Buying a Condo in Singapore: Ultimate Guide for First-Timers

Buying a new home is exciting yet intimidating. Find out how to purchase a condo in Singapore, and what you need to consider before buying!
November 16, 2021
Property

City in a Garden - that’s what Singapore is known for, as it developed from a rural swamp area into one of the most advanced and wealthiest states in the world. Finding a home in Singapore is easier said than done, even though the country is packed with HDB flats and housing that makes up to 80% of residential areas in Singapore. 

As with any real estate, suitable housing may be difficult to find as Singapore maximizes its limited land area by developing apartment flats and condominium units to make up for the small space allotted for residential units. 

Prospective homeowners will have to scout for prime locations, but because of good urban planning, most residential spaces will have close proximity to public transport systems and facilities. Here are a couple of other factors to consider when choosing a condominium unit:

How Much Does a Condo in Singapore Cost?

Location is everything when it comes to purchasing a condo unit in Singapore. Some areas may have more affordable housing options than others, and availability factors when you’re looking for a unit to purchase. Properties around Singapore don’t usually come with a land title, so take this into account when purchasing a condominium unit. 

When checking for prices, it is always best to scout for general prices around the area for the best deal. Anything above the market price for the area would have room for negotiations, and as a prospective buyer, you have the right to negotiate with the seller on the price that you’re willing to exchange for the unit. 

Additionally, a condo would be more expensive when a real estate broker is involved. However, many unit sellers would rather deal with a third party for security and convenient reasons rather than go direct. Here are some average estimate prices around Singapore for different types of units:

  • HDB 2-room Unit: SGD 300,000
  • HDB 3-room Unit: SGD 430,000
  • HDB 4-room Unit: SGD 500,000
  • HDB 5-room Unit: SGD 625,000
  • HDB Executive Flat: SGD 730,000
  • Private 1-room Condominium Unit: SGD 1,000,000
  • Private 2-room Condominium Unit: SGD 1,400,000
  • Private 3-room Condominium Unit: SGD 2,000,000
  • Private 4-room Condominium Unit: SGD 3,000,000

On average, HDB flats typically cost between SGD300,000 to SGD450,000 for average units, but expect to pay 34% more for a 4-room unit, and 44% more for a 5-room or Executive Flat unit. For an average private property, you can expect a 1-room unit to cost upwards of SGD1 Million, increasing by 42% for 2-room units, and 74% for 4-room units.

How to Find a Condo in Singapore

Scouting for a residential property is both exciting and confusing, as there are many options to choose from despite the limited availability of units in Singapore. The best way to assess whether a unit is right for you is to first assess your lifestyle, and whether you can see yourself living in the unit for decades to come. 

Ideally, you would want to find a location that fits your lifestyle, and allows you to get to your work, school, and other necessities with ease. Additionally, you will need to scout for a location that fits your budget, as well as consider the availability of units in the area you’re eyeing.

modern home with steel stairs


What to Consider When Buying a Condo in Singapore

Public or Private Property

HDB housing was built to accommodate the average Singapore citizen with affordable housing, and is a good choice for budgeted households who don’t have as much disposable income for a private property. HDB flats, however, are much smaller, which may not be ideal for growing families. 

Private apartment flats offer bigger spaces, which come at a higher price tag. These units typically have their own private security, and are built with a bit more comfort and luxury in mind. If you can afford to purchase a private unit, you may find upscale options around Bukit Timah, Marine Park, and similar neighbourhoods.

Location

Location is key in choosing a prime space to live in. Be aware of the neighbourhood that you are looking at, and how safe it is or how close the proximity of your preferred property is to amenities like malls, transportation systems, and your job or school. Check on area and property news for an updated status on the location.

Unlike a landed residential property, condominium units have neighbours closeby, so be sure to observe and check with local residents to find out whether the property is in a safe and friendly neighbourhood before purchasing. The market value of a unit is also greatly influenced by its location, so keep this in mind when scouting for a property.

Transportation

Luckily for most HDB housing, these buildings were developed near transportation systems, which was put into consideration during urban planning. Homeowners can often find a public transportation system near their HDB residence, making it easy for them to commute to work, school, and around different cities.

