28 October 2013, by Tan Li Lin

The Twists & Turns Of House-Hunting

Ronald and I have been house-hunting since September. The first EC we visited was Sea Horizon (Pasir Ris) and fell in love with it quite immediately, due to it’s clean room layout and it’s pleasant site layout and location. However, most of the units were already sold, and we were left with a low-floor unit in stack 7 facing the main road. Not fantastic, but returns looked good. Obtaining the IPA for a home loan started.

We also checked out Lush Acres (EC @ Seng Kang), Eco-politan (EC @ Punggol), Vue 8 (Condo @ Pasir Ris), and about 8 HDB units in Bedok. Nothing quite called out to us – either the price, layout, or the location just wasn’t right. A  good ROI was the top priority because we would rent it out, or sell it the moment the time is right – however waiting for that time required that we’d have to live there, so anything that was beyond our living comforts were out, which included all projects in Seng Kang and Punggol. We were pretty set on finding something in the East.

The number of bank forms were a nightmare, and we found ourselves sitting down and working out finances more than ever before in our 3+ years together. Thank God Ronald’s quite a whizz at numbers – I can stare at them forever and nothing registers… (but all’s fair, that’s the same for his navigation abilities while driving). I had to seek comfort frequently in eye-balling beautiful artist impressions…. makes me wonder how a couple of math-haters would survive the whole ordeal.

3 weeks later, we obtained our IPAs from 5 banks, with HSBC meeting closest to the 80% income cap. That’s pretty good considering my super unstable income. I worked for a looonngg time with a company that didn’t dish out CPF, and never understood why my parents made such a big deal out of it. After I left, I set up my own business, worked for 2 SMEs for 6 months each, while working part time for several Start-Ups. While I’m fine with that lifestyle, the banks aren’t, and their response to my income instability made me feel really guilty about being a liability in my relationship. I guess the good part was that we started co-saving a year ago while I still had a good income, so we had at least some money for a property.

In Comes Inflora

At the same time we heard that units in Sea Horizon were all sold out, we also started getting bombarded with news on The Inflora project along Flora Drive. Our property agent friends seemed so excited about the project that we had to check it out.

√ East (and 10 minutes from my parent’s home)

√ Right at the entrance of 3 major highways (ECP, PIE, TPE)

√ Close to Changi Business Park and the Airport (Possible good returns)

√ Low-rise project in a low-rise area (You actually see the Sky instead of someone else’s drying panties)

√ Lovely site plan (Most blocks get some view of water features)

√ Clean room layouts (None of that Enter-Through-Your-Kitchen nonsense)

√ Relatively good pricing (In fact dubbed as ‘cheap’ for a Condo priced at EC prices)

√ Fast TOP (Earliest by Dec 2015!)

That’s the mental checklist – but what I liked immediately was how ‘organic’ the layout is – soft lines, curved features and emphasis on natural elements. Plus, the units were spread out, instead of 4 towering blocks surrounding the main pool like a cage!

So we submitted a letter of interest, shortlisted our preferred units, and waited patiently for the 25th of Oct to arrive.

One Crazy Day

That’s the best way to sum it up our first VIP property launch experience. We heard that 1000+ people want their chance at one of the 396 Inflora units, and that it was going to be crazy crowded at the VIP launch day. Tip: Head there 1-2 hrs earlier to secure a parking lot and seats, or get a cab.

Here I’m documenting ‘What Happens During A VIP Property Launch Process‘ since several peeps have asked me what really goes on. Get ready for the frenzy.

10am: Mom dropped us off in time for the official start at 11am. We clutched our bid number tightly (#1969!) and wrestled through the crowd to find the seats that our agent-friend choped for us. What made it more exciting was that 2 other friends were bidding too – which means your heart races at triple the speed than if you were there alone.

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We could BARELY move.

It’s difficult to predict how the day will turn out – you either sit there for hours waiting to get called into the queue, or wait until night for all the admin to be settled. We didn’t know what to expect, so we brought our laptops (to work), books, munchies and even our Diner En Blanc foldable chairs. Yes, we were that guilty of being kiasu – someone saw Ronald carrying the chairs and commented “wah…..seasoned buyers” (Er, quite the contrary).

Tip: Don’t rely on network connection, it’s snail speed until mid-afternoon.

