Select The Best New Launch Condo Unit: The Magnifying Stack Method

Its frightening isn’t it?

That moment when your shivering hands are about to sign on the purchase documents for that amazing unit you’ve just viewed at the latest new launch showroom.

I’m sure you’ll agree… Buying a new launch condo isn’t for the faint of heart.

The very thought of making the decision to place real hard-earned cash on a property purchase sends a quivering chill down any investor’s spine. (Even though they might vehemently deny it)

And its perfectly normal to feel that way…

After all, it’s probably one of the largest purchase decisions of your life… One that you would absolutely hate to make a mistake on.

Its totally understandable if you feel a little apprehensive.

But what if… You possessed a step-by-step checklist that gives you the rock-solid confidence to determine whether the new launch condominium unit you are about to buy is going to be massively profitable within the next 5 to 10 years?

FREE BONUS: Click here to get access to my PDF checklist that shows you how to execute ALL the techniques listed in this post. (Including one bonus technique not listed in this guide)

Well… Read on because I’ll be revealing to you the exact step by step method that I use to uncover great buys for my real estate clients.

I call it…

The Magnifying Stack Method.

Warning: This is going to be a very long read. So be sure to bookmark this page or save this link to continue reading at your own leisure and convenience.

Just like magnifying lenses stacked atop another, each step you complete gives you greater clarity and a deeper understanding of the property you are dealing with.

You will get to know intimately, its potential and even its flaws… So that you can accurately assess your risks versus the rewards.

So… Let’s take a closer look shall we?

Skip immediately to:

  1. How to choose the best locations using this under-utilized free resource
  2. How to select the top new launch condo with the highest capital appreciation potential
  3. How to dig out critical information from the new launch showflat
  4. How to decipher floor plans and site plans like a pro
  5. How to determine if you are over-paying for the unit

Magnifying Lens 1: How To Choose The Best Locations Using This Under-Utilized Free Resource

The number one cardinal sin in property investment?

Emotion.

When it comes to selecting a location for your investment property, throw out any form of emotion affecting your decision.

Instead… Choose to rely EXCLUSIVELY on solid hard facts and data.

What do I mean by emotion?

Well… It could be that you feel that investing in the East region of Singapore will be more profitable than if you invested in the West region.

Or it could be that you have grown up all your life in Jurong West and would never imagine yourself buying a property outside of this district.

Or it could be that your friends and relatives have recently gushed about the potential of Woodlands Regional Centre and that made you feel that it is safe to buy a property in that region.

It could even be that you feel Geylang is a place condemned to be the red light district of Singapore for the rest of eternity, and buying a property there would be a disastrous investment decision.

Simply put… An emotional decision is one that is not backed up by well-researched and solid data.

And relying on such decisions could very well lead you to cling on unprofitably to the property for many years to come!

So let me show you a free resource you can immediately use to quantify your research.

How To Ensure You Are Targeting The Right Growth District

Think about it… Would you rather;

  • Invest in a location that you know for sure is slated for massive growth?
  • Or place your money in a location where nothing exciting is being planned for the next 5 to 10 years?

The answer is obvious isn’t it?

You see… The tool that I am about to introduce to you is the URA Master Plan.

It is one of the best but most under-used free resource that most investors neglect.

Within it holds a wealth of information that lays out the blueprint of how Singapore will look like in the next 5 to 10 years.

In fact… Its practically the closest you can get to having a crystal ball that predicts the future potential of your investment property!

Here’s how to use it:

Head on over to the URA Master Plan website.

Click on the “Maps” button.

Maps Button

Select “Street Block Plan, Urban Design Area, Conservation Areas & Monuments Plan”.

Urban Design Area

You should be able to see a white map of Singapore with some areas being colour-coded.

Urban Design Area Map

 

The two main colours you should be focusing on are “Urban Design Area” & “Urban Design Plans & Guidelines For Designated Area”.

Urban Design Area Legend

The areas highlighted in beige are the plots of land earmarked by the government for future massive improvements in infrastructure.

Architects and developers have to fulfill a more stringent set of guidelines before their plans are approved for the development of these plots of land.

Just imagine this:

Brand new shopping malls, cafes & restaurants, supermarkets, wider roads, and other exciting infrastructures will be constructed to accommodate the growth in that region… Making life so much more convenient for the residents there.

