Buying a home is stressful enough, and putting a large sum of money down for one which hasn’t been built yet can be even more nerve-racking.
If you’ve ever gone shopping at condo showflats, you’d know what we’re talking about.
The warm lights, detailed architectural models and luxuriously designed showflats play on your idea of a dream home, showing you what life could be like if you lived there.
But is it really that simple?
While property developers in Singapore generally have good track records, home buyers still need to be discerning and make sure that they know what they are buying into.
Yen Chong, deputy general manager of Qingjian Realty (South Pacific), says it is important for buyers to look behind the aesthetics of a showflat and evaluate each launch based on how well it meets their needs.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Qingjian made headlines last year when it bought the Shunfu Ville en bloc site for S$638 million.
“A lot of people are looking only at the ‘now’… They need to look at the future and have foresight,” she tells Business Insider at the showflat gallery of the developer’s latest mixed-development project Le Quest in Bukit Batok.
Having foresight, she says, ensures you know what your future home can provide.
To help you out, here are three important things you should look out for when shopping for a new condo.
1) Practical design
Showflats can look incredibly fancy with their designer furniture and lush interiors. But behind all that pizzaz, is the home you are buying designed with the user in mind?
It’s actually not hard to see if a developer has designed a home with the homeowner’s wants and needs in mind, but it might take a little more effort on your part.
For example, the units should have maximised liveable space instead of “strange corners” which do not have any function or are difficult to clean, Chong says.
Instead of being enthralled by how luxurious the floor tiles look, buyers should also consider if the materials used in the home are easy to maintain, and if storage and living spaces are maximised for comfortable living.
In the case of Le Quest, a full-height wardrobe and an easy-to-clean kitchen backsplash are among a number of practical design elements that are being highlighted at its showflat.
Your evaluation of a development’s practicality should extend beyond the flat too. Are the condominium’s purported facilities practical? Will you have to pay unnecessarily high maintenance fees because of certain facilities which you will hardly use?
2) Value-added provisions
Beyond asking about the future potential of their investment, homebuyers should also look at the extra value-add provisions a developer can provide, Chong says.
For instance, will there be Wi-Fi at the common areas, and what new security measures will be in place?
“(Buyers) are looking more at convenience rather than just a house with four walls. They are looking for something extra (that can) value-add to what they are paying (for),” she tells us.
Some of these value-add provisions have become so popular that developers such as Qingjian have made them “standard provisions” in all units. They include things like smart doorbells, digital locks, smart air-conditioners and window sensors and cameras.
Besides safety and security features, the developer may also use tech to bring convenience to residents, and allow them to organise group activities through mobile apps exclusive to homeowners in the estate.
An app introduced by Qingjian also allows residents to book facilities, report issues and pay maintenance charges from their phones. This, Chong says, helps to decrease manpower costs and keep maintenance fees low.
3) Developer’s track record
In an age when information is at our fingertips, it is no longer difficult to obtain feedback about a developer’s past projects.
Before going into a showroom, house hunters should do their research and speak to friends who have purchased properties from the same developer before.
A simple online search would tell you if the developer has been involved in any controversies before, or how well it has responded when things went wrong.
Chong says Qingjian, which has launched 13 projects in Singapore since 2008, plans each development based on feedback on their previous projects. Doing so, she says, helps the company understand what homeowners need and want.
If you’ve got your eye on a particular development, speak to representatives from the developer to find out how they have used residents’ feedback to refine their latest projects.