6 things to take note of when choosing the ideal resale flat

Since September 2019, the amount of grants given to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents buying resale flats is now at an all-time high.

The Enhanced CPF Housing Grant gives resale flat buyers the same means-tested grant quantum as BTO homebuyers of up to $80,000. There are also resale flat specific grants like the Family Grant of up to $50,000 (for first time buyers) and Proximity Housing Grant of up to $30,000 (for those living near/with their parents/child).

This increase in potential grants, coupled with the relatively stable prices of HDB flat in the resale market makes the prospect of buying a resale flat even more attractive for Singaporeans. However, choosing the right resale flat poses additional challenges, compared to a BTO unit.

Here's are 6 tips to help you make a most informed decision when making your resale flat purchase.

#1 CHECK THE REMAINING LEASE OF THE FLAT

Every BTO flat comes with a fresh 99-year lease. For resale flats, however, have differing length of leases remaining.

Therefore, you should make a point to check the remaining lease of the flat, and to consider if the flat is worth the price you are going to pay.

To check the remaining lease of the flat you intend to move in, you can make use of HDB Map Services under "Housing" option, enter the postal code or address of the flat, and you should be able to check the remaining lease.

PHOTO: DOLLARS AND SENSE

#2 CHECK THE ETHNIC INTEGRATION POLICY (EIP) AND SINGAPORE PR (SPR) QUOTAS

Before buying a resale flat, please check that you are well within the ethnic quota (and SPR quota for non-Malaysian PRs) of the block and neighbourhood.

If you and your spouse are of different ethnicities, you can choose to classify your household's ethnicity according to the race stated on the NRIC of either co-owner. Note that your selected ethnicity will be applied when you sell your flat in the resale market subsequently.

The EIP and SPR quotas are updated on the first day of every month. As the quotas will affect any resale applications in that month, you might get a different result if you submit your application later after too much time has elapsed.

To check the eligibility of buying a resale flat of a particular block or neighbourhood, you can use the HDB e-Service.

#3 EVALUATE THE AMENITIES AND SURROUNDINGS AROUND THE FLAT YOU'RE EYEING

PHOTO: The Straits Times

When choosing a resale flat, do take note of your lifestyle and evaluate what amenities you require that will complement it.

For instance, some would like to live near supermarkets for convenience or transport amenities for connectivity. For couples with kids, they are usually inclined to move to close proximity of their preferred primary school for their child.

You could make trips to visit at different times of day (morning, noon and evening), to get a better sense of the ambient noise level. Flats located near major roads tend to be noisier during rush hour or even late at night, while schools tend to get livelier in the day during school-term.

#4 CHECK FOR LOANSHARK GRAFFITI AND OBSERVE NEIGHBOURING UNITS

If a flat has been a target of loansharks, the seller will probably attempt to clear any visible traces before the viewing. However, you may still notice graffiti at the corridors of surrounding levels and units, as well as the void deck and stairs.

Also, look out for any fresh coat of paint and observe closely for any signs of graffiti under the paintwork.

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You should also take some time to observe the neighbouring units for any unusual activity or noise. Be reminded that if the neighbouring flat is facing troubles with loansharks, it may spill over and affect you.

Also, take note of any private CCTV camera pointing towards the corridor. While the owners may like to have added security, this may also be a sign of other safety concerns.

#5 ASK THE SELLER AND AGENT ABOUT THE REASON FOR SALE

"What is the reason for selling your house?" This question may seem innocuous, but it can potentially save you from any hassle in the future.

This is because as a buyer, you should be expecting reasonable responses such as upgrading to a bigger flat or private property or moving in with aging parents, and not something sinister such as a distressed sale.

If in doubt, ask the property agent about the history of the flat, as they are obliged to share any relevant information about the flat. You can also check if the flat has appeared in the news for the wrong reasons as well.

#6 WALK AROUND TO GET A FEEL OF THE SIZE AND LAYOUT OF THE FLAT

Our individual preferences for space and threshold for what is spacious or cosy may differ, and only by walking around and getting a feel for the space can we make an informed judgement.

When you're there, check the facing of the main windows, and if does face a less than desirable direction (such as the evening sun), know that you may end spending more on electricity bills for fans or air-conditioning and be less comfortable.

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While viewing the flat, inspect and observe the condition. Look out for signs of leaks, cracks, mildew and spalling concrete on ceilings and walls, as it all adds to the cost of renovation. If the fittings and plumbing are aging, you would need to factor in additional costs to get them replaced or repaired during renovation.

At the end of the day, you might be fine with some of these drawbacks or minor flaws of the space, but it makes sense to be aware of them, and perhaps use it to negotiate for a better price.

Remember, buying a flat is a major decision that would have a large effect on your life. As with any big-ticket purchase, you should be making a thorough and careful evaluation, so as to eliminate any unexpected surprises or regrets that may arise from a hasty decision.

This article was first published in Dollars & Sense.