In my last post, I detailed the factors to consider when selling your properties. In this article, I will share our property search experiences over the past few months and things you should look out for.
CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION
Areas that are definite “No No No!”
FIRST, crossed out locations that are completely out! For us, they are fringe locations such as Changi, Loyang, Woodlands, Yishun, Sembawang, Seletar, Kranj, Boon Lay, Chua Chu Kang etc.
Then there are areas next to or very near cemetery. For instance in D19 Japanese Cemetery, the houses at or nearby i.e. Perry Avenue, Chuan Hoe and Jalan Limbok that are “No No no” for us. We are not afraid of ghost, but in general the “Spirit” of these locations will not be that ideal.
Zoom into “shortlisted” locations
For a start, our shortlisted focus are as below:
– D19 & 20 : Serangoon, Kovan, Thomson, Bishan, AMK
– D13 & 14 : Macpherson, Potong Pasir, Eunos
– D15 & 16 : Eastern precincts of Katong, Joo Chiat, Bedok
– D23 : Hillview, Dairy Farm, Bukit Panjang
– D26 : Upper Thomson, Sembawang Hill, Lentor, Springleaf
It is quite a wide area of focus because we do not want to be restricted by limited advertisements within a specific area only, that we eventually miss out on good deals!
In the past, twice we had ended up buying houses that were not our initial choice of locations. As we looked back, they are very good choices liken to be “God chosen” to suit His and our needs.
For more info about list of districts, refer below:
KNOW WHAT IS MARKET PRICING
Be aware of prices across all places
During the initial search in Propertyguru, 99.co and SRX, we did not set filter on “locations”. The reason being we wanted to have an overall feel of the market pricing. In this way, you will know if buyers are asking reasonable or ridiculous prices.
Please also use 99.co to check the transacted pricings or visit URA website here. URA website only gives transacted pricing up to last five years, while 99.co is extremely informative providing very detail information on past transacted prices up to few decades back. Accuracy of the information to be verified!
Find out what is the last offered price
When sellers are asking for sky high prices in a sellers’ market, it can be really demoralising for the buyers. Being there at house viewings conversing with the agents can give you a better feel of the realistic price level to close the deal rather than just depending on the asking price on the advertisement!
Always try to find out what is the last offered price and when was that, and what is the deal closing price the seller(s) is(are) asking.
Of course you have to give leeway to what agents tell you. Many will just fake that there is a last offered pricing even when there isn’t, just to arouse your interest to offer. That said, smart agents also want to close the deal quickly to earn their commissions, knowing that giving potential buyers a unrealistic offered price will turn off the deal.
Find out the “Valuation of Property”
Prior to making an offer, it is almost a must to find out the valuation of the property as it will affect your loan amount.
For example, a house is selling at SGD2 million. Then, 75% bank loan is SGD1.5 million. But if the same property is only valued at SGD1.8 million, then you can only borrow up to 75% of SGD1.8 million which is SGD1.35 million. You will have to top up the difference (SGD1.5 – 1.35 million = SGD150K) in cash.
During viewings, I recommend that you ask the agents what is the valuation of the property. Most agents will always tell you “Valuer can match asking pricing”. BUT, that is always from the sellers’ point of view.
It is advisable to get the valuation from Buyers’ point of view, i.e. your own bankers.
If you need help on getting free valuation of the properties of your interest at a better service than the typical bankers, even during viewing stage, please PM me at [email protected].
Know what is “Entry Quantum Price”
The entry pricing of FH-999 landed property today is set at a minimum quantum of SGD3 million. For condo, it is at least SGD1 million.
At entry quantum pricing, the PSF is usually higher. For e.g. >SGD1,700 psf for a landed property is considered high PSF, if it is neither a brand new house nor at a very ideal location. However, because the entry quantum is SGD3 million for FH-999 landed, then for a land size of 1600 to 1700sf, it is not considered expensive anymore with SGD1,650 to 1,700 psf. You can imagine that SGD3 million decent landed properties will be sold within a short time.
In general, FH-999 landed will be priced above SGD1,000 psf. Anything below SGD1,000 psf will be single storey or remote locations or really big land making the quantum price higher, beyond the mass market’s reach.
If you are able to find anything below SGD1,300 psf for 2.5/3 storey FH-999 landed, it is considered decently good pricing. Of course, conditions, locations, and Gross Floor Area (GFA) and many other factors will influence the pricing too. I will discuss more on pitfalls in the next section.
