I bought a penthouse apartment in February 2012 while PL was by my side.
It was purely my decision, but I believe a part of reason I bought the apartment was to try to impress her.
There were other reasons as well, so let me get them out of the way.
Fri 3rd Feb 2012. Got an SMS advertising for a new residential development launch over the weekend in the Geylang area. I joked to colleague that it was close to Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, close to where our new office would be (except the latest news is that our office move has again been delayed), and when I retire, I would be close to Geylang 🙂
I was busy on Sat but on Sun 5 Feb, I decided to take a look a the site. I didn’t want to call the person who sent me the SMS because I dislike pushy sales agent. The fact that the SMS was actually sent by a service was also a sign.
The showflat was by appointment only, so I looked around outside the showroom, but didn’t go in. I found another showflat nearby, which had been launched 6 month ago, and I thought, that would be an alternative if I really wanted an apartment near where my future office would be.
Anyway, I was meeting PL at the old Airport Road hawker centre for dinner. I told her about it over dinner, and then we decided to go take a look.
Just outside the hawker centre were 2 agents drumming up interest in the new development. So pretending to be just passing by, I looked interested and the agent made me a VVIP so I could go get a exclusive preview. (How exclusive is it if you just need to walk out of a hawker centre and look interested?)
Well, the most attractive feature of the development were the jacuzzi penthouse units. It was very exciting, but the indicative price for the penthouse was not (~$1m).
So I looked at some smaller “shoebox” units.
The good news was the bank officers on site calculated that I could probably afford a $1m unit as I was supposed to be able to finance a $800k loan. Right.
The bank officer also persuaded PL to have her finances assessed. Then they tried to sell her an apartment too. Wisely, she declined. 🙂
So the agent said I could take a step to book an apartment but since the prices are not yet firm, there is no offer and acceptance so there is no commitment. But I would be handing over a blank cheque. If at the announcement of the prices, I decided against it, the cheque would be torn up and we go our separate ways. But if I were interested, the cheque would be completed for 5% of the price as down payment. But of course I didn’t have my cheque book with me.
But I signed all the necessary paperwork. And got the sales brochure with the plans of all the units.
Mon 6th Feb. the agent meets me at office. I handed over the blank cheque. She fills up the payee, and tells me that the latest word is that the larger units may be going for $950 per sq ft.
The smallest penthouse is 775 sq ft, so it might well be under $800k.
Over the two days I pore over the various plans and models. The smallest was 409 sq ft, and hardly liveable. It would be not much bigger than a hotel room. I liked the 3rd floor units that faced the pool. There is a direct access to the pool and a Private Enclosed Space. Perfect for Asians who insist on hanging out their clothes to dry.
I sms my sis and bro to ask them their opinions. My bro-in-law says the indicative price is rather high. My sis looked around and found other apartments with lower psf prices.
But i kept going back to the penthouse. With the jacuzzi.
Thu 9 Feb, I email the agent with my preference. I list the smallest penthouse units that I like, more out of hope than confidence.
Later she calls to confirm and to ask if I would be coming down on Fri when the prices are announced. I said I wasn’t planning too, and she said if I got a unit I would have to come down for the paperwork.
Later that evening, I sms-ed the agent to ask if the smallest penthouse might possibly be priced less than $800k. She replied that it is possible, but $820k might be more likely.
Fri 10 Feb. My thoughts had crystalised and I understood one thing. The jacuzzi was the unique selling point and what made the units stand out from others. It was the only real reason to buy that penthouse instead of another cheaper one nearby. I would still be closer to the new office and the price would be cheaper too. So by the afternoon, I had decided that if the penthouse was out of reach, I would not really want to consider the other units.
I mentioned on Facebook that I would be getting a job as a jacuzzi cleaner. And started looking up tips on maintaining a jacuzzi.
I got the call from the agent at about 4.30. The price was way below – $650k, or about $835 psf. One penthouse unit with a jacuzzi on the roof terrace was available. I took it.
Subsequently (almost a year later), URA and the Ministry of National Development pointed out that some developers had been misrepresenting the Gross Floor Area (GFA) of the apartments they sold. Areas like my roof terrace with the jacuzzi, and what is marketed at “Private Enclosed Space” which is sort of a fenced-up “back- or front-yard” on ground floor units had the area included as GFA, and this severely lowered the per square foot (PSF) price.
So my 775 sq ft apartment was ACTUALLY about only half of that – probably closer to 400 sq ft, and so my PSF was probably over $1500, rather than the $835.
But I still get to be a jacuzzi cleaner when I get my penthouse. 🙂