An older version of this article is still available here.
If you’re in the market for a resale HDB flat and want to lock in your actual dream home that ticks the boxes of all your requirements, check out this guide before you make any decisions.
#1: What type of HDB flat are you looking to buy?
There are different types of HDB units for different types of buyers. For example, a 2-room flat is great for singles or low-income families and the bigger, 4-room types are more suited for young couples or families.
To know what will work for you, here are the different HDB flat types and the buyer profiles they may be intended for:
- Studio apartment – For one or two people who wish to live independently. They are available in 36 and 45 sqm varieties. Even the elderly can opt for this.
- 2-room flat – Hovering at 45 sqm, this dwelling targets smaller households.
- 3-room flat – Coming at 60-65 sqm each, this flat is a great living option for growing families who are still on a budget.
- 4-room flat – At a modest 90 sqm, this unit affords its owners an adequate amount of space. The best part about it is that it’s customizable; the space can be tailor-fit for whatever your needs may be.
- 5-room flat – A much more spacious variation of the other flats, this variety offers a full 115 sqm of living space, which is more than enough for most.
- 3Gen flat – Specifically for multi-generational families, the 3Gen comes at 115 sqm. If you want to see them for yourself, units like these can be found in Yishun.
#2: How much can you afford?
Buying a home will be one of the biggest investments you’ll make in life, and they’re not exactly cheap, so it’s important to know your budget before committing to a flat purchase.
To determine your budget, you should review your bank statements and spending habits for the last couple of months to figure out how much you’re spending on everything from phone bills to streaming services to restaurant takeouts.
You should also calculate:
- How much you can loan from HDB or the bank
- The amount of CPF savings you have in your Ordinary Account
- If you’re eligible for any CPF housing grants
- Your total cash savings and how much you’re willing to fork out for this property purchase
This is important to work out because your budget will be used for:
- Property purchase price
- Stamp duty
- Legal fees
- Resale levy (if any)
- Moving expenses (if any)
- Renovation (if any)
You can use Ohmyhome’s Affordability Calculator to work out the sums. Simply fill in the details for each field, like how much For a more in-depth financial calculation and professional advice from an experienced property agent, WhatsApp us at 9755 9283 and our Relationship Managers will connect you with one of our agents.
Now that you have a better sense of your budget, figure out where you want to live.
#2: Where do you want to stay?
Location is one of the main things that potential home buyers consider, and it might be the same for you. But how do you even go about choosing where you want to live?
1. Choose a neighbourhood
What makes a good neighbourhood? The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. But you can quickly narrow your choices by focusing on some key factors:
- Where can you afford a home?
- Are you working from home or commuting?
- Do you want to be near good schools?
Spend some time in the neighbourhoods you’re considering and check out the shops, restaurants and public spaces to get a better feel for the place. This will give you a better sense of your proximity to amenities, such as schools, malls, grocery stores and recreation/entertainment centres, that will aid your lifestyle.
2. Visit the property and go for a viewing or open house
Chances are that even before you’ve officially started your home search, you’ll have spent a little time browsing property search platforms such as Ohmyhome, to see the homes available in the town you’re considering.
To zoom in on what you truly want, you may eliminate sections of your chosen town that don’t have the style or size of home you want at the price you can afford. Going to open houses and home viewings can also help you get a better sense of what’s in store in the area.
Is the HDB block right next to the road or a playground? If it is, it may get noisy at certain hours. After school, the sound of children screaming may grate on your nerves. Or during peak hours, you may hear more honking and engines revving.
Seeing the state of a home in real-time and getting to poke around the space will also reveal things that video simply can’t. What if your property agent is using an old Samsung instead of the latest iPhone and due to poor video quality, you can’t really tell if the wall paint is peeling or if there are pests hiding in nooks and crannies?
That’s why, during the viewing, you should:
- Open the closets to check the storage space.
- Pull back the curtains to consider the view, especially from your bedroom. Is it facing the loading or unloading bay? These areas can get noisy during peak hours.
- Does your kitchen catch the afternoon sun? This is important as it’s where homeowners usually hang their laundry to dry. North-South facing is also generally preferred by buyers for a lesser amount of direct sunlight and better cross-ventilation throughout the year.
- Inspect the pipings, ceilings and walls to consider the maintenance needed to keep the flat in shape.
- Ask a lot of questions: How far is the home from trains and buses? If you are working from home, what is the daytime noise level? Why do the sellers want to move? When were the last improvements? How much do utilities cost? Have any offers already been made?
If you have a packed schedule, opt for virtual tours instead! Thanks to advanced technology, most listings will be accompanied by a 3D walkthrough of the home. You may also ask your agent to view a unit for you while on a video call with you.
#3: Is the flat maintained well?
Maintenance is key when owning a home. But with a resale HDB flat, you can never be too confident of the previous owner’s home maintenance efforts. Here are some things to check:
- Are the floor tiles in good condition?
Check if they’re cracked or uneven, which may happen over time. Tiles may even dislodge if the temperature dips. Replacing your tiles may add to your already long list of expenses in buying a home, so if you don’t want to include tiling works in your home reno — if you’re even planning on one — ensure that the tiles are in good condition.
- Are the doors still intact?
Doors may sag over time and become misaligned with the latch. When this happens, you can adjust the loose hinges — but this takes time and effort that you may be better spent somewhere else.
- Are the electric sockets still working or do you need to get them replaced?
Electronics like your TV and appliances like your refrigerator are just some of the essentials that you need to plug in, and damaged electric wiring and sockets can be troublesome. More importantly, if it’s in good condition, you can avoid electric leakage that could lead to potentially fatal electric shocks or even a fire-related accident.
- Are there any choked or leaking pipes? A clogged or leaking drain pipe may seem like a small problem, but it can snowball into a bigger and more expensive issue like flooding, corrosion, slow water drainage, or even sewage backup.
- Are the walls damaged? There have been cases of shoddy renovations damaging the neighbouring wall or careless contractors who stuff newspapers inside the flat’s walls, and you wouldn’t want to be the recipient of that nightmare. So during your viewing, make sure to check the walls and ceilings, because repair costs can be quite costly.
#4: How old is the HDB flat?
The longest remaining lease a resale HDB flat can have is about 94 years. When HDB flats are first built, they have a fresh, 99-year lease. For it to become a resale flat, you will need to wait 5 years — the typical Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) — before you can sell it on the open market.
So if you deduct the 5 years from the 99-year lease, then a freshly MOP-ed resale HDB flat has about 94 years left — assuming that you sell it immediately upon MOP.
Now, resale HDB flats decrease in value once it only has about 30 or 40 years left on their lease, which makes it harder to sell in the future, maybe even risking selling it at a loss. Lee Hsien Yang calls this “the ticking time bomb of lease decay”, in which HDB flats turn into “depreciating assets worth zero”.
So a relatively newer resale flat may be better for you, with at least about 80 years’ lease left. They may be in better shape and require less renovation work as well.
Looking for an HDB or private property?
Let Ohmyhome’s smart data-matching technology MATCH you with the right home, according to your specific needs. Submit your preferences to us and our algorithm will filter all our available listings based on those, and we’ll WhatsApp them to you once we find a match. We’ll also send you relevant content that you can use for your research and inform your home buying decision, so you no longer have to spend hours searching online for the information that you need. Because at Ohmyhome, we’re always by your side, always on your side.
You can also call us at 6886 9009 to secure an appointment with any of our Super Agents or message us in the chatbox at the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen. You can also WhatsApp us at 9755 9283!