Resale checklist: Questions to ask when you’re house-viewing in Singapore

house viewing guide Singapore questions to ask when viewing property

Whether you’re buying a resale HDB flat or a condo in Singapore, viewing the property is probably one of the most exciting parts of finding your dream home. (Definitely more exciting than paying off the mortgage…)

Even if it’s love at first sight, there are still a couple of must-ask questions when you’re viewing a property in Singapore. We break down the list of questions by rooms so it is easier for you:

The ultimate house viewing checklist

1. Viewing a property for the first time: things to bring
2. Questions to ask: around the property
3. Questions to ask: inside the property

Viewing a property for the first time: things to bring

A resale property can sport an entirely different personality from the unit just next door simply because it’s been lived in – which is what makes viewing the property super exciting! If you can already see yourself living in the space you’re viewing, you might have found The One.

But we get it, buying a property in Singapore (or buying a property, period) is a huuuuge thing. So come prepared to do to view it thoroughly! Here’s our recommended packing list:

  • Phone with a compass app downloaded
  • A pen/ pencil and a notepad (sure, you can simply type things up on your phone, but some things like room layouts are better and simply more convenient drawn by hand)
  • Measuring tape
  • A Very-Important-Person (i.e. your parents/ partner/ Feng Shui Master)

Questions to ask: around the property

Schools: “Which schools are within 1km of this apartment?”

Those who live within 1km from a school will be given priority during the primary school admission process, so if you’re looking to enrol your child into a nearby school, do take note!

Check if you chose the right location using this handy school picker tool.

Road traffic: “How heavy is foot and road traffic during rush hour and on public holidays?”

If there are religious sites around your area, chances are the roads will be quite congested during public holidays.

Human flow: “How is the access and entrance to the HDB flat/ condo?”

The amount of entrances and lifts affect how frustrated you’ll be during rush hour when everyone’s trying to get on the lift and out of the block. Go at different times of the day and note how crowded it can get.

View: “Are there any buildings planned that could obstruct this view in future?”

Check the URA Master Plan to make sure no high-rise buildings are expected to be built directly in front of your block. If there are, make sure you take this into consideration before signing the dotted line.

Also, privacy matters: See if people can peer into your unit easily from the corridor or above and opposite your unit.

Neighbours: “Any signs of unsavoury activities?”

Check for loan shark graffiti at the staircases. An excessive amount of CCTVs along the corridors can be worrying, so chat with your future neighbours to ask if there are any suspicious activities.

Amenities you care about: “How busy is the gym/ swimming pool/ playgrounds/ hawker centres?”

Maximising the condo maintenance fee is difficult if the gyms and swimming pools are crowded every morning/evening. Request to view the apartment at a time you’re likely to use these amenities.

Transport nodes: How far is the bus stop/ MRT stations from you and are the routes sheltered?

Probably already on your mind when you chose this unit but it’s worth checking to see if there are plans to build a new MRT line near your place. Yes, you’ll enjoy better transport links, but also, imagine living with the noise for a few years! *shocked*

Questions to ask: inside the property

In every room:

Floor plan: “How big is each room in square feet?”

Ask for the floor plan; or, take measurements of all rooms by yourself – especially if you know you’re going to be moving your king-sized bed to the new place.

If there’s an existing built-in wardrobe that you wouldn’t be removing, take extra note of how much floor space is *really* left for all your furniture!

Lights: “Let me turn off the lights in this room.”

During a property viewing, sellers turn on all the lights to show how bright their place is, which in turn helps to make a space look bigger. Turn down the lights and see how dark the rooms are to give you a sense of how many lights you need to brighten up the room.

Flooring: “Are there any damages to the floor?”

Flooring is arguably the most expensive part of the renovation process. So if you don’t plan to hack the floor, check if the existing owner has maintained it well.

If it’s in good condition, you just need to overlay it if you want to change it up – a much cheaper option than redoing the entire floor!

Look out for loose pieces, water seepage, very obvious wear and tear, chipped or missing tiles.

