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Landed Properties VIEWINGS - Top 10 things to look out for!

Updated: Aug 10

Buying a house should be an enjoyable and exciting journey. For me personally, the fun part is getting to view many houses. The anticipation before each viewing is electrifying!

"Could this be the one?"

Most of us have a list of "must have" and "nice to have" when we are choosing our homes. With every house viewing, we may start to mentally edit our lists. But because house search can be long and tedious and sometimes emotionally draining, we start to lose track of what we really want.

It is not uncommon to hear this comment after buyers move into their new houses - "We didn't realize this when we bought the place!"

With my 10 Top Checklists, I would like to help you go into every viewing prepared and clear-minded. This will help you to look out for all the things that matter to you and eventually help you make a clear and informed decision.

We already know the factors that affect the price of the property. and the location is definitely top on the list. Now, you are standing right in front of the property. What are the things you need to check?

1. Facing

Now is the time to whip out your compass. Don't have it? Don't worry, just download one of the free apps from your mobile.

The most popular orientation is the North-South facing. In Chinese, it's called 坐北朝南. It is said that our emperors were seated in this Orientation as well. In terms of house Feng Shui, the main door plays a very important role because it is important for the act of receiving.

For practical reasons, many people prefer the NS facing because you get to avoid the afternoon West sun or the relentless morning East sun. The air flow within the house is also said to be the best.

But for landed properties especially a detached house, it is inevitable for certain rooms to get some sun from either direction. So when checking the facing, it is more important to be aware of which rooms would be exposed to which direction, and to decide if it will work for you.

For example, you could be an avid gardener and would love some morning East sun at the side yard, or that you don't mind the West sun at the back yard to dry your clothes faster. Take all these into consideration when knowing the facing of your house.

2. Curbside Parking

Besides knowing how many cars you can park inside the car porch, you should also be checking how many cars you can park OUTSIDE your car porch along the curb. Check how wide the road is and whether cars can park at both sides of the road or just limited to 1 side. This is quite an important consideration if you have multiple cars, or when you have visitors who drive.

If the width of the road can only accommodate parking on 1 side of the road, then residents might have to share based on first come first served. There may be situations when you have to park a short distance away from your home.

3. Unit Number

This is a subjective consideration. If you are chill and don't mind any number, just skip to the next point.

For me, personally, as long as the number is not too "extreme", I'm fine with it. What is extreme, you ask?

Well, I remember many years ago when I was viewing for a place for myself, this house's number was 174. It is not an auspicious number in Chinese, and I shall not explain more, but we did not even view the place. Partly also because my mom would probably never visit me if I buy that place. 😬

The reality is even if the place we buy is for our own stay and not for investment, most of us want to know that if and when we sell it, we are able to sell it without problems and get a good price for it. A "good" unit number (e.g. 88, 368, 99) is a bonus while a "poor" number can be detrimental for future resale.

4. Check the Surroundings

Is the house on a quiet or busy road?

Is it along the bus route? If so, are you ok with the hissing sound of the compressed air whenever the bus brakes?

Are you near to the CTE/PIE or any major expressways? If you are near, that's great for travelling. But sometimes you may hear the low traffic buzzing, humming sound from the highways. Are you ok with that?

Are you near a park? It might be great to be near the park if you have small children, but how near are you? Are you ok with listening to children playing and screaming especially during weekends and late afternoons? Some people love the merry atmosphere, some prefer a more quiet environment.

Is there a temple/mosque/church/school nearby? This could affect the traffic on certain days and time, and maybe restrict the demand for the property in future resale. But the proximity could also be a blessing if you are an attendee of the community.

Take a look at your immediate neighbours. If possible, have a quick chat with them. You will know so much more about the neighbourhood from talking to them.

5. Substation & overhead Power Cables

Some people are concerned about staying too close to substations or have overheard power cables running above their roofs.

According to WHO,

"extremely low frequency and radiofrequency EMFs are unlikely to cause any adverse health effects."

Power lines are also considered very safe as long as you stay away from it.

However, if you are one of those who are concerned when you are viewing the house, so are many others like yourself when you are trying to sell the house.

Hence, the prices of such houses may be affected to a certain extent. Again, it depends on the individuals whether they are alright with it.

I have a personal experience with this. The sellers of my current place moved to stay next to a substation, and they are both doctors by profession. The substation didn't seem to bother them when they purchased the place!

6. Layout/Configuration

Many people assume that when they buy a landed property with a decent build up size, they will enjoy ample space within the property. However, a savvy buyer will look closely at the layout and configuration of the property.

A split level landed property (a small 2-3 steps between the living and the dining area) will separate your living space and make it look smaller and also limit your designing ideas. e.g. Forget about placing that grand piano in the middle of the living room!

