How to choose a house?

Be it your first HDB or your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th HDB, the criteria for choosing your HDB remains the same. Once purchased, its going to be a place to sleep, eat and…. for the next 5 years.


1. Have a Walkabout around the neighbourhood

It’s common to be told the flat is “just three minutes” from the MRT station, or the nearest mall. But remember that such estimates are often exaggerated, and you shouldn’t take them at face value.

Distance and speed vary based on who’s walking; it may be a three-minute brisk walk for a 25-year-old athlete, but not for your 60-year-old parent who’s staying with you.

It’s best to test these things out for yourself, by taking a walk to the amenities.

2. Check for Relevant Amenities 

Check if the main amenities in the area are relevant to you and your family.

For example, the presence of a neighbourhood mall will jack up the price of your flat. However, are you likely to frequent the retail outlets and eateries in that mall?

If you’ll rarely go there, then the mall access may not be worth paying for (in fact, it could just be noise pollution on the weekends).

Likewise, there’s no point having a lot of eateries nearby, if they all sell food that doesn’t agree with your budget or diet.

As a further step, visit the advertised park spaces, nature walk, bus interchanges, etc. and decide if they really make improvements to your lifestyle.

3. Know the Remaining tenure, check if the upgrading cost have been billed?

From 10 May 2019, your CPF usage and HDB housing loan limits will depend on the extent the remaining lease of the property can cover the youngest buyer to the age of 95. You will have to check the maximum amount of CPF that can be used for housing using the CPF Board’s e-service.

Financial options also depending on the purchase’s profile and the unit. You might have to opt for a bank loan if you are not eligible for HDB loan.

You can check when was the upgrading last done and if the upgrading cost have been billed here.

4. Check Ethnic and SPR quota every month.

The ethnic proportions and SPR quota are updated on the first day of every month. The information is valid for resale applications submitted to HDB in the same month.

The SPR quota is only applicable to SPR households where all the buyers are non-Malaysians.

Buyers or sellers with double-barrelled race should use the first race component to check their eligibility. For example, “Malay-Chinese” buyers or sellers should use the race “Malay”.

Mixed race households can also choose their household ethnic classification based on either the applicant’s race or their spouse’s race. For example, a “Chinese-Malay” couple can choose to purchase under Chinese or Malay.

The ethnic classification will remain the same when you subsequently sell the flat on the open market.

5. Bring a Compass (or Compass App)

Check that the unit (the main windows) isn’t facing directly east or west. If it does, know that your unit will be hotter than others. The sun will shine directly in from around 12 p.m. onward, and you’ll be spending more on fans or air-conditioning.

Some sellers will fudge the truth, such as by telling you the unit is facing “north-west”, when in reality it’s just plain old westward facing.

6. Say Hi to your neighbors.

Talking to your future neighbors will reveal several insights regarding the unit (and your future neighbors too).

7. Check the unit.

There are a few things to consider when buying a resale unit.

Renovation – older houses requires a overall make over.

Ceiling – check for signs of water leaking at the ceiling especially near kitchen, toilet pipings etc.

8. Swing By at a Different Time 

Sellers will choose the optimum time for you to view the flat. But bear in mind that certain hours, such as between 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., are not reflective of “real” conditions.

Most people are at work during those hours, so naturally the flat will be quiet. But you need to drop by the area at, say, 7 p.m., to get a sense of how noisy the place really is.

You also need to consider the traffic noise. Some flats are located near major roads – while that makes access easy, the noise can be unbearable at peak hours, or even late into the night.