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12 inspection tips on buying secondary properties

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I think I will only be looking at secondary property market for a while. I am very sure there are lots of gems in terms of new launches but I told my wife that let’s concentrate on secondary property market since the prices are still quite attractive today. Plus the rental yield is still positive. Sorry, I no longer aim at 6% or 5% or whatever some people are saying. For 2014, if the yield is positive, I would be interested. Personally, my time frame is 5 years before I decide if I want to continue to renting it out sell for potential capital appreciation. Before I buy the secondary property, I would personally do the following.

1) External paint. If the external paint for the condo is worn out, with algae everywhere, I would think thrice. Reason being, repainting the whole condo takes a huge chunk of the reserves from the management fund and not all condos may be able to absorb that or they may resort to a cheap paint job which meant repainting is needed just 2-3 years down the road. A good paint job lasts easily 8-10 years.

2) Facilities. Check the conditions of all the common facilities. Normal wear and tear is expected but if you see the sign ‘ROSAK’ in every single facility that you inspect, I think you have your answer. There’s no need to view the house.

3) Walk around. Do you feel comfortable? The guard house (dilapidated?), the guards themselves (old and frail?), the environment (dirty?), the people who’s staying there (foreigners?), the cars which are parked there, the corridors (too narrow?)?, the lift (smelly?) If majority are negative, there’s no need to view the home.

I would view the home if it passed the three above.

4) Corridor leading to home. Too dark? At the very end of a very long dark corridor? Lights not working but the agent said the management will fix it?  Sorry, please stop here. Are you sure you want your wife or kids to walk home by themselves and you happen to be not around?

5) The first view into the condo.  Ceilings should be at minimum 9.5 feet for a condo. Use the door as measurement. Typically door is 6 feet.

6) The flooring. Signs of cracks? Too old fashioned? (Ask them for discounts)

7) The ceilings for rooms, toilets, any leaking signs detected? While these CAN be fixed but it will not be easy unless you know the neighbour on top floor who’s willing to spend money to fix something which affects YOU.

8) Built in cabinets / closets. Are they in good condition? If it’s in bad condition, better ask for discounts as you need to redo them.

9) View from the balcony, if any.  Don’t tell me you can’t see anything except for a tall bald hill right in front. From Feng Shui perspective, this is not good. For your own safety, there’s a little chance for potential safety hazard too.

10) Unless you are buying a drying machine, ask where will you be drying your clothes. It’s best if there’s sun. If none, deduct some points and get ready to buy TOP or DAIA or Breeze. (Haha…. they are good enough for indoor drying)

11) Room layout / arrangement. Too small? Layout not to your liking? Strangely shaped? Remember, you will be using it every single day.

12) Cooking arrangement. Only for those intending to cook. Can you cook freely without making your home ‘oily’, ‘smelly’, and ‘dirty’? Wet and dry kitchen possible? At least a door which you can shut out the kitchen from the living room when you are cooking?

13) I said 12, right? Why (13).  Well this is where you make your choice whether to buy or not to buy. I think it’s best to view a few more before you decide. For secondary market, you have this flexibility. You do not need to buy something you did not see yet.

written on 17 July 2014

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