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#1969 is the magic number! On another note, moving forward, this is Ronald. He’s handsome, but he can’t do candid Selfies for nuts.

10.40am: The actual price of each unit is only revealed that day, and so we begin the strike off process.

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1, 2… 10! STRIKE AND YOU’RE OUT!

11am: The bid finally starts, and when the first number gets called out you can’t help but wonder how on earth that person got so lucky. The atmosphere is REALLY tense, and everyone laughs at any chance that they have. It was optimistic to think that we could do work there – we’re practically jumping at any number that came close (like “1…9…6…8!!”). It’s like hanging onto the edge of your seat without knowing how long it was going to take, while hearing “YESSSS!” and “Ho Seh Ah!” every time someone else got lucky. Gah. I decided to relax and get on with my exam prep.

12.15pm: “Okay everyone, we will take a short break. In the meantime, we have refreshments at the back….. and relaxing music.” Everyone laughs. I get into the long queue that ends at an empty refreshment table (Tip: Bring your own). The 4 of us decide to switch seats to move the ‘energy’ around.

12.30pm: Bidding starts again…. We take our mind off the tension and direct it instead to our work.

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Would a switch in seats and a change in hairstyle bring in the luck?

12.44pm: My mind’s absorbing ‘uncontrollable factors that lie in international marketing’ when it vaguely registers “1..9..6.. (no flinches anymore)….9!!!” SAY WHAT? I look up at my agent and she squeals and I knew that we got it!

OMG. We quickly stood up and squeezed our way to the front – but this time people gave way to us (heh…). The front counter verified our number and gave us a queue number sticker before ushering us into the show flat where….. yes, we queued up again.

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We’re #193! That means we still have a good chance at choosing a good unit!

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A queue I couldn’t feel more happy and relieved to be in.

1.30pm: It’s only now that we got access to the availability chart, so the time spent in the queue passes quite fast doing our final calculations and debating on our priority unit. Once we approached the end of the queue, the agents stationed there asked us for our top 2 choices and checked it against the chart, before writing it down on our form to hand over to the admin counter.

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193rd in line and all the 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units are gone!

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Right at the front-line. “Have I made the right choice?” repeats a thousand times. No backing out now…

Once the form is submitted, we head to the waiting area to fill in our documents. I take a deep breath and realize how anxious I was all this while. Can’t feel a thing when people congratulate us, I’m just feeling zombified out from all the buzz and a little in disbelief that we’re DONE.

2pm: Sitting and waiting for our documents to process, specifically the Option To Purchase form that we require to obtain our bank loans.

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At least they provide lunch – hardly appetizing but very much needed

5.23pm: Still waiting for the OTP. By now, only 30 units are left out of the 396 units available, and the frenzy over the last few units sound like a bargaining scene out of market. I’m just grateful I’m not still sitting and waiting to be called. It sure feels good on the other side!

5.40pm: Finally the OTP is ready – we sign through a stack of agreements, and get briefed on the timeline of the next process. We will get the SNP within 2 weeks, and will need to head down to the lawyer’s to sign in front of them and send the documents back to the developer within the subsequent 2 weeks.

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By 6pm, 13 units are left and the developers are one happy bunch of monkeys

Want to know what unit we purchased?

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It’s not facing the main pool but that’s perfect – away from screaming kids and BBQ pits

We left the show room tired but relieved that the house hunting process has ended. As much as it was exciting to embark on a major milestone in our life, it was equally as draining worrying every night if we were making the right decision. I knew that getting a place was important for Ronald, and I as happy as I am staying with my parents and siblings, I wanted him to achieve his goal so that he could move on to his next big thing. I’m also really glad to get support from Mom and Dad who pretty much left us to our own devices, and my Sis and BIL who dished out advice throughout our whole process. Of course, we had good agent – friends who helped us generously with their time and effort. Too bad everyone has to wait 2+ years for a thanksgiving feast at the new place!

I also realized you don’t end where you started – Sea Horizon spurred us to start obtaining IPAs that came out just in time for The Inflora. Without that, we wouldn’t have made it in time for the bid. So, all’s well that ends well.

SO FINALLY! EVERYTHING’S OVER AND SETTLED…

or has it just started?

***

Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies. Follow her blog on ilovechildren.sg and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30’.

Posted on : October 28, 2013

Filed under : Uncategorized

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