Moving to a landed property is a huge step, and often we’re looking forward to things like gardens, room for aquariums and ponds, etc. However, there are often hiccups as well. This may happen if you’re used to having a condo management team to handle maintenance for instance, or if you’re used to having 24/7 security.
To make your transition a smooth one, here are a few things to prepare before upgrading to a landed home:
Barring cluster housing, other forms of landed housing typically leave everything in the hands of the owner. While you’re free to do with the property as you will, it also means you’re left with maintenance issues regarding the exterior facade, or a longer trip to the nearest amenities.
Here’s what to prepare for:
1. Try to work out the maintenance schedule and costs
You’re fully in charge of your property’s maintenance, and this now includes details that management would have settled in a condo. Some typical examples of this include repainting of the exterior, re-tiling of the roof, and lift maintenance (if you have a lift in your property).
Before you purchase a landed home, I’d advise you consult a contractor to get a sense of the maintenance needs. Landed homes are more individualised, and can have a wider range of needs. For example, homes with flat roofs and roof access facilities (e.g. BBQ pits on the roof) tend to need more regular cleaning of the roof level.
For tiled roofs, some are more difficult to maintain than others. Clay tiles may be more attractive, for example, but are more fragile and require more frequent replacement than concrete tiles. Also note that for some properties, frequent waterproofing is required (it depends on how well built the property is).
Most landed homes will settle in a predictable schedule of maintenance; such as exterior repainting once every five to seven years, or having to clean out ponds and roofs periodically. This will help you work out the recurring costs you’ll face.
As intimidating as this may sound, I want to point out that some landed properties can be cheaper to maintain than condos. Some luxury condos, for instance, will run up maintenance bills of over $1,000+ per month. With landed homes, you have the choice to initiate maintenance as and when you want, and you only pay for what you need.
I have a background in construction, so I’m able to walk my clients through probable maintenance needs during viewings. Do reach out to me if you need clarification.
2. Prepare for additional transport needs
Landed homes are typically in low density enclaves, further from the noise and congestion of MRT stations and malls. This privacy and exclusivity are among the key advantages.
The trade-off is that, compared to condos, local amenities may be much farther away. There may not, for instance, be a minimart or eatery within easy reach. If you have children, they may have to walk a further distance from the bus stop or train station, as compared to a condo.
As such, you may want to work out the transport needs beforehand; be it making school bus arrangements, or giving your domestic helper access to Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs).
If the transport needs would be excessive, you may want to consider landed homes closer to the edge of the enclave. For example, the Siglap enclave has landed homes that are closer to Siglap Centre and the main road, where you can also find a Cold Storage; these may be within a walk-able distance. Likewise, Holland Village has landed properties that are within 490 metres (about seven minutes walk) of the MRT station.
3. Ensure your family or domestic help is ready for different household chores
A landed home does tend to involve more daily cleaning, at least at the level of mopping and sweeping. Bear in mind that this will take time out of other activities, such as meal preparation, or helping the children with homework.
One overlooked issue is the external space in a landed home, such as a backyard. Singapore is a tropical country and weeds grow quickly. In just one month, the grass can sometimes reach past your ankles. Also, to avoid fines by NEA, remember you need to prevent mosquito breeding; there are many more potted plants or sources of stagnant water to check.
As such, I always suggest picking a landed home that is not too big, even if it’s within budget. Also, check beforehand that everyone is alright with any added chores.
4. Be ready to manage your own security
There’s no more 24/7 security, so it’s highly recommended that you get at least basic security – this includes a CCTV system, and basic burglar alarms. Today, there are also more advanced “smart home” systems, which can alert you via SMS or Whatsapp if there’s an intruder.
The cost of a security system is hard to predict. Not only does it vary based on the structure of your home (the more potential entrances, the more expensive it tends to get), it also varies based on the quality and level of protection you need.
It can be as basic as $1,500 for an intercom and smart lock system, to elaborate, $20,000 systems with thumbprint scanners.
In any case, it is an added cost that you have to prepare for (or find ways around, such as having a basic system by just always ensuring one person is in the house).
5. Consider a pest control contract
Having more pests is an unfortunate fact of landed homes. The biggest issue here would be mosquitoes – not only are they a health hazard, you can be fined if the government finds breeding grounds in your home.
One other issue is if your neighbour has poor pest control. If you live in a semi-detached unit, for example, any cockroaches or rats on your neighbour’s side is quite likely to cross over to yours.
Finally, the simple size of your home – as compared to a condo or flat – means there are many more places from pests to hide from you. They can even hide within the foundations, or inside the walls (quite common with termites).
It can get quite expensive to call an exterminator on an as-and-when basis (It’s also inconvenient, as you may have to leave the house while they’re fumigating). For a condo or a flat, it may only be $90 to $300 on an ad-hoc basis, as those units are small. Landed homes are much bigger, so the costs can be a lot higher; sometimes up to $800 for even simple termite infestations.
(Ps. Bedbugs tend to be the most expensive problem to fix, running to over $600 even for a condo unit!)
As such, you may want to consider a long-term contract for larger landed properties. This usually means the pest control company will also help with preventive measures, like laying traps and making monthly checks.
Unfortunately it’s hard to guess how much a long-term contract will cost, as it depends on the size of your home and the location; but do get multiple quotes so you can compare.
The more you’re ready for landed living needs, the smoother the transition will be. More importantly, knowing these differences will help you to plan for the costs, and for making different lifestyle arrangements.
Do reach out to me if you’re concerned about landed property issues, such as maintenance cycles or distance to amenities. I can prepare you for what to expect, or suggest alternative homes to consider.
In the meantime, you can follow me on RonChongProperty.sg for more updates on the Singapore private property market.