A rough benchmark of SGD300-350 psf can be used for additional levels/floor area if you are considering A&A. This means that additional 1000sf of floor area should be SGD300K to 350K. For E.g. the same land size one with 2.5 storey, 3000sf of floor area is priced at SGD3.8 million, while the other is 2 storey priced at SGD3.4 to 3.5 million.
Newly constructed landed properties are usually priced above SGD2,000 psf.
Our experiences tell us that ~ +/-7% discount to the asking price can be a good benchmark. For E.g. 3.5 million asking price closing at 3.25 to 3.3 million. 1.6 million closing at 1.5 million. We had also encountered properties with asking price 15-20% above market pricing, hence it is really very subjective, depending on sellers.
BEWARE OF PITFALLS
Houses that just cannot sell
Aside from ridiculously priced houses, there are also houses that are just so difficult to sell being in the market for a very long time with multiple agents marketing. I was told by a friend that one house that we have viewed was already in the market since 2018 until today.
Somehow, “The Spirit” of these houses or the owners are just unexplainably bad too.
My recommendations is NOT to buy these houses that has been in the market for a very long time already. This is despite that they are generally cheaper. You may be able to buy cheap now, but likewise, you will need to sell cheap too in future, and it will be very hard to liquidate too! There is always a reason why these houses are so difficult to sell.
Don’t ever go for odd-shaped house. It can be a very nicely renovated house, cheaper than prevailing market rates, but there must be a reason why they are cheaper. Usually, there is a lot of wastage in floor area, meaning less usable area. We have seen odd-shaped house either on triangular land or all the rooms’ layout are just weird with lots of corners, and there is no way you can change the house layout. Normally odd-shaped house also have narrower living room, and you will never have the “can see far far” feeling once you step into the house.
Traffic in front and back
Houses with main door facing the busy main road is also a “No No No”. That said, houses with the backyard facing the main road is still ok, provided that the front facing is quiet. Also, it is better not to have too many bedrooms facing the main roads, otherwise noise and dirt will be a big concern.
Door number, Road names
114, sounds ok in English. But because I am Hokkien, 114 means “death of hunger”! Aside from 114, 44 is another number we avoid. Door numbers 4, 14 and 24 etc are generally still ok for us. There are road names that sound a bit too funny. For e.g. I wanted to arrange for a viewing of house at Jalan “Lanjut”. Then after second thought, I think better not. Imagine you tell people you stay at “Lanjut”, translating that into Hokkien! Then there are “Lim Tua Tow”, “Lorong Pisang”, “Jalan Manis” etc.
Super low ceiling
Landed house with floor to ceilings height below 2.8 metres is also a “No No No” for us. I did buy a laser distance meter to verify floor to ceiling height during our viewings. With low ceilings, you will still get the small feel of house, regardless of how big the house is.
Super dark house
Then there are houses especially inter-terrace house that are super dark. While traditionally North-South facing is good, but for Inter-Terrace, it is better not to go for NS facing as it will be very dark, if without a proper air well.
No parking or super crampy roads outside
There are also houses with very “crampy” roads outside. We once visited an area of Sembwang Hill Estate and there many roads there that are just so narrow. All the roadside parking were “jammed up”. It will even be so difficult to park car once you reach home. Then there are houses with no parking outside for visitors, because it is all double yellow lines outside. Visitors will have to park somewhere else and walk few minutes to your house.
Elevated level 1
Then there are landed houses with elevated level one. This means that after you park your car, you have to climb 1.8 to 2m of stairs before arriving at the door of your living room. Imagine you have friends or relatives visiting who are wheelchaired? You will need to plan carefully to install a wheelchair elevator or someone strong enough to carry the disabled.
House with direct west-sun-facing is also not popular. However, it is less of a concern if there are proper balcony and not many rooms are facing west. Normally the newly constructed houses within 10 years old will take west-sun facing into their design consideration and cleverly evade the west sun heat. You can also plant trees to block the west sun.
For west-sun-facing house, if it is Semi-D or Corner Terrace, it is not so much of a concern. This is because the west and east-sun facings are also shining parallel into the sides of the house, in fact making the house, especially the living room, very brightly lit, giving a very good feeling.
In my next final article, I will write about our viewing experiences and our final choice! Stay tune…
PS: The author seek legal disclaimers on all recommendations or pricing or psf figures. These information are provided solely based on writer’s personal experiences and as a rough rule of thumb to help readers with information. Readers or buyers should do their own due diligence or check with professional for advice in their property purchase journey.