Walls: “When was this paint job done?”

Home owners may have given their apartments a paint makeover in order to show how well-maintained their flats are… when it really hasn’t been.

Check if this makeover was really to cover up some mould or water leakage problem.

If there is flaking paint on the ceilings, you may need to involve the resident in the above unit before you can fully resolve it.

Wall hacking: “What’s the possibility of adding or removing walls?”

If rooms don’t flow into each other nicely, you may want to remove some walls.

Check against the wall plan to see if walls have been removed before and if the wall that you’d like to remove is a structural one (aka you can’t remove it!).

For a guide on what you can and cannot remove, check out this post on HDB renovation rules.

Sockets and electricity: “Where are the wall sockets and is the HDB flat/ condo optimised for fibre broadband?”

Besides the location of power points, check to see if these points have blackened or are ‘loosened’ from the wall. This may indicate that a rewiring job is needed. Which could easily add up to about $2,500 for a 3-room resale flat!

If they’re all good and in the right places, you can definitely save quite a bit of money during reno.

Windows: “When was the last time you checked and maintained the windows?”

Especially crucial if you’re buying in an older estate. Check if the windows are shaky, and ask the seller when was the last time they oiled the moving parts.

There were 48 cases of falling windows in 2019 – you wouldn’t want to cause any deaths or be fined for it!

Heat: “Is the room facing the East?”

Open up the Compass app on your phone.

You would ideally want the room to be facing East, so that the sun brightens up your day and keeps your evening cool. If your living room or bedrooms face West, the interior will remain warm well into the night.

Feng shui: “Am I getting good vibes?”

Generally, the apartment should be inviting and air flow should be good. A gloomy and cluttered flat invites bad ‘qi’ or energy, and it takes quite a bit of research to correct it.

Engage a Feng Shui master to audit the place you are set on buying, or you can D.I.Y. using this Ba Gua guide.

In the kitchen/ toilets:

Sinks/ pipes: “Are there any drainage issues?”

Turn on the tap and look at how fast the water leaves the sink.

Listen out for any gurgling sounds, which indicates a choked pipe.

Open up the cupboards below the sink to check if there are any leaky pipes or mould growing.

Built-in appliances and carpentry: “Are they in good condition?”

If this apartment comes with built-in appliances, check if all of them are in tip-top condition. Fixing a built-in oven is costly so if you’re gung-ho, get the owner to preheat the oven at the start of your visit and check on it when you’re about to leave.

Also inspect any built-in carpentry, especially the wood stuff – wooden cabinets and wardrobes may harbour termites, especially in the toilet where it’s likely to get in contact with water a fair bit. Ask politely to see if there is evidence of this happening.

Ventilation: “Is it sufficiently breezy?”

Stand in each part of the house for a good minute and observe the air flow.

Home Masterchefs, pay special attention to the kitchen. Heat generated while you’re cooking or baking can be unbearable. Food odour can also linger if the ventilation in the kitchen is poor.

Bathroom mould: “What’s the cause of mould?”

Mould is common in any bathroom. The reason behind it is important – is it because of a persistent leakage, a lack of ventilation or just poor upkeep?

If it’s the latter, it’s something you can solve with cleaning services. If it’s because of the first two, the solution may be costly.

Bathroom flooring: “Is this floor anti-slip?”

If you have elderly at home, anti-slip flooring material for the bathroom would be essential.

Space in your service yard/ laundry area: “Can I comfortably move my clothes from the washing machine and hang it?”

Service yards tend to be very cramped, leaving home owners juggling clean laundry precariously and risk dropping all that hard work on the dirty floor.

Will your new/existing washing machine fit? Measure out the area, walk in and out just to feel how chores will be done in this area.

Read more: HDB flat types in Singapore: Guide to HDB flat size and floor plans »

Making your next home your dream home

It might be called a house viewing, but it’s best that you do more than just, you know, view it. Check for things that you can’t see, and the more thoroughly you go through the flat, the merrier.

Happy house-hunting!

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