If that were to happen… How do you think these changes will postively affect the capital appreciation of properties surrounding these major infrastructure upgrades?

And more importantly….

Do you see how powerful this information is?

It means that you don’t have to rely on your 6th sense like other investors do.

With this map, you know exactly where ALL the potential profits are!

That being said… it would still make sense for you to research deeper into that region before making a prudent decision.

So here’s a shortcut for you:

URA has blatantly stated in its website that these regions are the upcoming high growth areas in the coming years.

Take for example the Jurong Lake District.

Jurong Lake District

Using this webpage, you can easily find out what are the major developments and changes happening in this region and get a clearer picture of how it will be transformed in the future.

Pretty cool, right?

Now obviously… That isn’t the end to the URA Master Plan’s powers.

There are tons of other useful information residing within the URA Master Plan such as the plot ratio, zoning, building height restrictions, etc. that can allow you to further pinpoint and select a great location to invest in.

But for now, since we already have a nice overview of where most of the profits will be located in the next few years, it’s time to zoom in.

BONUS STEP: Listing Down All The New Launch Condos In An Area Within 3 Minutes

I know that research work is really tedious.

Therefore I’m going to make it MUCH easier for you.

Here’s how to find out and list down all the upcoming brand new property launches in your selected growth region, using this free resource.

1. Head on to this nifty website called srx.com.sg

2. Select “New Home Launches” from the drop-down menu of “Find Property”.

SRX New Home Launches

3. Key in the location which you want to focus on in the search bar located at the top of the page.

SRX Search Bar

4. Using the “Zoom Radius” tool located on the map provided, you can start to narrow down what are the new launches within a specific distance to your target location.

SRX Zoom Radius

5. Once you are satisfied with the settings, start listing down on a notepad, the condominium names of any upcoming launches in that area.

SRX New Launch Map

And there you have it!

All the new launch condos within that specific region…

Don’t worry if there are too many condominiums to choose from.

Because in the next chapter, I will show you how to really narrow down your choices.

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Magnifying Lens 2: How To Select The Top New Launch Condo With The Highest Appreciation Potential

Believe it or not…

Selecting the right growth region is by far the easiest part of this entire process.

Choosing the new launch condominium with the highest appreciation potential?

Now that takes skill… And a little Economics 101 knowledge.

As with everything else, you have to understand that property prices are mostly driven by the forces of supply and demand.

High demand, low supply? Prices surge because suddenly your property is like an oasis in the desert.

Rare and desperately needed.

Low demand, ample supply? Well… I hate to break this to you but your property is now like a paper bag.

Its good to have… Its useful even…

But its a commodity.

And therefore, its going to be priced like one.

So let’s cut to the chase and take a closer look at 3 major demand driving factors.

Plenty Of Workplaces Nearby

Traveling in excesses of 1 hour to where we work is a daily routine for many residents in Singapore.

And sometimes, because of the throngs of commuters crowded in a train station, we are forced to miss the train. And the next. And the next…

I’m sure you’ll agree that its really frustrating to experience this… especially in the morning!

No one likes to go to work late and face a grouchy boss for the rest of the day…

But the reality is…

Commute times during the rush hour periods in Singapore are just going to get worse with an ever-increasing population.

And because of that…

Having nearby workplaces gives a huge spike to the demand factor of a new launch condo!

Tenants, Buyers & even the nearby workplace employers will all be ready to splash the cash on any such suitable unit.

Especially when there is a limited supply in that area.

Honestly… Its the number one factor I’d look out for when selecting a new launch condo. (Yes… even before I consider the proximity to MRTs)

So here’s how to sniff it out:

Get onto the Street Directory Website.

Key in the name of the new launch property… In this case, I’m using Sky Green as an example.

Sky Green Search Street Directory

Click on the listing and you will be taken to a map of the entire area surrounding the condominium.

Using the map, find out if there are existing condominiums in the vicinity.

These condominiums will form your competition for tenants and buyers in the future.

In the case of Sky Green Condominium, there is only one other condominium within the immediate vicinity – Le Crescendo (highlighted in yellow).

Sky Green Map

Once you have identified the competition, head on over to the URA Master Plan Maps again.

