Viewing property? Here’s 5 things you MUST check (or live to regret)

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Viewing property, be it a HDB flat or a condo unit, is a big deal. One thing’s for certain: it’s not just about walking into rooms, feeling the vibe or looking out of the window. Rather, to really know if the property is worth your consideration, prospective buyers must become a property detective. Include these must-dos in your checklist when you go property hunting and before you sign the legal documents, so you’ll save precious time and prevent heartache. And if there are any issues that you’re okay to deal with yourself, spotting these will also give you the leverage to negotiate the property’s price downwards.

The 5 things you MUST check when viewing property:

1. Check the piping

Sink piping
Pipes that are in good condition should not leave any stain on the inner cabinet surfaces. Image credit:

The kitchen may look nice, but it’s what lurks beneath that really matters. Don’t feel paiseh (“shy” in Hokkien) when viewing property; just ask for permission to open the cupboards and check the pipes. Make sure that there are no leaking, mould or cracks, as any defects would necessitate a costly and/or troublesome repair. Mould will also emit a pungent smell if left untreated, and is unhygienic for the family. Check metal piping, especially the joins, for any evidence of corrosion.

The same goes for pipes in the bathroom and the service yard. Pipes connected to floor drainage, as in the case of a bathtub, must be visually inspected for any defects.

2. Scan the flooring

viewing property parquet water damage
Water damaged parquet flooring can sometimes be hidden under furniture.

Remember to look down when viewing property. If the apartment has hardwood/parquet flooring, check that there aren’t any loose pieces, or areas that are rotting from water seepage (pieces that have signs of water damage will have blackened edges). You’d also want the wood to be smooth and well-maintained; in particular, the varnish (smooth protective coat) shouldn’t have worn off, exposing the actual wood to wear and tear.

If the flooring is tiled, tiles should not be missing, chipped, cracked, or popped out. (Damaged tiles are the most difficult to fix; you might not even be able to find a replacement tile!)

For vinyl/laminated flooring, make sure that are no uneven spots, which you can feel under your feet.

3. Inspect cabinets/wardrobes for termites

Termite Droppings
What termite droppings look like.

If the apartment comes with wooden cabinets in the kitchen and built-in wooden furniture such as wardrobes, as to check the insides for signs of termites and other insects. Signs of termites include the presence of wings, holes, sawdust and/or termite droppings. When viewing property, bring a torchlight to illuminate those dim cupboard corners.

4. Flick the switches

No, it’s not itchy fingers. When viewing property, try every switch to see if it works. If the lights or water heater doesn’t come on, it could be that a new bulb is needed, or there are some wiring problems that require an electrician’s attention. The sooner you realise it, the better.

5. Study the walls and ceilings

Viewing property leaking wall ceiling
This ceiling is showing signs of water leakage.

Walls and ceilings should be stainless and without cracked paints or exposed concrete. If the wall or ceiling has a yellowish/brownish/greenish stain or paint that looks like it’s peeling, flaking off or bubbling, it means that there’s probably a leaking problem. For ceilings, this could mean the problem originates from the unit directly above, which will be near impossible to solve without involving the resident in the above unit (usually with the intervention of HDB or condo management, depending on the property).

If the owner has hacked existing walls in the apartment you’re viewing, make sure you check against the floor plan and make sure the wall that’s hacked isn’t a load-bearing wall. Meanwhile, check partition walls (drywalls) for any dents. Holes where paintings or hooks used to be will need filling. Again, be sure to check behind furniture.


You might also want to ask the agent or homeowner about the type of paint used as it might be material that isn’t child-friendly.



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