5 unexpected mistakes homebuyers make when buying a condo

7 min read

Buying a condo is no doubt an exciting time in any Singaporean’s life, especially if it’s the very first property purchased. 

Developers do their best to sweeten the deal and drum up fanfare by throwing in crazy incentives to entice buyers, such as winning luxury cars and lucky draws.

Mont Botanik Residence gave away S$50,000 in vouchers for Jaguar cars for every unit purchased. Kingsford Waterbay ran a lucky draw featuring a brand new BMW up for grabs. 

However, if you’re a potential condo buyer, keep calm and put your blinders on so you don’t get distracted by these attractive incentives. 

Here are 5 things you need to note before pulling the trigger on what might be the biggest property purchase of your lifetime. 

1. Picking based on amenities

Sure, it would be cool to brag to all your friends you live a stone’s throw away from a bowling alley or a karaoke room. Or maybe you want to casually mention the golf driving range or communal kitchen that’s just a 5-minute walk away, ever so often in your conversations. 

V on Shenton mini golf
How many rounds of mini golf can you play to make that maintenance fee worth it?

Although these fancy condo facilities may make your social circle green in envy, you should consider how often you’ll actually use the four indoor tennis courts, three lap pools and two saunas. 

The fancier the facilities, the higher the maintenance fees. These mandatory monthly fees depend on the type of unit you own – the larger it is, the more you pay. The fee covers areas such as the cleaning, repair, renewal. It also factors in constant maintenance of the facilities, including the lifts and all that state of the art gym you said you’d use but will never step foot into. 

Most condos levy a fee of S$200 to S$300 a month. For luxury condos, that may set you back up to S$1000 a month, paid quarterly. 

Will you maximise your maintenance fees, or are these just some pretty amenities you’ll admire from a distance when walking home to your unit? Consider the needs and schedule of you and your family before making a decision.

These facilities may sound good on paper, but make sure you’re not paying for what you won’t use.

2. Not checking carpark availability 

This is a factor that mustn’t be overlooked when purchasing a condo. When you head down to the apartment for viewings, you and your spouse will usually take one car together. However, you may fail to realise that the condo (especially newer launches) only allows one parking space per unit.

car outside of house
Okay dear, let’s play scissors paper stone to see who gets to park at home tonight.

Singapore is positioning itself as a car-lite society, thus the LTA Range Based Parking Provision Standards (RBPPS) was introduced from 1 February 2019. Under these rules, developers are required to pay S$16,000 per car parking lot and S$5,500 per motorcycle lot, depending on zoning regulations. 

  • Condos in Zone 1: City and Marina Bay
  • Condos in Zone 2: Condos within 400m from an MRT station outside Zone 1
  • Condos in Zone 3: All other areas 

What this means is that if you and your spouse both drive, you will have to find alternative parking outside of your condo. Your visitors also won’t be able to park when they want to pop to use your fancy condo facilities.

When viewing the property, make sure you double-check the carpark availability with your agent. 

3. Buying a condo based on show flats

Picture this – you pull up to the condo showroom, and you are immediately transported into the home of your dreams. Soft jazz is piped through speakers, the cool temperature is a respite from the sweltering heat outdoors, the lights are warm and inviting, and the furniture is ultra-luxe. 

Stepping into this showflat feels like a dream, until you realise there won’t be anyone there to fluff your pillows for you on a daily basis.

But we’re here to snap you out of your reverie. Show flats are carefully staged from head to toe by developers with the sole intention of getting you to make a purchase. They pull out all the stops to razzle and dazzle you, making you feel like moving in at that very instant. 

Under the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act is a set of rules for developers to adhere to and depict the housing units accurately. Developers are required to inform buyers of the differences between the show flat and the actual unit by displaying a detailed list and description at the show unit entrance. Buyers will also be provided a copy of that list.

However, the hired interior designers will always put their best foot forward and style the showroom to sweep you off your feet. Keep in mind that some show flats on the ground or top floor may have higher ceilings and larger balconies, which may not reflect the actual unit accurately. What you see may not be what you actually get.  

Try your best to ignore the huge mirrors and swanky furniture when viewing the show flat. Instead, ask for a floorplan and map out what you will utilise the space for. 

4. Not considering the lift usage

Unless you don’t mind getting your daily steps in by climbing stairs, make sure to check the lift availability when viewing condo units. 

It takes about a minute for a lift to travel 20 floors. While that might not sound like a long time, it will seem like an eternity if you’re late for an appointment. Combine this with waiting for the lift to arrive; the seconds will add up if you have to do this every single day.  

Taking the stairs may still be manageable for those who live on the first couple of floors. However, if you’re planning to live on the higher floors, ensure your condo has enough lifts to serve its residents. 

Those sandwiched between middle floors may face the issue of waiting for the next lift if it is constantly full of people coming down from the top floors or contend with squeezing with neighbours. 

Lifts also run the risk of frequent breakdown, especially in older complexes. Some residents had to climb 30 floors back home at People’s Park Complex when all three lifts broke down simultaneously. There have also been reports of snaking queues and long waiting periods of up to an hour, especially during peak periods. 

5. Ignoring condo site

Your potential future home may tick all your boxes – it has a great location on a desired floor that’s well within your budget. 

But don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you conveniently brush off where the condo faces. Some units face busy roads or the expressway, resulting in endless noise and dust pollution. Dust tends to accumulate quickly and settles into every nook and cranny. If you’re the sort who loves fresh air and leaving the windows open, you might find yourself ramping up your cleaning schedule. 

condo review
This user on HardwareZone was lamenting about the amount of dust kicked up from the expressway.

If you’ve already purchased the unit and it’s too late to reconsider, you can install double glazed windows. This serves not just to minimise the dust pollution, but also the noise from traffic. 

Do you have a checklist when buying a condo? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.

If you found this article helpful, check out How to pick the best units at a new condo launch and Home viewing checklist: 9 questions buyers forget to ask.

Looking for a property? Find the home of your dreams today on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co! If you would like to estimate the potential value of your property, check out 99.co’s Property Value Tool for free. Also, don’t forget to join our Facebook community page! 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.

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 99.co’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 99.co.

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.

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Reader Interactions


    • David Lee

      How do I view properties for sale under your listing

      • Jamie Wong

        Hi David, you can use 99.co and search for properties using the filters to narrow down the perfect unit for you!

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