Condo show flats are a great way to learn more about the features of a condo and the variety of units available to buy. At show flats, we’re usually also treated to impressive interior design and theatrical furnishings, all in pristine condition.
While most of us know that what we see at show flats is different from the empty units we’ll eventually get if we decide to buy, it’s still tempting to buy into the ultimate fantasy of what could be.
How can we be more discerning homebuyers? Read on for 11 things you should look out for when visiting a show flat in Singapore. And if you’re in the market to buy a condo soon, you can use this guide when checking out show flats in our new The Grand Property Quest.
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11 Things to Look Out for at Condo Show Flats
1. Check Window Sizes and Which Direction the Unit You’re Considering Will Face
Show flats are always lit with artificial lights and are permanently bright.
“If you want to access the amount of natural light and ventilation a space will receive, you will need to access the type and sizes of its windows,” said Dr Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager – Singapore, PropertyGuru. “For example, large windows will not only allow more light into a room, they can also help to facilitate air flow.”
Remember to also compare it with the facing of the unit you’re considering, to see if it will feel the brunt of the hot sun.
2. Look Out for Floor Tape: Some Developers Remove Walls for Aesthetic Purposes
Developers might take down a couple of walls to create a better aesthetic flow. The government has ruled that developers need to show where the walls are, and how thick they are.
Most developers will demarcate this with tape on the floor. So while you’re marvelling at the expanse of space, look down to check if the unit will still look the same when you collect the keys. If you’re thinking of taking down any walls, check the floorplans to see which walls can and cannot be removed.
3. Check the Quality of Interior Doors
The doors to the bedrooms and bathrooms are often a place where costs and corners are cut. Doors should swing smoothly, feel substantial, and should not sound particularly hollow when you knock on them.
For smaller units in particular, it is important to have good quality doors to maintain privacy and reduce noise from entering the bedrooms. If the doors turn out to be inadequate when you finally move in, they could cost quite a bit to replace.
4. Assess Whether the Flow of the Space Works For You
“Ensure that the layout of the unit fits your lifestyle. This includes considerations for the positioning of the kitchen sink and stove, the height of appliances, and the directions in which doors and windows open,” said Linda Yang, Associate Division Director of Propnex Realty.
It is easy to be distracted by the beauty of the decor. However, think about the flow of the space, and how you and your family will use it. For instance, think about your cooking habits in the kitchen, and if the current layout would work for you. Changing the layout of the kitchen can be expensive.
Open layouts, where the dining area, kitchen, and living room are combined in a single space, are very common these days. However, some people might prefer separate spaces, to prevent cooking grease and smells from affecting the whole apartment.
5. Spot Design Tricks That May Be Used to Cover Up Odd Corners
In general, Singaporeans like regular layouts, because they flow better and help with the placement of furniture. Many design tricks can help to minimise the odd dead corner, such as hiding it with a partition or covering it up with plants and vases.
Buyers should always check the official floor plans to see if there are any odd corners. In particular, sharp triangular corners are considered bad feng shui. Even if you do not subscribe to feng shui, it could affect resale potential in the future.
6. Count the Number of Pocket Sockets that will Come with the Unit
“Verify with the developer the quantity and placements of power points, which may not always be showcased in show flats,” said Linda Yang.
The number of devices and appliances we have will only increase in the future. For areas like the kitchen, bedside and walls where televisions can be mounted, buyers should always check for an adequate number of power sockets. While more power sockets can always be installed after completion, it is an additional cost, and the renovation would delay your move into the unit.
7. Check the Kitchen Appliance Package
Buyers should always check what kitchen appliances are actually provided; not all the appliances on display might come with the completed unit. Many developers leave out washer-dryer machines and refrigerators, which could cost thousands of dollars.
Even if buyers have existing appliances, they would need to be changed if they can’t fit. Furthermore, most condominiums have rules against hanging clothes to dry on the balcony, so a washer-dryer unit, which costs more than a regular washing machine, is a necessity.
8. Clarify the Quality and Level of Maintenance Required for Various Surfaces
Each surface has been polished to perfection. However, savvy buyers should always clarify what the materials used are, and familiarise themselves with their pros and cons. For instance, a common, low-cost material used for kitchen counters is a solid surface.
While durable and easy to clean, it can be affected by high heat and needs to be protected from hot pots and pans by trivets or placemats. On the other hand, marble is heat-resistant and beautiful, but is expensive and requires more maintenance.
Dr Tan Tee Khoon adds, “Look for telltale signs of the meticulous craftsmanship that you can find from developers. Do note that there are some installations labelled ‘ID’. These installations will not be included in the specifications of your unit.”
9. Check the Bathroom Fittings That Will Come with the Actual Unit
Most bathrooms are designed to look like luxurious spas. However, check to see what is provided. Often, wall cabinets are not provided, or might come in a plainer form than what is displayed. Fittings like the shower, toilet, bathroom tap and sink should be of good quality, too.
Look for windows in the bathrooms as well; they are necessary to prevent our humid weather from causing mould. For bathrooms without windows, a ceiling ventilation fan should be provided, but that requires more maintenance.
10. Read Between the Lines When Agents Highlight How Much Can Fit in a Room
While bedrooms have become smaller in general, there are several design tricks to make them feel larger. A common trick is to remove or shrink the closet, so there is more floor space to move around. Developers are required to demarcate this with tape as well, so keep an eye out for it.
Also, property agents will tell you the bedrooms can each accommodate at least a queen-sized bed. That might be true, but if it leaves you with less than a metre or so to walk around the bed, it would be a tight fit.
11. Watch Out for the Fit and Finish of the Unit
Keep an eye out for the small details that show a developer’s commitment to quality. Show flats are meant to display all a developer has to offer. If you see signs of poor fit and finish, such as peeling or poorly glued laminate on the carpentry, or cabinet doors that don’t close properly, it might be cause for concern.
Even small things, like whether the bed sheets are smoothed and ironed, or the cleanliness, demonstrate a developer’s pride in the project.
What Else to Look Out for When Buying a Condo in Singapore?
Before you visit a condo show flat, it is advisable to do some preliminary research. This can come in the form of looking up information about the featured development itself, checking up on the developer’s reputation, the units available to buy, and their corresponding prices. You should also keep in mind key traits that could affect your buying decision (e.g. proximity to MRT stations, choice schools, and lifestyle amenities).
Being prepared can help give you a clearer head when you do visit the show flat and feel less at the mercy of what property agents onsite may try to convince you of. This will give you the confidence to ask more questions, discern reality from promotional speak, and ultimately be able to make the right decision for you.
In the meantime, you should also be accessing the upfront costs you can expect to pay for your condo, bank loan eligibility, and keeping abreast of the ongoing mortgage interest rate environment. This will help to calibrate what you hope to buy with what you can reasonably afford at the moment. Need home-financing tips? Reach out to our PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Experts today.
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