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House Hunting or House Haunting? – My Property Odyssey Part 1
By: Ms Peng
During the past 9 months, I have been hunting high and low for a place called HOME.
Be it a resale HDB flat or condominium, I have seen at least 10 new launch condominiums from Watertown to Bartley Residence and at least 10 HBD units from Punggol to Potong Pasir. And still, I’m unable to find one that ticks all the boxes for me.
I would gladly buy a BTO flat. But as fate would have it, I’m now single and ineligible to buy direct from HDB. In March, I was in high spirits anticipating HDB to announce changes in the eligibility of singles to buy BTO. In the end, I was left standing again as the “profile” I belong to continues to be neglected by HDB. At least now I can forever forget about BTOs unless I tie the knot some day.
In the process of viewing so many new launches, I find it unbelievable that for every new launch, the price just went higher. If the facts in the real world shows Higher Supply = Higher Prices, they should teach this in economics class rather than teach the expired concept of higher supply = lower prices. The logic of Supply & Demand as we know it no longer applies in Singapore.
The closest I got to ending my search for a home was La Fiesta in January. I handed in my blank cheque and was ready for a marketplace scramble on the launch date. I was going to use the few days leading to launch day to visit the temple and talking to more people about the purchase. But in the evening of 11 January, the unluckiest thing happened. The harshest set of cooling measures was announced. It is not that the cooling measures affected me at all. Just that it affected 80% of other buyers. I got a call from the sales agent and rushed down to the scene. It was then where I saw madness!
People were just queuing for hours during the La Fiesta launch at around $1100psf. It was either to avoid the stamp duties or they are just crazy to snap up the units assuming the prices will go up immediately. The queue look longer than Disney Land in Tokyo!
Indeed, the price did increase bit by bit, even Luxurie condo (next door) went up once La Fiesta launched. Why not the other way round where La Fiesta prices matches that of Luxurie.
For every cooling measure the government has implemented, the prices just went crazier, so do I, because I can no longer be able to afford a condo.
Therefore, looking at my other option, the resale HDB.
First, I tried calling agents directly for HDB viewing, but after a number of calls, I am so damn frustrated. Even as a buyer, the agents are super rude or not interested to entertain me. I wonder if agents are earning big bucks these days. 1 more customer or less, does not make any differences to them?
Secondly, some agent just love to advertise misleading information, be it a condominium or HDB flat, they go about advertising a lower price, with no information about the unit or it’s selling price or COV, high floor, mid floor, low floor, Chinese eligibility. If they just list down these basic information of a property, we don’t have to waste each other’s time and money. I can slightly understand if the purpose of these advertisements are for lead generation where they look for buyers. But from the way they are treating me over the phone, it sure does not look like they are interested in lead generation.
Therefore, I finally gave up calling agents myself. This is a sickening process and time consuming. Engaging an agent to do my legwork seem an easier option for me. It was then where I entered the door to a whole new world.
Finding a good agent is not easy. From my experience, some agents will arrange a few viewings and tell you all the great things about each unit. Even those units that face a rubbish collection point can be made to sound like a holiday resort over the phone. But they never give a straight answer when I’m asking for information which they think will jeopardise the deal. For example, I have to ask 4 times about a simple question of whether any family members have passed away in an apartment. And in the end, I still did not get a straight answer, just an implied answer.
I’ve been pressured many times to buy units with a asking price of valuation + $50K – $70K COV. I can handle the pressure. But some owner are just crazy asking for sky high COV just because their unit is within 10 mins walk to MRT. The fact that their homes are in super bad condition, eg. dirty flooring, badly torn wallpapers, worn down wardrobes, or in original condition, does not affect how highly they value their homes at all.
Since I am the buyer, I would consider paying for high COV only if the décor is of my liking, I can keep everything and only need to redo minimum touch up, simple as that. Why would I want to pay for COV $70K and pay another $40K – $50K to redo the whole house? I might as well consider a small unit condo and pay only $15K to add feature wall and ceiling work. I just wish owners are more realistic in their expectations. Yes it might be near an MRT station. But in future, with all the new MRT lines, all house will be within 10mins walk to MRT. But of course, it’s the owner rights to ask for COV $70K – $100k. They can then patiently wait for that 0.01% of buyers fresh from an en bloc sale to come by with a mysterious interest in HDB flats.
To me, buying a house depends on a lot of conditions, feel, layout, price, brightness of the unit, it’s a long term plan. To some agent as soon as you display no interest in those units you have viewed in that day, you never see or hear them again. No follow up. How did the expectations of agents become so high as to expect to close a sale within a day of viewing? It’s not as if I am buying vegetable from the wet market. HDB flats although looks inexpensive compared to private properties, but they still costs an arm at $450K – $600k. Common people go around comparing Electronic items & their prices everyday. Why not for a house that costs so much more? But, at times, I do wonder how buyers could just make an offer on the spot from first viewing!
Currently my agent that I will be sticking with is pretty & nice. She offered pick up and drop off services. Of course, these services come with a price tag, 1% Commission (neg.) should I buy a unit. Going house viewing every week is no joke, super tired, but after viewing a number of units for the past 3 weeks, I started to get a little impatient because most of the units do not give you the good feeling. It came to a point where I realized that units which I cannot remember mean I don’t have a liking for them at all. So I won’t bother thinking about the Valuation or COV. Units that are in my mind throughout the day may be the One. Buying a house is like finding a lover. You need to feel attracted, the feel is good, just like being in love. So in the event that I really buy a unit, I still love my new home even if it did not turn up as good (strike 4D) as I expect. I do not want to wake up every morning cursing and regretting my decision just because I bought a unit based on lower COV or Valuation. A unit that I do not like, be it the layout or toilet or kitchen area or west sun shining in, it will somehow be an eyesore that I need to suffer everyday for the next 5 years.
From new launch condominium to resale HDB. My focus has shifted. I just wish I can find a home to call my own soon.