Finding an apartment is the most daunting task for expats. There are plenty of things to consider, starting from the country’s leasing regulations down to your needs and preferences.
Let me share with you a summary of steps you can take for a stress-free home search in Singapore.
First things first
There are two ways you can go about finding an apartment in Singapore – one is to hire a real estate agent and two is to be your own agent. There are a lot of pros and cons for each option but if you don’t want to pay an extra month’s rent then the second option is for you. Do note that every landlord has his / her own agent so you will still engage with one.
Onto the steps
1. Search for property choices in Property Guru
Property Guru is the no. 1 source of available properties in Singapore. This website allows you to filter and compare choices based on your budget, needs, and preferences. There are three main housing types, these are:
For a thorough definition of each type, read this article.
2. Research, research, research
Agents will always put properties in a good light so it’s best to exercise due diligence. Inquire from your colleagues and read up reviews online. Check-out the condo directory of Singapore Expats.
3. Look see
These will help you check (1) distance from key locations and (2) transportation costs to key locations.
Aside from distance and transportation, also consider the following:
- Apartment itself – studio vs 1-bedroom, furnished vs unfurnished, actual furnishings
- Building – mid rise vs high rise, date it was built, facilities such as gym, pool, and barbecue area
- Community – no. of occupants and their profile
- Easy access – ask for the nearest…
MRT, bus stop, convenience store, supermarket, wet market, hawker, hospital, and school (for families).
4. Narrow it down and haggle
Identify top contenders, go for a second look see, and haggle with the agent. You can haggle on the monthly rent and / or request for additional furnishing.
5. Reserve the property
When you find ~the one, send a Letter of Intent (LOI) to the agent to reserve it. You can request for a template from the agent but don’t forget to review it before signing!
6. Sign the contract
If the landlord accepts the LOI, the next step would be to review and sign the Contract of Lease. Again, request the template from the agent but make sure to review it carefully before signing!!!
Key things you need to mindful of are the following:
- Turnover date
- Lease duration
- Security deposit
- Furnishings included
- Stipulations on cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and turnover
7. Submit the contract to the agent for postage
Note that tenants are responsible for payment of the stamp duty. The calculation is = monthly rent SGD X 0.4% X lease duration in months.
~voila, you now have a home!