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Eyeing a condo? Don't get blindsided by showflats on these details.

Showflats are among Singaporeans’ favourite things, and it takes only a weekend trip to IKEA to prove our point. There’s no wonder that when a new condominium launches, it attracts the entire kampung to have a look-see. Whether they’re prospective buyers or passers-by who popped in to enjoy free air-con on a sweltering afternoon, the charm of a showflat is undeniable.

This charm, however, can cloud your judgement if you belong to the former group. A showflat viewing is a multi-sensory experience, and if you are in the market for a new home, its combination of interior design, soothing music, and expensive room scents can sweep you off your feet.

To keep you grounded, we share 5 oft-overlooked but crucial aspects of condominium units that will help you make a more informed purchasing decision.

1. Actual dimensions

When visiting resale condominium units, we have the assurance that what we see is what we will get. Unfortunately, this cannot be taken for granted at showflats.

To keep the project marketable, showflats of units on the ground or top floor are often shown. From private enclosed spaces to higher ceilings, these units tout more space but cannot be taken as the standard for the entire project.

Even if the showflat weren’t modelled after units on the ground or top floor, tips and tricks to create the illusion of space are commonplace. These include enlarged door frames or customised furniture - such as beds that are king-size in breadth but not in length. To bring the sample closer to reality, you’re better off navigating it with a floor plan and measuring tape in hand.

2. “Bad” layouts

The dress-up a condominium showflat undergoes cannot be overstated. Ultimately, it is in the developers’ interest to pull out all the stops and go to great lengths to make their “display piece’ enticing. This is where assessing liveable space gets tricky.

Not all condominium units are created equal, and some floor plans are bound to trump others. In showflats, potential deal breakers to buyers - such as awkward corners and long corridors - are cleverly concealed by extensive renovation and furnishing. The catch? These workarounds often come with a hefty price tag. While they remain feasible, you might need to set aside a much larger budget than you were prepared for.

3. Distance between stacks

Ever seen HDB balconies that face LRT stations or, worse, one another? Condominiums are not spared from this predicament, too.

On paper, the distance between two stacks may not sound like much. But until you set foot on the balcony when the development has been completed, you can’t be too sure that you wouldn’t wake up to a view of your neighbours’ intimates on their laundry rack. And what good is a balcony if you don’t feel comfortable using it without blinds? That last thing you want is for unlivable space to go to waste. This distance may not be measurable with a tape, making an effort to visualise it will certainly be worthwhile.

While you’re at that, also consider the amenities that surround your stack. Is it a long walk to the carpark? Or is the nearby bin centre a potential source of distress? Remember, anything that could become a bargaining chip for prospective buyers in future needs to be carefully considered.

4. Facing direction

When selecting a new home, avoiding west-facing units is a ubiquitous advice among Singaporeans for good reason. There’s no doubt that this is the general rule of thumb, but it may not apply across the board.

Say, your stack faces the west but is somehow buffered by a neighbouring block thanks to the layout. Your concerns about the afternoon sun could very well be unfounded and the premium you were about to fork out may not be entirely justified. Perhaps a little bit of heat-proofing would suffice?

Apart from the sun, units that face expressways are also not ideal for the simple reason that you have an open balcony. Noise aside, the latter could be plagued with dust from heavy traffic, making it unsuitable as a workout spot or laundry yard.

Beyond the floor plan

All in all, we recommend that you take more than a cursory look at the floor plan - both of the compound and unit - so you do not end up with the shorter end of the stick. With a slew of new amenities and facilities emerging in the market, it also means that maintenance fees are climbing. Buying a home is an emotive affair, but it is just as important to be discerning so you don’t get distracted by their shine and make hasty decisions.

If you’re thinking of purchasing an upcoming condominium development, feel free to hit me (Harvey Chia) up for a non-obligatory consultation at 9199 9141.


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