Buying a new home can be a very exciting time. You contact your real estate agent and he or she will arrange multiple units for you to view. You then get to enter other home owners’ homes and take a look at whether these homes are suitable for you and your family. You may only spend perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in the property before moving on to the next one. At times it can get a little overwhelming and you may overlook important issues which you will only present themselves when you live in the property for an extended period of time. Let us look at what you should be taking note of when looking for a new home.
The most obvious thing to take note of would be the size. That being said, a 1,000 square feet unit may look and feel larger than a 1,200 square feet unit. The layout of the unit, the colour scheme, furnishing and amount of clutter all add up to make a property feel large or small. As a buyer, you should learn to be discerning. A 1,200 square feet unit with a 400 square feet balcony should not be costing the more than a 1,200 square feet unit with little or no balcony space, all else being equal. Most properties are priced based on per square foot.
Is the property shaped regularly? Are there any odd angles in the property? Oddly shaped properties may pose an issue when placing furniture. That being said, some oddly shaped properties have turned out to be an advantage when coming up with a unique design. For example, a triangular shaped room on one side may present itself as an ideal candidate for a V-shaped display cabinet.
3) Natural Light
A poorly renovated property can be resolved by putting in monies to renovate the property. However, there is no way to solve the fact that the property does not have natural lighting. Turning on lights during the day is not a viable option. In an HDB or condominium, it is impossible to have natural lighting permeating through the whole property. However, the living rooms and bedrooms should be adequately lit during the day.
4) Natural Wind
Another factor which cannot be changed. It would be good to note that the windiest period of the day would be in the late afternoons and evenings. Thus if you are looking for a windy house, please conduct a viewing during these timings.
5) Any Leakages
Look out for brown patches on the ceiling. This is especially so for HDB flats and condominiums. The toilet or kitchen of the unit you are viewing is most probably under a toilet or kitchen of another unit. If there were any possible leaks, it would present itself in a yellowish, brown patch. A leak is not a deal breaker as most leaks can be solved easily. It would just mean that you may have to spend time and resources to resolve this issue. If the house is ideal except for the leak, it should not stop you from buying it. Especially if it is a simple patch job. In fact, you may be able to knock off a few thousand from the asking price because of the leak!
Is the flooring something which you can accept? If it is then you can save a lot of money by reusing the previous flooring. Ask the owner if he has any spare tiles. Always remember that you can get professionals to clean up old tiles, polish granite or marble flooring to restore them to just as new condition.
7) Illegal modifications
Look out for any illegal modifications. If you are viewing a 3 bedroom property which has one room removed, do remember to ask the owner of the owner’s agent whether the modification that was done had the necessary approvals. If you are purchasing a landed property, you should ask if any extension was submitted. At times certain trellises or structures were erected without seeking the necessary approvals. If you purchase the property, you take over the responsibility of having to remove these modifications if there is a need to. It would be good to point out that there are many balconies or roof terraces with structures installed by home owners which did not seek the proper approvals. Yet it is because of such modifications which made the space more usable which indirectly improves the property value. So yes, you can still purchase a property with such modifications. Just be aware that in the unlikely scenario whereby you are asked to remove them, you need to do so.
Buying a property is not always about numbers. An efficient layout should be a major consideration. You would ideally want to have a functional layout. The dining area should be situated next to the kitchen. There are layouts whereby the living room is in between the dining area and the kitchen.
9) Ability to host guests
Is the HDB unit situated at the corner or along a long corridor? A corner unit provides more privacy. You may also be able to use the space outside your unit to place your buffet if you ever decide to have one. If it is a condominium does it have ample parking for guests? What is the condominium’s policy on visitor parking? If you are looking for a landed property, does it have ample curbside parking? It can get pretty crowded on days like Chinese New Year. If the property you are looking at capable of hosting your guests?
Remember to take a look at the neighbours and if you can, speak to them. In Singapore, homes are in very close proximity to each other. It would be good to live next to good neighbours. This can be a very important deciding factor when buying a property.
11) Future development
Look out for any upcoming shopping mall or train station coming up. That could potentially increase the property value in the longer term. Alternatively, you should also research and find out if there are any new developments around the corner which may obstruct the unblocked view of the apartment you are viewing.
12) Access to transportation
One of the often overlooked aspects is the access of the unit in question to transportation. Some HDB flats or condominium units are located far away from the car park. If you are in a big development then it may be wise to purchase a unit close to the side gate which leads to the nearest bus stop. Also, is the walkway sheltered? All these issues only present themselves when you start living in the property. It would be wise to think about such issues before you make a purchase.