Comparing between landed properties can be harder than comparing between condo developments. There are many factors – from how many levels you can build, to the soil conditions – that you don’t have to consider in a condo.

In this article, I’ll explore some of the key considerations, when you’re comparing between one or more landed properties.

Factors to look for when comparing landed properties

  • Which property is within a safeguarded landed estate?
  • In terms of A&A, which property would cost you more?
  • What are the amenities available?
  • Which house will give you better neighbours?
  • What are the transaction histories of the homes you’re comparing?

Finally, I’ll take a quick look at the issue of affordability, which applies to landed properties as much as any other type.

1. Which property is within a safeguarded landed estate?

Check if the properties you’re considering, are within safeguarded landed housing areas. You can identify these areas via URA’s Special and Detailed Control Plans (look for the areas marked out in red).

In general, buyers will prefer landed properties that are within the safeguarded zones. This is because such areas are only for landed housing, so you won’t have a scenario where a developer comes in and puts up, say, a condo in front of your house.

To be clear, there are some advantages to landed properties outside the safeguarded area – the cost may be lower, and sometimes public transport may be closer (it’s quite rare for MRT stations to be less than a 15-minute walk from landed enclaves).

In either case, you should be aware of the difference when making your comparison.

2. In terms of A&A, which property would cost you more?

Additions & Alterations (A&A) are works that do not increase the floor area by 50 per cent or more, and do not involve changing the nature of the house (e.g. turning a semi-detached unit into a single bungalow).

Almost every landed home purchase involves some degree of A&A, if not for customisation of your home, then just for repairs.

(Note that A&A work is not the same as actual reconstruction. The reconstruction of a landed property requires different sets of clearance and considerations – I will cover this in a future article on RonChong.net, as it’s too big a topic to include here.)

When comparing landed properties, you should consider the probable cost of A&A work. In particular, note that some houses provide less room for customisation than others. For instance, there may be more load-bearing walls that cannot be hacked away in one of the houses.

You can also see that, if one of the houses already has a pool or exterior porch, this will save you the cost of installing such features (these fall under A&A works). You should also check when was the last time the roof was maintained or replaced, as most landed homes need the roofing replaced every 20 to 25 years.

Above all, do not pick properties which you suspect of having foundation issues. These are among the most expensive problems to fix.

It’s not just about the cost, but the potential delay in moving in / renting out the property

Some forms of A&A work will take more time to complete, and you may not be able to move in until the renovations are complete. For example, redoing all the floors and changing the internal layout can take several months. This is especially true given the Covid-19 situation, which has delayed the speed of all renovation works.

As such, don’t forget to consider how soon you can move in, or start renting out the property, when comparing landed properties.

I can help you through this process, as I have a background in both construction and interior design. Drop me a message on Facebook, and I’d be happy to help you take a closer look.

3. What are the amenities available?

Most landed properties are at least 15-minutes walk to the nearest MRT station; so it’s a gem of a property that happens to be both in a quiet enclave, but still have some MRT access.

There are some landed homes at Sommerville Walk, for instance, that are just around six or seven minutes’ walk from Woodleigh MRT; and How Sun Drive has some landed homes that are just 50 metres from the Bartley MRT Station.

The delicate balance between exclusivity and accessibility is not easy to find, but they do exist. If you want a landed home that’s also not too inaccessible, contact me and I can show you some of the best options.

Beyond that, consider which of the properties you’re comparing have better access to:

  • Schools or tertiary institutes within one kilometre (even if your children don’t attend them, future buyers or tenants might, and could be willing to pay more)
  • Supermarkets or grocery stores (most landed homes are purposely situated far from malls, to minimise noise – so it’s convenient to have a small grocer nearby)
  • Cafes or other eateries that you’re likely to patronise (again, because most landed homes are further from malls)
  • Clinics and other healthcare (including veterinarians if you own pets).

5. Which house will give you better neighbours?

HDB dwellers can contact the town council if they have problematic neighbours. Condo dwellers can contact their MCST. Landed homes, however, have no such counterpart.

This makes it supremely important to ensure you’ll have (1) good neighbours, or (2) neighbours so far away they cannot be a bother (e.g. by living in a bungalow with a large land plot to yourself).

Take note of things like pets, such as barking dogs or cats that are likely to climb to your side of the house. Check the noise levels by visiting at different times of the day, as the neighbours’ home may get a lot rowdier towards evening.

(I know of at least one case where the neighbour hosted loud garden parties at least two or three times a week!)

For semi-detached units, also make sure the neighbour’s side is not dirty or unsightly. This can impact the future resale value or rentability of the property. Also, due to the close proximity, any pests or vermin from the neighbour’s side can quickly infest your unit as well.

5. What are the transaction histories of the homes you’re comparing?

Prices of landed homes can be a bit more volatile, as it’s not like condos or flats where there are high volumes of transactions. Nonetheless, you will want a sense of how much the property has appreciated over the years, to make a good comparison.

This data can be hard to find, as you can’t usually get it from URA caveats lodged (those records are only for the past six months). I may be able to help you find data on the past transactions though, so do give me a shout-out.

As an alternative, you can check out price movements for other properties – even if they’re not landed – within one kilometre. This will give you a snapshot on whether the neighbourhood has been improving; areas with more amenities and residents moving in will show better price appreciation.

Finally, defer to the most affordable property to retain your holding power

Landed properties are best as long term investments, when the value of the land is allowed to rise. As such, they are among the best multi-generational assets you can leave your family.

However, this means you should buy with an eye toward holding power. You don’t want to be forced into an urgent sale; especially as big-ticket properties like landed homes are not easy to liquidate on short notice.

As a rule of thumb, you should opt for a property that costs no more than five times your annual household income, and with monthly repayments that don’t exceed 30 per cent of your monthly income (this may mean making a bigger down payment than the minimum).

You should also ensure sufficient savings to pay for six months of the mortgage.

When you’re picking between two or more landed properties, prioritise the ones that meet parameters of affordability.

For more information on the latest happenings in the property market, follow me on RonChong.net. I’ll provide you with the latest news that home owners and investors alike should be aware of.

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