Finding Your Perfect Home

Published by admin on 20 Aug 2021 Last Updated on 08 Mar 2022


The below criteria apply mainly for private houses, factoring both own-stay and investment considerations. For HDBs, check our starter guides for buying a BTO, SBF, New EC Flat or Resale HDB / DBSS / EC Flat.

Here are the project factors when choosing any house:
  1. House Type & Remaining Lease
  2. Price
  3. Location
  4. Build Quality, Design, Size, Layout & Number of Units
  5. Facilities & Amenities
  6. Noise
  7. Investment Potential
  8. Monthly Conservancy/Maintenance Fee
  9. Special Factors

Unit-centric factors are as equally important and can vary greatly within the same block or estate:
  1. House Condition
  2. Proximity to Certain Places
  3. Floor Level
  4. West-Facing with Afternoon Sun
  5. View & Privacy
  6. Neighbour Profile
  7. Auspicious Factors (Feng Shui & Unit Number)
  8. Unnatural Death & Superstitious Factors

For starters, identify your needs for your new house. Then think of your top 5 factors for selecting your house and read on to confirm your analysis and determine if you have missed anything.



First off, you need to decide what type of house you want to buy, and whether it's a freehold or leasehold. 

This depends on many factors such as your budget, objective (own-stay or renting out), family size (current and future), space/privacy requirements, and lifestyle choices (do you use facilities like swimming pools and gyms):
  • Landed House
    • Townhouse — Rare. Big size. Starting from $1M. Note you own the land itself for all landed houses.
    • Terrace House
    • Semi-Detached House (Semi-D)
    • Bungalow
    • Good Class Bungalow (GCB)
  • Cluster House — Similar to Condos but are low rise buildings comprising terraced houses, semi-d houses, or bungalows. Medium-High conservancy fees. One big difference from Townhouse is you do not own the Cluster House land itself, but a share of the entire plot of land in the cluster project.
  • Condominium
    • Dual-key Condo — Comprises two separate living spaces that are connected by a shared common foyer (Main unit & Sub-unit). Allows you to buy two homes under a single address without any ABSD.
    • Duplex — Comprises of a lower and an upper floor, usually connected by stairs. Can be located on any floor, not necessarily Penthouse units. Private version of HDB Executive Maisonettes.
    • Mixed Development Condo — Comprises residential tower(s) on top of a retail mall.
  • Walk-Up Apartment — Similar to Condos but are low-rise buildings with no lifts. Little-No Facilities. Low-No conservancy fees.

The lease tenure also is another important factor. There are 3 main types:
  • Freehold
  • 999-years (Considered similar to Freehold)
  • 99-years

When buying a 99-year property, consider the remaining lease. In theory, once the lease runs down to zero, the house returns to the state and your equity becomes $0. Older condos also often mean aging facilities, although these stand a better chance of en-bloc (See below: Investment Potential).

A Freehold/999-year property generally has a ~10% price premium over a 99 year. So if buying for rental, it is better to buy a 99-year as it is lower priced and the lease tenure does not affect your tenant.

Lastly, consider what number of rooms is optimal for you:
  • 1-bedroom — For single occupant or couples.
  • Studio — No wall between the bedroom and living/dining room, unlike a 1-bedder.
  • 2-bedroom — Mostly for couples or small families.
  • 3-bedroom — Mostly for families.
  • 4-bedroom and bigger/Penthouse — Mostly for families. Significantly lower PSF than smaller units.


Market price is a function of supply and demand. There are two aspects of valuation: Quantum (Absolute amount) and Per Square Foot (PSF).

Price quantum is simply the selling price (or how cheap it is). Everybody aspires to own a huge and expensive house, but price is always the issue. For example in a new launch condo, more people can afford the smallest shoebox unit than the penthouse because the smallest unit has the lowest price quantum. This translates to higher demand because a popular project's cheapest units will have a greater pool of potential buyers.

However, cheap does not mean good. The cheapest freehold properties in Singapore at $500K each are in Geylang, right smack in the red light district. This place is burdened by its seedy reputation and other socioeconomic factors which have resulted in stagnant prices for decades.

