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Discover 11 Helpful Tips for Buying an Older Condo : A Comprehensive Guide for Buyers

Posted by Jayson Ang on March 2, 2023
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By 2023, the high prices of newly launched properties at an average of $2,000 psf had priced out many aspiring homeowners, even those looking to upgrade their HDB flats.

Even though we may have left the worst of the pandemic behind us (let’s keep our fingers crossed!), the demand for larger homes remained undiminished.

Thus, the logical solution was to purchase an older resale condo, where buyers can still find homes with bigger floor areas, as well as more spacious grounds.

When buying an old resale condo, there are certain risks to consider beyond the obvious maintenance issues.

When looking at the long-term prospects of your potential retirement home, use this checklist of things to watch out for:

1. Perform A Thorough Investigation To Determine If An En-Bloc Bid Has Been Made On The Project, As Well As Its Surrounding Locality

You should also keep an eye out for en bloc attempts nearby – such as another old apartment building across the street. Old projects tend to join together (although this is not always the case).

This is one of the first things to look out for, as the worst nightmare is often to experience an en bloc action after moving into an apartment and renovating it. If the last en bloc attempt was almost successful, then you should.

No matter where you live, nearby redevelopment can come with a few years of noise and air pollution. Even if the builders take all possible precautions, you’ll likely still experience this unpleasantness when the construction is just across the road.

What’s more, redevelopment usually brings with it larger and taller structures which can have the potential to obstruct your view.

2. Check Out The Lifts

If you can, take a peek at the lift logs or consult with residents of the block regarding the elevator. In older condos, especially those about to undergo an en-bloc sale, management tends to overlook replacing ageing elevators; this can lead to more frequent malfunctions.

It’s best to ensure the block has a minimum of two or three lifts. When management is eventually obliged to get new lifts after a while, it might cause the maintenance fee to skyrocket.

3. Walk From The Car Park To The Unit

To get a better idea of the area’s amenities, we must take into account the reviews from purchasers of previous condos, who often reported a lack of underground parking and covered pathways to the parking lot.

If your car is parked in the open, it can be quite a hassle to drive in heavy rain; and if you forget to keep an umbrella in the trunk, you’ll either have to stay in your car until the downpour passes or brave the wet weather to get back home.

But the rain isn’t the only issue – getting into an overheated car on a scorching day is no picnic either, and anyone who’s picky about their car’s condition might not appreciate it sitting out in the elements all day.

4. If You Are A Parent, Take A Look At The Play Area To Make Sure The Equipment Is Safe And Secure For Your Kids

Glide your hands along metal structures like monkey bars to determine the extent of rust.

Older condos, especially those with no youngsters, can often cause playgrounds to become worn out – leading to rust-covered surfaces.

Furthermore, inspect the playground surface; aged condos may not be equipped with the same bouncy materials you find in newer condos, or the ground may not have been spruced up in a long time.

5. Assess The Room’s Actual Size And How Flexible The Design Is

If you desire a modern, open-concept kitchen, you’ll likely need to break down a wall in an older condo; while older layouts often contain multiple corridors or hallways, and even an cabinet – typically used for shoe storage and umbrellas – which might not be as space-efficient as modern “dumbbell” designs.

It’s important to bear in mind that the livable space of a unit may appear to be larger on paper than it actually is in reality – due to areas like balconies, planter boxes, or hallways taking up extra space.

Nevertheless, this is less likely to be a concern when it comes to very old condos as they didn’t tend to feature planter boxes or bay windows.

6. Thoroughly Investigate For Any Potential Leaks That Might Be Originating From The Units Above

Be sure to keep an eye out for any bulging paint on the ceiling (it’s often a sign of water seeping underneath), or discoloured streaks on walls or floors.

If you live in an older building, these issues can be a headache – as they may require your contractor to gain access to your neighbour’s unit in order to fix the leak, something which condo management may not be keen on doing.

7. Give The Toilets A Few Good Flushes And Ensure That The Water Is Draining Down The Sink As It Should

In older properties, the water pressure can be weak when flushing the toilet, or it might take a while before it can be flushed again.

This could point to leaks or plumbing issues which might not be immediately noticeable. When running the faucets for a while, it is also important to check that water doesn’t collect in the sink – as this could be a sign of blocked pipes or other plumbing problems.

It is important to remember that plumbing issues may not always be resolvable, even if a professional is called. In some cases, aging infrastructure could be the culprit; thus, making it very important to inspect the property before making a purchase.

8. Check Out Whether The Side-Gates Are Still Viable

At certain stacks, the side gate is closer than the main entry; however, there have been some aged condominiums where taking the route from the side gate is no longer useful, for example, the wall of a more recent condominium may have blocked the way or the bus stop may have been moved over time.

This could lead to the necessity of travelling all the way to the front of the condominium to get in or out, which consequently can influence the selection of a stack. It is also important to ensure that the gate is secure, for many older condominiums do not really bother to lock it up.

9. Take Note Of Which Facilities Are Actually Useful

Although squash courts may be a selling point for some older condos, the reality is that fewer people play squash nowadays; hence, many buyers find that the courts are merely taking up space and adding to maintenance fees.

To appease a wider range of buyers, some condos have chosen to replace the squash courts with gyms or table tennis tables, allowing the space to be more usable and practical. No disrespect to squash players – we just need to keep up with the times!

Although some facilities in older condos may no longer be operational, like the sauna, other areas like the clubhouse, playground, and landscaped areas may have been blocked off.

Take Parc Oasis for instance, which has been unable to provide its very unique golf driving range, a feature that only older condos have the space to offer, for quite some time now.

Before visiting a gym, make sure to check it out to ensure it is well-equipped and in good condition. It can be a surprise when you arrive at an older condo complex and find broken machines, missing free weights, etc.

In fact, we once encountered an issue where the air-conditioner at the gym frequently leaked, requiring it to be switched off – certainly an unpleasant experience for anyone trying to exercise.

10. Get A Sense Of The Overall Resident Make-Up

When the majority of inhabitants are tenants, an old condominium is more likely to undergo an en-bloc sale; its owners having no personal attachment to the units, likely desiring to only sell.

However, an aging condo of owner-residents presents a challenge for an en-bloc sale, as those settled in it may not be willing to suffer the hassle of relocating and applying for new mortgages.

The number of units also plays a role here, as condos with a larger number of units tend to be more difficult to en-bloc. Older condos, however, tend to have a smaller number of units compared to newer ones.

Avoid condos where the majority of units are held by a single family or corporate body. They will tend to dominate general meetings and control the overall direction of the property. This is what happened to the former owners of Gillman Heights, where the National University of Singapore held 46.86% of them.

11. Ask When The Last Renovations Were Done

If the renovations on the unit you’re considering are more than a decade old, you may need to spend a bit more, as you’ll probably have to tear down the existing work and redo it.

For an older project, we’d recommend looking for a unit that has been renovated in the last five years – this will ensure that any obvious problems, such as malfunctioning outlets or sagging doors, have already been taken care of.

If you’re still feeling unsure or see any warning signs, don’t hesitate to contact me. I also have reviews of some older condos on the resale market, so be sure to have a look – one of them might just be what you’re after!

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:

  1. Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
  2. 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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