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12 tips on inspecting condos

Posted in Buying Condos, and Starting Property Investing

This article was published in New Straits Times on 4th August 2015.

When we are thinking about our first property, it may be wise to also consider the secondary ones today. Just look at the prices of new launches of today, then browse online and get to know the available choices for the secondary ones. We may realize that the prices of these secondary units are still lower or attractive when compared to the new launches. If this is true, then why are secondary properties still not popular among the first-time buyers? Most of the time, they are worried about the upkeep of such units. The questions of ‘What Ifs’ are definitely much higher than buying a new one. If we are really considering a secondary condo unit, what should be some of the considerations? Let me share 12 inspection tips.

1) External paint. If the external paint for the condo is totally worn out, 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 instead which meant repainting is needed just a few years later. A good paint job lasts easily 8-10 years if not more.

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

3) Environment. Walk around. Do we feel comfortable? Is the guard house in bad condition without even a proper fan or ventilation system? Are the guards looking old and frail? Are there rubbishes in the compound? Are there way too many foreigners walking here and there? Do note that we have to stay there for a long time. If we do not feel comfortable even from the beginning, how are we going to stay there for years?

I would view the actual unit IF it passed the first three questions above. The next 9 as follows:

4) The corridor leading to unit. Is it dark, without proper lighting? Is the unit at the end of a very long and dark corridor? Yes, in our mind now must be a horror movie setting. If we think perhaps it’s just that floor, then try a few more floors. If just that particular floor, perhaps it’s temporary. If it’s dark all the time, are we sure we want our wife or kids to walk home by themselves through the dark corridor everyday?

5) First impression of the unit. Ceilings should be at minimum 9.5 feet for a proper condo. Anything lower, even if the project is known as a condo, I would only think of it as an apartment and will only pay an apartment price for it.

6) Flooring. Are there signs of cracks? Is it too old fashioned? This is not a deal-breaker. When we find cracks, ask for a discount. Whether we decide to change the tiles or not is another matter altogether.

7) Leaking signs on ceiling. Check for any leaking signs on all ceilings. These can be fixed but it will not be easy. Yes, I have personally fixed 2 different condo units for which the ceiling was showing water leakage signs. Somehow, I managed to talk nicely to the two different owners upstairs.

8) Built in cabinets / closets. Are they in good condition? If it’s in bad condition, better ask for discount as we need to redo them. Even when it’s in a good condition, decide if we like the design or not. Preference is a subjective matter.

9) View from the balcony, if there is one. If the balcony is facing the wall of another block, it is likely to affect our emotions in the long run. If it’s facing a bald hill, there may be potential safety hazard when it rains heavily.

10) Drying area. Unless you are buying a drying machine, ask where will you be drying your clothes. It’s best if there’s sunshine. If there are none, perhaps drying machine is a better choice than to have clothes which smell. It does not matter that the sun shines into the living room. That can be solved with a good curtain.

11) Room layout / arrangement. Is the master-room too small? Are there way too many unnecessary corners? Can we shower comfortably where size is concerned? Is the layout to our liking? Remember, we would be using it every single day.

12) Cooking arrangement. For those intending to cook, can we cook freely without making our home oily, smelly, and dirty? Are there separate wet and dry kitchen areas?

If the unit passes all these 12 inspection steps, it is better to view a few more before we make our decisions. We can also check online for some comments but always treat comments with caution because not everything being said is true. For secondary market we have the advantage of seeing first before buying. We do not need to buy something we have yet to see. In fact there’s no need to wait for a few years for that home sweet home.

Next suggested article: My condo is LOW DENSITY – are you sure?

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