Key in the condo name, in this case its “Sky Green”.

Sky Green Master Plan Search

You will be brought to a map marked out by the different zones.

Sky Green Master Plan

If this all looks Greek to you… Don’t worry…

You can make sense of it all by clicking on the “Legend” button.

Master Plan Legend Button

Master Plan Legend

So as you can tell by the zoning map surrounding Sky Green Condominium, there are TONS of workplaces in the vicinity.

Mostly B1 Industrial and some B2 Industrial as well.

You see… Zoning plays an important part in the consideration of your purchase.

Chances are… The pay grade (afford-ability) and caliber of tenants and buyers will be reflected by these zones.

In general, employees in commercial zones have a higher spending power as compared to employees working in B1-Industrial zones.

And these employees in the B1-Industrial zones generally have a higher spending power when compared to employees working in a B2-Industrial zone.

But that’s not all…

“Health & Medical Care” & “Educational Institution” zones… are workplaces that if found nearby to the new launch condo, could also boost up the demand in the area!

Master Plan Legend Heatlh

Because if you think about it…

Doctors, Professors and Lecturers who work in these institutions are highly paid professionals and would LOVE to lease or purchase your property from you, just to reduce the time taken to get to work.

So leverage on that!

A Host Of Useful Amenities In The Vicinity

Here’s the deal:

By now you should have realized that people are generally lazy and would gladly pay a premium to enjoy huge conveniences.

So take that into account when you are selecting a new launch condo location.

Be sure to give EXTRA attention to the amenities surrounding it.

Now you might ask:

What are the most sought after amenities?

Well… basically everything that makes your tenants’ or potential buyer’s life easier.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • Childcare centres
  • Top schools
  • Supermarkets
  • Shopping malls
  • Clinics
  • Cinemas
  • Cafes
  • Restaurants
  • … and the list goes on

The more of these amenities that are within walking distance from your property, the better it is for your prospective buyer or tenant.

In other words, the more nearby amenities there are, the higher the demand for that location.

Here’s how to dig out that information for free without personally surveying the location:

Visit the nearby.sg site

Key in the actual address of the condominium and select “Show Points of Interest Within 1KM” then hit the search button.

Nearby Dot SG

Nearby.sg will then pull out ALL the nearby amenities for you automatically within seconds!

Pretty cool huh?

Now all you need to do is select the amenities that interest you and it will show you the distance of these places relative to the new launch condo of your choice.

For example:

If we wanted to know where are all the supermarkets near to Sky Green Condominium, all we need to do is select the “Supermarket” option from the dropdown menu of “Find a Point of Interest”.

Nearby Dot SG Supermarket

Click on any of the highlighted listings and it will show you the distance away from your new launch condo location!

Nearby Dot SG Supermarket Map

Piece of cake, right?

Now that you know this little trick…

There’s absolutely no reason, for you not to find out EVERYTHING there is to know about your potential property buy.

Ease Of Transportation Options

Its an age old cliche:

Everyone knows of the MRT Effect.

Some buyers swear by it and even go to the extent of ONLY purchasing properties near to an MRT!

Whilst that may be a strategy that has worked for many…

Let’s not forget that there are plenty of other transportation options that can add serious value to your property.

For instance…

A direct bus route to the CBD area is worth much more to your prospective tenant who works there than an MRT route where he has to change trains twice.

Focus on accessibility rather than just the MRT station and you will gain a deeper insight into the full potential of your property.

Here’s what to do:

Determine where are the nearest bus stops near your target condominium using the Street Directory Website. (Bus stops are indicated by the red bus icons)

Clicking on one of them will bring up a tooltip showing you the various bus services that makes stops here.

Bus Stop Map

If you click on any of the services you will be able to see the entire bus route of that service.

So in this example, by clicking on the 151 Bus service, I found out that directly next to Sky Green Condominium is a bus route linking me directly to landmarks such as

  • Saint Andrew’s Junior School
  • Catholic Junior College
  • St Joseph’s Institute
  • Hwa Chong Junior College
  • Coronation Plaza
  • The Chinese High School
  • National Junior College
  • King Albert Park
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  • Singapore Institute of Management
  • And yes… even the National University of Singapore.

