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Why You Shouldn’t Value Every Resale HDB Flat the Same Way

November 24, 2020
BOOKMARK

Depending on these factors, some houses are just more worth buying.

If you’re looking for a resale HDB flat to turn into your new home, you might want to keep your eyes peeled.

There are many factors that could easily turn what’s supposed to be a dream home for you into a nightmare abode (well, we exaggerate but you get the point). But on the flip side, you can easily solve this problem by simply knowing what makes an HDB resale flat a worthy purchase.

Dover Crescent by Habit

Interior Firm: Habit

To that end, we had a word with PropertyGuru partner agent Justin Kwek about what you should look out for – both good and bad – when you’re out on your next house hunt.

Good: A corner unit

If you don’t already have a property in mind or haven’t started looking around your preferred neighbourhood, Justin suggests keeping an eye out for corner units.

“Because they are right at the end of a corridor, their owners tend to enjoy more privacy,” says Justin. “Plus, some of them are located quite close to staircase landings so there’s some extra space to place your shoe rack or a foldable clothing rack.”

Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 by D5 Studio Image

Interior Firm: D5 Studio Image

Bad: Too many existing built-ins

According to Justin, a resale HDB flat with too many existing built-ins, like cabinets, full-length mirrors and feature walls, are “more of a liability than a convenience” as they could cause you to incur additional hacking charges when it’s time for you to renovate.

buying resale HDB flat tips

“Many young buyers who are in the early 20s to 30s tend to prefer homes with as little built-ins as possible also because it makes it easier to transform the space,” says Justin. “I feel that that’s the direction which most buyers are taking these days, unless they intend to refurbish and use the built-ins for themselves.”

Good: Homogeneous tile flooring

Out of all the different flooring materials found in HDB flats, from marble to wood, one stands out from the bunch and it’s a feature that you should keep an eye out for too. “Most buyers I have encountered tend to prefer resale flats with homogeneous tiles, especially those in neutral colours, like white or even off-white.” says Justin.

buying resale HDB flat tips

The reasons are two-fold: On one hand, homogeneous tiles are easy to maintain (“Most of the time, only the grouting darkens and those stains can be easily removed with steam cleaning,” says Justin) and on the other hand, they go well with most design styles if you’re planning to keep them.

Bad: Aircon or plumbing leaks

It goes without saying that aircon and plumbing leaks are bad news, but aside from looking out for obvious water stains, how exactly can you tell that there’s something amiss? Based on personal experience, Justin recommends taking a look at the false ceiling.

buying resale HDB flat tips

“If the entire house isn’t painted except for the false ceiling, there’s a chance that the sellers are covering up an overhead leak,” he says. “Once, a buyer and I had the same suspicions [that there was a leak] because of this, and true enough, we found condensation forming in the corner of one of the aircon units.”

Good: East-facing units

While east-facing units receive a healthy amount of sunlight too, they could cost as much as $20,000 more than their west-facing counterparts, according to Justin – but you’d probably want to pay that difference if a cool home is what you want.

buying resale HDB flat tips

“It all lies in the timing,” says Justin. “East-facing units tend to get a lot of morning sun, but that isn’t as big a problem because you’re probably already at work by 9am.”

“On the other hand, west-facing homes tend to heat up due to the afternoon sun and that heat is retained in the concrete before it is slowly released at night. So, just imagine coming home after a long day at work and getting greeted by a heatwave.”

It’s for this reason that Justin also recommends viewing west-facing homes between 3 to 5pm when the afternoon sun is the hottest. “If it’s too warm during this period, it’s probably going to be warm in the evening too,” says Justin.

Bad: Messy and noisy neighbours

“Surprisingly, good neighbours are a very important ‘feature’ that homebuyers ought to look out for,” says Justin. And that’s because having bad ones could mean having to put up with messy corridors, or worse still, endless screaming.

buying resale HDB flat tips

“I have had deals that went bust because the neighbours were yelling at their children all the time and that turned off the homebuyers,” says Justin. “But that’s understandable because having to tolerate that would affect your quality of life too.”

Good: Estates that are near to an MRT station

If you don’t own a personal vehicle, it’s highly advisable to look out for a resale property that’s near an MRT station.

buying resale HDB flat tips

“Amenities might be a key home hunting factor, but the fact is that no matter which estate you’re living in Singapore, there’s bound to be clinics, a neighbourhood mall or supermarkets nearby,” says Justin “These days, what matters more is the distance to the nearest MRT station. Generally, the acceptable maximum distance is 3 bus stops, that’s before the thought of ‘Wa, so far!’ kicks in for most homeowners.”

Bad: Units that are in the proximity of a bin centre

Thanks to the implementation of central rubbish chutes, the pest situation in younger resale HDB flats isn’t nearly as bad as that of their older counterparts (“It used to be that you’d see cockroaches climbing out of the chute and into your home every time there’s fogging,” says Justin), but you’d still want a unit that’s as far as possible from the nearest bin centre.

Clementi Street 41 by D'Phenomenal

Interior Firm: D'Phenomenal

“Even though it’s going to smell only in the morning when the trash gets taken out, it can still be quite frustrating to go through the same thing every day,” says Justin. “So, take note of this!”


PropertyGuru is Singapore’s leading property portal that allows you to find, finance and own your dream home. Search for top properties for sale or rent in Singapore, or check out their guides for more property tips and insights!

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