• Joshua Loo

Uncomfortable Truths to Sell Your House Fast in Singapore

Updated: Dec 28, 2020


Why Every House Is Marketable


Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This without a doubt applies to homes that are placed on sale. I believe that every home is marketable. What was it that made you purchase your property in the first place? Surely your choice in properties is not too unique that you might have difficulty finding a buyer?


You may have seen the recent news in which a Tiong Bahru HDB flat is being sold for S$1.1 million. Even with a short lease of 51 years left, young families were the ones that are mainly viewing the place. This places a serious handicap on young buyers as they are only allowed to take a prorated housing loan and CPF use.


This means that more cash will be needed up front!

Price

Asking for Cash Over Valuation (COV) is normal and even expected from all my clients. However, you must be able to reason with the intended buyer on why this should be so.


Place yourselves in the shoes of the buyer for a second. Apartments are plenty in Singapore. A leasehold, squarish 3 Bedroom unit with an approximate 980 sqft is not considered a unique investment opportunity!


That being said, how do you set yourself apart in a high supply market?

If your intended buyer is a real estate investor, the house must be in livable condition and not dilapidated. It by no means is required to be an architectural showpiece.


However, it must be able to draw a strong rental income. On top of the existing rent, ask your agent to provide a good track record of asking rental and transaction volume.

If your intended buyer intends to be an occupier of the unit, promoting nearby amenities is a must. This sets you apart from other developments, but not units that are marketed within your development.


Focus on the facing direction, the state of repairs, usable space, and anything else that is unique about your property.


Also, absorbing the full cost of your interior renovations into the sale of your home is not realistic, here are my reasons why.

Buyers’ Ideas


Other than your house not being in a dilapidated state, buyers do not care about how much you have previously spent on your home renovations. Mentioning this is also a big nono, as they will interpret it as you are passing on the costs to them!


What buyers want is to understand the true interior renovation potential of a property. Having a nicely renovated place helps them to visualize this. However, 90% of the time, they will hire a renovation contractor to remodel it.


By absorbing the full cost of your renovation into the property you are asking them to spend on an interior concept that they are not going to utilize!


Similar to showflats for New Launch projects, your property will be used for the same reasons if not priced correctly!

Keep Things Tidy


It pretty much goes without saying that you will need to keep your house tidy if you have interested buyers looking to view the property. I am not saying to keep it without a single speck of dust, but for it to be in livable condition.


Not keeping your house tidy will impress on your buyer that you are not bothered enough to keep the place tidy for them and hence, not a serious seller.

Hiring A Real Estate Salesperson


Have you ever traveled alone in a foreign country and felt lost because you do not know how to speak their native tongue? That is how it feels when you are trying to sell your property without a real estate salesperson.


You are probably able to make your way around by googling, but how much time is wasted from just stumbling from place to place? Even worst, you might even bump into unsavory characters!


A travel guide is a good analogy for a real estate salesperson. This is still the tried and tested method which works best for everyone.


There are some outliers to this. Some sellers might prefer to keep their transaction as private as possible, as they might be someone of influence and the property is of sizeable value (i.e., think an eight-figure sum!) This also applies to commercial properties, where any change to the landlord might spook the current business operator, so the sale will have to be a low profile.

Who Plays the Bigger Role? The House or The Agent?


Speaking as a real estate salesperson, our ability to market a property plays only a small, albeit crucial contribution to the sale of your home.


Reposting, boosting, or spotlighting listings in PropertyGuru helps in providing more exposure for your property, but do you remember when you were first looking for your home in the open market and the lengths that you will go to secure the right one?


Agents will often promote themselves as being district focused but more often, is this the result of sheer convenience for their daily routine or an actual marketing strategy that they have?

Finding the Right Agent


In my opinion, a good agent is someone who is well versed in the steps to getting your homes sold, and any particular pitfalls that are anticipated.


Remember, the star of the show is always your property, and the right agent amplifies these strengths to the prospective buyer.

My Personal Experience


Speaking from my own experience is probably the easiest way for you to visualize how you can get the sale of your property started. So here goes! These cases are recent ones that I had dealt with in the last two months.


