The Straits Times
Friday, Oct 26, 2012
An increasing number of executive condominium (EC) units are being sold with million-dollar price tags, as this segment of the market grows in popularity.
More than 340 new EC units have been sold at over $1million each since the relaunch of the housing category in late 2010, with half going in the first eight months of this year, Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong noted.
Moreover, close to 100 units with $1 million-plus price tags were sold in the second quarter of this year alone.
The million-dollar buys include two sky suites at The Rainforest in Choa Chu Kang - one at 2,476 sq ft for $1.58 million; the other, 2,433 sq ft for $1.56 million.
Meanwhile, a 2,713 sq ft penthouse at One Canberra in Yishun was sold for $1.61million in August, a record for a new EC unit. But the highest per sq ft price was $941 for a 958 sq ft unit at Arc at Tampines.
The average price for all new EC units was $822,000 in the second quarter this year.
Experts say the trend could be due to a growing pool of young and affluent buyers snagging bigger and more luxurious penthouses or sky suites, which are large units with open terraces. Some could also be buying dual-key units, which come with an attached studio apartment, so they can rent it out.
Rock-bottom interest rates, rising incomes and many EC buyers emerging unscathed from the latest rounds of property curbs may also be fuelling the buying surge, Mr Cheong said.
"The growing number of resale Housing Board flats being sold at ever-increasing prices has also deepened the pockets of many HDB upgraders, who now have more to spend on their next home."
ECs combine elements of private and public housing, and often have premium furnishings and facilities. But they are subject to HDB rules that specify a monthly household income cap of $12,000 for buyers, raising the question of whether EC units are affordable for those who can afford HDB flats but find private homes out of reach.
However, ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim emphasised that million-dollar sales make up the minority of EC transactions. "To cater to a variety of needs, ECs now are building both big and smaller units," he noted. "The larger and more expensive units target upgraders, who typically have an existing property they can sell. Others might also get assistance from their parents."
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