Private units are not as well-planned as HDB flats, since these are built on private properties that have limited locations. However, Singapore has efficient transportation systems, so homeowners need not to worry about their proximity to transportation going to and fro places. However, you may need to check out where the transportation systems are located for ease.

Amenities

Amenities both in and around the unit should be considered before purchasing a home. You may not want to end up having difficulty finding your necessities in a town that has a limited number of shops; and you probably wouldn’t prefer having to travel for hours to get to the sports centre in the next city to train for your sport. 

Every homeowner has different needs, and figuring out which areas have the best blend of the amenities you need in accordance to your lifestyle and budget makes it convenient for you to comfortably live in your purchased unit. 

Property Facings

Whether you follow Feng Shui beliefs or not, property facings are considerable factors in deciding for a home in Singapore. Majority of the population prefer luck-facing properties, which drive up the property prices upon selling. 

There are also some properties that have unlucky-facing positions, and these are typically bought at a lower price or by foreign buyers who are unaware of the Feng Shui beliefs. If you consider Feng Shui as a deciding factor, you may need to assess that unit you’re eyeing and if it is a good match for your sign. 

Purchase Price and Reservation

The property price of a condo unit generally weighs the heaviest in all the factors to consider when buying a condominium unit in Singapore. Not only is purchasing a unit a huge decision, it is also often difficult for Singapore residents to find suitable units in the locations they prefer. Many new homeowners often race to purchase the best available unit.

Ask your real estate agent for the down payment system or the reservation price, and whether these payments are negotiable or subtracted from the total purchase price. A reservation price ensures that you have dibs on the unit for a certain period of time, with the seller not offering their property up for sale to other prospective buyers. 

Loans and Financing

You may be purchasing a unit in Singapore to build your portfolio for rental income, or you may be looking for a home to start a family as permanent residents. Either way, you’ll need to fund your purchase, which is why multiple financial institutions offer a form of home loan and financing that you can avail of.

Talk to a bank representative on the loan plan that fits your financial situation, and ask for the maximum Loan to Value (LTV) ratio you can apply for, as well as the duration of your loan tenure and any legal fees and requirements that you may need to submit. 


Buying Procedures for Condos in Singapore

Once you’ve scouted a location, chosen your preferred unit, and compiled the necessary requirements to purchase a residential unit in Singapore, you’re ready to go through the buying process with your real estate agent or property manager:

  • New Build - New build refers to purchasing a completely new unit from a building that is currently being constructed, or has just finished construction. These units have never been lived in before, and usually come fully furnished.
  • Expression of Interest (EOI) - An expression of interest, or EOI, officially announces to the seller that you would like to purchase the property. Fill out the proper forms, with or without the agreement of a purchase price, and provide the required details and documents to the developer.
  • Launch Ballot - You will be given a ticket or ballot that shows you your unit code that is unique to you. Upon launching of the property, you will be able to view your unit, and further decide whether you will push through with the purchase or not. 
  • Property Details Information (PDI) - The developer should then provide you with the complete property information that you will need to make your decision - if the unit is available. As we’ve mentioned before, purchasing a property is sort of a race against other buyers, so you will need to act fast once you’re sure about buying.
  • Reservation - Upon the decision to purchase the property, you will need to submit a portion of the purchase price to be able to reserve the unit until you compile the funds needed to complete the purchase. You will need to submit at least 1% of the cost, or a 20% down payment if you’re already sure.
  • Purchase Agreement - Finally, you’ll be able to do a contract signing and unit hand over once you’ve provided the funds and the agent has drafted up the purchase agreement. Congratulations, you are now a proud, new homeowner!

What to Expect After Buying a Condo in Singapore

Unlike landed properties, condominium units are typically ready-built, with most units ready for occupancy since it had housed a family or individual before. With these units, you may not like the paint job, crown moulding, or the overall shape of the unit. 

HDB flats are usually identical to one another, following a standard size, shape, and design as with most other units. To personalise and customise your space, look for a trusted renovation expert like ColeBuild to help you make your house a home. Our designers will be able to renovate your space to your preferences, so you can truly be a proud homeowner!

For more tips and ideas on construction and renovations, check out our blog today.

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