Regular shaped rooms make the most efficient use of space and are always preferred.

Sometimes, buyers get excited by the brightly lit bedrooms and love that the rooms come with many windows. Or they love that the bedrooms come with wardrobes already done up. Yes, these are lovely features. But don't forget to consider the placing of your own furniture while accommodating the position of the windows and the wardrobes, which are fixed.

You may end up with an awkward position to place your bed after taking into account all the windows and built in wardrobe. And having many windows also mean more black out curtains otherwise it will be too bright to sleep in on the weekends.

7. Renovated or Bare

Some people prefer to go for fully done up and renovated houses to save themselves time, money and effort to renovate. However, there are also people (like me!) who prefer to go for interiors that are more basic. The reason is I always prefer to add my own personal touches to my house. Especially with the kitchen, the most important space in the house in my opinion. I won't feel so bad hacking down old carpentry/walls to accommodate my own aesthetic and functional requirements.

Similarly, if you are viewing a rather bare house or one that is not well renovated or even tired looking, don't give it a pass just yet. Try to look beyond the aesthetics and focus on its potential. Does the house have good bones to work with? If you clear out all the current furniture/mess, what can you do with the space?

You might be surprised what a fresh coat of paint can do to a place. And with some help of an interior designer, the entire place might look very different, but only if you give it a chance. The very scratched up parquet floor can easily be sanded down and stained to look as good as new. And the dirty and retro looking kitchen wall tiles can be replaced with ones that you approve.

8. Condition of the house

Look up! That's what you should do when you are viewing houses. Check the walls for any cracks that look ominous. Generally hairline cracks are quite common in landed properties, especially the older ones. But if they are look anything more than that, it is good to get them assessed by a professional.

Another very common issue in landed properties is water leakages. Always look out for any bulge or discolouration on the ceiling and walls, especially in toilets. If there are, it is likely that water is pooling on the other side of that bulge or dark spot.

Roofs in Singapore usually need to be replaced every 20-25 years, so ask when it was last replaced and be prepared to factor in the roof replacement cost if the condition of the shingles and tiles are already too poor to be rejuvenated.

If there are open roof terraces on the top floor, it is important to check if water proofing work had been done. These areas are exposed to the rain and need to be protected to be safe from water penetrations.

My husband's colleague had purchased a semi-D which looked all good when they bought it in July. But when they moved in around December, they had a rude shock when they realised their open roof terrace was leaking and water seeped into their daughter's room directly below. It was a nightmare especially it was during the December monsoon period where it rained heavily everyday! They were able to fix the problem with the help of a professional, but it would have been so much better if they had anticipated the problem and did the waterproofing before they moved in.

9. Height Restrictions

If you are considering buying an original condition landed property and then do a total reconstruction, i.e. to demolish it and rebuild, you will need to know up to how tall you can build the new house.

And no, the way to tell is not to look at the neighbour's 3 storey tall house and think you can also build up to that height.

Landed properties in Singapore are zoned according to the URA’s Landed Housing Area Plan. This is to

“ensure that the height of the development is sympathetic to the existing neighbourhood character”.

Each zone determines the type of landed property (mixed landed, or semi-D etc) as well as the maximum number of storeys allowed.

So the maximum number of storeys depends on the area your property is in. Usually, it is either 2-storey or 3-storey. A two-storey landed home cannot exceed 12 metres and a three-storey landed home cannot exceed 15.5 metres. However, the internal space and height of each floor is totally up to you. You can even include mezzanines, as long as you follow the envelope control guidelines.

So in the situation where your neighbour's house and your house just happen to fall at the edge of 2 different zones, then you would be misled. Similarly, if you are now looking at a double storey house but it is in the 3-storey landed zone, then you know this house has the potential to be bigger and taller and maximised to its full potential.

10. View again

If possible, arrange your viewings at different times of the day. For example, if you have your first viewing in the evening time, then schedule your second one at mid-day. That will give you an idea how hot it would be at the hottest time of the day.

Or if you are concerned about the traffic during after-school hours because of the school in the vicinity, then drop by during that time to get a feel of the traffic condition. Some buyers call off viewing appointments when there is a heavy rain, but that might actually be a good time to view to check for water leakages.

So there you have it - Top 10 things to look out for during viewings! That is quite a long list, I admit, but it doesn't mean that you have to satisfy every one of them before it becomes a property you should consider.

This is more to help you to be aware of all the pros and cons of the house to help you make an informed decision.

After the mind has assessed the house, pass it to the heart for the ultimate decision! Because at the end of the day, we still want to go with the place we fell in love with.

Good luck with your house searching and viewings!

If you have any real estate matters to discuss, feel free to call me at 82681409!