When it comes to purchasing a property, many homeowners still prefer a resale apartment over a new one. This is because aside from the significantly shorter waiting time, the resale units are usually located in mature districts which have amenities in abundance.
In addition, you also get to see and touch the actual property before committing to the purchase. However, purchasing a property is the biggest investment in your entire life.
Hence, it is vital that you avoid the common pitfalls and so, these are 7 things you need to do before you sign on the dotted line!
#1. Check the remaining lease and upgrading programmes
You must find out if the lease for the resale property is running thin since its age will impact your ability to secure a housing loan from the banks.
For the uninitiated, the banks seldom approve home loans for a property with lesser than 35 years of the lease. Furthermore, the outstanding lease of less than 60 years will affect the amount of CPF funds which you can use for the housing loan repayment.
If you are looking at an HDB apartment, find out whether if the block is scheduled for any of the upgrading programmes such as Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) or Home Improvement Programme (HIP).
Tip: For HDB apartments, you should refer to the HDB Map Services to find out the remaining lease of the apartment. Learn about CPF Withdrawal Limits for purchasing properties with less than 60 years lease here.
You can enquire the status and details of the HDB's programme (if any) of a particular HDB block here.
#2. Study the URA MasterplanPHOTO: FOMA Architects
Sure, checking the location and amenities of your prospective resale apartment is important. However, finding out the future development of the surrounding estate through the Master Plan is also vital too, as illustrated by the infamous Fernvale Lea's saga.
Tip: The Master Plan is to be read in conjunction with its Written Statement 2019.
#3. Find out the history of the apartment
The loan shark runners' traditional modus operandi is to harass the homeowners by splashing paint on the front door or corridor walls.
So, watch out for newly painted corridor walls and doors since the property agent or the apartment owner might have the door or walls repainted to conceal their activities.
Aside from ensuring that the current owner isn't involved with these illegal money lenders, you should find out the unit's history from the neighbours, in case it has been a location of a grisly murder crime scene.
Tip: Keep a lookout of the neighbouring units or lift lobby landing. This is because, sometimes loan sharks leave traces of their activities in these areas too.
#4. Visit the apartment during the hottest time of the dayPHOTO: NextDoor ID
Even if the apartment is a north-south facing, you should pay a visit during the hottest day to check out whether if the unit is stuffy during the hottest time of the day.
This is because the sun's movement throughout the year will also affect the amount of sun your apartment receives. If the unit is blocked, the amount of sunlight and ventilation it receives will be affected.
Tip: You should use the Sun Calculator to determine the impact of the sun's movement throughout the year on the apartment.
#5. Keep your ears peeled for noise pollution
The neighbouring community activities around the block and construction works will generate undesirable noise. If the unit is located next to major roads or an MRT track, then the apartment will be exposed to a high level of noise and dust pollution.
Tip: Use the smartphone decibel meter app to help you measure the ambiance noise. The recommended average outdoor sound level throughout the day by the National Environmental Agency is 67 decibels.
Consistent exposure beyond that level can cause hearing impairment. Serangoon, Clementi and Bukit Timah have been found to be among the noisiest neighbourhoods in Singapore.
#6. Assess the apartment's conditionPHOTO: Schemacraft Interiors
The existing's apartment condition will determine the amount of renovation overhaul you need. Check that apartment is structurally sound, with no issues such as spalling concrete, cracks, bulges, damp spots or discolouration on walls and floor caused by water leakage.
This is because it is potentially more expensive and time-consuming to get these issues rectified. Keep in mind that unless the apartment is less than 10 years old, the mechanical and electrical fittings usually need to be replaced due to safety concerns.
Do not forget to check the water pressure and make sure that all the toilets are working fine too.
Tip: Look out for any unauthorized renovation work which has been carried out. This is because the illegal modifications will affect the structural stability of the property. Do not forget that once you have taken over the property, the responsibility of the illegal modifications will be transferred to you.
Examples of unauthorized renovation works include hacking or making alterations on reinforced concrete walls, columns, beams or slabs, tampering with or removal of the Home Shelter door and installation of windows or any screen or structure to enclose the balcony area.
#7. Pay multiple visits to the apartmentPHOTO: Jubilee Interior
You are strongly encouraged to visit the property multiple times so that you can assess the apartment under different conditions (i.e. sunny, rainy, peak, off-peak hours, weekdays and weekends).
In addition, you will be able to pick up more details during each subsequent visit too. You can consider getting your trusted loved ones to accompany you, so that they can provide their diverse opinions about the property you are eyeing on.
Tip: If the homeowners of the resale apartment do not mind, you should take videos during your visits, so that you can review the video footages when you need to.
This article was first published in Renonation.