Buying a Resale Flat in Singapore? Here are 6 Things You Need to Check

Demand for resale flats is expected to remain heightened in the coming months. Avoid buying a resale unit that is wrong for you by checking these six things

ValueChampion Editorial Team

by ValueChampion Editorial Team on Feb 22, 2024

red HDB building

Even within a backdrop of constant releases of new Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, HDB resale flats remain a popular option for many homeowners.

As many buyers favour larger resale flats, demand for resale flats is slated to remain elevated for the time being. The number of million-dollar resale flat transactions hit a new high early 2024.

If you’re on the hunt for a resale flat, you may feel pressured to make your decision quickly lest you lose out to other buyers. To help you avoid a bad or unhappy purchase, don’t neglect checking these six things when choosing a resale flat.

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How Much Should You Expect to Spend on a Resale HDB Flat in Singapore?

First, let’s take a look at some latest statistics from HDB to gauge how much you can expect to spend on a resale flat.

The following table shows the median HDB resale prices of selected towns and flat types resale transactions the fourth quarter of 2023. Check the link for the full list over at HDB’s website.

ANG MO KIO*$388,000$594,000$788,000*
BUKIT BATOK*$378,000$593,000$767,500$835,000
BUKIT MERAH**$411,500$856,000$959,000
BUKIT PANJANG*$405,000$503,000$620,000*
CHOA CHU KANG**$508,000$603,000*
JURONG EAST*$365,000$497,500$628,000*
JURONG WEST*$365,000$490,000$588,000$698,000
PASIR RIS**$555,000$663,000$816,000
TOA PAYOH*$370,000$750,000$881,900*

A quick note on the figures above. These are median prices, which means your sale price may be higher or lower, depending on the actual conditions of the unit you choose.

Nonetheless, these figures are useful for two reasons: one, they allow you to better peg your budget, and two, they can also inform you what is a fair value for the units you are eyeing.

Read Also: How To Save Money When Buying A Resale Flat

6 Things to Check When Choosing a Resale Flat

What is the Remaining Lease on the Flat?

HDB block singapore
Source: Unsplash

All HDB flats come with a 99-year lease, and it is likely the resale flats have already exhausted a large chunk of their “lifespan”. More than just the physical age of the unit, the remaining lease may impact how you finance your flat purchase.

If the resale flat you are buying has a lease that runs out before you turn 95, you will not be able to pay for your flat fully using your CPF savings, and will have to make up for the shortfall in cash.

To avoid this scenario, you’ll need to choose a resale flat with a lease that would last at least as long as your 95th birthday.

Note that this cut-off applies to the youngest co-owner of the flat.

Read Also: What Is the HDB Resale Levy?

What is the Living Environment Like?

playground singapore
Source: Unsplash

Check the surrounding amenities and common areas for a better gauge of the living environment you are likely to encounter.

Nearby basketball courts, playgrounds and exercise equipment will attract school children and teenagers, which may foster a noisy environment. Similarly, multi-purpose halls and seating areas would also draw gatherings and groups that may loiter, and will be utilised for funerals and grassroots events.

Having shops and coffee shops located at the foot of your block is no doubt convenient, but you may have to contend with a more messy environment.

Lastly, don’t forget to check for CCTV cameras at the neighbouring units. Such devices aren’t allowed and installing them requires a permit. They are usually only allowed as a means to assist in police surveillance, which usually indicates the presence of troublemakers.

How Many Times Has the Flat Been Sold?

house keys
Source: Unsplash

If the resale flat you are viewing has a history of being sold several times, watch out.

That’s a sure sign that the unit is plagued by persistent problems that are disruptive enough to force the previous owners to flee.

This can range from structural issues such as long-term defects or problems, to social problems like having unreasonable neighbours-from-hell.

Ask your property agent to check the ownership history of the flat to be sure.

Related: Is Buying an HDB Flat to Rent It Out a Good Investment Idea?

When Were the Windows Installed?

apartment block
Source: Unsplash

As the owner, you will be held liable for any damage, injury or loss inflicted should your unit’s window fall out due to lack of maintenance. This can result in a fine of up to S$10,000 or jailed up to a year, or both.

This is where the advanced age of resale units could pose a challenge. Windows that were installed a long time ago and used extensively are likely to have greater wear and tear, which may increase the likelihood of a window falling out.

Unless you’re planning on replacing them as part of a full renovation, you may have to engage a contractor to check the integrity of your resale flat windows if they are very old.

Related: How Much of Your Income Should You Spend on Housing?

What Direction Does the Unit Face?

modern living room
Source: Unsplash

Speaking of windows, know that the direction your unit faces can affect how much you pay in utility bills. Units that are oriented east-to-west will get plenty of sunlight — which is more of a bane than a boon given our humid, tropical weather.

In comparison, units that are oriented north-to-south will be spared more extreme temperatures during the day.

If your resale unit has windows that admit too much sunlight for your liking, you may have to spend on solar film installation, more powerful aircon systems, or other modifications to render your unit bearable.

What are the Future Plans for the Neighbourhood?

Singapore MRT
Source: Unsplash

The scope and extent of future development plans for the neighbourhood is what can turn your resale unit from a “good buy” to a “great purchase”.

MRT stations and transport hubs, shopping malls and entertainment complexes, and even private condo developments can all raise the investment value of your resale unit, which you can unlock in future, whether by renting out spare rooms, or downsizing to a smaller flat in your retirement years.

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide to Property Investing in Singapore

To a lesser extent, the routine maintenance and estate improvement works (think sheltered walkways, fitness corners, landscaping projects, etc) that the Town Councils are in charge of can also help upkeep the investment value of your unit. It may be worthwhile contacting the respective Town Council to find out what future plans may be in store.

Budgeting is essential when it comes to purchasing a home.  Check out the best home loans you can take with our round up of the best home loans in Singapore.

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Cover image source: Unsplash

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