Picking a home you like may sound like an obvious thing to do, but the truth is, it’s common for Singaporeans to prioritise things like investment value over creature comforts. That is not “wrong”, but given the current COVID-19 pandemic, living in a less-than-ideal home may be tougher than you think.
Convenience the top consideration for home buyers during COVID-19
According to the biannual PropertyGuru Consumer Sentiment Survey (2H2020), 1) proximity to food and beverage outlets and shopping malls and 2) ventilation and lighting topped the list of features that increased in importance when shopping for a new home during this period (61% and 54% respectively).
40% also cited smart cooling and energy-saving systems, and 33% indicated more lifts per floor and spacious layouts. All these point towards improving comfort and general convenience.
The recent circuit breaker measures have pushed Singaporeans to stay home more than ever, and as a side-effect, may have inspired many to see property purchases as more than mere investments, but as a home they would actually like to live in.
If this resonates with you, here are some tips for picking your dream home.
If you expect to continue spending more time at home, consider paying the premium for a better location.
For convenience, many hope to live near shopping malls and MRT stations. However, good location and accessibility are big factors that can push property prices up.
Mature estates are generally over 20 years old, and fetch a premium of about 10% to 15% because of the many nearby amenities that improve convenience for residents. If the property is within 1km of the MRT station, it could also be 10% to 15% more expensive.
In the past, first-home buyers may lean towards picking a cheaper home in a younger estate, in hopes there will be new MRT stations and shopping malls nearby and its value will appreciate. Surely it’s possible to “tahan” the general inconvenience and longer commute hours for a few years, right?
That may have been true in the past, but many of us are spending much more time at home and are expected to continue doing so. This means having to walk farther or take a bus to run simple errands like “da bao” meals or pick up groceries from the nearest hawker centre or shopping mall can become a major inconvenience.
This is probably why 61% of respondents in our H2 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey said that proximity to food and beverage outlets and shopping malls are more important to them following the break out of COVID-19.
For good ventilation and natural light, pick north-south facing units.
54% of respondents in our H2 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey said that good ventilation and lighting have become more important to them during this period as well.
So instead of picking the most “huat” direction based on feng shui advice, you can consider north-south facing units for more tangible and practical benefits.
Generally, homes facing the north-south direction are more comfortable because they avoid the midday sun, which can heat up your home very quickly. If you can find a home that is naturally cool, you may not need to rely as much on fans, air-conditioning, and other cooling systems, which could also save you some money in the long run.
You can also opt for a higher floor for more breeze and ventilation, but be warned: the windier it is, the faster your home will get dusty.
Although seemingly trivial, this is a valid consideration. Previously, this didn’t really matter because by the time most working adults reach home, their homes would have cooled off from the heat. However, since many of us will continue to telecommute for work (at least in the foreseeable future), we’re likely to spend even the daytime at home.
More tips for picking the best home for you and your family
Although the survey highlighted the top priorities Singaporeans had when shopping for a home, there are a few other concerns that are often overlooked.
For those who prefer quieter homes, mature estates may not be the best idea
For instance, as mentioned above, it’s definitely more convenient to live near MRT stations and shopping malls. However, these bustling areas can be noisy too. If you personally prefer less noise and pollution, you will have to consider if the enhanced accessibility is worth giving up your peace and quiet for.
Since you’ll be spending a lot more time at home, you may also want more privacy away from your neighbours. Private properties are quite good for that, but what if you are looking to buy an HDB flat instead?
New BTO flats tend to offer more privacy, while many old resale units have common corridors
For resale flats, you will want to avoid those with common corridors that your neighbours may need to walk past to reach their homes. If not, you can look for new BTO flats or newly MOP-ed resale flats as those are mostly designed without common corridors for improved privacy.
Carefully consider how much space you really need
In the PropertyGuru Consumer Sentiment Survey, 33% also said they now prefer more spacious units. There are many possible reasons for this, but it’s likely that more Singaporeans need the extra space for their work-from-home stations, or any other at-home hobbies they may be pursuing now.
Although these may be immediate, short-term needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to take these into consideration when deciding how big a home you need. If children are a possibility in the near future, you’ll also need to plan ahead.
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