Buying a home is expensive.

If you want to know EVERYTHING you need to consider before committing to a purchase, you’ll love this list.

Through my personal experiences with hundreds of buyers, I’ve found these 107 tips and factors to consider.

Some are obvious.

Some are essential yet often overlooked.

Others are dreamland stuff.

But they’re all here…

Along with tips, resources and useful links.

Check it out!

Purpose (WHY)

  1. Stay

If it’s your first home, most likely it’s for own occupation. When choosing a property, imagine yourself actually living there. It’s an emotional purchase where happiness and comfort take precedent.

  1. To lease

Buying an investment property for leasing provides predictable income over sustained periods. Good for building your long-term retirement nest egg. BiggerPockets, an American website on real estate investing has a great article on why rental properties are the best investment.

  1. For capital appreciation

Just like no one gets rich from stock dividends, neither did anyone from rental income. Leveraged cash-on-cash returns from capital appreciation can be as high as 3-digit percentage returns over a short period of time. With the right property and right unit, of course.

Did you know that there are also other methods to calculate your real estate investment returns? Read more here.

  1. For status

When you’re one of the world’s richest, you want to own something rare and unique. After all, there are many billionaires in the world. But how many of them can own a super penthouse atop Singapore’s tallest building? Just ask James Dyson.

Latest update Oct 2020: He sold the unit at a loss of more than S$10 million dollars! And that’s not including fees and taxes. Even Covid can change the plans of a billionaire haha. Small change to him though.

  1. For legacy

Real estate is a physical asset built on firm foundations and can last practically forever (with the right maintenance). Especially so if it’s freehold. This makes it a great asset for legacy planning and wealth transfer to future generations.

  1. For retirement

Through long term wealth accumulation, real estate can provide all your financial needs for your golden years. In fact, that’s my primary focus of work for my clients and I’ve specially created an Ultimate Guide in Retiring with Real Estate that you can click the image below to read more.

Retiring with Real Estate (Cover)

For Location

7. Close to kids’ schools

What joy and convenience it is for parents whose children’s schools are within a short walk away from home. Sending them to and fro is a breeze and kids can easily return home for meals. Plus, being within 1km of a primary school grants certain entry privileges. While important, be prepared to pay more… especially if within a top primary school.

8. Close to parents

With rising child care costs, young couples often rope in their parents to assist with parenting. Most of the time parents being retired and grandchildren-loving, are more than happy to do so. Staying with or near to parents are also encouraged by our government through housing grants.

9. Close to transport links

To the perpetual Grab-user, maybe this isn’t so important. Or, if everyone in your family owns a car. Singapore’s pretty well connected so you can pretty much get from 1 point to another via public transport… as long as you stay close to either an MRT or a bus stop.

10. Close to workplace

Long commuting time is bad for your health. Getting stuck in rush hour traffic or packed like sardines in a full train isn’t how we want to spend our mornings and evenings. Besides, that time spent can be used more productively. Stay close to work for a happier life.

Imagine this, DAILY.

11. Close to amenities

Where’s the nearest supermarket? Another common question I get during viewings. Or the nearest coffee shop? We’re all lazy people, and if we can reach everything within short walking distance, we’re sold!

Nifty tool: Edgeprop’s Amenities Check

Buying To lease

12. High traffic flow

As we need water to flow within us to survive, so does rental properties need human traffic to flow around them. Where there are people, rental demand would follow. On a macro scale, that’s why we always hear about investment opportunities in the city, more than rural areas. No surprise then the populous central area leads rentals, followed by city fringes.

13. Close to amenities

As for buying to stay, convenient for you means convenient for tenants.

14. Proximity to commercial hubs

Who’s going to rent from you? One pool of tenants are probably foreigners from other countries who have come to Singapore for work. They thus have limited knowledge of our country. In unfamiliarity, they usually rent from areas close to their workplace.

Most would input their work location in the field

Read: Top 10 Reasons Foreigners Move To Singapore

15. Proximity to school

Another group are parents, who come to Singapore in pursuit of a good, world-class education for their children. Often, the father remains in the home country for work while the mother accompanies the kids over. This was so prevalent it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

16. Rental Yield

Ultimately, the numbers matter, and rental yield is one of the most commonly used metrics when discussing property investment. Basically it’s the percentage return a landlord gets from the property through rent. Calculation guide here.

For Capital Appreciation

17. Right entry price

Just remember the famous saying, “You make your money when you buy, not when you sell.”

18. Who are you selling to?

If you buy 1 bedders, your potential buyer is an investor looking for yield. 2 bedders, singles who want an extra room, or young couples. 3 bedders, small families. And so on. Different areas have different demographic demands. Make sure there would be buyers for your property type.

19. Area Transformation

The hot topic now as the newly updated Master Plan 2019 has been gazetted. New commercial hubs, new transport links, new anything. Brings hype to an area and can potentially lead to appreciation in capital values.

Beauty World 2014 vs 2019 Master Plan

20. Development Transformation

You may be confused here… how can a development transform? Well, I mean from new launch under construction to completed. Some buyers simply can’t buy off-plan and will therefore rather wait for it to be complete and knowingly pay the first owner a premium for undertaking construction risk.

See a case study on the TOP-effect using The Clement Canopy as an example.

21. Age of home

Looking at the low price tag vs new properties, it can be tempting to think that the price would ‘catch up’. While that is possible, be wary of buying into properties that are too old. For properties that are too old (landed excepted), obsolescence and structural issues will set in and cap the upside.