Bus Route

Now wouldn’t you agree that this bus route is FAR more valuable than the Tai Seng MRT Station located 3 minutes away?

Sadly… Not many investors bother with this aspect of their investment property.

And that is why they tend to miss out on some really excellent pieces of investment real estate.

But since you are now aware of this…

You’d be crazy not to use it to gain an additional advantage over other lazier property investors!

BONUS STEP: The Additional Booster That Fuels Property Demand

Now that you know the 3 major factors that drive demand for a property…

Its time to get acquainted with this additional booster which will increase the profits you make on the new launch property.

Introducing… Under-Construction Infrastructures (UCI)

UCI are planned buildings and amenities currently still undergoing construction.

And it could belong to any of the three categories above,

  • Workplaces
  • Amenities
  • Transportation

The main reason why you should pay attention to these buildings is because most of the time, their selling prices have yet to factor in the future prices that buyers would gladly pay once these infrastructures are completed.

Therefore, when these structures and amenities are completed, you will tend to receive a nice bump in your property sales price.

Here’s how to look out for them:

Using the Street Directory Website again, look out for structures and buildings that come with the “U/C” label. (U/C represents Under Construction)

UCI

They could be:

  • Schools
  • MRT Stations
  • Shopping Malls
  • Or even Hospitals
  • etc…

So look out for them when you are doing your research on the location!

Having one nearby could make a big difference to the future demand for your target property.

Now that you know almost everything there is to know about your target new launch property’s location, shortlist only the top few and its time to start visiting some showflats!

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Magnifying Lens 3: How To Dig Out Critical Information From The New Launch Show Flat

Show flats are amazing.

One of the best perks of my job is the opportunity to view show flats WAY before it opens its doors to the public.

Read also: 5 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before You Visit Any New Launch Condo Showflat

And because I’ve viewed so many over the course of my career, I’ve recognized one thing…

Show flats divulge A LOT of information about the new launch condo it represents.

And that information COULD be critical in determining whether or not you should buy that new launch condo.

Let me break it down for you:

Scrutinizing The Show Model

Walk into any show flat and you will almost always see the show model proudly displayed near the entrance.

Majority of these models are made to scale and will give an an idea of what the project will look like once it reaches its completion.

Sadly… many investors have developed a blindness to the show model.

Choosing to move straight to the show units instead, where they can see the “actual units”.

And that’s a real waste.

Because by just observing the show model itself, you will be able to differentiate the best facing units from the worst-facing ones.

For instance:

Did you know that every show model comes accompanied with a “compass” that specifies the North direction?

Armed with just that information alone, you will be able to tell;

  • Which are the units that will inevitably be hit by the “afternoon sun”
  • Which are the units facing an unblocked city view
  • And which are permanently blocked.

Obviously, unit facing is a very personal choice.

For some strange reason… Some people actually DO prefer “afternoon sun” facing units.

But if you are buying the property as an investment, then you’d definitely want to be in the good books of the majority.

So I’ve listed down some of the most common facings to AVOID and how you can do so in a very systematic approach.

Start With The Compass

Plenty of buyers walk up to a show model… Look at the facilities… Admire the facade of the building… And move on.

Big mistake!

You see… Without taking reference from the compass, you can’t possibly make sense of where any of the units are facing.

Much less find the best facing ones.

So make that your top priority!

Usually, you’d be able to spot the compass at one of the corners of the show model.

Show Model Compass

Eliminate The West Sun Facing Units

Judging from the compass, you’d be able to tell which are the units that will get directly or indirectly hit by the dreaded afternoon sun.

And because so many buyers and tenants absolutely abhor this trait in a unit, you’d do well to steer clear from these as well.

Do take note:

This only applies to units with windows facing towards the West.

If the only part of the unit that gets hit by the afternoon sun are the walls, then that’s considered acceptable.

Also, take note of the surrounding blocks and even external buildings surrounding the development.

There may be cases where the adjacent block “blocks off” any possible case of afternoon sun getting into the unit.

If that’s the case, treat it as a non-west sun facing unit.

Show Model West Sun

From the image above, you can tell that this new launch condominium is strategically orientated to minimize the effects of the West sun.

All of the blocks are designed to face either to the North or to the South.

Such that the afternoon sun does not go seep into any of the units in this development.

