Property Stories A First-Time Homebuyer’s Journey: My Personal Review Of 3 Resale Condos At Pasir Panjang + Tips!
- July 24, 2021
- 10 min read
My last article ended with me concluding that our next home would most likely be a resale condo. As my mother and I want to remain in a familiar area, we decided to concentrate our search for a multi-generational home in West Singapore, specifically Pasir Panjang. Pasir Panjang seemed like a good fit for us as it has some of the more affordable resale condos in the West and is close to my Mom’s workplace.
Added bonus: a childhood friend lives in the neighbourhood and there’s a transformation plan for the area (the Greater Southern Waterfront)!
Before I start with my viewing experience, here are some of my tips that have helped immensely:
- Consider the layout efficiency of the unit and not just the floor size: think about how you would spend a day in the unit to see if it would work for your lifestyle.
- Walk or take a drive around the development and take note of any points of interest (such as tourist attractions, places of worship, public amenities etc) which may affect your quality of life (Google is your best friend here).
- Unless you live in AC 24/7, check out noise levels by opening the windows in the unit. (I notice that agents like to put the AC on before you visit, giving you an unrealistic idea of what living in the unit would be like!).
- Consult the masterplan for potential developments nearby: for example, I fell in love with The Peak @ Balmeg because of its lush forest views. However, that land is zoned as commercial with a high plot ratio, so the view may disappear after I move in!
- Pick up tips from beautifully designed units that you can use in your next home. I saw a unit at The Grandhill which was a real visual treat – I’d read some negative reviews on PropertyGuru about how the units in The Grandhill have too much wasted space but, thanks to the owner’s thoughtful design (he’s an interior designer), I didn’t feel that way at all when visiting the unit. (If you’re wondering why the unit’s not on my shortlist, it’s because whilst I liked the unit, I didn’t quite fancy the development- the drive in is even tighter than that of The Pearl’s!)
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how my viewing experience went!
The Pearl @ Mount Faber (99-year leasehold, TOP 2005)
OK, Telok Blangah isn’t exactly Pasir Panjang, but it is close enough! Moreover, living next to Mount Faber, surrounded by scenic views and the sound of birds chirping melodiously was too tempting to pass by so when a duplex unit was listed at The Pearl, I jumped at the opportunity to view it. On paper, it sounded perfect- a duplex of over 2000 sq ft in size with unblocked greenery views in a development that had been featured on Stacked as 1 of the top condos for food lovers – perfect!
Unfortunately, my first impression visiting The Pearl wasn’t stellar – the turn into the 192-unit condo was rather tight and with the security guard sitting out in the open, I worried that I would knock him down one day if not careful. (I believe there is a guardhouse but the guard doesn’t sit in it for some reason- possibly because the turning angle means a visiting driver isn’t in a good position to speak to the guard if the guard sits inside.)
Moreover, the layout of the unit wasn’t very sensible- at over 2,000 sq ft and with only 3 bedrooms, how is it possible that the helper’s room is a bomb shelter with no window and the unit feels even smaller than my current place (which is, on paper, smaller in size)? (Answer: large terraces (in my opinion, good) and multiple bay windows (in my opinion, bad. I – a one-time-lover of a good bay window aka reading nook – finally understand why bay windows are so vilified by own-stay property buyers! For more on layout efficiency, do check out this article.)
I decided to print out the floor plan and “place” my current furniture in the unit- true enough, they couldn’t fit! Obviously, it’s not a make-or-break factor if one has to dispose of some furniture when moving house but, to me, it’s a sign that a place is possibly not ideal for my lifestyle.
We decided to explore the area a bit and drove up from the development to the peak of Mount Faber, when it struck me: with the development sitting at the base of Mount Faber and a single-lane road, how busy (and noisy) would the road be when/if(?!) tourism finally resumes? A quick Google search revealed that approximately 100 coaches used to take the road up Mount Faber everyday pre-Covid and, indeed, Mount Faber Leisure Group is currently exploring building a funicular to solve the congestion issue! Construction is estimated to take 2.5-3 years so The Pearl @ Mount Faber is starting to feel less serene.
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Whilst you can’t run away from construction in Singapore, it seems silly for me to choose a development when I know there is very likely to be an upcoming construction project nearby and I am specifically looking for a quiet home.
It seems like my house hunt isn’t quite over yet.
