Monday, January 14, 2013

No more massive EC units with new cap on maximum size


The Straits Times
Monday, Jan 14, 2013

ENORMOUS executive condominium (EC) units are now a thing of the past, after new measures to curb their sizes were unveiled yesterday.

The maximum size of EC units - a hybrid of public and private housing attracting government subsidies - will be capped at 160 sq m, or 1,722 sq ft.

The size and prices of some EC units have been hot topics of late, after the sale of vast, swanky ECs.

One 4,349 sq ft penthouse unit, including a 1,600 sq ft roof terrace, at CityLife@Tampines went for $2.05 million last month.

Previously, developers of nonlanded private projects and ECs did not have to pay development charges for sky terraces as they were not treated as gross floor area (GFA).

With the new measures, taking effect from today, private enclosed spaces and private roof terraces will be counted as "bonus" GFA of a project and subject to development charges.

Also, developers of future EC sites from the Government Land Sales programme will be allowed to launch units for sale only 15 months from the date of award of the sites, or after the physical completion of the foundation works, whichever is earlier.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said this would help to moderate bids.

On larger EC units, he said: "This is a very recent trend. EC units' sizes and pricing have been quite moderate and very much in keeping with what the market thinks the target buyers can afford but when they start exceeding 200 sq m and start charging $2 million, one should ask how can a $12,000 income group family afford such a unit."

The sale of new dual-key EC units will also be restricted to multi-generational families only. The units have two separate entrances, allowing grandparents, for instance, to live separately.

However, some dual-key owners had been renting out space.

Developer Qingjian Realty, which recently won a bid for an EC site in Punggol Way/Punggol Walk, is dismayed at the rules.

Qingjian deputy general manager Li Jun told The Straits Times it had planned about 100 dual-key units in the upcoming project, but will now have to consider reducing the numbers.

"There will definitely be some impact on demand," he said.

R'ST director of research Ong Kah Seng said: "The most evident measures for ECs address the recent controversies surrounding supersized units."

Mr Don Poh, who missed out on a dual-key unit at CityLife and settled for a four-bedroom unit instead, does not expect much to change with the move.

The self-employed 25-year-old said: "Many people will still want to live with their families. The appeal that you can do so, and still retain your privacy, remains."


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