In this article, we share the 7 key things to take note of when buying a condo in Singapore. Additionally, this article provides useful links and references to aid you in the purchase of your condo.
1. Buying a Condo based on Singapore Market Conditions
When it comes to buying a condo in Singapore, assuming you are not in a real hurry to get a property… It is wise for you to time the market. By doing so, you might be able to snag a condo at a lower price than what it is worth.
There are many theories on how and why the price of a condo fluctuates over time. But one thing is certain: Property values rise and fall in a cyclical fashion. This is as a result of the economy, as well as general market sentiment. Hence, you would stand to gain if you purchase a condo unit when the property cycle is facing a downward trend. When prices are low. This is when sellers are desperate to let go of their condo unit, before the prices fall further. Conversely, if you buy a condo unit during an uptrend, sellers can (and usually will) inflate their asking prices. This is usually in anticipation of continual increases in condo prices.
Track Condo Prices
Before purchasing your condo in Singapore, you should get a sense of the prevailing condo price trends. In this regard, there are numerous trackers which provide this as public information. The government maintains a Private Residential Property Price Index which is updated every quarter. Meanwhile, the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Institute of Real Estate provides its own private non-landed residential property price tracker.
Perhaps the most well-known tracker would be local real estate portal SRX’s Property Index (SPI) for non-landed units (i.e. condos). The SPI monitors the aggregate transaction prices for all condos in Singapore on a monthly basis. It even monitors the price trend by geographical segment, by dividing Singapore into three concentric regions, centred on the downtown area.
2. Condo Developer’s Reliability and Reputation
CapitaLand, City Developments (CDL), Far East Organisation. Some of the biggest developers in Singapore are household names, and boast a proud repertoire of well-known condo projects which are dotted around the island. If you are buying a condo in Singapore from one of these heavyweights, you can be well assured of top-notch quality, or at the very least reliability.
Boutique Condo Developers
However, there are also a vast number of smaller, boutique developers. These smaller players have typically developed only a small number of condos in Singapore so far. Does Pollux Properties (which has a handful of luxury residential developments, such as Park Residences Kovan) or Mushrooms Realty Pte Ltd (which developed One Rosyth) ring a bell? One should certainly not dismiss the quality of condos built by lesser-known developers at first glance. However, it is important to do your research. This includes finding out more about the developer and its track record before purchasing a condo in Singapore.
Reliability of Condo Developers
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), a statutory board, allows users to search for and compare the track record of property developers. The metric used, CONQUAS, is based on the workmanship and construction quality of condos. A similar comparison between condos is also available. This is extremely useful when purchasing a condo in Singapore.
Appreciation due to Condo Developer’s Reputation
Is there another reason why condos by reputable developers are more popular? Yes, as their condos tend to increase in value faster. This is because, well, their condos are simply more sought after! If you are looking to sell your condo unit in the future, this would be an important consideration for you to bear in mind as well. In this regard, CDL was ranked as the top developer in Singapore based on price appreciation of their condos. No surprises here, since CDL is “the most successful” developer. With 12 of its 19 recently completed condos experiencing over 10% price appreciation since their launch date.
3. Purchasing a Condo Close to an MRT station
We have all heard the maxim on what makes a good property purchase: Location, location, location. In this sense, arguably the most important factor, location-wise, when buying a condo in Singapore is proximity to an MRT station. Or a bus interchange. This is especially for the many of us who rely on public transport daily to access the rest of the island.
Property portal 99.co nicely incorporates this into their search function for a condo. Their website allows users to select a cut-off distance (e.g. 100 metres) from any MRT station as one of the filters.
However, do note that if you are buying a condo which is close to an existing MRT station, especially a major interchange (for example, Bishan or Tampines), this proximity will translate to a markedly higher price for your unit. The upside to this is that condos located next to MRT stations will never be out of demand. If anything, their already high prices will simply continue to rise. This allows you (as the buyer / owner) to book a handsome profit. Assuming you eventually decide to sell the unit in future.