Price per square foot (PSF) lets people judge whether they are overpaying or underpaying for a property. Check out property websites such as Property Guru to compare historical PSF trends versus the seller's asking PSF to get an idea if it is a fair value deal. Keep in mind that bigger units often sell at a lower PSF. 

          "Price is what you pay; value is what you get." — Warren Buffet

Singapore's macro property market is controlled by the government (via land sales, future development plans and cooling measures) as much as economic forces (e.g. boom times vs a recession) and interest rates (in turn being influenced by the US Federal Reserve).

Then there are property-specific micro factors such as location, MRT, blah blah which we examine below. Spotting the opportune time to purchase your property requires a lot of research and analysis, plus some luck. You do not need to wait for the next downturn (which may not come anytime soon), you can also buy when you feel the market is at the start of an upcycle.

The quantum and PSF of your dream house should be in line with your budget (and bank valuation). Avoid paying over valuation since it implies you are overpaying for the house AND will need to cough up hard cash over the valuation amount (See: Mortgage & Financing Guide).

All prices are also heavily influenced by the everchanging plot ratio as outlined in the Urban Development Authority (URA) Master Plan (See below: Investment Potential).


The district or estate or neighbourhood greatly affects supply and demand, and thus price. At the very top, Singapore is split into 3 regions: Core Central Region (CCR), Rest of Central Region (RCR), and Outside Central Region (OCR), followed by Planning Regions.

CCR (Shaded Colour) & OCR (Unshaded, within CR boundary)

The CBD area commands the highest prices and PSFs, making it out of reach to most of us. Being part of the CCR (but not in the exorbitant CBD) makes homes in District 9, 10 and 11 highly prestigious and very sought after.

With the prevalence of Covid, Work from Home (WFH) may make CCR homes a lower priority and quieter RCR/OCR neighbourhoods more desirable. This is evident in districts 12, 13 and 14 (Geylang, Potong Pasir, Bidadari and Toa Payoh) seeing higher demand and prices, and spillover effects to district 21's Ulu Pandan (adjacent to district 10's Holland).

Community or the demographics of the neighbourhood also can be a push/pull for buyers. Some districts such as Tiong Bahru are mature estates (20 or more years old) with an older residential population, while other non-mature estates like Punggol and Sengkang comprise more young couples or families.

  • Mature Estates:  Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Timah, Central, Clementi, Geylang, Kallang/Whampoa, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh
  • Non-Mature Estates: Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong, Punggol, Sembawang, Sengkang, Tengah, Woodlands, Yishun 

Within a district or area, an oversupply of HDB/condos can suppress prices for years. On the other hand, areas which have not had a new launch in a long time can experience huge demand for existing resale homes or any rare new development there (such as Pasir Ris 8).

Next we dive into the micro factors: The house proximity to MRT, bus interchanges and stops (buses' choices and frequency matter too). Do not take property websites' info at face value, you should manually test out the walking distance by walking from the house to the nearest MRT station or taking the bus to your workplace or nearby mall/eating places.

Condos next to an MRT (6 min walk or less) usually sell very well. However, even a small added distance can greatly diminish a condo's appeal: The Tennery is an extra 5 min walk from Bukit Panjang MRT compared to Hillion condo (right on top of the MRT) but Hillion's value has outperformed relative to the former.

Then comes the house proximity to places of interest, facilities and amenities. How near is it to your workplace, malls, eating places, entertainment (e.g. cinemas), schools, community centers, nature parks, healthcare, religious buildings, child-friendly facilities — All these play a huge factor in choosing your ideal home. Additionally, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has a Master Plan which provides insights about future developments in your area, such as a business hub or places of worship.

Different amenities differ for each household and personal lifestyle. Big families will prefer a place near a mall and kids entertainment places. Old couples may prefer quiet, spacious estates near their favourite hawker centers or eating haunts.

Accessibility of these facilities and amenities matters more than the physical distance. The house can be located next to a shopping mall, but if there is a major expressway in between with no easy thru-access, the mall may take 20 mins to walk there.

The proximity to family (parents), relatives and friends can play an outsized role for your house hunting decision. Some young couples require their new home (including HDB BTO or Resale) to be as near as possible to their parents which limits their search to one area.