22. Rental

Not just a factor for leasing, a unit’s high rent-ability indicates a unit in demand. Often, the attributes which lead tenants to choose a unit are similar to the ones buyers use.

23. En bloc

Every home owner’s dream. Who doesn’t want that multi-million dollar payout? That’s what draws us to lotteries. Regardless of why you think a property is going to En bloc, ask yourself this question: if it doesn’t En bloc, how then? Only buy for en bloc if you can answer that confidently.

The En Bloc Process

Choosing What To Buy

(Back to contents)

Construction Stage

24. New

Always popular and pretty to look at in the show flats… very enticing. Just make sure you don’t get carried away by the bells and whistles and focus on the real stuff. If you don’t need a home urgently, good choice.

25. Resale

Certain buyers will only buy what they can see, feel and touch. These are the resale properties that are immediately available for owner-occupation. Can be a bit dated, but renovations can spruce it up.

Read more on new launch vs resale condos.

26. Sub-sale

These refer to transactions by owners who first bought from developers, and then resold before legal completion. Used to be more common, but less so now because of the seller’s stamp duty. Note the differences.

What Type

27. HDB

Also known as public housing, more than 80% of the resident population live in HDB flats. Hot topics are: decaying 99-year leases and no ‘real’ property title ownership. However, the lowest entry point housing in Singapore with numerous grants available.

I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom though.

28. DBSS

Suspended in 2011, you will find newly MOP 5-year old DBSS’ entering the market in 2020/2021. These are premium flats which possess some features usually only reserved for private properties such as balconies, full-height windows, gated entry, and designer facades. For homeowners who want to stay in something more premium than a regular HDB flat but don’t find it worth to pay for a private property and the associated maintenance costs.

Click the picture to read more…

29. EC

Created to fulfil the needs of the sandwiched class, who can’t buy new HDBs due to high income, yet private properties are a step too far. Even at >$1,000psf as of 2020, still the cheapest entry price for new private property. Only fully privatized after 10 years from TOP.

ECs vs Private Condos. Are ECs still worth it?

30. Private Apartments

Built on land sizes below 4,000sqm, private apartments usually have fewer units and facilities compared to their condominium counterpart. While it may instinctively seem like this would be a good choice for homeowners who want to stay in private property and not pay for facilities (because they don’t use them anyway), apartments often have equal or even higher fees than condos! Reason? Such fees are paid by the owners, apportioned by share value. Fewer owners, more costs to go around.

31. Private Condominiums

Luxurious, full facility sites. These are the most premium category of high-rise housing in Singapore. They range from premium developments at Orchard road such as The MARQ on Paterson Hill, waterfront living at Reflections at Keppel Bay to more heartland options like Parc Clematis, Parc Esta, The Interlace etc… Basically, any condo you see with hundreds of units, are likely private condominiums.

Apartment vs Condo (Singapore)

32. Mixed Developments

Or, in layman terms: A condo above the shopping mall. While convenient, note noise pollution, high human traffic and lesser privacy. Still, mixed development projects in Singapore are popular with buyers, who are willing to pay a higher premium for the added convenience.

Bucking this trend is one of the newer mixed development projects on the market now, The Woodleigh Residences. After launching at a higher price than a neighboring (non mixed development project), it had to relaunch at discounted prices. I made a video on it too 🙂

33. Landed

Every Singaporean’s dream (Only Singaporeans are legally allowed to purchase without approval)… There are only about 75,000 of these. Landed houses provide buyers with customization option to make it truly unique. Mostly freehold, they make good stores of long term wealth for generations to come. Also, no maintenance fees.

Click to know URA definitions

34. Strata Landed

A downside of landed properties, is the lack of facilities. Also known as cluster houses, strata landed has the common facilities you’d see in a condominium, but in a landed housing setting. However, you don’t own the land, and maintenance fees can be very high.

Parc Clematis – Popular Strata Landed Housing.

What Tenure

If you’re not yet a fan of infographics, you should be!

35. Freehold

You own the land forever, awesome? Certainly yes. But don’t let the freehold dream hold you back from buying a place you truly love. Many beautiful developments are also leasehold, especially if they are near MRT stations. Also, there’s that freehold price premium.

36. 999-year leasehold

Often regarded as the same as Freehold in buyer’s minds. That’s because our history isn’t very long, and so there’s still much to run on the 999 years. No more 999/freehold lands are released by the Singapore government, so new properties with such tenures are all en blocs.

37. 99-year leasehold

The most common property type in Singapore as all our HDBs and government land sales are on 99-year leases. Affordable and often in good locations, a bulk of Singapore’s real estate transaction volume lie in this category. The land returns to the government after the lease expires. CPF and loan restrictions also apply.

38. 60-year leasehold

Not too many of these around, as of NOW, but good to know they exist. The first, Hillford, was sold out in day 1. As Singapore’s population ages further, and new property prices continue to rise, I won’t be surprised to see more of such developments coming up.

39. Leasehold on freehold land

Here’s the one to be careful of. If you buy such properties, make sure you’re aware. Because there’s a much less chance of en bloc. This happens when the developer, who owns the freehold title of the land sells you the property at leasehold status.

Because the seller may be hiding something… like it’s lease!


(Back to contents)

40. Full payment with Cash

For own stay properties, by all means. Especially since your home is a liability. However, for investment properties, I believe that the less cash you pay, the better. Ever heard the famous hook: Learn How to Own Multiple Properties with No Money Down?

Imagine you had stacks of this. MANY STACKS.

41. Using CPF

On one hand credited with allowing us to afford homes which we otherwise might not be able to. On the other hand, CPF usage comes with a cost, known as