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Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to property, Singaporeans are traditional. We want the land for which we pay, and 99 years will not suffice. We want our descendants to be able to pass it on.

However, freehold property is prohibitively expensive; are we being prudent or purchasing an overpriced security blanket? We will examine how freehold property has conditional value in this article. Depending on your circumstances, this may not be the best course of action.

Given Singapore's size, it's unsurprising that freehold condominiums are more scarce than leasehold condominiums. Almost 80% of our land is leasehold, with leases typically lasting 99 years. Contrary to popular belief, the government is not obligated to compensate the lessee upon lease termination.

As such, leasehold is incompatible with traditional Asian values, as we have been taught to associate family with land. However, from a more pragmatic standpoint, there are some drawbacks to freehold properties. Consider four of these.

1. Increased cost

If all other factors remain constant (same location, same size, same obnoxious neighbors, etc. ), freehold property will cost between 15% and 20% more than leasehold property. When we're discussing a million-dollar condo, that's an additional $150,000.

You will need to maintain this mortgage by possibly delaying retirement or reducing your spending on other activities you enjoy. In essence, a freehold condominium is comparable to a luxury item. You shouldn't take a chance on it, because when daily life is difficult, your home's freehold status means little.

2. The freehold status may be altered.

While many property buyers are drawn to a "forever" home allure, freehold status is not permanent. If the government decides to expand the road or build an MRT line directly through the land on which your house sits, it will be lost; freehold or not. At best, you will receive market value compensation. However, avoid any illusions of permanence; everything is subject to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) masterplans. Additionally, keep in mind that freehold property is prone to en-bloc sales; after 25 or 30 years, your neighbours may tire of the view. Then your condo is sold and you're back on the housing market. This may be beneficial for younger people who will benefit from the cash in, but it may not be beneficial if all you want is a stable home.

3. Location is almost certainly more critical than lease.

When it comes to renting and reselling, the location, not the lease, is critical. For example, a leasehold condo located near an MRT station is likely to outperform its freehold counterpart in terms of market value. Similarly, if an individual desires a location near their children's schools, they may be willing to pay a premium regardless of leasehold status. After all, they can always relocate in twenty years. Obviously, tenants are unconcerned about any of this. Therefore, when house hunting, avoid becoming distracted by freehold status. Concentrate on the property's location, potential rental income, amenities, and other conveniences.

4. Freehold condominiums may face obsolescence.

Singapore's family structure has shifted. It is no longer assumed that children will live with their parents, and married couples are expected to find their own housing. This eliminates the need to construct a fantasy ancestral palace. If your children or grandchildren leave anyway, the additional cost of the freehold property becomes irrelevant. You could easily have obtained a leasehold and avoided years of excessive repayments. A leasehold is sufficient for a first property. If your cashflow improves later on, you can look for a freehold property.

Apart from the question of whether a freehold or leasehold property is preferable, one of the most frequently asked questions among homebuyers is whether to purchase a new or resale condo in Singapore.

The advantages of purchasing a new condominium

1. Everything is completely new.

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of purchasing a new condo is that everything about the property is brand new, from the fixtures to the appliances, plumbing, and facilities. Thus, unlike when purchasing a resale property, you will not be responsible for repairing items damaged by the previous owner.

2. Less expensive

Unless a project has reached the end of its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), new condos are typically less expensive than resale condos, as developers frequently offer early bird discounts to entice potential buyers. This may take the form of price concessions, vouchers, or even the abatement of stamp duties. While you may find excellent deals on resale condos, keep in mind that some sellers will price their property higher in anticipation of price negotiations.

3. You have a greater selection of unit types to choose from.

When you purchase a new launch condominium, you have the option of selecting a unit with a better view, closer proximity to amenities and parking, or on a higher floor. This option is also advantageous if you are purchasing with the intention of renting it out and are familiar with your buyer's profile.

4. Low-cost maintenance

A new launch condo includes brand-new cabinetry, fixtures, and appliances. If they fail or malfunction, developers are required to repair or replace them free of charge during the 12-month defect-free period.On the other hand, a resale condo has a higher risk of things breaking down, whether it's major plumbing issues, water seepage, or cracks — all of which can result in costly repairs.

The advantages of purchasing a resale condominium

1. You can immediately move in or rent out.

The primary advantage of purchasing a resale condo is that you avoid the three- to six-year wait for completion. If you're in a hurry to relocate, a resale condo should be your first choice. A resale condo is also a better option if you intend to rent the unit or additional bedrooms, as you can immediately rent them out.

2. Rental income from resale condominiums is more predictable.

In comparison to a new condo, a resale condo's rental income is much more predictable. By examining current and historical rental data on sites such as URA and Square Foot, you can get a sense of rental trends and determine whether the condo is a good investment.

3. You gain a better understanding of the product you're purchasing.

For new condominium launches, you are essentially limited to the materials provided by developers, such as brochures and maps. While you could visit the showflat to get a better sense of the property, keep in mind that showflats are designed to entice you away — the actual unit may be quite different.

4. More spacious than newer condominiums

Finally, resale condos are typically larger than new construction condos.

Why does Singapore's property market continue to be so appealing? The following are five reasons.

1. Market sentiment is favorable.

Many continue to be optimistic, owing to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore and other countries, as well as improved economic conditions in general. According to property analysts quoted in a report, the government's rapid implementation of supplementary budgets and economic stimulus has kept the unemployment rate low, which is positive for the property sector. Expert in this field explains in the report that when people's job security is threatened, purchasing property is the last thing on their minds.

2. Desire for a new residence

Additionally, a news article highlights the demand for a new type of home eg. Condos, Developer launches and New property, one that would accommodate the new needs created by the pandemic. According to the article, as the country adapts to remote work, mental wellness will be a primary consideration when people choose homes.

People may be seeking more spacious and well-ventilated homes, for example, in light of the stress and tension that may accompany a lockdown. The article cites online property portal PropertyGuru as identifying the trend, noting that as remote work continues, buyers will seek larger homes in suburban districts that offer better value for money, rather than properties near business districts.

3. Office space continues to be necessary.

While many businesses have embraced the work-from-home model, there will still be opportunities in the physical office space, particularly with the rise of the hybrid workforce. After all, the office remains critical in fostering employee productivity and engagement. Additionally, office demand will be bolstered not only by traditional tenants such as banks and accounting firms, but also by emerging industries such as technology, financial services, and professional services.

4. Singapore as a regional transportation hub

Singapore has long been regarded as a premier investment destination and a safe haven for investors, owing to the country's low taxes, strong rule of law, and one of the world's best airports. According to the Economic Development Board, it is home to 46% of Asian regional headquarters across a diverse range of industries. Singapore is steadily establishing itself as Asia's technology hub, as tech giants from China and the United States establish operations in the city-state. Singapore is home to more than half of multinational technology companies with regional headquarters in Asia.

As a result, it's unsurprising that some of the world's wealthiest and most educated individuals would want to live and work in Singapore, driving up property demand.

5. The government of Singapore

Singapore is well-known for its openness, political stability, and ease of doing business—all of which are desirable characteristics in an investment destination. Additionally, Singapore's government policies foster the development and growth of industries and businesses, including the startup ecosystem.

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