Schools are increasingly playing a greater role in housing demand and prices as kiasu parents want to buy/rent a house near a good school to increase their children's chances of being accepted there. Some examples are MGS in Bukit Timah, and RI, RGS, RJC in Bishan.

Houses located near special places such as the airport, a business park, or coast with a sea view (such as properties in the East Coast) also have high demand and command premiums.

If you don't drive, shelter from rain (and heat) of the house to the MRT station/bus stop/nearby mall is important to consider. Being caught outside without an umbrella during a heavy downpour can be a mini-disaster if there is no shelter back home. For those that do drive, check if the resident car park is sheltered all the way to your front door.

And of course, properties next to loud noise sources such as expressways, main roads, or an air base are a turn-off for many (See below: Noise).

Low lying areas may be prone to flooding (such as basement car parks or ground levels) so do a background check for such houses. Those near large canals and drains often have lower demand because of the smell and the eyesore. Houses near a nature reserve with wild animals (such as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve) are avoided by some people as the animals can be a major nuisance or danger (See below: Special Factors).

Mixed development condos are now very popular, especially those near MRTs. Putting aside any cost and capital appreciation factors, these condos have a trade-off between convenience against noise and privacy.


The build quality of a condo refers to the design and building materials used, and is important as it decides both the structural integrity and longevity of the house.

Poorly-built houses (using sub-par building materials) or overly-complex houses (using fancy but ineffective materials and/or designs) may suffer structural defects such as cracking walls and leaking pipes, which cost a lot to rectify. Moreover, such condos will incur high conservancy fees and inconvenience as years pass to repair defective and aging equipment (e.g. lifts, leaking basement car park or infinity pool).

For that matter, the developer of the project makes a huge difference. Some developers, such as CDL and Guocoland, have a reputation of delivering high quality condos (well designed, high quality workmanship and materials) which in turn generates high demand.

Some people avoid micro-developers as these small developers tend to prioritise affordability over build quality. Also for new launches, these small developers (and their hired contractors) may go bust in the midst of building your new condo which is a major disaster. Research their background and past projects to understand the risks.

The condo/estate's overall design, size, and layout should also fit your taste and house theme. Whether it is a sleek modern facade, colonial style design, or island resort look — Every condo sets itself apart to entice a certain group of buyers (See: Design & Renovation).

Next is the individual unit's size and layout (usually identical per unit type). A square/rectangle-shaped house (with right angles) is preferred because it is easier to set furniture such as beds and TVs. Odd-shaped houses with curved/diagonal walls are not as popular for that reason. Also, houses with split-level steps (a 90s design often seen between the living and dining rooms) and bombshelters/bay windows are less desired (the latter wasting valuable home space).

The layout of the bathrooms/powder rooms matter too. Ensure the number of en-suite bathrooms (usually only for master bedroom) or bathrooms fit your requirements.

Lastly, the number of units in a condo affects many aspects of lifestyle, such as spaciousness and availability of facilities (e.g. BBQ pits, gyms, tennis courts). Too many occupants can make it feel crammed plus deny you access to facilities as they are always booked. But a higher number of units does have a positive impact on the conservancy fee, sales transactions, and en-bloc potential (See below). Nowadays, developers tend to max out the plot ratio of every new launch to cram in the most number of units and maximise their profit.

And for resale, the current condition of the house itself is paramount (See below: Unit-Centric Factors).

For any condo, the facilities and amenities within can determine if it is suitable for you. Not just the number of facilities that matters — Size and condition are as important (especially things you prioritise or intend to use):
  • Security — Service? Overly-bearing?
  • Landscaping — Beauty? Condition?
  • Resident Car Park (For Car Owners) — Plentiful? Sheltered?
  • Visitor Car Park — Plentiful? Sheltered? (Must pay for some condos/mixed developments)
  • Check-In/Intercom — Condition? Easy to use?
  • Lifts — Condition/Maintenance? Ease/Speed of shuttling between floors?
  • Community  — Perceived friendliness of residents? Possible similar demographics/interests?
  • Function/Meeting/Study Room(s) — Condition? Easy & often available to book?
  • BBQ Pit(s) — Condition? Easy & often available to book?
  • Gym(s) — Range of equipment? Condition?
  • Swimming Pool(s) — Beauty? Size? Condition? How child-friendly & safe?
  • Tennis/Badminton/Squash Court(s) — Condition? 
  • Playground(s) & Kid Play Areas — Size? Condition? How child-safe?
  • Other Facilities, Shops or Restaurants

It is no point having a huge gym if it is poorly ventilated with a horrible musky smell and contains outdated, dirty, or spoilt machines. Additionally, swimming pools can be tricky as its design and orientation can determine its desirability — A pool surrounded by towering condo blocks will always be shaded, thus cold and uninviting due to lack of sunlight (unless artificially heated).

