Here are 5 weird things buyers look for

10 min read

Sellers and property agents make a lot of assumptions about what buyers want in a home. When we speak to property buyers, however, we come across surprising revelations and be stunned by how far off their priorities can be from common assumptions (e.g. near MRT stations, schools).

Our conclusion? Singaporean home buyers can be a strange lot, going by the quirky things that prompt them to buy or walk away. These are some odd make-or-break factors about our local house hunters you might not know about, that could just help you sell your house.

1. Space for fish

We’re not talking about space for one or two goldfish, but serious square footage. And we’re referring to die-hard fish enthusiasts who spend tens of thousands of dollars on their arowana, koi, stingrays, and the like.

These people can form a whole different class of property buyers. Those who want a koi pond in their landed property ask questions you probably can’t answer, such as whether there are predatory or poisonous animals (to their fish) in the area (remember those headlines about otters eating koi fish?), or how much vibration comes from the road. Even the most seasoned property agents are at a loss for answers.

As for those with huge fish tanks, they have specific living room requirements that might seem odd to the seller. Many don’t care about your expensive feature wall or fancy partition, for example, because they’re going to have it knocked down. What they want in its place is a gigantic aquarium. In their minds, they’re busy thinking about how all the tubes and cables will link up.

family looking at fish at S.E.A. Aquarium
We know of buyers that dream of having this in their next home…Image credit: S.E.A. Aquarium

And make no mistake, these people will turn down your property even if it’s 10 minutes from their office and at a good price, just because it’s not right for their fish. Never underestimate how much their koi’s needs affect how they value your property.

Selling tip: Be clear of HDB and condo regulations on keeping fish in the unit. For instance, HDB stipulates that for fish tanks that are supported by a four-legged rack or cabinet, the maximum weight must not exceed 600kg, regardless of the number of tanks in a room.

HDB regulation on fish tanks
Source: HDB

So don’t overpromise, such as by telling the buyer they can use the entire balcony for their koi pond.

2. Enclosed kitchen

You probably know there’s a current trend towards open kitchens. In fact, HDB flats now use this layout as a default.

The reason is that, as unit sizes get smaller, many people find that an open kitchen enlarges the space and lets them join the dining room and the kitchen (e.g. have the countertop double up as the dining table).

living room and kitchen of @nurfish
In the case of one family we previously interviewed, the kitchen was already open concept when they viewed the unit. Image credit: Alfisyah

In response, there is a category of buyers who are hugely unimpressed, as if open kitchens are practically against their religion. The more the trend grows, the more vocal they get about the importance of not having an open kitchen. The moment they see an open kitchen, their faces darken, and they’ll explain the key drawbacks such as cooking fumes choking the living room, children (or daughters-in-law) going into the kitchen unsupervised or that it simply looks messy.

All of this is in your favour, though, if you have an old-school property with an enclosed kitchen. For all you know, your “old fashioned” layout is what charms a buyer into closing the deal. In fact, on property portal, we see many property agents touting their clients’ enclosed kitchens in their sales pitches.

Selling tip: Some sellers offer to re-enclose their kitchen (i.e. put up drywalls) as part of the deal, if the layout allows for it.

HDB flats for sale


Condos for sale


3. Garbage chute at home

Ever looked at the garbage chute in your HDB flat? You may not think much of it, but it’s sometimes the dealbreaker for some buyers.

You see, and here’s a little bit of trivia, the HDB started building flats with centralised rubbish chutes in the 90s. So, newer HDB flats don’t have individual garbage chutes in each unit, and residents have to dispose of their garbage at a common chute near the lobby on every floor. This was done to reduce maintenance costs and pest problems. If it’s poorly maintained, roaches and rats can enter your flat through the chute.

And from April 2018 onwards, all non-landed private projects with 500 units or more must implement the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS) — a more hygienic and efficient means of waste disposal. This essentially means that most new condos will have a centralised garbage chute.

Despite society’s progress, there is a group of property buyers who refuse to accept the lack of a “private chute”. This isn’t out of laziness, and they often have a good reason for it. Elderly residents, for instance, see dragging out the garbage as a big chore.

Or even if they’re young and fit, then…well okay, then we guess it is out of laziness. But in any case, whether your garbage chute is in your home can be a make-or-break factor for certain buyers.

Selling tip: Always tout the benefits of not having a chute at home, if buyers ask about one. Also, mention government initiatives like the one above, which could change their opinion of garbage chutes.

Seller in-house CTA banner

4. Unit number

We’re not even talking about traditionally lucky or auspicious numbers, such as #08-88. You already know that affects some buyers’ decisions.

Some buyers will favour your unit because the numbers have a personal relevance to them. For example, we know of some buyers who will buy a home with a unit number picked by their spiritual medium to guarantee their happiness (it could be a number that “resonates” with their birth date and time). Some buyers pick a unit because its numbers match a winning 4D ticket they had or because it matches their wedding dates.

These buyers are often willing to fork out a little more to secure your unit. This is why agents always engage them in casual conversation to see if any peculiar requirements match a unit they’re currently seeking buyers for. (Pro tip: If you’re the buyer and you fancy a unit because of its unit number, keep it to yourself. Don’t let the seller know how badly you want their unit!)

Selling tip: If a buyer mentions that they are interested in your unit because of the block and/or unit number, they might have other more peculiar, super-specific concerns or needs, which you can use to your advantage if you uncover them.

5. An oddly specific item that’s already in the house

This one happens more often than you think. Some buyers are insistent that certain items in the house be included with the purchase, which usually involves furnishings like sofa sets and antique lights. However, you’ll be surprised at how downright weird some requests can get.

One seller, who declined to be named, told us that a prospective buyer had insisted that she include her two cats in the purchase. They weren’t purebred or rare species; the seller simply took a liking to one of them, and wanted to include it. Afterwards, the seller requested both cats so it wouldn’t be alone. The deal failed to go through when the seller didn’t want to part with her cats. (Note: the cats were the specific reason the sale failed.) 

cat lying on a bed
Living creatures should NOT be part of a property deal, in our opinion, despite the requests of certain buyers.

We’ve also known of buyers wanting the seller to part with their private collections, such as a wall of signed posters by Hong Kong movie stars, all the designer shoes in a seller’s walk-in closet, and a seller’s old sports trophies. Buyers have signed or walked away from deals, just based on whether sellers accede to these bizarre requirements.

Selling tip: Stick to the business of selling the property itself and only go as far as including furniture you or the seller is willing to part with. Bringing “valuable collections” and “personal items” into the inventory can be a source for future disputes, or even lawsuits.

Planning to sell your house soon? Let us connect you with a property consultant.

If you found this article interesting, recommends 6 things every recently MOPed / post-SSD seller must avoid when selling their home and Should Singapore homeowners renovate before selling?

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

Join our social media communities!

Main Facebook page
Facebook #All Things HDB page
Facebook #Condo-Maniacs page
Facebook #UHNWIs Luxury Homes page
Instagram Main
Instagram #HouseInsights
Instagram #HouseTips
TikTok Main
TikTok #HouseTips

Reader Interactions


    • Darren

      The requirement for pneumatic waste chute has nothing to do with whether the chutes should be centralised or decentralised. In fact, many projects were built with decentralised chutes (I.e. in individual homes) using pneumatic system. What incentivised Developers and HDBs to build a centralised chute is the need for an additional recyclables chute for sustainability reasons. There is just no way to provide two chutes within every unit, so providing two centrally is easier.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.