Hot or Not: Should you opt for a pre-owned home?

In Photo: Association dues in big cities like Makati can range from a whopping P45,000 to P100,000 a month.

THERE continues to be a lot of property developers who are building new condominiums, subdivisions and even individual houses left and right. All of a sudden, it almost seems like buying new is the only option. But let’s not forget the debated, but still largely valuable and handy, choice of going the pre-owned-home route—to be specific, condos.

In the past, I’ve talked about vertical developments in its many incarnations—as part of shared spaces, micro-units, luxury brand-designed and a lot of others more. This time, let’s explore more about what to look out for when searching for pre-owned—possibly even old—homes, and hear from both sides of the coin, the buyer and the broker.

Consider location and amenities

Unsurprisingly, location also equates to accessibility. While newer homes built in still developing areas does afford you a sense of quiet—an attribute that is becoming increasingly scarce—a pre-owned condo means that it’s probably already in a well-grown area. This means that they’ve not only perfectly blended well with their location, but have also attracted other key necessities, like health-care facilities and entertainment and transportation hubs.

Older buildings, such as Legaspi Towers 300, have larger unit cuts compared to newer developments.

Location is also crucial because of the lease hold factor. While other existing buildings lengthen their leases by renovating their façade, this is no guarantee that you will be keeping that unit for as long as you think.

Aside from looking outside your prospective unit, you must also take a good look inside your own. Don’t be shy to stomp on floors, flush toilets and try the different features inside the unit. Not all that glitters is gold and the broker or homeowner will definitely be showing you their best. Lived-in units can either look pretty and be well-kept or look pretty, but have many hidden problems.

Reputation matters

Indeed, it does, and for a great reason. Though, it’s important to take things with a grain of salt, developer reputations are usually built off of several projects and years of work.

Knowing your developer’s “rep” also gives you insights on their consistency and capabilities. Consider their track record and see how well they performed in the past according to your needs.

Former Senior Manager in Sales for Megaworld Properties Anton Serna, who has also worked as a freelance broker, shared that the name of the developer is not necessarily something he shares with clients right away. “If I tell them straight away that we’ll be looking into a unit from a certain developer, they may come in with some biases that will be either good or bad for them. After all, it could color their judgment on what could be their future home.”

Spaces that suit you

Transportation is usually more accessible in more established areas.

Buying brand new means you still have time to customize the unit to your liking. While this costs money, it may be a significantly smaller spending than customizing a unit that is pre-owned.

On the other hand, a pre-owned unit can actually impart a cozy lived-in vibe. If you look hard enough and are partnered with a broker who understands the designs you are looking for, you might just actually be able to find a pre-owned unit that suits you to a T. The unit cuts are also largely dependent on the size and target market of the building.

Older buildings, which were targeting the baby boomers, often offer larger units and sometimes have little details and vintage accents. On the flipside, older buildings often have less parking and smaller driveways—which may or may not be an issue for you.

Know your ‘neighbors’

And I don’t just mean your next-door neighbors. Consider the lobby tenants. Are any floors open to commercial or office use? Maybe it can get loud or rowdy. The fact of the matter is, who you live next to can either increase or decrease the market value of your unit.

Also, let’s not forget about safety. The other tenants of your building or the already existing culture in your condo structure could dictate how your buildings visitors will be.

“I personally prefer when the lobby’s commercial space tenants aren’t allowed to cook,” said Neil Garcia, a publisher and editor in chief who has many years of experience in buying pre-owned condos. “Cooking tenants increases the chances of a building fire and foot traffic.”

Sometimes, even having some of the condominium’s board of directors as your neighbors means that you can expect that the entire property will be well-kept and any problems will be repaired in an instant.

Taxes and dues

Last, but not the least, the administration costs are a continuous fee that will largely depend on where you are. In Makati Central Business District, some units’ fees can amount to as much as P90,000 a month, depending on the size of your unit—and that’s not the most expensive.

Now add that to fees for a parking slot which can range from P600,000 to a million pesos annually if you purchase a slot or about P2,500 to P3,000 monthly if you’re renting out in Makati.

When tax season is up, it’s also important to know how efficient the building’s administration is. Some condominium administrations collect the realty tax for each tenant themselves and do this business for you. On the other end of the spectrum, if some tenants are slow to pay dues, the administration might bump up their fees or refuse to have anything to do with helping you out with your realty taxes.

How do you then find out if your tenants and your administration are up to par? Simple: ask the previous owners. Here you can create some honesty and rapport that might otherwise not be there if you were dealing with a broker and a new unit.

So, in a nutshell, if you’re looking for something new, don’t forget to look at the old.

Image Credits: Go Visit Philippines, Tectonium, Page One