Walk-up apartments have minimal or no facilities. Most don't have a security guard, pool, or car park space (not even on the road outside). You and any visitors will have to park at the nearest Multi-Storey Car Park (MSCP).

Mixed developments usually do not have free visitor parking, and the pick-up and drop-off may also be more troublesome.


If doing a lot of WFH in your new house, it is imperative to find a quiet place with as little noise pollution as possible. Main loud noise sources include expressways, major roads, above ground MRTs, temples or air bases. For example, Punggol and Sengkang estates are infamous for being near Paya Lebar Air Base which has daily and unbearably loud fighter jet flights at least once a week.

Heavy renovation/construction works
(such as a new nearby development or piling for a new MRT) although temporary for months, can be a big headache too. Older condos/flats (more than 20 years) also tend to have more renovation works done which can be a huge inconvenience, especially for neighbouring WFH residents.

Alternatively, if you have decided on a house which is near a loud noise source, you can double glaze all the windows to block out a large portion of unwanted sound (See: Windows). Do note that double glazing may have minimal benefit against heavy piling work noise or reno works right above/below your unit.


Anyone buying a house does so with the expectation that they are getting a good deal (as in the house price would not plunge), even more so for those buying purely for investment (capital gains and rental yield).

Capital gains refers to the realized profit when the purchased property is sold. Many variables determine if a property will rise in value over time such as desirable location, proximity to amenities and existing or upcoming MRT station, government measures (e.g. create a hub, gentrification, cooling measures), view from the house, and other applicable factors listed on this page.

HDB BTOs have generated much wealth for many Singaporeans as they are low-priced and heavily subsidised, and are the best investment vehicles for most. Resale HDB flats may not provide much capital gains (if any) because you are buying at open market prices.

          "Buy land, they're not making it anymore." — Mark Twain

The above rings especially true for those who want to buy something everlasting to pass down to future generations. Since landed properties are mostly freehold/999-year, such owners also do not need to worry over lease decay (Unpredictable property depreciation as the lease shortens).

Some people prefer condos with en-bloc potential, which is a collective sale made by majority of residents in a condo to a developer at a premium price, providing the owners with a windfall. A caveat is that such properties (especially HUDCs) have a selling price which reflects the en-bloc sale potential, among many other considerations (See: En Bloc for Singapore Property).

Investors must also refer to the Urban Development Authority (URA) Master Plan which is a future roadmap for all developments across Singapore up to the next 15 years. Within this master plan is the plot ratio, which indicates how intensively a plot of land can be used for developments (the higher the number, the more levels and units can be built) and thus the value (an increased plot ratio creates a higher en bloc potential).

Lower floor units are also a better bet than higher floors (especially for new launches) since they are significantly cheaper than high units (See below: Floor Level).

An upcoming new launch of good nearby projects (especially quality condos by renowned developers like CDL) will also have a positive spillover effect to the nearby house's selling price.

Tiny projects (condos with less than 50 units) are also constricted by lower supply and sales transactions. This can result in distorted and/or muted valuations because sales are few and far between.

Rental yield helps investment owners enjoy a constant stream of income when renting out a house. This income can help pay off the monthly mortgage, conservancy, and other fees. Rental yields (Annual rental income divided by purchase price) for Singapore residential homes average about 2-3%, and smaller homes tend to have a higher yield which makes them more attractive as investment homes.

