The Right Time? ~ House Hunting Part I

Recently, my wife and I had began our long awaited house hunting. It is an exciting “task” for me of course since this is something that I had been longing for. πŸ™‚ Of course, the key question that we kept asking each other is – “Is this the right time?” Even up till now, I am not confident of the housing market in Singapore and whether there will ever be a correction of the sky high prices. With US refusing to give a clear direction on their Quantitative Easing program, we would never know when the Fed is going to stop printing money and whether inflation around the world due to this action is going to ease. After much deliberation and analysis, we felt that our self-set timeline of waiting for 1 more year would pretty much be fruitless as we are targeting 3 main groups of housing. 1) Freehold Resale Private 3 Bedroom Condominium; 2) 99 Year Leasehold Brand New 4-Bedroom Executive Condominium (EC); 3) 99 Year Leasehold Executive Maisonette (EM) from HDB. In terms of investment value wise a Freehold is the best investment in Singapore due to its limited supply and technically, it value does not depreciate that much with age (Singapore banks rarely approve any loans for properties with less than 60 years of lease left and you will not be allowed to use your CPF for payment of properties with less than 30 years of lease left). For old 99-year Leaseholds, this is a big risk. A HDB EM can be considered the worst of the 3 options in terms of investment quality mainly due to its age. There are however, some HDB EMs that are relatively young at under 20 years old. Size wise, its the reverse with HDB EMs standing tall above the rest of the pack. The ECs are always lying in the middle. So, as you can see, we are pretty inconclusive with what we want. 😦

To kick the ball running, let’s go into the most attractive home in my opinion (but potentially the worst investment among the 3 due to its age risk), the EM. The EM had all along being my ideal home, given its generous space and the fact that I will be staying with my parents when we move. The duplex EM would give us the much required privacy that we all need. I had crawled through the net for all the nice layouts available and thought that it would be interesting to share the floor plans that I had found. If only these EMs are asking for a more reasonable Cash-over-Valuation, I would have grabbed them now. Thanks to the Government recently announcing that they will not build any more EMs, the prices had shot up due to pure supply and demand. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of the buyers had not thought about the potential loss they could make from buying such an old unit. Take a look at 80 year old Leasehold landed properties in the Bedok area and you will know the risks of loosing money in properties. A large Semi-Detach House with 3,000 square feet of land, but with just 21 year lease left can be had for as low as under SGD$870,000. I can’t imagine the price of a “Limited Edition” EM when it grows that old. Nevertheless, there are still younger EM options for me. So, my EM dream is still not dashed. πŸ™‚ Let’s have a look at the floor plans of EMs in Singapore and some interesting and rare EMs that are priced at or near SGD$1 mil.

Generation 1 EMs

A typical 1st Generation EM has the biggest space at 149 to 150Sqm. However, due to poor use of space, it actually looked the smallest.

Gen 1 Ground Floor EMA ground floor Gen 1 EM offers a larger Courtyard as your private garden.

Generation 2 EMs

Gen 2 EM Type I CornerTypical 2nd Generation EM that is slightly smaller at 145 to 146Sqm. However, the user of space is the best and it will give you the best space utilisation.

Gen 2 EM Type IIThis is a second type of 2nd Generation EM which has a different orientation. This layout is better as it give privacy to the Study Room at the lower floor even for the corridor units.

Generation 3 EMs

Bukit Batok Gen 3 EM

A typical 3rd Generation EM has modern features such as a Bomb Shelter and a Service Yard for your washings. However, it is also the smallest, ranging from 140 to 142Sqm.

Generation 4 EMs

Gen 3 EM<UPDATED> Gen 4 EMs, as my reader Wei Choong had brought up, are similar to Gen 3 EMs, with the addition of a bomb shelter. They are found mainly in Admiralty and Woodlands where the newer EMs are built.

Unique/Odd-Shaped EMs

There is this other class of EMs that sits above others with their unusually large space and unique layouts. I do not have most of them, but here are some interesting ones I managed to find from the web.

Gen3 Bukit Panjang EM with Glass BalconyGen3 Bukit Panjang EM with Glass Balcony 2

<UPDATED> Wei Choong had also sent me another unique EM Floor Plan from Bukit Panjang which comes with a Glass Balcony (first picture above). This unique EM appears to be a Gen 3 EM and had it’s balcony facing a different direction then the typical Gen 3 EM. The second picture is a more traditional Gen 3 layout. However, due to it’s unique glass balcony, I had placed both of them in this section of unique EMs.