The Pearl at Mount Faber:
Close to nature (and thus scenic views from certain units
HDB (i.e. market and hawker centre) nearby
Nice swimming pool
192 units is a good size
– Inefficient layout with several bay windows
– Too many balconies: whilst I like and am looking for outdoor space, the space needs to be big enough to be functional. The unit I saw at The Pearl had an outdoor strip off the living room which is so narrow, I’m not quite sure how it can be used! (Perhaps it is a planter, but it would be more useful to combine planters with balconies, so that the total space can be used for dining or something practical.)
– Potential traffic jams getting in and out of your condo once tourism resumes
– Potential construction noise if the development of a Mount Faber funicular goes ahead (also no upside to compensate for the construction: the construction of new condos or MRT stations add value to your property, but I’m not sure if a funicular would?)
– No proper helper’s room
– Quite a trek to the MRT
Village@Pasir Panjang (Freehold, TOP 2016)
The next development, Village@Pasir Panjang, appeared promising at first. A low-rise condo set amongst the landed houses of Pasir Panjang (most of the developments in Pasir Panjang are no more than 5 stories and freehold), Village@Pasir Panjang seemed like it could be a nice respite from busy and built-up Singapore. Although the entrance to the 148-unit development is not clearly marked, resulting in us having to make several U-turns before we could successfully drive into the condo. I can see this being a real headache for visiting guests if I moved here but on the flip side, the grounds and buildings looked great. I liked the classic black and white style of the buildings and the facilities were also very tastefully constructed – the pool with the well-maintained lawn beside it was particularly charming.
Unfortunately, once we opened the windows in the unit, the road noise was rather loud despite there not being much traffic- I don’t think I would be able to have the windows open if I lived there and fresh air is pretty important, don’t you think?
Beautifully maintained grounds
Window in the kitchen
– Road-facing units are noisy
– No proper helper’s room
– Far from all amenities except West Coast Park and a place of worship
The Peak @ Balmeg (Freehold, TOP 2011)
Moving on, we decided to look at The Peak @ Balmeg. Driving into this 180-unit development immediately gave me a good feeling and I liked it best out of all the condos I had seen so far. The driveway was spacious and there was a water feature at each lobby (in the carpark), which elevated the feeling of the condo. However, for some reason, rainwater would drip through holes in the car park ceiling- perhaps these were non-covered skylights to allow light in? I could see older people being concerned about slipping when the floor was wet.
Walking up to the unit, we saw that the development was beautifully landscaped. However, we weren’t sure about the unit itself as it was rather dark. (I viewed 2 units and it was the same for both units.) To be fair, I viewed the first on a day when it was pouring with rain and the second had the awning down. (There was a netting attaching the awning to the balcony for the cat’s safety, so it seemed like it would be quite a palaver to put up the awning. Tip for serious property sellers: don’t rent out a unit if you want to sell it, as tenants may not show the place to its best advantage. To be honest, you’re lucky if the tenants even let anyone in to view during these COVID times!).
In line with 1 of the house-hunting tips I shared in my last article, I promptly checked out Instagram for posts tagged with The Peak @ Balmeg after the viewing and found that a python had recently been caught on the grounds! (It’s not a big deal for me as my childhood home had habitually been visited by pythons, cobras, monkeys, and monitor lizards. However, it may be a deal-breaker for some people: for example, my helper informed us that she would rather live in a window-less bomb shelter than in a development where there may be snakes!)
The Peak @ Balmeg is definitely on our shortlist but, as they say, buy in haste, repent at leisure, so we want to look around some more before committing.
The Peak @ Balmeg
Nice grounds and well-planned facilities: for example, the function room and gym have a nice view overlooking the pool and there is seating next to the water features so that you can enjoy them
Underground MRT station (Haw Par Villa) at the doorstep: my friend lives next to Tanah Merah MRT (which is not an underground station) and told me that the train announcements are so loud, she wakes up to them every morning!
North-South facing unit with no west sun
Large functional balconies: the outside space is condensed into one long balcony per floor, and are wide enough to place an outdoor dining table and/or outdoor sofa on
– No amenities (besides the MRT and West Coast Park) in the vicinity
– Units were dark on both my visits
– Set quite close to the fence so if the forest opposite is redeveloped, your view and airflow may be affected (for forest-facing units)
– Relatively small kitchen
– Rainwater coming through the ceiling of the carpark
– No proper helper’s room
Tune in next week as I expand our hunt for a multi-generational resale condo to the outside of the Pasir Panjang area!