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Landed Properties - Is Freehold always better?

Updated: Aug 10

Is a leasehold LANDED property worth buying?

One commonly asked question by many is whether to buy a landed that is freehold or leasehold.


Understanding what each means


A freehold property is held by the owner indefinitely. Basically, it is yours FOREVER and EVER. [Unless the rare Land Acquisition Act occurs to your property, which is uncommon.]


On the other hand, a leasehold property has to revert back to the state/owner when the lease is up. So if you own a 99-year leasehold property, you'll have to return the property at the end of 99 years.


In Serangoon Gardens, a majority of the properties are 999years leasehold. Since 999 years is a very long time (a few generations long!), the market value is considered to be the same as any freehold property.


Besides 999 years, there are also freehold and 99 years leasehold properties in the Serangoon Garden Estate. For example, houses in the Li Hwan area and Serangoon Garden Way are generally freehold, while Haus@ Serangoon Garden and Chuan Drive are 99 years.


Lease decay

Despite their attractive lower prices, most Singaporeans are weary of buying leasehold landed properties. Unfortunately, as leasehold properties get older, their value also depreciate in the cycle of lease decay. Older properties also start to look older due to wear and tear, hence affecting the value of the properties.


Low chance of enbloc

And since most landed houses are located in areas under the URA "Landed" zone, chances of being bought over by developers for enbloc sale is very low. Thus, unlike leasehold condo owners who have a shot at being bought over in a windfall enbloc, leasehold landed owners face the gloomy fate of their properties losing value over time.


So does it mean that nobody should buy landed that are 99 leasehold?





If you are an investor or if money is not an issue, I'd say definitely go for freehold. Freehold properties have the advantage of retaining their values better against their leasehold counterparts.


Other considerations

But if you are buying purely as a homeowner for your own stay, there are other factors you should also consider, such as your lifestyle, the location of the property and proximity to amenities.


Lifestyle

People who choose a landed living lifestyle place a high emphasis on their privacy and space. With a lot more space between neighbours as well as within your own family members, everyone gets his/her own personal space. In times of work at home arrangements, having such space is a blessing and also a luxury.



I remember during the Circuit breaker in April 2020, many of my friends had a very difficult time because everyone was cooped at home for the most part of 24/7. Because of space constraints within the house, the parents had to work on their laptops at the living rooms where their children were also watching TV. It was challenging to say the least! The same dining table had to be shared for work at home parents and SLS for the children. Things got a bit chaotic, and sometimes tempers flew. Many friends lamented how they wished they had more space in their homes.


With landed properties, families with children can also appreciate the backyard space or the car porch that staying in a landed property provides. When my children were young, the sand pit and water play stations set up at our side yard entertained them for hours! The kids also enjoyed the simple fun activity of washing our car at our car porch and also gardening!


Location

Most freehold landed properties are tucked deeper in and further away from the everyday conveniences for exclusivity. You probably need a car for easier accessibility. You probably also need to consider the accessibility to public transportation when your children are older, since we can't possibly be ferrying them eveywhere, can we? The availability of everyday conveniences is also a consideration, though with Grab just a click away, nothing is too far away.


Maintenance

I have a friend who swears she will never want to stay in a landed property. Why, I asked? "I don't want to take care of the maintenance of the house!" Well, there is some truth to it. Living in a house, you basically have to take care of everything related to it. If there is a tree outside your property but on your curb, it is your responsibility to trim it and take care of it. If your roof is leaking, there is no MCST office to call, you just have to fix it yourself. If you have a swimming pool or a lift, you will incur added expenses as well to maintain them.


Price Consideration

And of course, price is a huge deciding factor. Freehold landed properties are generally 10-15% higher than their leasehold counterparts. Do you want to fork out a bigger amount of money for a freehold status for asset building to pass to your children, or choose a relatively cheaper leasehold in exchange for a better cash flow and perhaps a more comfortable retirement?


If you only intend to live out the lease without the need for resale or pass the property down to your children, the leasehold landed property might be a better choice for you.




Conclusion

In reality, both freehold landed and leasehold landed owners share the same quality of life. The space and luxury of living in a landed is the same for all. The real difference is in value retention of the properties and your personal priorities and budget. Ultimately, you should make the choice based on the needs and priorities of you and your family.


Hopefully this is useful to you! If you would like to discuss further, feel free to contact me at

8268 1409!



 

You might be interested in these readings -


Can foreigners and PRs buy landed properties in Singapore?

Are landed properties good investments in Singapore?