New launch versus Resale

I think as with all material things, “brand new” is highly desirable when it comes to property acquisitions. Personally, I feel that it’s an overrated quality as far as Singapore property is concerned.

During my work as a conveyancing lawyer, I saw many clients who expressed disappointment or even shock when they finally picked up their keys upon the T.O.P. of their brand new properties and were finally struck with the reality of what they plonked down good money for. Perhaps with all the new regulations on showflats, the disparity between what buyers perceive themselves to be buying and what they actually buy will be less pronounced going forward.

One thing I always mention when explaining my love affair with real estate is this – property is a wonderfully unique asset class quite unlike a more homogenous asset like say gold or silver. Looking at property in terms of $psf alone is simply not enough, one has to examine the floor plans, look at the lay of the development,  observe the levels of noise/sunlight entering the property etc. It’s tough enough making an assessment when you’re able to see the actual physical property, what more when you’re trying to project 2-5 years down the road based on what the showflat sales person is telling you, and what the glossy brochure depicts!

Then there’s also the issue that perhaps, what you consider the makings of a lovely home don’t quite match those of the average prospective tenant – for investment properties at least. With resale properties, you have past rental transactions on URA and current rental asking prices for reference. For a new launch, you’re depending on projections as suggested by the agent hawking you the unit at the showflat, and a hazy idea of what the final product will be like.

What I’m finding from housing tenants is this, they don’t care about what the $psf rental is, unlike say a office leasee. They have a budget, say $5-6K, they need a certain number of rooms, they want to be within a certain distance from the MRT station. When they view a property, they look at the living room and think, can I place my sofa in here? Can I fit a double bed in this room? And the fact of the matter is, they don’t make apartments the way they used to.  I’ve seen very poorly planned layouts in some of the newly TOPed properties where even the master bedroom presents awkward problems for placement of a double bed. And this was in a district 10 apartment!

It is possible to get the best of both worlds occasionally though. A good example would be Belle Vue Residences which I had the opportunity to view last Sunday. It being a completed property, we were able to see the actual product and confirm that the quality of the finishings and fluid design was as good as promised on paper, while still having the opportunity to pay direct-from-developer prices without resale margins. I was suitably impressed, and will be bringing another 2 clients to view the property over the coming week. More on Belle Vue another time, it’s definitely deserving of a proper write up!

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