  • Annual Gross Rental Income = Monthly Rental Income x 12
  • Annual Expenses = All annual expenses related to the Property = Mortgage + Conservancy + Property Tax + Property Agent Commission (usually 1st month of rent) + All Other Taxes & Fees
  • Monthly Expenses = Annual Expenses / 12
  • Annual Net Rental Income = Annual Gross Rental Income - Annual Expenses
  • Rental Yield = Annual Net Rental Income / Property Purchase Value

Bigger units (with 2+ bedrooms) are more ideal for investment purposes rather than 1-bedder units, since you open access to a greater pool of future buyers (couples, families, co-habiting friends) for rental or purchase.

Government intervention such as the possible introduction of a capital gains tax and inheritance tax has been hinted at in recent times and if enacted, will have a big negative impact on local property.

HDB flats' Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC), aka Town Council Fee, are very low at ~$20-100 per month. In contrast, private condos' conservancy are in the hundreds of dollars. Generally speaking, the more units in an estate, the lower the conservancy.

Inspect all the condo's facilities to determine if they are overcharging the conservancy. A ballpark amount of $200 per month for a 2-room private condo with full amenities is reasonable. If you own a condo which has unreasonably high conservancy, you can petition the committee during an AGM to lower it, although it will not be easy.

Landed properties do not have a conservancy fee but a lot of hidden maintenance costs (e.g. fixing the roof, maintaining the garden, etc.).


Here are some uncommon but still important factors to consider:

  • For resale homes, check the move-in/hand over date. If the OTP states an unusually late move-in date (way more than the standard 3 months), you are on the losing end as your house ownership is delayed AND the seller can anytime return you the 1% deposit and keep the house (or resell for a higher price if market improves).
  • Heavy construction near a low-floor house can result in a lot of smoke, dirt and dust entering your home.
  • Houses near a Buddhist or Taoist temple may result in burning incense smoke entering your home (same applies in smaller scale with religious neighbours, as below).
  • Houses near a petrol station may result in petrol fumes entering your home.
  • Low level units in mixed-development condos can experience constant smoke/grease from restaurant(s) below.
  • Houses near a nature reserve with many wild animals (e.g. monkeys, snakes, monitor lizards) can experience animal intrusions which can be a big nuisance or even dangerous.
  • Houses near nature reserves, reservoirs or large water areas can experience a higher number of mosquitoes (and dengue-transmitting mosquitoes). You can keep them out by blocking all windows with insect screens (See: Windows).
  • Unnatural deaths (e.g. Murders, Suicides, Accidental Drowning or Falling), if discovered, is a negative due to its dark connotations and negative effect on future selling price (if publicly known). Type of death, who knows of it (reported in news or only the property agent) and where it happened (common pool or in a unit) all play a part in deciding your purchase (more on unit-centric unnatural deaths below).
  • Government policies or actions such as road or land reclamation from your estate (for building new MRTs or expanding roads) may cause your estate size and/or value to drop. Avoid homes along major roads as these are more prone to reclamation.
  • External shocks such as an important minister suddenly passing away or a major terrorist attack here will greatly affect property prices, especially if the event occurs very close to the property.
  • For HDBs: If your neighbourhood, neighbours, or previous home owner/occupier had run-ins with loansharks, you might experience harrassment when you move in. Warning signs include nearby grafitti, freshly painted walls or doors, and private CCTVs.



The most important unit-centric factor is the condition of your prospective house — Check whether it is original condition, part-or fully renovated.

The current tenant/occupier matters also — Check whether they are neat or dirty, and any other factors which contribute to the house condition (e.g. heavy burning of incense, heavy cooking of curry).

Check for termite infestation, mould, or rot all around the house. A telltale sign of poor house upkeep is black spots of mould on walls and ceilings. For cabinets and wardrobes, if they are cluttered and full with the current occupier's items, do a smell test — Mould and rot gives off a musky, off-putting smell.

For ECs and private properties, check that the house theme (such as layout, design and finishings) ties in with your vision (See: Theme & Design). Although almost any house can be altered to suit your theme, a makeover involving heavy renovation is very costly.

Infusing the house with your personality(s) via your chosen decor (e.g. lighting fixtures, feature walls), furniture, and artwork will make you love and appreciate your home more (See: Living Rooms).


The precise location of a unit within the condo/estate can make a big difference. Avoid those near a garbage dump, main road or canal for the smell or noise. Be aware that units near facilities like swimming pools or tennis courts can also be very noisy.