4A HDB Flat in Tampines



This property will be typically a difficult sell by salespersons. It has an odd layout which makes it stereotypically of “less” value. The low floor also makes it unfavorable due to the traffic noise, which is less than 100 meters away and the unit is East-West facing. Which makes the heat from the afternoon sun very warm at times. The remaining lease of the house was also 62 years, which makes it not as suitable for young buyers.


However, this unit also has an extremely strong point, which makes it highly marketable. Take a look at the floor plan below.


This 4A HDB flat is also a corner unit, with an access balcony. The sellers did the right move by purchasing over the access balcony.



By purchasing this recess area, it bypassed all the negatives. The road and market noise were buffered by this extra space and the west sun now becomes useful in drying wet laundry!


I managed to close this listing in just one open house with 6 viewings. Two offers were made and the unit was closed at $505,000. HDB’s appointed valuer came down and this means that the OTP price is outside the transacted range of the median transacted price of similar properties in the area!

This data was retrieved when I wrote this article, but the figure was much lower at the time of sale. The Edge Fair Value was closer to $485,000 back then.

Transactions in December 2020. Take note that these are all HDB 4-Room flats built in the 1980s, these flats typically are larger. The asking prices are much lower than the unit that I have sold.

Cluster House



I had another experience with private housing. This was the first time that I am tasked to market a cluster house. To be honest, I was quite intimidated in marketing a cluster house as I had colleagues mentioning that it is not an easy sell.


This is because Singaporeans traditionally prefer to keep their property purchases distinct (i.e., either all strata or non-strata. Also, this property is a 99-year leasehold from 1996. This means that the property has run its price course, and potential loss in capital value was certain.


The location was also not ideal as it was a far walk to the nearest MRT station, which was at least 20 minutes!


The final whammy was that the sellers are using the funds to purchase another property, so they needed a good offer. The bank indicative values were all around $1.9-1.95 million, lower than what she required.


As it turns out, my worries are all unfounded as there is good demand for this property! I have received three offers. The highest offer was $100,000 above the indicative value! This was rare as the buyers had to come out with a significant cash outlay!


Here is what I did to market this property.


Prospective clients in search of cluster housing are usually sensitive to ambient noise. This is the reason why they seek to move away from condominiums as based on traditional layouts of the stacks, you will have three apartments surrounding yours, excluding the unit below you.


It is somewhat a gamble to move into an apartment and all it takes is one noisy neighbor to ruin your sleep.


As there are other houses for sale within this development, I focused on how the house that I was marketing was silent, as it was away from the facilities. Pan Island Expressway (PIE) was also in proximity, and I emphasized how there was no traffic noise at all from this house, as compared to the others.


The house was also kept tidy, which helped the buyers to visualize themselves living in it. The whole house was also in original and good condition, and I reminded the prospective buyers of the endless interior furnishing potential. Remember, what looks nice to you might not be so for your buyers.


I am unable to provide more information as the unit is still being marketed and the current owners are looking to secure their next purchase before proceeding.


In Conclusion


My experience here shows that some of these “myths” in regards to unmarketable properties should remain as so. It is the real estate salespersons duty to show prospective buyers what is attractive about the property in the discussion.


There will be prospective buyers that will magnify some of these faults mentioned, and technically you should not focus on them. Place a greater emphasis on prospective buyers that appreciate the properties’ merits.


Summary


This article might offend some, but I feel that it is my imperative to inform those that are serious about pushing a deal forward.


Not giving a realistic price prevents you from moving on to your next real estate opportunity.


By waiting for that $5,000 of COV, you are prolonging your next big step in life.

Why let $5,000 prevent you from moving into a more comfortable bigger unit for your family?


Why let $5,000 prevent you from cashing out and starting on that new business venture that you have been planning on for the last 2 years?


If you are able to justify the cost of your COV, there will definitely be ready buyers for your property.



Are you interested to find out if I am the right agent to market your home? Contact me at +65 96329840 for a no-obligation discussion on your further property transaction!


I employ a casual yet focused form of marketing based on customer segmentation to be able to filter through to the right buyers. My personality enables me to interact with a wide range of buyer profiles so that they are comfortable throughout the property transaction process.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual. The author does not accept any responsibility whatsoever for any harm or loss arising from accessing or relying on information contained in this blog post.

 

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