Our First HDB

Yet another milestone in life as my partner and I began looking for a place to call our own. I have decided to create a new category to document my journey in getting a HDB flat – it will be a good reference for my future self and I also hope others will benefit from my experience.

After our unsuccessful application for the sale of balance flats last December in Kallang/ Whampoa, our next step is to search for a resale flat. While we troll Property sites like PropertyGuru, 99.co and SRX, I also consulted with friends and financial bloggers on what to look out for and I am thankful to them for their inputs and advice.

Checklist
Date and Time Viewed
Ask the agent / seller
What is the best asking price?
In what year is the flat built?
Which level or the unit number?
How long has the unit been listed?
What is the seller's reason for selling?
Sellers profile?
Buyer Agent Fees 1% + GST - No agent fees or GST. Maybe a token sum to handle the paper work. (For buyer easier to DIY. Paper work lesser)
Outside the unit
What is the unit number? (To check valuation)
http://www.srx.com.sg/xvalue-pricing
Is it 500m to the MRT station?
Is the walkway to the MRT station sheltered?
How far is the carpark?
Is the walkway to the carpark sheltered?
Walk around the corridor door. Any uncomfortable feeling, tell tale signs.
Floor plan - are there any irregular or odd shape?
Who will be my potential neighbours?
See where the lift landing is to check if there will be a lot of traffic walking past your house
"Any amenities nearby, like coffeeshop, wet market, NTUC etc.?
Place more emphasis on food, because u are likely to travel to buy groceries (which is heavy) and also for meals."
Near expressway? Near religious places? Near kids playground? Will it be noisy? Will it affect our sleep? May have to visit at different timing. 9am | 3pm | 8pm | Sunday | Wendesday
Near to mrt lines will also have noise issue. Like expressway. Can u live with it? Mrt lines run till night and they do servicing between 1 to 4am too.
Walk around the area, is it well lit? Walk up and down the staircase, dirty? Surrounding is it full of people or quiet? Police station nearby? Is there a lot of pple loitering? Is is dirty, badly maintained, bad smells?
Any signs of loanshark activities? Look at the walls of the gate/door.. Is it freshly painted?
See where the lift landing is to check if there will be a lot of traffic walking past your house?
If they said 5 min walk, you have to personally walk and see if it is really 5 min walk.
Inside the unit
First Impression and Vibes - Excellent, Good, Average, Poor, Horrible
Fengshui. General must feel good. Bring a small kid before confirmation, they usually more sensitive to such things. Even if u don't believe. Can visit the same unit more than once.
Fengshui. Door should not face West. Chi Xi Bei Feng
Where is the West Sun? Are any of the Windows facing the West sun?
Sun Facing (East and West). Usually don't want to have sun shining into your bed room especially master room. Will make it very hot. Other places give and take.
Bright and well lit by natural Light.
Check the toilets/kitchen for any water stains (indication of leaks) and smell. The best is to go there on a rainy day. You'll smell it if there is any. Go at 3 different timing anyway, morning, afternoon and late night.
Older flats have to check for piping.
Check the flooring (if you hack it will incur more renovation costs unless you're planning to redo everything anyway).
Are Windows facing a road junction or the main rubbish chute?
If you're going to renovate fully, look for shape of the house. Squarish or rectangular is better than odd shape. Take pictures, lots of it. Find out which wall u can take out. Knock on them. If it's false wall, can knock out. Basically look for things u cannot change.
If not renovating, or partially, look for the conditions of things u don't want to change. Like tiles. Like cabinet. Wall tiles etc. Window frames. Main door. Pipings.
Ask owner what things he will leave behind, like aircon etc. If u want to renovate, ask him to move things away. If not, you'll incur cost in moving yourself.
Check windows. Is it sturdy? Changing window frames and panes can be a cost.
Check the unit noise level at different timing.

 

Advice

Location easy to get to? Nearer to mrt will be more expensive. Have to balance between ease of travel vs cost.

If not going to renovate, can pay a higher price but look for better location since u can’t renovate the location. If going to renovate, then ignore the fixtures.

High floors can be more noisy, but better view. Is the gd view permanent? Will it be blocked by future developments. The good thing about resale is most things will stay as u bought them, since the area is already built up. Check URA master plan.

My personal preference always look for property near mrt (500m) if budget permit. Willl be more ex but worth it. Next time want to sell also can sell high. And easier to sell despite the higher price. If buy because it is cheap (such as not near mrt etc) , next time very hard to get rid of even though it may be cheaper. Buyer will hiam this and that. All about location location and location

For buyer easier to DIY. Paper work lesser

I am biased but I think buying near mrt is not good enough. If possible should be near a mrt that is a interchange like serangoon mrt. Besides that walking to mrt is sheltered all the way. No worry about raining. And got NEX. And during peak hour, always can go inside train cos when train reach serangoon, people come out. And free up the space. If u take a train say at say boon Keng mrt, u cannot go In the train because people are not coming out. And when mrt breakdown, you can always take another line. If NEL is down, take circle line. If circle line is down take NEL. That is why a mrt that is a interchange is good. A lot of people don’t know how good it is until mrt breakdown. When breakdown you have another option of taking another line because it is a interchange. And no problem going into the train because people coming out to connect to another line.

Beyond the tangible aspects of checking out the house, there is also another aspect altogether. In buying the house you will be experiencing a whole range of emotions.

Like investing, how well a grip you get on your emotions will determine how well the entire process turns out. Have fun!

You will feel tired and frustrated after seeing some and not liking any. You will feel elation when u see one u like. U will feel pity when u realise it is not perfect. U will feel apprehension before making the offer. Anger maybe when the owner turns down the offer. And fear when the agent urges you to up your offer, fear of missing out on the deal. U will feel elation when the deal if finally completed.

There will also be many heuristics that will trip you up. Anchoring. Self serving. Confirmation bias. Again, understanding them is key to buying a great unit!”

Try to arrange with the different agents to view different units on the same day.

Buying a flat is probably your biggest commitment. Do not rush into it or let someone rush you into it.


The checklist is still raw and and not exhaustive. I will continue to update and prioritise the items during our “HDB journey”. If you have anything to add or valuable advice, please leave me a comment below.

Armed with all the information and questions, my partner and I went for my first viewing session yesterday. However it turned out to be an anti-climax – it was all over in 15 mins. The unit was rented out and the owner was not there. The agent seem to be in a rush and does not seem very knowledgeable on the unit.

We will continue to look out for a suitable unit and if you happen to know anyone who is looking to sell a 4 room flat within 500 metres away from Farrer Park, Boon Keng, Serangoon, Toa Payoh or Ang Mo Kio MRT. Please drop me a message ya. Thanks!

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