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House Hunting Tips for Singapore Expats - Buying a Resale House in Singapore

Updated on June 30, 2011
HDB Toa Payoh in Singapore
HDB Toa Payoh in Singapore | Source

Congratulations, you have got a new job in Singapore and you are ready to relocate. Now the time has come when you need to prepare yourself to hunt for the best house in Singapore. But the true fact is that house hunting in a foreign country is not so easy. You need to equip yourself with up to date info to buy the best deal on housing in another country. You need to find the best location, the best facilities, search for availability of nearest transport, and many more things and an HDB flat from Housing Development Board of Singapore will serve all these purposes. Also buying an HDB is even better than buying a private apartment in Singapore because the prices of HDB are regulated by Housing Development Board of Singapore and not much fluctuation in the price occurs. This is the number one reason why HDB flat has been the top choice of Singapore expats since many years now. Now below are a few tips for buying an HDB flat on loan in Singapore:

  • If you have short listed a location, go to HDB website and check for latest sale value transactions, so that you have a closer idea (suppose if for a 4 room flat the valuation is 360K, then make an assessment to deduct average 25K. This amount is COV; hence, valuation is 360K-25K).
  • Try to clear credit (if more than 5000 SGD) on any of your credit cards for faster processing of loan, so that you have good credit history.
  • There is no mandatory rule to buy an HDB flat from a real estate agent service. If you know the seller you both can make the deal and get advice with the HDB at Toa Payoh directly where Housing and Development Board of Singapore is located. If getting your house financed by a bank, be prepared for 80% loan only.

HDB Resale flats in Singapore
HDB Resale flats in Singapore | Source

Real Estate Properties - Singapore Property | Expats House Relocation | HDB Flats in Singapore

  • If there is a single agent representing both the buyer and seller, then you can negotiate for your part of buyer commission with the agent. No need to pay full commission unless you feel the service is justified.
  • Don’t ever sign the papers to purchase unless you are completely satisfied with the paperwork and final deal; otherwise, you will have to loose $1000/-. You will have 15 days window period to pay next $5K to complete the buying transaction and the countdown starts.
  • Always check the Identity of the Seller and check he/she is the right owner or not. Take photographs of the house with yourself, agent and house condition before you complete the transactions. This will help if there is any discrepancy later.
  • Check all the taps and toilet fittings for leakage if any. Remember bargaining on COV is the keyword. No absolute hesitation on this.
  • If you are not satisfied with the seller’s valuation, you can go for a re-valuation, which will give you most current valuation. Current cost of house valuation in Singapore is $180.
  • If you have completed the buying formalities, the average key hand over period is 3 months, so you can always negotiate for early move-in so that you can save the current money paid on your property rental.

An HDB Resale House in Singapore - Interiors and facilities
An HDB Resale House in Singapore - Interiors and facilities | Source
  • If your choice is to buy private property in Singapore, then bargain very cleverly - no COV concept.
  • Also expect 4% to 5% of valuation as overhead cost in cash (not CPF).
  • Look for a place very close to bus stop and check if market is just 1 to 2 bus stops away.
  • Ask owner for nearest fair price shops, hardware stores, vegetable and grocery stores, etc. and go around and check on your own.
  • Try to have personalized viewing of the locality where you are going to buy an HDB resale house. It helps in asking questions and you can spend some time in the flat to check for different things. It also helps in understanding the current owner.
  • If you will buy an HDB flat located at high floors, this will help you to avoid roaches and pests to enter your house, but don’t choose the top most level, as you will suffer with heat impact and increased electricity bills.
  • Regarding home finance, go for one that has 1 year as lock in period, rates are more or less the same.
  • Buy a resale HDB that is far from busy roads and signals, i.e., dust and sound pollution.
  • In case you have kids, check if any good schools are available nearby your house.
  • Buyer agent commission can be negotiated, so try your luck.
  • Regarding Vastu, better check with the Vastu consultant.
  • Check the racial mix of the block and area.

HDB Resale Flats in Singapore
HDB Resale Flats in Singapore | Source
  • Check how clean and free the public space balcony is. This is an important thing to be noted by expats relocating to Singapore.
  • Observe to be neighbors and avoid neighbors who use public space for their personal business like cooking, newspaper collector, etc. It will be highly irritating once you buy and move to the new house.
  • Check amount of renovation required, painting, grills (important and mostly missed), flooring, kitchen interiors, curtain holders, etc. It’s very difficult to get a renovation done when you are very new in a foreign land.
  • Furniture depends on you. Some people like to buy new furniture for their new house but if you want to reduce financial pressure due to the recent purchase of house, try to buy used furniture to save money.
  • Also check the amount of renovation required that most people neglect during their house hunt.
  • Always remember that if you are buying an HDB house from the OPEN MARKET and not directly from HDB, the sellers will want to get the best for themselves. They will want more cash and they may be ruthless in their bargaining power. You will have to be the same too and even if you like a particular house, most important don't show the feeling to the seller. People can read body language also, you know? And if they know that you like the house, they will take advantage and get you hooked.
  • Also if you are a savvy real estate investor, then one advantage of buying a house would be that you can channel the loan installments from CPF. This would then free up some money, which would have otherwise been spent on rent, so this can be invested elsewhere.

Above were a few house hunting tips for Singapore expats which I hope will help people from different countries relocate in Singapore. Also people who are planning to settle in Singapore for their lifetime can derive some benefits for the above tips. Now go ahead and hunt for your top most priority, owning a house in Singapore.

Power Tips for Buying a House for Less
Power Tips for Buying a House for Less | Source
A flat in New Delhi
A flat in New Delhi | Source


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    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you so much Christian from a Singapore Property Site and Cloud 9 for your visit and comments.

    • profile image

      Cloud 6 years ago

      thank for this post this post is very useful for house buyer and seller

    • profile image

      Christian from a Singapore Property Site 6 years ago

      This will be a great help to those persons who want some house hunting tips concerning resales.Keep up the good work. And if you want to know more about Singapore's Property you can visit