As housing prices remain sky-high, more budget-minded buyers are looking to less costly alternatives; one such option being resale condos.
Not only do they tend to offer more square footage than newer properties, they also promise excellent returns when rented out.
However, buyers should be aware that while such condos may offer a better bang for their buck, they may also cost more in terms of the actual purchase price.
To prevent buyer’s remorse, it’s best to keep in mind that age matters even when considering freehold properties, and to adjust your expectations accordingly.
Regret #1: No Shelter From Unit To Car Park, With Little To No Maintenance!
In District 10’s prime location, one couple found their condo – only to discover a persistent issue.
“We decided to move because we desired the additional space a larger condominium could offer; although there were some aspects we thought would be tolerable, it turned out we were wrong.
One of the most troublesome issues was the lack of shelter from the parking lot to the residence. It was especially infuriating during wet days when we had to bring items in, and when the rain was too intense, not even an umbrella could do the job.”
It’s quite common to see older projects without sheltered or underground car parks due to the availability of land being much different in the past.
This means you may have to brave the weather to reach your car. Carrying an umbrella is highly recommended, however it can be tricky when you have a baby in the back seat and only one arm free to manage the umbrella!
Another issue is maintenance:
“Maintenance is an issue and some of the development is old and falling apart. A sprucing up is in order, yet most people here seem to have their sights set on an en bloc plan.”
District 10 residents can see that the majority of unit owners are investors rather than owner-occupiers. This could bring about a heightened enthusiasm for collective sale attempts, and a propensity to reduce upkeep costs before any possible en-blocs.
Regret #2: The Looming Fear Of An Impending En-Bloc, Coupled With The Lack Of Lift Access, Is Enough To Make Anyone Anxious!
The retiree never imagined that the absence of an elevator in his older condo would come back to haunt him.
“Though I wouldn’t say I fully regret buying my current place, I realize now that it’s not quite ideal for this chapter of my life. With no elevator and the third floor, climbing up and down can be quite tiring, particularly when I have more weighty items to haul. Not to mention, when it rains heavily, the place tends to be slippery and the fact that it’s an older development means there’s no wheelchair access.”
For those considering the purchase of a walk-up flat, bear in mind that this might pose a problem as you age; moreover, there is always the potential for en-bloc sales to come into play.
“The development is ageing, and the looming question of whether it will go en-bloc soon has caused a great deal of uncertainty. I had planned to do some renovation, but it seems rather futile if it goes en-bloc. The neighbourhood has been my home for years and the relationships I have built with my neighbours make it hard to consider leaving, yet I am still drawn to the location.”
En-bloc sales do not promise compensation for your renovations; it all comes down to the Method of Apportionment (how each owner gets paid). The buyer and seller haggle out who gets what in terms of payment, sometimes disregarding any renovations you may have done in calculating the share value.
Regret #3: Very Little Natural Light
The couple longs for their condo unit to be bathed in a warm, luminous glow.
“One of my greatest pet peeves is the old buildings that have windows that take up nearly half of the wall. I’d much rather opt for the modern condos that boast near full-length windows, as they provide much more natural light into the space, and still allow us to customize the look of the windows.”
In the 1990s and prior, picture windows and floor-to-ceiling windows weren’t a frequent sight in condominium projects. Back then, having large windows was seen as undesirable, even a breach of privacy.
Trends and personal preferences can change abruptly (e.g. the current inclination towards open-plan kitchens). This popularity was more a result of shrinking home sizes than a newfound appreciation of open kitchens.
Regret #4: The Lifts Are So Awful That Maintenance Won’t Even Consider Replacing Them!
Mr Lim, who bought an apartment on the East Coast, says the elevators are old and unreliable – but there is no funding to replace them as everyone is expecting a bulk sale.
“On average, once per month one of the two lifts fails, often leaving you waiting up to 15 minutes before you can make it back home.
Last year, there were two occasions when both lifts were out of service, leading to my Grab food delivery being delayed for hours as there was no way to get to my floor.
Another time, the lift went out at 10 PM. I had just gone to fetch dinner for my family and when I returned, I was stuck downstairs.
To get everyone fed, I decided to climb up the 17 stories to our home, and was not able to use the lift until 1:30 AM when it was eventually repaired.”
Regret #5: Water From The Neighboring Apartments Is Seeping Through Our Pipes!
John, an anonymous reader, describes the piping in his condo as ancient and leaking, thus making his neighbour’s issue his own too.
“The age of this building, dating back to the 1970s, has taken a toll on the pipes which have become quite corroded over time.
My upstairs neighbour has a pretty serious water leak, but I have actually been more affected by it than they have been. The water from their toilet has seeped through my ceiling and into my own, as well as into my dining room at one point.
Then last year, I became the one with the water leak as the water from my unit was spilling down into the unit below.
All the money we have had to spend on the contractor, I’m sure he could’ve bought the whole condo by now. Even the security guard knows him by name!”
Regret #6: As The Neighborhood Matures, A Flurry Of Dubious Tenants Set Up Camp!
The newlywed pair soon realized that cheaper units often led to greater rental yields; however, they also discovered that this can attract landlords and tenants of an undesirable nature. After all, they did own a unit close to Chinatown, after all!
“The location is wonderful, yet there is a concerning increase in unseemly tenants. Nowadays, there are plenty of KTV and massage parlour workers around and we have had to alert security when they have tried to conduct their business within the premises.
The Covid pandemic gave us a respite, but the situation has deteriorated – their presence is now in higher numbers than before. Although it is certainly not similar to Orchard Towers, the current state of affairs often evokes those same associations.”
Suspecting that some tenants who had been living in older complexes such as the People’s Park Complex have now moved into the project, we thought it might be related to an en-bloc development.
Such unpredictable factors can be difficult to predict when you first move in, but not so much in newer condos where rents are usually high.
If you’re looking to buy an older condo, get in touch with me and keep an eye out for our upcoming checklist to help you out during viewings.
Meanwhile, follow us me on my blog to read more home buyer experiences, as well as reviews of both resale and newer condos.
Should You Buy, Sell or Wait?
If you’re reading this, you must be trying to figure out the best course of action right now: is it the right time to buy or sell?
It’s difficult to give an exact answer since everyone’s situation is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.
I can bring you a wealth of on-the-ground experience and a data-driven approach to provide clarity and direction. From beginners to experienced investors, our top-down, objective approach will help you on your real estate journey.
I can help you by:
- Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
- Connecting Your Home with the Perfect Buyers – Through stunning visuals, an effective communication strategy, and an in-depth knowledge of the market, we’ll ensure your home is presented in the best possible way to fulfill your goals.
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