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A homeowner’s guide to house hunting

13 Feb 2018

Tips & Advice

There are tons of guides out there which talk about the financial aspects of purchasing property, and debate the merits of getting a Built To Order versus a resale flat. For those of you who have more or less settled that part of house hunting and are now deciding on which specific unit to purchase, we’ve compiled this handy guide comprising of invaluable house hunting tips.

House hunting for a unit located near the MRT

If you want to stay near the MRT, you’ll have to pay a premium – simple as that. Is it really worth it, though? Just think about it – the government is aggressively working on rail transit projects, and by 2030, 8 in 10 households will live within 10 minutes of an MRT station. Taking this into consideration, if you can exercise a little patience, it might not make that much sense to fork out the extra tens of thousands of dollars today.

Having a unit on a high floor might not be better

There’s a lot of contradictory opinions when it comes to whether staying on a high floor or low floor is better. There are those who say that living on a low floor means that you’ll have to clean your home more often, because you’re closer to the ground, where the dirt accumulates. Then there are those who say that living on a higher level will guarantee a dusty home, because the windiness brings along more dust.

When it comes to noise levels, there’s no consensus on whether high or low floors have it better, either. When you’re staying on a low floor, you’re more susceptible to noise from the void deck and surrounding area; when you’re staying on a high floor, you’ll be plagued by traffic noise from nearby roads (and highways, if any).

Our take on this? There are more important factors to take into consideration when house hunting – whether it’s on a high floor or low floor shouldn’t be a complete dealbreaker.

Be on the lookout for signs of loanshark activity while house hunting

Purchasing a resale flat? It’s unlikely that you’re that suay (read: unfortunate) to have picked a unit that’s getting harassed by loan sharks, but we’d recommending doing a general check anyway, just to be safe. Here are some signs that should raise red flags:

– If there’s a CCTV installed outside the unit

– If the front door looks newly painted

– If the lock on the door looks very new as compared to the gate (the owners might have replaced an older lock which was tampered with)

If the unit you’re looking to purchase displays any of the above signs, be sure to have a chat with the neighbours and ask them if there’s been any disturbances or trouble in the area of late. Better safe than sorry!

Check if your resale flat has been upgraded

For those looking to purchase a resale flat, do check with the owners whether the flat has been upgraded, or whether it’s due for upgrading. Depending on what kind of upgrading works are yet to be completed (this includes the Home Improvement Programme, Lift Upgrading Programme, and more), you might need to fork out a few thousands extra for when this does happen.

Check and double-check your unit of choice before committing

If you’re going for Sales of Balance Flats (SBF), at least, it pays to be overcautious. Apparently, the information provided by HDB online isn’t completely updated, and can be highly misleading.

Here’s what we mean – we have a colleague who turned up at her first appointment with HDB, intending to choose a particular unit that would reportedly be completed further down the road. She wasn’t aware that construction had wrapped up ahead of time, and it was only after “locking in” her unit of choice that the HDB officer told her she would have to collect her keys within just three months, contrary to what the HDB website led her to believe.

Moral of the story: for those who are buying an SBF flat, once you’ve narrowed down your options to a select few, call up HDB and request to speak with an officer. You’ll want to check that all the details online are accurate (unless your timeline is flexible, and you’re fine with making payment and moving in either sooner or later than the stipulated time)!

House hunting and buying a home (especially in land-scarce Singapore) is a huge commitment – so make sure you don’t rush through the process, and take all the time you need to make the right decision. Also make sure you’ve got your finances sorted; if you’re not 100% clear on the expenses involved in purchasing a home, check out this article on 5 hidden property costs that can bleed you dry when buying a home. Best of luck!

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