Eliminate the Substation and Bin Centre Facing Units

This is another trait that buyers and tenants tend to avoid like the plague.

And for good reason.

Because let’s face it…

No one likes to live near a trash dump. Nuff said.

Avoid bin centers because:

  • They smell
  • They attract rodents, and other creepy crawlies
  • They are unsightly
  • Looking at them on a daily basis takes away your appetite

Avoid substations because:

  • They are usually located next to the bin centre

Sometimes you won’t be able to find the bin centre label, that’s because it is located at the same place as the substation.

Show Model Bin Centre

This is a perfect example of a facing you should avoid at all costs.

In the image above, ALL the units are situated extremely close-by to the substation and bin centre… Making it a very undesirable investment choice.

It’s definitely going to be an uphill challenge to sell or rent out such units in the future.

So be sure to watch out for it!

Eliminate the Units That are too Close to Each Other

Here’s another biggie.

No one likes to know that their neighbors could easily look right through into their unit and invade their personal space. (Ok, maybe I am generalizing a little here 😉 But still… A large majority of people are fiercely protective of their personal privacy.)

No one likes to always have to draw the curtains whenever they are at home either.

So never EVER choose a unit that is lesser than 40m away from your neighbour’s unit.

Trust me on this…

It’s always a tough sell or tough rent if your unit has this trait.

Possibly even worse than if it faces a direct hit from the afternoon sun.

Show Model Too Close

In the example above, the 2 blocks are just separated by the short width of the lap pool, no more than 20m apart.

So unless you don’t mind giving up your privacy, and have no intention to sell or rent your property in the future…

Stay away from such units!

Take Note Of The Premium Stacks

Just by the above process of elimination alone, you’d be left with the better facing units.

But as always, some units are just better than others.

And I call them – Premium stacks.

So what could possibly jack up the value of a unit and push it into the premium category?

Quite simply… The views it possesses.

Pool views. Sea views. City views. Greenery views. Unblocked and expansive views.

All these add to the comfort and enjoyment of the unit for the buyer/tenant, which in turn add to its value.

Not surprisingly, these are also almost always the highest priced units in the entire development.

But here’s the thing:

You don’t always have to buy the premium stacks.

In fact, if you are truly looking for a value-for-money investment, my advice would be to skip them completely.

Because we are focusing on value, rental yields and a healthy cash flow… Buying a “Premium unit” usually puts a strain on that.

Unless of course, they are priced really similarly to the other units in the development.

But what do you think are the odds of that happening?

Fairly low I’d reckon.

Exploring The Show Units

Show units exist for one reason… To impress the boots off buyers and investors.

And no one knows this better than the developers themselves.

Which is why they have absolutely no qualms in spending upwards of a hundred thousand dollars on interior design to showcase the very best side of their units.

You see… It’s really easy to get carried away and gush about how nice the wallpapers are… How refined the dining table looks… And how comfortable the beds on display seem.

But if you find yourself thinking that way…

You’re doing it wrong.

Because if you decide to purchase the unit, you will definitely not be getting any of those plush furnitures on display.

The reality is… You will just be provided with the bare minimum.

So here’s what you should really be focusing your attention to.

Find Out What The Flooring Is Made Of

The very first direction you should be looking at is down.

The materials used for the flooring WILL have to be as is.

Meaning to say… Whatever flooring is used in the showflat, the developer is obliged to provide the same for your unit.

As you can imagine, the flooring is easily one of the most costly renovation items to alter.

And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are forced to hack away the old flooring to re-lay the new one, you’d realize that both these procedures would cost you in the tens of thousands.

Each.

So trust me, you’d definitely want to get it right the first time.

Show Unit Flooring

To help you out, here are the most common flooring options that most new launch condominiums use.

They are ranked in order of highest quality to lowest quality.

For the living room and dining area

  • Marble
  • Compressed marble
  • Homogeneous tiles
  • Porcelain tiles

For the bedrooms

  • Solid timber
  • Timber
  • Laminate

Now admittedly, it can be quite tough to differentiate accurately between the different flooring materials just by inspecting it.

But that’s ok.

Because nowadays, show flats are required to place labels either on the walls or counter tops in each room, listing down the fixtures and fittings provided for that room.

Including the materials used for the flooring.

