My biggest regrets after buying a new launch condo: We share 5 most common regrets home buyers have

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Unlike buying an iPhone (Apple has a great return policy btw) or even a new TV, you can't just return a property if you realise that it doesn't quite fit.

And it's not like you can just sell the house immediately after either, as you have a three-year seller's stamp duty (SSD) to contend with in Singapore.

Even if you do wait the three years out, you'd have to incur other costs such as the lawyer's fee, agents fee, etc.

And so while we recently wrote about seven common regrets first-time homeowners have shared with us, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to buying a new launch property.

Unlike buying a resale home, you can't actually see the actual unit - you'd need to rely on the show flat model, or if they have it, renders of the home. (It's also precisely why we built our new launch platform, as not every unit will have a show flat model, or even a 3D tour for that matter). 

If you are currently on the hunt for a new launch property, do take note of the following:

Not being prepared enough

For the popular new launches, you may just be surprised at how "fish market-like" the atmosphere is.

And we're not even referring to how you only have three to four minutes to view the show flat, but the actual process of selecting a unit (if you are fortunate enough to get a good ballot number). 

It can be a shock to first-time buyers just how pressurising and quick the process is – if you can even call it a process.

For those who've bought a popular new launch before, you may just even have taken more time to select your food at a caifan stall than it is to select your new launch unit.

Which is why if your agent hasn't prepared you for how little time you have to select your unit, you may end up rushing into an unwanted decision. For B and her husband, this is exactly what happened. 

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"We were taken aback at how rushed the whole atmosphere was. Our agent did warn us beforehand, but it was still shocking to see just how hurried that everyone made you feel. 

"I only really understood why everyone was in such a rush later, because it was a competition between the agencies as to how many buyers they close. If you took your time to choose, it may just be snapped up by another buyer from another agency.

"Our agent did help us to select a few units beforehand, but by the time it came to our turn, we really only had one remaining selection left as everything else was already picked. So we had to really hurriedly decide on a slightly different layout than what we were initially going for.

"I really dislike how the representatives were just constantly rushing us, and we came out of it almost in a daze. Did we really just make the biggest purchase of our lives?

"If we had more time, we might not have chosen to go ahead. But I guess it was a combination of FOMO and just constant rushing that made us just commit." 

And so for future buyers, do note that during the new launch sales process, the Option to Purchase (OTP) is a legally binding contract.

In order to be issued the OTP, you will have to put up five per cent of the purchase price of the property.

If you choose not to exercise the OTP within the deadline, you will have to forfeit 25 per cent of the booking fee – basically 1.25 per cent of the purchase price.

As such, it's good to always be prepared. Be firm about the units that you like, and those that you don't like.

Do work out your finances carefully, and have a hard cap on where you draw your limit at. In the event that the units that you've chosen are sold out, be prepared to just walk away. 

Didn't consider the floor plan

B and her husband had been staying at her parent's house for some time, and decided it was time to look for their first home.

They were both very busy with their jobs, and didn't dedicate as much time as they would have liked to research for their home.

They decided to look for a new launch instead as they found resale home viewings to be a chore. It was hard to schedule viewing times, and every home came in a different condition.

"We decided to go for a new launch instead as everything was basically a blank slate, and we wouldn't need to reno much and just buy some furniture.

"But what we didn't take into consideration was looking at the floor plan in detail. We just assumed what we saw in the show flat would be the same as the unit we bought, as it was also a two-bedroom unit, just a different stack."

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

You really have to do your research, as most of the time, the tagger at the show flat isn't incentivised to point out every detail of the unit to you.

Especially if you are going alone, and don't have an experienced agent with you – some seemingly minor details may be overlooked. 

"So when we saw that the bathrooms in the show flat had windows, we just blindly assumed this would be the same for all the units and didn't really look at the floor plan closely. 

"Now our common bathroom has no ventilation window, which is really quite annoying as we use it quite often.

"Thankfully everything else worked out okay, but I will definitely pay more close attention to all these details for our next home."

Buying a lower floor because it was cheaper

We had multiple people send us this, but it seems that quite a common regret is not paying up more for a better unit.

