Buying your first property in Singapore is a big financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Many of us start going for property viewing sessions, without actually knowing how to assess a property. As a consequence, we sometimes make costly mistakes and buy a property that is problematic and overpriced.
How can you prevent this?
Well, the following article lists some key things to look out for when purchasing your first property in Singapore. Armed with this knowledge, you can make a more informed decision on your housing options and find a house that best suits your needs.
1. Type of House
When buying your first property in Singapore, you first have to decide on the type of property you want to live in. The three main types are the HDB flat, condominium unit and landed property.
HDB flats are part of Singapore’s public housing scheme and they carry leasehold tenures of 99 years. In this regard, the government has clarified that buyers of HDB flats are not merely renters. In fact, they enjoy ownership rights as the buyers can “sell their properties and benefit from any upside, or rent it out if they choose to.”
The condominium is a type of residential property where the owner owns a unit in the building structure. Condominiums also feature common areas which are jointly owned by the condominium unit owners.
For landed property, the owner of the property owns the entire land on which the property is situated on. Examples of such landed property include semi-detached, terraced houses and bungalows.
An important thing to consider when buying your first property in Singapore is its location.
Near to Work / Family
You should try to buy a property that is located near your workplace. This helps shorten your time spent commuting to work everyday.
In addition, if you are close to your family, then you should look for a property that is in close proximity to where your other family members are staying. This is especially if you wish to provide care and support to your parents in their old age. You may even be able to make use of the Proximity Housing Grant reduce the costs of your property purchase.
Close to Public Transportation
With the rising costs of transport, having a location close to public transportation facilities such as MRT stations and bus stops is a huge bonus. As the MRT network is getting increasingly extensive, public transport can be used to reach practically every destination in Singapore. It would be an oddity if there is no public transportation nearby. Therefore, you should be wary if the house you are considering is far away from the closest MRT or bus stop.
Read Also: 5 Best Tricks to Reduce Your MRT Fare in SG
One key thing to consider is whether there are facilities or amenities that come with the property you are buying. For instance, condominiums have common areas that are equipped with a wide variety of inbuilt amenities.
For a typical condominium, you can expect a gymnasium, swimming pool, tennis courts and BBQ pits. However, some condominiums have more comprehensive facilities such as bowling alleys, golf driving ranges and karaoke rooms.
Furthermore, you should evaluate the surroundings of the property you are purchasing. This is because with more facilities around the property, the greater the enjoyment and convenience you would have. In this respect, you can see whether the property is located near certain amenities that are useful for everyday life. This includes shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants, medical clinics, libraries and schools.
4. No. of Rooms
The number of rooms in a property is something you should also be mindful of when buying your first property in Singapore. More importantly, you should be looking at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
This is of greater importance where you have or are planning to have a large family. With big families, you would need more bedrooms and bathrooms for privacy and convenience. I mean, don’t you hate it when someone is hogging the toilet when you really need to use it?
For first-time property buyers in Singapore, inspecting the home for defects can be very challenging given the lack of experience. Nonetheless, there are some essential areas of a property that you can check for issues or defects. These areas cover the floor, walls, doors, ceiling and windows of the house.
For example, you can see whether there are any cracks in the wall, floor or ceiling. The presence of cracks suggests that the foundation of the wall or area is weak and may require repairs in the future. Moreover, you can examine the hinges of the doors. Sometimes, the doors have become slightly unhinged and do not sit properly within the frame. This bears consideration as it would be quite costly to replace the doors in the future.
6. Direction the Property is Facing
The direction which the property is facing affects the amount of heat it traps. This is because if your house faces a certain direction, it may capture a lot of sunlight throughout the day. This can make you feel like you are stuck in an oven on hot days. It can also add on to your costs if you have to continually turn up the air-conditioning to cool your house down.
So how can you prevent such a situation?
In general, you should look for properties that face the East. Although your property would capture sunlight in the morning when the sun rises, this heat will gradually dissipate throughout the day. It will be probably become much cooler in the afternoon or in the evenings when you get home.
When buying your first property in Singapore, you should also observe the amount of furnishings of the property. Does the property have any furniture or fittings like sofas, beds, cupboards or washing machines?
Unless the furnishings are very old and unusable, you could probably save some money by using the existing furnishings in the property.
You could also evaluate the current property facilities such as whether it has cable television, internet, air-conditioning and water heating installed. All this adds value to the property and saves you the time and money needed to fix up these facilities.
A salient consideration before buying your first property in Singapore is the property’s price. If you purchase a property that you will hardly be able to afford, you are likely going to experience high levels of stress in the future. You would constantly be fretting about whether you can satisfy the monthly mortgage payments for the property. Further, you may not have enough money leftover to cover the living expenses of you and your family.
9. Floor Level
The floor level is significant for several reasons.
If you are one who appreciates a good view, you would look out for properties located on higher floors. In addition, higher floors provide more privacy as people cannot easily look into your house. You would also be insulated from street noise and individuals walking along common passage ways on the ground floor.
However, if you have a family comprising elderly or young children, it may be safer for you to choose a property on a lower floor. You should consider properties of lower levels if you or your family members suffer from a fear of heights.
10. Noise and Air Pollution
A key thing to look for when buying your first property in Singapore is whether there will potentially be noise and air pollution from the surroundings.
To determine if there will be noise pollution, you can see if the property is located near busy roads or expressways. Properties located near MRT tracks are usually also significantly affected by noise. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to put a pillow over your head just to drown out the noises from the MRT at night.
If you want to be very sure, you can always visit the property at different times of the day to ensure that the noise levels around the property are consistently low.
As for air pollution, you may want to avoid properties with industrial parks nearby and those located near the main road with lots of traffic. These properties tend to experience significant levels of smog and pollution from traffic. This may affect your health and in severe cases, you may even develop respiratory conditions.
11. Age of Property
Condition of the Property
The age of the property depends on when the property was constructed. This will give you a sense of how the condition of the property and the facilities are. If the property is old and has not undergone much renovation since its construction, it is highly likely that you would have to spend money on repairs in the future. This is a natural result of wear and tear over the years. Therefore, you should factor this into consideration when making your purchase.
Tenure of the Property
You could also look at the tenure of the property. This applies to HDB flats, condominiums and some types of landed properties which are held on leasehold.
Ultimately, the remaining term of the property may be too short. In the event that you outlive the lease term of your property, you may be left without a place to stay. You may not always be lucky enough to benefit from HDB redevelopment programs or condominium en bloc sales. Hence, it is prudent for you to look for properties with longer tenures that are not too short.
12. Finding the Right Property
There are a myriad of property listing portals in Singapore such as PropertyGuru, 99.co and EdgeProp that allow you to find properties of your liking. You can even filter properties by price, floor area, number of bedrooms and so on. Using these portals, you may be able to better narrow down properties that fit your criteria and preferences.
If you find it difficult or too much of a hassle to source for your property, you could always engage a property agent to help you with the buying process. If you do decide to hire a property agent, you should first read how to select the ideal property agent to best meet your needs.