And if you wish to confirm that information, you could simply ask for a brochure for the new launch development.

Flip to the last few pages under the “Specifications” section where every detail about the unit will be listed.

New Launch Specifications

Focus On The Size Of The Rooms

Most show units will have beds placed inside the rooms to demonstrate the space you have once the furnitures are in.

Some will place single beds, some place double-decked beds, and some place queen-sized beds.

As a rule of thumb, you’d want to ensure that the room is able to fit at least a queen-sized bed because that’s the most commonly accepted size.

It’s also one of the more important considerations that tenants and possibly even your future buyers will care about.

So take no chances here.

However, some of the rooms in newer show units will be displayed to you in an open concept layout where they take away the walls of the room to convert it to either:

  • An extension of the living room
  • Or an open concept study/library
  • Or some other creative/fanciful concept

And the truth is…

These are just strategies used by the developer to make the room look bigger than it actually is!

Pretty sneaky, right?

So here’s what to do about it:

The first thing you need to do is to get familiar with the dimensions of a queen sized bed.

A queen sized bed measures 153cm by 191cm.

Now… I’m not suggesting that you bring a measuring tape every time you visit a show flat…

But the little “trick” that I personally use is to convert the dimensions of a queen sized bed into my own foot steps.

  • 153cm = 6 steps from Marcus
  • 191cm = 7.5 steps from Marcus

Obviously everyone has a different foot size, so “pre-measure” your own before you attempt this!

Some additional tips:

What you should be looking at is even after fitting in a queen sized bed, there should still be a comfortable area for you to move around the room, especially near the wardrobe area.

If the wardrobe has an out-swinging door, then you’d have to make sure that there is space allocated for the doors.

But if it is using a sliding door, then that’s not going to be too much of an issue.

Show Unit Room Size

Is The Developer Paying Attention To The Small Details?

Each new launch condo unit comes equipped with some standard appliances such as the air conditioning units as well as the cooker and hob found in the kitchen and the sanitary appliances found in the bathrooms.

And sometimes, developers do throw in other appliances to sweeten the deal for the buyers.

Such as:

  • Washer/dryer
  • Refridgerator
  • Built-in oven
  • Coffee-makers
  • Etc.

Often times, the brands that the developer opts for serve as a good indicator towards their commitment for quality.

Here’s a quick ranking guide of the best cooker/hob/oven brands globally.
(Study done by J.D Power in 2013)

JD Power Study

If the brand that the developer uses is not in this list, do a quick google search on the brand to find out more about its history and customer feedback on reliability.

Show Unit Appliances Brand

Bonus tip:

Another dead giveaway to the developer’s commitment to quality is the addition of “soft closing” wardrobes and drawers.

Technically, they don’t have to add this feature in… But it does add that little bit of a luxurious feel to your condominium once it is ready for you or your tenants to move in.

So don’t be shy!

Test the quality for yourself by opening and closing the drawers and wardrobes.

If you can feel or see that there is a mechanism that “takes over” the closing of the drawers and wardrobe doors, bringing it to a soft close…

Then that’s a sign of a developer who takes pride in their work!

Show Unit Soft Closing

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Magnifying Lens 4: How To Decipher Floor Plans And Site Plans Like A Pro

Now most of the time…

Not all the different layouts and bedroom configurations will be displayed in the form of a show unit for you to physically inspect.

And in such situations, you’d definitely need to rely on the floor plans to make your purchase decision.

Interestingly… I know of some seasoned investors who ONLY rely on the floor plans to make their buying decision!

Choosing to skip viewing the show unit entirely.

So if you want to be able to select the best new launch condo units every single time…

You’d definitely have to master the skill of deciphering site plans and floor plans.

So let’s get you started on how to interpret site plans and floor plans like a seasoned expert.

Always Start With The Site Plan

In case you were wondering what a site plan looks like, here’s an example from Lakeville:

Lakeville Site Plan

A site plan is basically, a bird’s eye view of the entire new launch development.

And you’d almost always find it within the brochure or e-brochure of the new launch project.

Its a great tool that lists down all the different stacks (units) in the condominium development and shows you exactly where the units are facing.

Similar to the show model, site plans always come accompanied with a compass.

Therefore…

You’d also be able to sift out all the units with atrocious facing, just by studying the site plan.

