How to choose the perfect HDB Resale Flat in Singapore

The Housing Development Board’s (HDB) resale market continues to remain strong, with resale flat prices increasing by 3% by March 2021, compared to that of the fourth quarter of 2020. The current resilience in the property market due to vaccination optimism has resulted in greater willingness among buyers to pay more for their resale flats.

For those who are keen on moving out and are curious to learn more about HDB resale flats, read on as we’ve compiled a few golden must-knows when it comes to buying your first HDB resale flat in Singapore.

Are you eligible?

Be sure to do your research about HDB’s eligibility criteria before you jump the gun. Aside from these basic requirements, you’ll also have to make sure you fall under one of the 8 eligibility schemes to successfully buy an HDB resale flat.

Be familiar with the lease expiry

HDB resale flats are units currently owned by someone else. This is because for them to be sold to the next eligible buyer, they must be occupied for at least 5 years — the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) as mandated by HDB.

You should also note that as a current buyer, you will not be allowed to rent out the house during the first 5 years of your stay.

The value of “older” resale flats depreciates over the years.

HDB resale flats also do not come with a new 99-year lease and the value of “older” resale flats depreciates over the years. So consider the remaining lease period for the property you’re eyeing. This ensures that you will still be able to sell the flat for a reasonable price if you intend to do so in the future.

Additionally, if the resale flat you’re considering to buy is located in a mature estate or close to the city, it may appeal more to future buyers and could thus fetch you higher prices.

Have a basic idea of what you intend to do with the flat later on.

BTO owners who sell their flats after they have met the MOP may also face higher demand for their flats in the market. This is because these flats are still considered “young”.

Hence, before purchasing a resale flat, it’s good to have a basic idea of what you intend to do with it later on and understand its leasing features thoroughly. This could save you from any headaches or bumps in the road ahead.

You can get HDB resale flats almost immediately

While you can’t necessarily drop everything and move in the next day after discovering your dream HDB resale flat, you won’t have to deal with the long waits and balloting anxiety that comes with BTO housing. This is because the current occupants can simply hand over the place to you after the required paperwork is complete.

Things to consider before buying a resale flat:

1. Price

The cost of an average 4-room HDB resale flat ranges from $350,000 to $800,000 depending on its location. Hence, it is important to consider your current and future financial capabilities as well as commitments and loans to gauge how much you can afford to fork out on a house.

For resale flats, you should also keep the cost of renovation in sight, As you may want to remove, modify, or replace certain installations in your home to better fit your tastes.

While you should be spending within your budget, you shouldn’t be overly penny-pinching either, because this is where you’ll be living for possibly half your life. So, as long as you can comfortably afford it, investing in an adequately nice home has long term benefits on your well-being.

2. Location and amenities

As with any other house hunting mission, considering the location and accessibility of your future resale is vital to ensure you live comfortably in your new neighbourhood.

Do your research or, even better, recce the area to find out whether public transport is at a walking distance away, and whether there are malls or supermarkets and other unique amenities like hospitals, gyms or dry cleaners nearby.

If you drive, you might also want to study the traffic around the area, especially during peak hours, as well as note down any available parking options.

Visit the flat at various times in the day.

Also, if possible, try visiting the flat at various times in the day and have the windows open to get a realistic feel of the level of noise and sunlight experienced in the area.

Normally, west-facing units tend to get the warmest during the day due to the afternoon sun. Some also prefer to get units in higher floors for more wind and ventilation while others don’t mind the lower floors — everyone’s different!

More importantly, if you are keen on selling or renting in the future, property prices in attractive areas appreciate better and their rentability rates are also higher. Hence, keep the above points in mind and do your due diligence before making a decision.

3. Interior condition of the flat

Another crucial deliberation is the current condition of the flat. HDB resale flats are usually older and have been lived in, hence you should look out for signs of wear and tear or installations that cannot be moved, such as water pipes, during your house viewings as this could affect your interior design choices or the flat’s livability.

Having said that, an upside of older flats is that they are typically larger than BTOs of the same type. So, you’ll probably be able to squeeze in more furniture with the spacious floor plan. Still though, it is good to have a measuring tape in hand and make little notes on where you plan to place your furniture to prevent any miscalculations when you are starting renovations.

Next — water, lights and electricity. Ensuring these essential systems work safely and efficiently is highly important for your own well-being, so be sure to test out the water pressure (turn on taps or showers), check for any flickering of the lights (if you don’t intend to change the bulbs) as well as the placement of pipes and electricity sockets. Ideally, one should consult an electrician, plumber or professional to quality check the apartment, making certain that all wirings are good to go.

Look for tell-tale indications of previous damage.

Do check for any stains or anomalies in the walls and flooring too as these could be tell-tale indications of previous damage from water leaks or faulty plastering or tiling jobs, all of which could rack up your renovation costs.

If you don’t intend to renew your air-conditioning systems, you should also play around with the existing system in case you detect any worn out insulation or pipelines that must be fixed.

4. The vibes

This matters more than you think. Try to immerse yourself in the space and contemplate if you can imagine yourself living in the neighbourhood. In your immediate surroundings, watch out for any signs of loan shark activity in the corridors (could be repainted walls or even the infamous O$P$), and mingle around with next-door neighbours if you catch them to get a feel of the environment.

Also, it’s always great to get to know the history of the neighbourhood before you move in, especially the block and unit you’re planning to cop because – well, there are less auspicious reasons why people sell their flat. You can do a quick Google search on the area and look up any notable news that could have cropped up in the past.

If you’re superstitious or religious, you can even consult a fengshui master for the most favourable ways to position your sofa or get a monk or priest to bless the place upon moving in.

Overall, engaging with a good property agent who understands your needs and the market well can help smoothen the buying process.

Once these sizable homes are yours for keeps, you can choose to keep all well-maintained features in the household or revamp everything from scratch.

Whatever the case is, living independently is definitely an adventure everyone should try undertaking, and with HDB resale flats, the possibilities are endless.

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