H was one of those who bought a unit at the show flat, but didn't realise that because of the way the developers priced it, it could have made more sense to purchase a higher floor because of the per floor jump. 

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

"The per floor jump was actually quite reasonable after learning from friends about other projects, and only after moving in I realise how much nicer it would be to have a better view.

"I didn't think that I would enjoy the view as much, when I initially bought the unit. But after going to the high-floor facility deck, I realised the view is much nicer on the higher floors.

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"I also didn't realise when I was purchasing the unit that while my view does clear the building next door, it wasn't high enough that it gave a truly unblocked view, if you know what I mean."

We do have to add, it's also not just about looking out for current buildings to see what may block your view, but it's just as important to look at the URA Masterplan to see what might come out in the future.

It's a terrible feeling to pay up for the view only to find out in a few years that this would now be blocked. 

"Hindsight is 20/20, but I've learned that if I do know I will be staying for the long term, it would have been sensible to pay more for something that I would get to enjoy every day.

"I would have loved to be able to enjoy the views privately on my balcony every morning, it's a tinge of regret every time I do look out of the window now."

Choosing a unit facing a road

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Traffic noise is something that is commonly overlooked by buyers. It's just one of those things that if you haven't experienced before, it's not something that you can truly understand how annoying it can be.

If you're coming from a location that is quieter, you may not even really know your own tolerance for noise, or how much it can really affect you. 

T and his wife were one of those people. Buying a new launch meant that, unlike a resale, you can't truly test how noisy a place can be. 

"We definitely knew that we were selecting a unit next to the main road, but the price difference was hard to ignore. 

"We did also go down a couple of times to gauge for the noise levels ourselves, but because we thought we were buying a higher floor, it wouldn't be as bad as it was on the ground level.

"There was just no way for us to really accurately understand how noisy it can be.

"The main problem is really that it's like a daily noise. You might just think that hearing it once it's not that bad, but it's an incessant noise from day to night."

This is why it's also important for a road-facing unit to have adequate measures against road noise.

For some newer launches, developers do provide certain features like better window soundproofing, or acoustic ceilings for the balcony. 

Getting swayed by the show flat

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

There's a reason why developers invest money into show flats. It's a controlled environment, where everything is basically on its best behaviour.

The way the light shines, the scent, the clever positioning of mirrors, and how neat and pristine everything is. 

So unless you are keen on replicating exactly how the show flat model looks in your new home, there are first-time home buyers out there that have been sorely disappointed the first time they open the doors to their new home. 

Suddenly, the place just looks so much smaller. That cosy study nook that was shown in the show flat? It's now no longer a practical choice given it eats into the walkway space. 

For first-time buyers XY and WH, they were completely new to visiting show flats when they were first looking for their home. 

"We just decided to walk into the few that we saw advertisements from in the newspaper and online, and we didn't know anything about agents, and how everything worked.

"At that time, we just assumed that the agents at the show flat must be representing the developer."

This may be true for some of the bigger developers like Far East Organisation, or even some of the very small boutique developers, where they may have their own sales representatives.

But by and large, you'd expect to be served by taggers from the different property agencies appointed by the developer. 

"I guess we were very taken in by the show flat model. The interior design was to our taste, and the unit did look quite a good size when we were walking around.

"I guess the problem was that it was hard to just imagine what a completely bare unit would be like. All the walls were covered in panels, and although we knew that they were ID features, it was just so easy to be swayed.

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"Hats off to the ID of that project, but we were shocked when we first saw the unit once it was built. 

"It was so stark without all the decorations. And we suppose after not having seen the show flat for a few years as it was being built, the place ends up being a lot bigger in your head. So seeing it in person for the first time, it was shocking to see how small it seemed."

We last wrote about a piece on show flat tricks that are useful for first-time home buyers.

But in short, you should always pay attention to the floor plan and the details. It's also helpful if you can visit a similar-sized unit on the resale market to really gauge if the size and space are right for you. 

"We ended up selling the unit once our tax was up and we were free to. Thankfully, we did make a little bit after taking away all the costs."

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.