Understanding Blocks & Stacks

So as you can see, the entire condominium is split into different blocks and stacks.

To explain further, let’s take a closer look at block 9 in Lakeville.

Blocks And Stacks

From the image above you can tell that block 9 comprises of stack 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 and 36.

Each of these stacks represent the unit number in a block.

For instance, within stack 30, you will be able to find #02-30, #03-30 and so on.

Note: Sometimes, one stack can have different variations of floor plans depending on the facade of the property and the level of the unit.

Mark Out The Units With Bad Facing

Refer back to “The Show Model” section for the steps on how to eliminate the units with those unpopular facings.

To give you an example, I’ll be marking out those units that are clearly affected by the afternoon sun.

Lakeville Site Plan (West Sun)

Those units marked out in yellow are units that face the west directly.

Now u might have realized that I did not mark out stack 7 and stack 43, even though it seems like they are facing the west as well…

To understand the rationale behind that, we have to zoom in a little closer…

How To Read Floor Plans Like A Pro

Let’s take a look at the floor plans of stack 7 in Lakeville…

Lakeville Stack 7

If you examine the layout carefully, you will realize that the majority of the rooms and even the balcony are facing the South-East instead.

In fact, here’s a super imposed picture of the stack 7 floor plan onto the LakeVille site plan to make things clearer.

Lakeville Stack 7 Superimposed

From here, you can see that the west sun only hits Bedroom 3 through its window… Leaving the rest of the rooms unscathed.

So for such a unit, the afternoon sun is not going to pose much of a problem.

But that’s not all you can tell from floor plans!

Important Aspects Of A Great Layout

For illustration purposes, I will be using a 3 bedroom layout floor plan from the Venue Residences.

Floor Plan Example 1

1. Large Room Sizes

One of the very first things that you should focus on when you examine a floor plan is the room size.

Sometimes, the floor plan makes it easy for you by illustrating “queen sized beds” in the various rooms.
(Note that all floor plans are drawn to scale unless otherwise stated)

By inspecting the floor plan above, you can see that ALL rooms are able to easily fit a queen sized bed.

Also, the Master Bedroom is even large enough to fit a king sized bed!

So full marks for room sizes there.

2. Number Of Bathrooms

Unless the unit that you are looking at is a 1 Bedroom or a Studio unit, always aim for a minimum of 2 bathrooms.

That’s because most tenants and buyers will prefer their guests to use a common bathroom rather than their private bathrooms for privacy reasons.

Bathroom sizes are typically not much of an issue, as most of them are made to be fully functional anyway.

However, most buyers tend to shun away from bathtubs.

Mostly because they are hardly used and difficult to maintain.

So if possible…

Do try to avoid layouts with bathtubs if you are purchasing the property for investment purposes.

3. Enclosed Kitchen

Kitchens are a subjective matter, and it all depends on who your prospective tenants are.

But a general rule of thumb is that for tenants renting as a family, they’d usually prefer an enclosed kitchen for heavy cooking rather than a kitchenette.

Kitchen Comparison

As you can see, an enclosed kitchen typically forms a rectangular shape and typically has a sliding door separating it from the rest of the house.

Kitchenettes however, are usually a straight row or an L-shaped row of counters by the side of the wall leading to the living/dining area.

4. No Bay Windows

Decades ago, this was one of the more popular features in a condominium as it supposedly made the rooms more enjoyable by providing a lounging area for residents to “relax and enjoy the condo lifestyle”.

But very quickly, investors wizened up to the fact that they are paying for a feature that was practically going to be under-utilized.

Worse yet:

It eats into the already constrained “live-able” space of a room.

So that’s the summarized story of why investors now avoid bay windows whenever possible.

And if you ever plan to sell your property to another buyer, that’s what you should be avoiding as well.

Bay windows are typically labeled as “BW” in the floor plans.

Bay Window

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Magnifying Lens 5: How To Determine If You Are Over-Paying For The New Launch Condo Unit

Now that you’ve locked on to the units that you want, it’s down to the final step.

Buying at the right price.

The first thing you have to understand about price, is that it’s relative.

For example…

Paying $1,600 psf for a unit in the Central Core Region (CCR) of Singapore is considered a steal, whilst paying the same for a unit in the suburbs of Singapore just makes you look… Well.. Amateurish.

