After studying brochures and visiting the exquisite showflat, you think you have found your dream condominium. The agents marketing the development tell you that demand is high and if you are keen, you should decide quickly, maybe even on the day itself. Perhaps they will throw in some additional perks. You look around at the other prospective buyers and worry that they might beat you to it.
Before you take out your pen and chequebook for a purchase of something costing you over a million dollars, here are 5 things the savvy condominium buyer should do first.
# 1 Take a walk at the actual condo site
Showflats these days can be quite far away from where the actual condominium will be built.
Every condominium project boasts their close proximity to MRT stations and other amenities. It would be wise to ascertain whether the 5 minutes to the MRT means a leisurely stroll, a brisk walk or a mad sprint. Try to take the route you will most likely take. Are there steep slopes or dark pathways between the condominium and the MRT station? This is particularly important if you have elderly parents who will be staying with you.
Another thing you would want to look out for during your ground recce is the surrounding neighbourhood. Artist impressions in brochures may portray the condominium towering over lush greenery, when in actual fact, your condominium is in the midst of an urban jungle of HDB flats or other drab structures.
One more thing you can do is to visit the site during different times, including the morning rush hour and after work. It will be helpful to see if the path leading to the expressway is always jammed, or whether you are comfortable with the noise from a nearby community centre, school or town square.
# 2 Check out prices of condos in the surrounding area
Most condo owners would like to think they are getting a great deal on their condo purchase, but is that really true?
Check how much other condos in the area have sold for recently. How does it compare to the price per square foot price of your condo?
Another thing you want to consider is finding out how much the developer paid for the land and the tenure of the land lease. Is the developer selling a 99-year condo built atop a freehold land?
Also, by looking at how much the developer paid for the land and adding a markup for construction costs, you can have a gauge on the developer’s profit margin. This lets you know if prices quoted are already as cheap as they are going to get, or if there might still be some chance of a discount down the line.
# 3 Do the math for your home financing
No matter how great a bargain the condo is, if you are not in a stage in your life when it makes sound financial sense to purchase a condominium, then you should not jump in.
Find out what are all the costs and fees, and the timeline when they are due. After paying the option fee and downpayment, there are Buyer’s Stamp Duty and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty to contend with.
Get multiple quotes from various banks for your home loan and calculate how much your monthly repayment will be. Ensure you are within Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) limits. A mortgage expert like RedBrick helps you with all that.
You should then find out what are the recurring charges, such as monthly maintenance fees, homeowners’ association fees, service/admin charges, etc to get a better picture.
# 4 Read the Fine Print
Read the fine print and if there is something that is not stated, be sure to ask sales representatives. Check what is included in the final price – such as fittings, furniture, and choice of materials. Sometimes, materials or colours used in the showflat might not be representative of what you will be getting.
Find out what is the total gross floor area as well as the total usable floor area, after taking away pillars and partitions, when comparing between different unit or even condo developments.
# 5 Confirm your unit choice
Mock-up models look nice, but they are more for sales purposes than to rely on for making purchase decisions. Look at actual development floor plans to know how far apart each tower block will be, how big the communal spaces are, and where facilities like the refuse collection point will be. You should also check out details like the width of corridor and where your windows will be facing.
Happy House Hunting!
When choosing a condo, take your time and don’t rush into it until you are satisfied that you are fully aware of the pros and cons of your purchase and have come to an informed decision. Don’t let the fear of missing out or ‘kiasu’ in you pressure you into committing. Happy house hunting!
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