Key considerations when buying into an older development

By The Folks @PropTalk - August 6, 2014 No Comments

So you are on a budget and desire a home with an interior living space that is much larger than what the new condominium projects can offer these days. Your current option, other than moving to Iskandar, is to look at apartments in an older development.

By "older", the wife and I are talking about developments that are at least 10 years old. For those that really crave for space, this is not so much a "choice" rather than a "requirement". There are few options, for example, for a 3-bedroom apartments of at least 1,600sqft that was built before 2004 (as far as we know anyway). And if you only want to consider those that come with no bay windows and planter boxes, you probably would have to go further back than 10 years!

Now that we have established that your best bet is with older apartments, what are some of the key considerations that you will have to take before buying into that older development?

1.     Number of years remaining (for leasehold condos)
You may want to reconsider on that leasehold condo if it currently has 60 (or fewer) years on its land lease. This is because should you need to resell your unit, it will be a tad challenging as many buyers still frown upon old developments with less than 60 years of lease remaining.  

2.     General upkeep of the estate
This is especially important for older developments. Other than keeping a wide-eye on the general cleanliness around the estate and whether the greeneries within are properly maintained, you may also want to inquire about when the estate was last repainted and when was the last time the lifts (especially for high-rise developments) were upgraded. All these will have a direct impact on the maintenance and sinking funds of the development, which will ultimately affect your purse. 

3.     Maintenance/Sinking funds
It may be prudent to ask how much the estate has in terms of maintenance/sinking funds. This tells you how financially adequate the estate is currently and more importantly, whether you need to be around during the next AGM to vote on any proposed increase in the maintenance/sinking fund contribution. And by knowing whether an estate repainting or lift upgrading exercise is round the corner, this gives you further idea on whether more money is needed from each household vis-à-vis the current amount of funds that the estate has. 

4.     Your immediate neighbours
While it is normally a case of "what you moved-into is what you get" for brand new developments, you can typically make "informed decisions" about your neighbours when you buy into an older estate. If you are a sucker for tidiness and you see tons of shoes and other knick knacks lying all over the outside of your immediate neighbours' home, you have to then decide if you can live with that mess whenever you step out of the lift coming home. The wife and I will also advice for you to make at least 2 visitsto the apartment before you make that purchase decision - once during the day over a weekend and once on a weekday evening (say, between 7 to 8pm, when all the school-going kids have come home). This will give you a true indication of the noise levels generated by your immediate neighbours, especially the family that lives on top of you. Doing so may save you from another "Everitt Road" type of incident. 

5.     Any impending/on-going collective sale activity?
Some people will deliberately buy into an estate when they hear that it is preparing to go en-bloc. But if you are really buying to stay, the last thing you need is to spend time and money completing that ideal renovation, move into your new home and then realise that 80% of your neighbours are ready to sell-out within the next 12 months! 

6.     Plot ratio and building restrictions
As potential new owners, question about plot ratio and building restrictions may be the last thing on your mind. But we deem it important to have some idea of how "marketable" your estate is when comes to collective sale before you consider buying into it. Even if this does not happen anytime soon, the likelihood persists simply because the estate is... well... old.   

The above considerations may be elementary to some of you. Please bear with us if this is so. And if you have anything else to add to our list, we be most happy to hear from you!

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