KINDERGARTEN principal Agnes Lee was quick off the mark yesterday to put her name down for an executive condominium that would have been an impossible dream just a few weeks ago.
She was one of the early birds at the Arc at Tampines showroom, the first exec condo project launched since income rules were changed last month.
She had been house-hunting in the private market but the new regulations have opened up new possibilities.
'Previously, my family and I didn't qualify because we earned more than $10,000,' said the 57-year-old.
'But we had our eye on this project for a while and we have been waiting for the changes to the income ceiling to take effect so we could get a three-bedroom multi-generation unit at this project.'
The Straits Times was told that more than 300 interested parties visited the showroom yesterday. Buyers have until next Monday to apply for a unit. Balloting and booking will begin on Sept 8.
Exec condos have condo-like facilities and are an upmarket hybrid of public and private housing. They are popular but the income ceiling restricted the pool of buyers. That rule was revised to cater to the high demand. Households with a total income of up to $12,000 can now buy a unit, up from $10,000 previously.
Under government rules, developers have to set aside at least 95 per cent of exec condo units for first-time home buyers in the initial month of a launch. Only up to 5 per cent can be sold to second-timers.
The Arc, developed by a consortium including Hoi Hup Realty, has 574 two, three and four-bedroom units and penthouses across nine 16-storey blocks.
It is understood that the average price is slightly above $700 per sq ft (psf), putting it at the higher end of the spectrum of exec condo projects.
Recently launched projects, like Blossom Residences and Belysa, range between $650 and $750 psf, said analysts.
These prices are lower than those of nearby mass market condos like Waterfront Gold, where homes were launched at prices just shy of $1,000 psf earlier this year. Homes at nearby condo Waterview were offered at an average price of $838 psf at last November's launch.
In comparison, a 1,216 sq ft five-room build-to-order (BTO) flat in Tampines - the most expensive type of BTO flat - was priced from about $300 psf in May.
Indicative prices at the Arc show that a 775 sq ft two-bedder costs $598,000, while a 958 sq ft three-bedder costs $678,300. A 2,282 sq ft four-bedder penthouse will set buyers back $1.3 million.
Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh pointed out that Century Square and Tampines Mall are nearby, and while the Arc is some distance from the heart of Tampines Town, it is near educational institutions like Temasek Polytechnic. The upcoming Tampines West and Bedok Reservoir MRT stations are nearby as well.
Analysts predict that more developers will target exec condo sites in the cooling market as more buyers opt for such units over mass market homes.