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When is it better to Buy a New Launch Condo: at Launch Date or Closer to TOP?

Maelyn Lagman

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Most Singaporeans dream of owning a new launch condominium. It’s beautiful, a good investment, and may come with various forms of developer incentives when bought during or soon after its launch period. 

But it also means a longer waiting time before you can move in, as new launches usually take a few years to be built. 

To worry less about the timeline of it all, should you wait until the project is closer to being completed? 

Remember: once developers receive the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), you can move in to your condo immediately.

There are certainly pros and cons to both buying a new launch condo early (around or soon after its launch date), and buying it closer to TOP. 

Around/soon after launch dateClose to/after TOP
Pro: Enjoy developer discountsCon: Pay full price
Pro: Get your pick of choice unitsCon: Can only choose from available units
Pro: Lower monthly payments with the Progressive Payment Scheme (PPS)Con: Less flexible monthly payments; no PPS
Con: Showflat units may not be true to the actual unitPro: What you see is what you get for the actual unit
Con: Longer waiting time until move-inPro: Move in or rent out your unit straight away

Pros of buying a new launch condo around / soon after launch date

#1: Early bird discounts

You can enjoy some developer incentives if you buy a new launch condo early, such as early-bird discounts. This usually happens during a soft launch (or a VVIP launch), which takes place right before the actual launch date. 

VVIP launches are typically invite-only; developers will invite potential buyers with a certain level of prestige to buy a unit at this stage so they can bring more awareness to the new launch. 

Those who may be invited are usually celebrities, major property investors, previous clients and the developer’s friends and family.

For example, the family of City Developments’s chairman Kwek Leng Beng bought 2 units at Boulevard 88, where they got a 22% discount. 

Source: Ohmyhome, Straits Times

It comprised the 20% early-bird discount offered to all buyers (including members of the public) and an additional 2%, a preferential price cut offered to Kwek’s son, who is also a director at CDL.

But developer discounts vary for each project, and they’re not always guaranteed. 

Some developers may offer lower prices at later stages of the launch, when they have to clear their inventory. 

For example, 38 Jervois had a fire sale mid last year, with discounts ranging from 13% to 24% for the remaining 16 units. 

Source: Ohmyhome, Business Times

According to the Business Times, they were clearing out units so that they wouldn’t incur the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty. (This is because developers need to sell all their units in 5 years or they will be subject to a 30% stamp duty on the land price.)

Then there are instances when developers release units in phases, which means unit prices gradually increase. Units may be priced lower at the start, but developers may increase it little by little to test the market. After which, they can either drop or increase the prices even further in the later phases. 

#2: Get your pick of choice units

If you buy a new launch condo around or soon after it has launched, you get to choose from a wider pool of units. 

That means you have a higher chance of getting a unit with a better view and facing or one that’s on a higher floor. 

If you wait until closer to the completion date, there will likely be a more limited selection of units to choose from. And they may not be what you are looking for. 

#3: Lower monthly payments with the Progressive Payment Scheme

One thing you can definitely expect when buying a new launch condo is the lower monthly payments because of the Progressive Payment Scheme (PPS). This only applies to buildings under construction.

Under the PPS, the bank will disburse a percentage of the loan amount for each stage of the construction. They will usually send you a letter explaining that a construction milestone has been reached and that the necessary amount has been disbursed. 

For example, 10% will be disbursed once the foundation works have been completed. This means smaller payments in the beginning, which may be more manageable compared to resale units, where you need to make a 25% down payment and start your monthly repayments right away.

Cons of buying a new launch condo around / soon after launch date

#1: Longer waiting time until move-in

As construction often hasn’t begun, you will have to wait a few years for your unit to be built. This means you may need to rent another place while waiting or continue staying at your current place for the time being. 

And if you intend to sell your home so you can stay in your new launch condo, you’ll also have to time everything correctly in order to move out and move in at the right time. 

#2: Showflat units may not be true to the actual unit

Showflat units are designed to look as beautiful as possible to entice you to make a purchase. Most times, there are interior design treatments that are not included in the actual unit when it’s built. 

For example, certain furniture (and its arrangements) and art pieces may just be for display.

Developers may also take out walls to showcase the spaciousness of a unit, making it look bigger than it actually is. 

The good thing is that they are now required to indicate the ID treatments and modifications they make in the showflat unit, so you will see markings on walls and floors that show these changes. 

Do keep an eye out for those, but also ask your agent or the showflat tagger what’s only for display and what will be included in your unit so that there are no unmet expectations come move-in date. 

Advantages of buying a new launch condo closer to / after TOP 

#1: Move in or rent out your unit right away

The best thing about buying a TOP project is that you can move in immediately to your new condo, unlike early buyers who need to wait a few years for their unit to be built.

However, some facilities within the development may not be available yet as they may still be under construction. This is because the TOP basically allows you to take up residency before all other amenities have been completed. 

Additionally, you may also rent out your unit or a room in your unit right away, before moving in a few years later. This means you can benefit from the rental income and offset some of the costs when you purchased the condo.

#2: What you see is what you get

As the project is already completed (or close to it), you actually get to see the space you’re moving into compared to if you buy it early, where you can only refer to the floor plan or showflat unit.

So there’s no question on whether something is just showflat treatment or part of the actual unit.

Plus, you won’t have to worry about wear and tear as everything will be brand new. 

You will also be covered from paying for any damaged items during the defects liability period, which is usually up to 12 months after the TOP. This is the period of time where developers will fix any defects in your unit for free.

Cons of buying a new launch condo closer to / after TOP 

#1: Pay full price

However, you will have to pay the full price of the new launch condo if you buy it close to or after it’s received its TOP.

#2: Less flexible monthly payments 

As mentioned above, if you buy a resale unit, you will need to make a 25% down payment and start your monthly repayments right away.

#3: You can only choose from available units

Unlike early buyers who are able to select from a wider pool of units, you may only have a smaller selection of units to choose from if you buy it closer to the completion date. 

At this stage, it depends on whatever’s available on the market, which does not guarantee that you may find the unit that you’re looking for. Whether it’s by floor, facing or number of rooms.

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Frequently asked questions

What’s a new launch condo?

A new launch condo is a building under construction, or a development that has not been built yet. 

What is a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP)?

In Singapore, the Temporary Occupation Permit or TOP is a permit given to developers as long as key requirements are met. This allows homeowners to temporarily move in and occupy the condominium, apartment or building, even if other facilities are not yet completed.

What is Progressive Payment Scheme?

The Progressive Payment Scheme (PPS) applies to properties still under construction, also known as buildings under construction. It refers to paying by instalments, which are typically five to ten per cent, 

when the construction reaches particular milestones.

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