Buying Your Private Property

When you wish upon a dream home, is it filled with everything you’ve loved in a home decor magazine or TV advertisement? When wishing gives way to reality and it’s time to find a home, you’ll want to know what’s essential for you and your lifestyle. That inventory of priorities will lay the foundation for your home search. Here are some things to help you get real.

Price

To ground yourself in reality, you need to figure out how much home you can afford. The mortgage you can afford depends on many factors, among them your annual income, the size of your down payment and your monthly debt. To get an estimate of your housing price range, you can use Ping Mortgages’s affordability calculator which does the math for you.

Housing type

There are many kinds of private homes, but the majority fit into these broad categories: Detached, semi detached, corner terrace, terrace townhouse or condominium. And each has upsides and downsides, especially when it comes to privacy and independence. In a family home, you’ll share no walls with anyone and your home has its own chunk of land. Along with that independence comes all the responsibility for care and repairs. If you choose a townhouse or cluster house, you’re also the sole owner but you’ll share common walls, meaning a bit less privacy. However, you will also share common facilities like a swimming pool so living becomes a community like environment.

Condos come in many shapes but follow this basic principle: Each owner owns the interior of his or her unit and has a stake in the entire building, and owners pay fees to fund a maintenance fee to a management team to handle maintaining the common areas and building. Strata title allows ownership of individual units (termed a strata lot) in a property development and shared ownership of common property such as lift lobbies, driveways, garden and swimming pools. This form of property ownership (particularly in housing) is popular in land scarce Singapore as it allows individual owners to enjoy landed-property type of facilities and amenities.

Neighbourhood

Where you live is as important as what you live in — maybe more. You’re not just buying a home, you’re becoming part of a larger community. What happens outside your door has in impact on how you live your life as well as your home’s future value. So how do you decide which neighbourhood is right for you? There’s affordability, of course, but it’s really about the lifestyle you want.

In the Neighbourhood section of Ping Property’s for-sale home listings you’ll find a Walk Score that measures how walkable the address is to nearby amenities like stores, and a Transit Score which rates how well a location is served by public transportation.

Do a gut check by spending time in a neighbourhood. What’s it like on Sunday morning and Friday night? Test the commute, shop for a few groceries, talk to folks in a coffee shop, read the neighbourhood blogs. See if it feels like this is your next neighbourhood.

School quality

If you have (or plan to have) children, investigate area schools before you narrow down a location. For-sale home listings on Ping Property include great schools information for nearby Primary, Secondary and Junior College schools. Check out One Map can find school test scores, extracurricular activities, student population stats, and community reviews and ratings. Even if you don’t have children, good schools can be a sign of a strong community and may help when you want to sell your home.

Home size and configuration

Do you need a cosy nest or a sprawling compound? You’ll have to balance cost — every bedroom and bathroom adds to the price of a house — with convenience. For-sale home listings include the square-foot cost as a point of comparison between homes.

Knowing what’s negotiable in your family is also key:
• Big yard or a balcony big enough to have some pot plants
• Garage, multi storey carpark, basement carpark or street parking
• Your own pool or proximity to a swimming complex or community centre
• A view of the ocean or a heartland living
• Great room or cosy nooks and crannies
• Stairs or a lift

If a two-car garage or big yard are must-haves, think about what you could trade off. Maybe young children could share a room, or you can live without a study room. Knowing what you need vs. what you want will help your Ping Property real estate agent find a home that fits.

Renovation tolerance

You may find a place that has most of what you need and just needs a little work to make it exactly what you want. You may be willing to sacrifice the time and money to make it happen. But if the idea of plaster dust coating every surface is a recurring nightmare, new construction might be a better fit. Speak to your Ping Mortgages broker to discuss about taking up a renovation loan.

The challenge is to think deeply about which type of homeowner you are before your search for a new home.