Questions to consider when buying resale for your 1st home - Location and the unit's condition

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Now that you have calculated your budget and identified the area, the type of housing and number of rooms you are interested in, it is time to start looking around for your new house.

The fun part of purchasing a resale unit is that you get to see a finished product, rather than a drawing plan or scaled model display. Firstly, examine the layout of the house and ask yourself if this works for you. Are you alright with the asymmetrical design of the floorplan or do you prefer a more straightforward layout with its square corners?

Next, examine the current condition of the unit and check for visible defects that indicate more severe issues. For example, watermarks on the ceiling or walls usually point to water leakage issues which are difficult to resolve completely. Hence, you should think twice before buying such units.

You should also make a mental note on how much renovation is needed to be done should you purchase the unit. Make a list of existing fixtures that are still in good conditions, such as the air-condition units, kitchen cabinets, flooring, and other build-in wardrobes, and ask yourself if you are content to reuse them. Likewise, make a list of things that you will definitely need to change or renovate, such as bathrooms (you would not consider reusing the toilet bowls, would you?) and rewiring of the house to ensure safety, especially if the house is in a mature estate.

Do not judge a house by the seller's lack of good designs. Learn to look beyond the existing framework and use your imagination to picture yourself staying here. What will your design theme be and is this house suitable? If you are fortunate to come across a tastefully designed house and it suits your personality, you could probably save a considerable amount on renovation. However, such nicely designed houses will usually come with a higher asking price. Nevertheless, you should always do your homework and verify that the renovations done indeed justifies the higher asking price.

Lastly, don't forget to survey the surrounding neighborhood and check out the nearby amenities such as MRT station, supermarkets, and hawker centres. Note the distances between your potential house and each of those amenities and ask yourself if you are alright with them. Understand that your future home will have a direct impact to your lifestyle. For example, if you and your spouse love cooking but the nearest supermarket is a 20-minutes' walk from home and both of you do not drive, would you still consider this place? If your new home is not near to a MRT station, would you mind the daily hassle and cost of taking a feeder bus or LRT to and from the MRT station?

Most importantly, if you are planning to use CPF monies to finance your house, you should not be looking at resale units with remaining leases less than 30 years as the CPF board only allows CPF funds to be used for homes with 30 or more years left on their leases. This applies to both HDB and private housing. In addition, HDB loans will not be granted for HDB flats with remaining leases less than 20 years.

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