  Payments needed
EC sales launch Research key information online  None
Application  Submit application online or via walk-in (depends on development)  Depends on developer
Application outcome  Find out if your application has been successful or not  None 
Book the flat  Book your unit, sign the OTP and submit CPF housing grant application form (if applicable)  5% option fee 
Sale and Purchase Agreement  Sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement, submit Letter of Offer (for bank loans)  15% of purchase price + 1 to 3% legal and stamp fees, to be paid via CPF or cash within 9 weeks  
Building in progress  Wait for EC to be built  None
Key collection  Receive invitation to collect keys  Depends on developer

1) Visit the showroom and apply for an EC, or apply online

How you apply to buy an EC depends on the developer. Many developers now require you to first submit an e-application before you can be invited to visit the showroom.

2) Bring your required documents

When you do visit the showroom, make sure you bring along your IC, proof of marital status as well as birth certificates if you’re applying with parents and siblings, and proof of income—this usually means 12 months’ worth of payslips or, for self-employed people, your Notice of Assessment from IRAS and ACRA registration.

Always check with the developer ahead of time what documents you need to bring along, as requirements may differ from developer to developer.

At the showroom, you can apply for a flat. The developer will select the buyers via ballot, and much like in the BTO process, the lucky ones will be notified based on their queue numbers to select a flat.

3) Book your unit

So you’ve been selected to purchase an EC. Congrats! The developer will tell you when you can book your unit.

4) Get the Option to Purchase and pay booking fee

When you head down to select your unit, you’ll be required to secure an Option to Purchase (OTP) so that the developer can’t sell your unit to anyone else before it expires.

You’ll have to pay 5% of the purchase price in order to get your hands on that OTP. This 5% payment has to be made in cash.

Then you wait for HDB to approve the purchase, which usually takes 4 to 5 weeks.

Note — to finance an EC, you must get a bank loan.

It’s a good idea to start researching your loan options the minute you’ve secured the OTP.

EC buyers aren’t eligible for HDB loans, so your only option is to apply for a bank loan. The main difference is that you’ll need to fork out a bigger downpayment (at least 25% in cash/CPF), so be prepared for that.

Consult MoneySmart’s mortgage specialists for the best housing loans in Singapore so you know what to apply for.

Do note that EC buyers’ Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) cannot exceed 30% of their incomes. That means you cannot be paying more than 30% of your combined income in home loan repayments.

And of course, you are also held to the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) rules stating that your total loan liabilities (including car loans, credit card debt and so on) cannot exceed 60% of your income.

5) Exercise the Sales and Purchase Agreement and pay balance of downpayment and stamp duty

When HDB has approved your purchase, the Sales and Purchase Agreement (S&P) will be sent to you.

You now have 3 weeks to exercise the option by signing and returning the S&P. You also have to pay the 15% balance of the downpayment and buyer’s stamp duty, either on the day you exercise the option, or within 9 weeks from the date of the OTP, whichever is later. This 15% has can be paid using cash and/or CPF.

Before you die of shock at the balance of downpayment amount, which should be 15% of the purchase price, know that you should be able to use your HDB Housing Grants, if any, to pay for it.

By the time you get to this step, you should have already appointed a lawyer to handle the matter for you. The lawyer will make sure you don’t miss the deadline for exercising the S&P.

6) Wait for your EC to be built 

Once the S&P has been exercised, sit back and wait while your EC is being built.

If you’re on the Normal Progressive Payment Scheme, you’ll have to start repaying your home loans before picking up the keys. You’ll be notified when your home loan repayments must commence. Use our progressive payment calculator to see how much you should be paying.

Those on the Deferred Payment Scheme will only have to start repaying their home loan after picking up their keys.

7) Collect your keys

You should already have been informed by the developer of the estimated date for the release of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP).

When that day finally arrives, you’ll get to pick up your keys, move into your new home and start furnishing or renovating it.

Do you have any other questions on buying ECs? Leave them in the comments below!