4. Surrounding Amenities of Condo
The proximity and range of neighbourhood amenities is another important factor when buying a condo in Singapore. In this regard, there are two sub-points to watch out for:
- Firstly, the maturity of the estate itself.
- Secondly, the relative position of your condo within the estate / neighbourhood.
Maturity of Estate of Condo
The maturity of an estate affects the range and quality of amenities available. Mature estates, such as Toa Payoh, developed during Singapore’s early years. They commonly have the full gamut of amenities: including shopping malls, sports halls, and public libraries.
Conversely, non-mature estates, such as Punggol, were only developed over the past two decades. These estates, therefore, tend to offer a more modest range of amenities. This is because new amenities are still in the process of development. For example, the residents of central Punggol had to do without a dedicated shopping mall until 2015, when Waterway Point was opened.
In view of this, you should consider if you are fine with taking a bus ride or short drive just to get to the nearest supermarket, polyclinic, or tuition centre, as opposed to living in a mature estate where your flat is located within walking distance from these amenities.
Location within the Condo Estate
That said, the second point above matters just as much as the first. If your condo is located at the edges of a big, mature town, you would still find it inconvenient to get to the shopping mall and other amenities which are all situated at the centre of your estate. Therefore, it is wise to pay close attention to the relative location of your property when buying a condo in Singapore.
5. Quality (and quantity) of Condo Facilities
Some condos offer the bare minimum in terms of facilities. A simple pool, no-frills gymnasium, a lone tennis court and/or perhaps a couple of barbeque pits. On the other hand, some of the upmarket ones are extremely lavish when it comes to facilities offered. Think of spa lounges, sky gardens, mini-golf courses, and even amusement park-style playgrounds! Property Guru has listed these and other exotic facilities which some condos are already offering.
Do note, however, that such a generous array of facilities comes with a higher condo maintenance fee. Bear in mind that the vast majority of condos typically charge only a few hundred dollars per month. This is unlike the sky-high maintenance fees at some luxury condos. So, are you intending to make full use of all the facilities available at your disposal? Otherwise, you might want to think hard about whether those posh, exotic facilities are worth all the fees you are paying.
6. Age of the Condo in Singapore
Brand new condos which are bought directly from the developer usually boast the most modern features. These include the latest fittings and furnishings. Branded kitchenware, marble tables and perhaps even a wine chiller. Also available are the most high-tech security attributes such as intercoms or smart door sensors. If you are buying an ageing resale condo unit in Singapore, sorry. Chances are you have to do without any of these sparkling new items.
Moreover, if you are purchasing a condo in Singapore which is brand new (also known as new launch), you can be almost sure that it is free of defects. In the event there are defects, the developer has to bear all rectification costs during the Defects Liability Period (DLP). The DLP lasts for 12 months after the date of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). Thus, it can be applied to all new launches. BCA has also provided some steps homeowners can take to get defects in their new house rectified.
7. Irritants: Noise, Dust and Heat
As much as possible, we all prefer owning condo units which can serve as oases of tranquillity. Where we can breathe in the fresh air. It is therefore important to look out for irritants which might not always be apparent at first glance. When selecting a condo, pay close attention to the following:
- Sources of noise include busy highways or roads; MRT tracks; construction sites; and nightclubs or bars
- Sources of dust include busy roads (which may affect lower-level units) and construction sites
- The amount of heat depends on the unit’s exposure to the sun. If your windows have an east-west facing, your unit is likely to bear the brunt of the sun. Especially in the afternoon.
Site Visits before Buying the Condo are Key
After shortlisting a condo unit, it is wise to schedule at least two visits before making a decision. The first should be during the hottest part of the day, to get an idea of how bearable the heat is. The second should preferably be at night, for a sense of how noisy the traffic (and your neighbours!) can be. After all, you don’t want to end up owning a condo in Singapore that turns out to be unbearably stuffy or noisy.
There are many considerations when deciding on which condo unit to purchase, and it is easy to get disoriented especially when it is your first time ever buying a condo in Singapore. We hope that this article can remind you of 7 key things to consider, amidst your excitement, when you are looking among your options.