There are pros and cons for a unit on a low floor or high floor.

Low floors generally are cheaper and gets less blazing sun heat, but tend to have more noise, mosquito and cockroach intrusions. You can invest in insect screens (See: Windows), and anti-cockroach preventive measures to minimize this problem (See: Rubbish Chute and Anti-Insects). 

High floors generally have a better view and are more breezy, but cost more and can get more noise pollution since sound travels upwards. Beware that if all the lifts in your block (usually 2) are down, you will have a BIG headache too.

As a general yardstick, new launches usually charge an extra $5,000 for every floor higher, however, the floor level does not usually matter for most private transactions.


Avoid homes with unblocked west-facing rooms. Reason being as the sun sets in the west, this afternoon blaze will heat up the house and trap heat like an oven throughout the evening or night, making it unbearably hot for some. The most crucial rooms to avoid west-facing sun are your living room, dining room, and bedrooms.

Also, don't believe what the seller's property agent says when asking about which facing is the house or particular rooms. Download a compass app on your phone and verify it yourself on the spot.

Mitigating factors for such units are low floor (harder for sun rays to penetrate), cheaper pricing, or investing in heat diffusing windows. Blasting the air-con non-stop will help but at a high electricity bill cost.


A million dollar view can literally be the key selling point of some projects or specific units. Most units with a good view are higher floor units and have a panoramic view of the sea, city skyline, or greenery. Conversely, avoid units with an ugly view such as facing a drab building, factory, canal or garbage dump.

If you greatly value your privacy, you should also avoid units whose windows, especially in the bedroom, faces a nearby unit's window or is close to the ground (or on ground level) such that any passersby can look in.


Who is living directly on your right, left, above and below could play a part in your living conditions. Troublesome or inconsiderate neighbours may pose big problems, such as being very noisy at odd hours or cluttering/blocking common corridors with their potted plants and personal items.

Observe/listen at the corridor and ask the seller's agent or current occupiers of your prospective house for the neighbours' profile to try to pick up on any potential issues.


Some buyers care a lot about the feng shui or auspiciousness of the house, which can be analysed with a combination of their entrance hall and common corridor's layout, orientation and flow

Specific unit numbers are preferred or shunned depending on the buyers' race, dialect, religion or superstition. Even if you are impartial to all these numbers, consider that the unit number may negatively affect the ease of selling this house and its selling price in the future.

Generally, Chinese like numbers 8, 18, 63, 66 (or numbers which add up to 9). Chinese do not like 4, 7, 14, 40, 44 (or numbers which add up to 7). However, Christians like the number 7 and Indians like 4.

There is a direct correlation between specific numbers and the selling price. The number 8 in a unit number commands a price premium a few % higher than other standard units. Conversely, the number 4 in a unit number sells at a few % higher than other standard units.

But all things considered, we recommend that if you are not superstitious and do not mind the number 4, it is worth buying with a good discount because it evens out in the end — No matter what the unit number, a booming property market means all the properties in an estate often rise by the same amount. Also, the growing pool of young home buyers generally are less superstitious about numbers than their ancestors.


Unnatural deaths attributed to a specific unit are often hard to ascertain, but if you do discover such a case (or have strong reason to suspect so) it is your prerogative whether you to still consider buying the house, considering the circumstances of death — A suicide's home could still be acceptable for most but maybe not a gruesome serial murderer's house.

Those who believe in the supernatural may also get a bad "dirty" feeling if the prospective house had unnatural deaths, strange incidents or is known to be haunted. If you are not even comfortable entering the house, let alone staying, then it is probably not right for you.


Nobody can ever be 100% confident that their house purchase is the right choice because there are so many variables and uncertainties. My advice — If you find a house which fulfills at least 4 out of your top 5 factors, GO FOR IT! Any hesitation or delays may result in you missing out on your dream home.

Also, do take whatever the seller's agent says with a pinch of salt. They may exaggerate or say completely untrue stuff such as there is a bidding war for this house, or the nearby main road does not create much noise  — All to make you afraid of missing out and buy it up on the spot without thinking things through.

Need more insight to your house hunting? We provide personalised face to face consultation services where we can share more advice and tips, kindly contact us at, Instagram or Telegram. Thank you!

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