Bukit Batok EM 1 Bukit Batok EM 2

This 165 Sqm Bukit Batok EM has a large void between the 2 levels, giving a good sense of space. Although the unit has an odd shape, the bedrooms are still fine.

Bishan EMThis Bishan EM has an unique shape and layout with 2 bedrooms on each level (Picture from emrenoblog).

Bishan EM Sky TerraceBut the most coveted Bishan EMs had to be this, with a large open terrace.

<UPDATED> Recently the complete floor plan had been uploaded to the popular Renotalk Forums. This is the much famed Bishan Sky Terrace EMs which managed to fetch a “hot” SGD$1.05mil in December 2013. It is big, unique and situated in an excellent location. However, given its age and the current market, I’m afraid it is in the region of overpricing, IMHO. (Picture from Renotalk)

Pasir Ris Penthouse 1 Pasir Ris Penthouse 2This Pasir Ris Penthouse had an even larger Open Terrace. At 189 Sqm, I would take this over the Bishan Open Terrace EM anytime! πŸ™‚ (Picture from emrenoblog)

Tampines DBSS Premium EMThis is one of the youngest EMs that you can find in Singapore. It is also one of the first DBSS units rolled out and is located in Tampines. It got 5 bedrooms and full glass windows! I am fortunate enough to chance upon such a unit when I visited a friend’s house to discover that this unique EM exists. Unfortunately, before you know it, it will be snapped up.

Sunset Way Gen 1 Corner EMSunset Way Gen 1 Ground Floor EMSunset Way has all the funny shaped EMs. πŸ™‚

Hougang Split Level EMHougang has the unique split-level EM. Although it was described as an EM, it looked more like a 5A Maisonette to me.

5A Maisonettes

Besides Executive Maisonettes, there are actually smaller units known as 5A Maisonettes. They are basically under 140 Sqm and does not have a room at Level 1.

5A Maisonette 5A Maisonette-2

Modern 5 Room Loft Units

Although HDB had stopped building EMs, the 5A Maisonettes does have a successor, although in limited numbers in the form of penthouses in new flats. They are known as 5 Room Loft Units with 147 to 149 Sqm in size (inclusive of void space). Here are 2 floor plans that I can find. They are not as spacious as the EMs, but offers more lifestyle than practical floor space, reflective of the demands of younger couples.

Punggol Sapphire 5 Room Loft

Punggol Sapphire Loft UnitPunggol Treelodge 5 Room Loft

Punggol Treelodge Loft Unit.

Ok, I know BTOs are hard to get and these limited loft units are no longer available anyway. Nevertheless, good things are always good to share and it’s an “Eye Candy” for home lovers. My likelihood of getting a resale EM is still there. That is, if I had decided not to go for an EC. Let’s see the ballot number that I will be getting on 25th July for the new Punggol EC Ecopolitan. If the number is good, I may get my choice 4 Bedroom unit. But who know, I may still fall back and go for my dream EM. πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “The Right Time? ~ House Hunting Part I

  1. where can i get the info of what type of EM is located at which area? i’m looking for a 2nd gen unit… how about those near bukit gombak mrt, what type are those?

  2. Hello there, wonderful write up about all the different EM available? Sorry for my enthusiasm, I am dying to ask where is the Tampines EM located? It’s the one you mention in your article.

    1. Hi Ilyas,

      Tampines have several EMs, from Gen 1 to Gen 3 EMs. Gen 1 EMs are located at blocks 400+ and 100+. Gen 2 EMs are located at blocks 300+, 800+ and 900+. Gen 3 EMs are located just opposite Temasek Polytechnic (blocks 800+). The one I had shown in my block is at block 497, 498. They are Design, Build and Sell flats by private developers. They are only available in Tampines and have full glass windows. They command a premium as well given their rarity. A friend of mine stayed there. I had been to his home before and it looks really nice. Hope this helps. πŸ™‚


  3. A very interesting and informative read. Do you think it is a good idea to buy a 1gen EM with current cooling measures in place?

    1. Actually, a Gen 1 EM would be too old in my opinion. Disregarding the cooling measures, there are bank loan and CPF usage rules that will make buying an old HDB flat a really bad idea. The reason why you would’t see EM prices dropping much now, is due to the fact that EMs are the last of the lot and the government will not be building new EMs.

      Gen 1 EM layouts also do not utilise space as well as Gen 2 layouts. Hence, i would avoid Gen 1 EMs unless their locations are fantastic and have a good chance of SERS. πŸ™‚

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