So how do you ensure that you aren’t over-paying for your property?

Simple!

Just follow these super actionable steps my friend…

Find Out The Transaction Prices Of Surrounding Developments

Let’s take Lakeville as an example.

The first step is to find out what are the most comparable surrounding condominiums in the area.

So head on to the Street Directory Website again, and search for Lakeville.

Lakeville Search

Select the Lakeville listing and you will be brought to the map of the area.

So right off the bat, you will be able to tell which are the surrounding condominiums…

Lakeville CMA

I’ve highlighted the condominiums out for you… They are:

  • The Lakeshore
  • The Lakefront Residences
  • Caspian
  • Parc Vista
  • Lakeholmz
  • Lakepoint Condominium

Once you’ve shortlisted the surrounding condos, you’ll want to make sure that the transaction results are as relevant as possible.

To compare relevant transactions, you need to compare it with;

  • Similar age condominiums
  • Similar unit sizes
  • Recent transactions in the past 6 months

And since we are dealing with a new launch condominium, you’ll only want to compare it with condos that are less than 10 years old.

So for each of the condominiums, find out the year that they attained their T.O.P. status.

You can do so very easily by searching for the condo name in any of the property portals in Singapore.

Here’s an example from Propertyguru.

TOP Year Example

Once you’ve noted down all the ages of the condominiums, its time to strike off the name of condos aged 10 years and more.

Note: This list and comparison is done in 2015.

  • The Lakeshore (2007)
  • The Lakefront Residences (2015)
  • Caspian (2013)
  • Parc Vista (2000)
  • Lakeholmz (2005)
  • Lakepoint Condominium (1983)

This should be a very quick and simple process and it shouldn’t take you more than 2 minutes to complete and update the list.

As you can see from the results, only The Lakeshore, The Lakefront Residences and Caspian are the comparable condos to Lakeville.

So get onto the URA website again…

Select “E-SERIVCES” from the top menu.

URA Menu Bar

Then select “Check private residential property transactions with caveats lodged”.

Check Private Residential Property Transactions

You’ll be brought to a page where you can start selecting which condo transactions you want to view.

I recommend using these settings.

  1. Search by project name
  2. Select a time frame of the past 6 months (e.g Jan 2015 to Jun 2015)
  3. Select “Resale” under type of sale
  4. And of course, select the names of the condominiums you have shortlisted.

It should look something like this.

URA Residential Transactions Page

Once you are done with the settings… click on the “Search” button!

In the next page, all transactions done in the past 6 months for these condominiums will be reflected.

However, there is a tiny problem.

The results are for ALL unit sizes transacted and are not sortable!

To get around this problem, here’s what you need to do…

At the top right of the search results, you will see the option “Download To CSV”.

Download To CSV

Click on it to download the results onto your computer.

Open the file are you will see the search results in Excel format. (Do note that you need to have Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice installed to open the file)

It should look something like this.

Range Of Sizes

Assuming you are interested to purchase a 1119 sq ft 3-Bedroom unit…

You will need to filter out the non-relevant results (The units that are either too small or too large).

To do that, simply find out the range of unit sizes by taking the (+/- 10% of 1119 sq ft)

In other words… 90% of 1119 sq ft and 110% of 1119 sq ft.

And that should work out to be a range between 1007 sq ft to 1231 sq ft.

From the excel list, delete ALL the unit sizes that are outside of this range.

Average PSF

Once you are done with this step, calculate the average Price Per Sq Ft (PSF) of the units still in the list.

And there you have it!

The average PSF should work out to be $1,130 PSF.

So if the unit you are interested in is priced close to that average, you can be sure you aren’t overpaying for that property.

And if the unit is priced way above this average, my advice is think twice before you sign on the dotted line.

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Now It’s Your Turn

You’ve just seen how I used the Magnifying Stack Method to cherry-pick awesome properties for my real estate clients.

Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learnt into practice!

The first step?

Enter your email below to get access to my FREE Magnifying Stack Method Checklist in PDF Format.

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The checklist has ALL of the strategies listed here in an easy to digest format… PLUS 1 more important strategy that I just didn’t have space to include inside this post.

So enter your email below to download the PDF now!