13 things to tick off the list before buying a secondary high-rise unit

These days, it’s a buyers’ market. So, is it then a time to buy, buy and buy? Briefly, no.

As for buying for own stay, it isn’t only about location, location, location because if you expand your search to just 10 minutes away from the area you love, you can usually find units that are 20-30% lower in price.

Just a reminder: Just because the price is much lower, does not mean it’s a good buy. For new units, we may need to rely on the reputation of the developer.

When it comes to secondary units, especially for high-rises, here are 13 things you can inspect before you buy.

1. External paint. If the developer did a good job, the coat of paint should usually last 8-10 years. If the paint looks worn out in less than five years, something is not right. By the way, repainting the whole building is going to be expensive and the JMC will only be able to do it when the reserve fund is very high.

2. Facilities. Check the condition 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, 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 are staying there (mostly foreigners?), the cars parked there (many abandoned?), the corridors (too narrow?), the lift (smelly?).

If the majority of your observances are negative, there’s no need to view the home. Only view the unit if the development has passed the three criteria above. This is only because all three are either difficult or too expensive to easily change.

4. Corridor leading to home. Too dark? Is the unit at the very end of a long, dark corridor? Lights not working but the agent says the management will fix it? Sorry, please stop here. Are you sure you want your wife or kids walk home by themselves in these conditions?

5. Distance between your unit and the opposite unit. Five feet distance should be the minimum. The further the better and usually condos are 5.5 feet or more. (Yes, there are ones that are only four feet apart. Well, if the price is very affordable, perhaps).

6. First view into the high-rise unit. Typical apartments may have a nine to 10-foot ceiling. A condo should have a 10-foot ceiling or higher. Unsure if anything lower than 10 feet can be considered a “Condo”. How to measure it? Look at the front door. The door is usually six to seven feet in height.

7. The flooring. Looks jaded? Signs of cracks? Too old fashioned? Ask them for discounts if you are willing to accept these conditions. If you can’t, bear in mind that changing all tiles are not cheap. It’s considered a major renovation.

8. The ceilings of rooms, toilets: Any signs of leakage detected? While these can be fixed, it will not be easy unless you know the neighbour on the top floor who’s willing to spend money to fix something which affects you. (Yes, it’s the top unit’s responsibility but getting them to fix a leak is going to take a long time).

9. Built-in cabinets/closets. Are they in good condition? If it’s in bad condition, better ask for discounts as you need to redo these. If there are signs of water leakage everywhere, it’s not going to be easy to fix. Get a friendly plumber to take a look.

10. View from the balcony, if any. You can’t see anything except for a tall, bald hill right in front? From a Feng Shui perspective, this is not good. For your own safety, there’s little chance for potential safety hazard too. If the view is another high-rise tower, well, that’s normal even if not preferred. By the way, looking at another tower is common even in upmarket Mont Kiara.

11. Unless you own a dryer, ask where to dry the laundry. It’s best if there’s sun. If none, deduct some points and get ready to buy TOP or DAIA or Breeze – these are good enough for indoor drying.

12. Room layout/arrangement. Too small? Layout not to your liking? Strangely shaped? Remember, you will be using it every single day of your life. Units are usually bigger in bedrooms and smaller in living room or bigger in living room and smaller in bedrooms. Decide. Unless you can afford a 1,700 sq ft unit, it should be okay with a 3+1 room arrangement.

13. Cooking arrangement. Only for those intending to cook. Can you cook freely without leaving your home oily, smelly, and dirty? Are wet and dry kitchens possible? At least a door to shut out the kitchen from the living room when you are cooking? Okay, if you do not need a kitchen, perhaps the unit may be modern looking – just eat out every day then.

This article first appeared in kopiandproperty.com

Charles Tan blogs at property investment site kopiandproperty. He dislikes property speculators and disagrees that renting is better than buying. He thinks it’s either property or poverty. He is presently the CEO of an auction house auctioning assets beyond just properties.