[From a FB post in Feb 2012 – How I
was conned into came to buy my apartment]
In case people ask me how I got the penthouse 4 years from now. And because I love telling my stories. And this way, if you get bored, you can just stop reading at any time.
Fri 3rd Feb, 2012. Got an SMS advertising for a new condo development, a “SOHO” development. I joked to colleague that it was close to Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, close to where new office would be, and when I retire, I would be close to Geylang 🙂
[Note: “SOHO” or “Small Office/Home Office” is not an officially recognised or defined term. This means, any developer can call their development a “SOHO” development and just make some vague provision for a “Home Office”. URA has rules as to what businesses can operate from a “residential” site. A SOHO development in Singapore is a meaningless phrase.]
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 advert cos 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, but didn’t go in. I found another showflat – Suites 28, which had been launched 6 month ago, and I thought, that would be an alternative to this.
Anyway, I was meeting PL at the hawker centre for dinner, and then we decided to go take a look. Just outside the hawker centre were 2 agents drumming up interest in the 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 jacuzzi of the penthouse was very exciting, but the indicative price for the penthouse was not (approx $1m).
So I looked at some smaller units.
The good news was the bank calculated that I could probably afford a $1m unit as I was supposed to be able to finance a $800k loan.
[Note: There have been some tightening measures since I bought the apartment – like maximum tenure of a mortgage and limits on the installments (as a percentage of the persons income).]
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.
Mon 6th Feb. the agent meets me at office. I hand over a 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-ed to 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 private jacuzzi was the unique selling point and what made the penthouse 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 got the call from the agent at about 4.30. The price was way below – $650k, or about $835 psf. One PH was available. I took it.
And I am quite pleased about it.
[Update Jan 2015: I am still pleased with my purchase. Sure, there are little issues, and if it were bigger (bigger rooms, more rooms, bigger kitchen), had a built in gas stove, and a second bathroom/toilet it would be perfect!
Note though that developers will do anything to sell their property. So my apartment was marketed as 775 sq feet. And at $650,000, this works out to about $835 per sq feet. But this includes the roof terrace area, which is not technically correct. That is URA does not consider the roof terrace Gross Floor Area (GFA). So my apartment is closer to 409 sq feet (the smallest, non-penthouse apartments) GFA, and the “official” price per sq feet of GFA, would be closer to $1600.
But how do you account for the roof terrace?
And I have been making a point of using the jacuzzi and the BBQ on the roof, and PL seems pretty keen on it too. So it’s good.
Also, I have a good private place to plant what I want.]