Govt keeping close eye on ECs

PHOTO: Govt keeping close eye on ECs

THE National Development Ministry (MND) has warned that it is closely watching developments in the executive condominium (EC) segment and will consider further measures if needed.

It was responding to The Straits Times' queries on whether sky-high prices for some EC units at recent launches are of concern.

The latest focal point in the EC debate is a huge 4,349 sq ft "presidential suite" at 514-unit CityLife @ Tampines, which will be the first EC unit to eclipse the $2 million mark. The penthouse unit, with a roof terrace of about 1,600 sq ft, is priced at about $2.05 million.

Lately, many ECs, a public-private housing hybrid, have come with million-dollar price tags. Some large, luxurious units come with fancy designs such as private pools, rivalling private homes.

"Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan has recently blogged about his concerns that the EC developers should observe the intent and spirit of the EC housing scheme when marketing their projects," a spokesman said.

Industry players have raised suggestions such as imposing a minimum number of units to be built on an EC site - or a maximum size for an EC apartment.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said more measures are needed if developers overstep the limit. "We get this feeling that ECs are now going to buyers who can well afford a private home... I think developers should always bear in mind the social responsibility involved when it comes to ECs," he added.

International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong said the authorities could consider caps on the price of an EC unit so they are "reasonably priced" for a household meeting the $12,000 monthly income ceiling for ECs.

"I think home buyers with a budget of more than $1.5 million should purchase private homes instead of depriving a genuine sandwich-class household of an EC unit," he noted.

Potential EC buyer Bernadette Chen, 34, who works in finance, wants a unit under $1.2 million. "The Government should make sure that ECs remain affordable for the middle-income."