Build-To-Order HDB Flats or Executive Condominiums?

BTOs (Build-To-Order) are a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat allocation system that offers flexibility in timing and location for owners intending to buy a new flat. Eligible buyers planning to apply for a new HDB apartment in the near future can ballot for one in their preferred location from specific sites.

ECs (Executive Condominiums) on the other hand are flats catering to a group of people who can afford more than a BTO but may not have the funds sufficient to purchase a typical condominium.

However, like regular condominiums, ECs are designed and developed by private developers. For property-seekers, in particular first-time property buyers, choosing between a BTO and an EC may be a difficult one. This is especially so when considering the many pros and cons between a BTO and an EC.

Therefore, to help make your decision making easier, we’ve provided a comprehensive comparison of BTOs and ECs on important aspects such as the pricing, facilities available and location in the table below:

Build-To-Order (BTO) Executive Condominium EC)
1. Financial concerns HDB sells BTOs at a subsidized price. Moreover, potential buyers need not face the pressure of providing cash up front. Buyers can apply for a 90% loan and use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) for their first down-payment. Furthermore, potential buyers can apply for a HDB loan which is capped at 2.6% interest rate for 20 or 30 years. In considering one’s financial concerns, ECs may serve as con for three main reasons. Firstly, cash payment is the required payment mode which would be stressful for financially-tight buyers. Secondly, potential buyers can only apply for private bank loans which could add on to the financial pressure. Lastly, buyers would also have to consider the monthly maintenance fees of owning an EC.
2. Launches and waiting time A wide variety of launches are available in different areas to choose from at least every two months. However, the downside is the long wait for the completion of construction. Thus, BTOs may not be suitable for buyers who are looking for a property urgently. In addition, the chances of getting a good queue is very slim for BTOs which further compounds the problem. Like BTOs, a long wait for the completion of ECs is also a factor to be considered.
3. Facilities BTOs have a very limited variety of facilities available. Many ECs provide a variety of facilities that enhances one’s standard of living. These facilities could include swimming pools, gyms, gardens, barbeque pits, security, etc.
4. Location BTOs are usually located in areas that are close to workplaces, schools and places of leisure which makes it convenient to commute to and fro from. Contrary to the benefits of BTOs being located in more accessible areas, ECs are usually located in new town areas that have recently begun development. This would include Woodlands, Sembawang and Punggol.
5. Others An additional benefit of affording a BTO is that a brand new place and a brand new lease are offered to buyers. However, upon acquiring a BTO, you must meet the minimum occupancy period (MOP) before you can sell or rent. You can only rent after three years provided the application to buy the flat was received by HDB before 30th Aug 2010, otherwise it will be five years. If you wish to sell, this too will require the MOP of five years unless otherwise stated by HDB. Two additional benefits of affording an EC include the higher capital appreciation compared to BTOs and the privatization of ECs after 10 years. This simply means that the EC will now be treated as private property and will no longer acquiesce to HDB regulations. However, only on the 11th year can you start selling the EC to foreigners.