We finally bought our "dream" home…by keeping it "real"

In December last year, we finally bought our so-called "dream" apartment.  It took us about three years to narrow down to this particular unit.  Whatever took us so long?



Well, my husband and I couldn't really agree at first whether to get a condo or a landed/cluster house.
My husband loved the space we used to have when we were expats in Shanghai, so we started out by looking at landed houses and cluster homes.  We were quite impressed with the bigger sized houses at condo prices.  Most, of course, are located in more remote areas which may require driving or a long walk out to amenities.  

We began to be more focussed on condos only after we realized we didn't want to stay in a big house with lots of stairs since that would be a real hassle when we get older.  Not forgetting, the amount of cleaning to maintain it! Finally, keeping it real, we refocussed all our energy on looking at condos.  We scouted in the west, central and northern areas.

Following the approach I blogged about in "Taking the Emotion Out of Buying your Dream Home, my husband and I listed down our combined requirements:
1) Proximity to MRT Station and buses so that my two boys can commute to school on their own
2) Close to amenities, e.g. supermart, eating places, library
2) Lap size swimming pool (not irregular shaped ones ) because my husband loves to swim laps for exercise, along with my two boys
3) Near to a fitness gym with group classes (e.g. yoga, pilates, aerobics) since I attend indoor classes weekly
4) No afternoon sun, airy
5) No/minimal wasted space such as bay windows or huge balconies, although I would love to have a small balcony to do some gardening
6) Quiet with minimal MRT or main road traffic noise
7) Four good size bedrooms in squarish layouts
8) Within a budget that is manageable even if my husband stops work
9) More centrally located than our HDB flat
10) Low/Reasonable MCST fees

The list is so long, I'm tired just looking at it.  Truth be told, this started out as just a wish list.  We weren't sure if we could find our unit but well, no harm trying.  And besides, it's better to be upfront on each other's needs and requirements.

It was by chance that we viewed a penthouse in the condo development which we eventually bought a unit in.  The penthouse was not very well laid out, but the condo development itself satisfied most of our criteria.   The only snag was that it was a little old at over 10 years.  No worries, because it was generally well-maintained.  Another thing we didn't quite like was that it was just beside the MRT track, so train noise was repeatedly heard when we went for the viewing.  I kept my eye on new listings, and saw quite a number of 3 bedders at mid to low floors.  Strangely enough, not many 4 bedders were in the market.

Late last year, as the market started to quieten down, a small handful of four-bedders were listed.  I grabbed every chance to make viewing appointments.  We were pretty excited when we saw a high-floor unit at a stack that was quieter.  We made an offer and wrote a cheque for it. Knowing that it had been in the market for a while, we made an offer quite below what the owner asked.  He rejected us outright, not even wishing to make a counter-offer.

We were disappointed. And frankly, quite tired.

I remember discussing if we should counter-offer with a higher price so as to make the deal. After all, there was a very limited number of four-bedders on high floor that were on sale. I don't know what "blind faith" gripped us but we decided against it.   We figured we still had our HDB flat to stay in, so there was no urgency.  But deep inside,  we weren't sure if we could ever find a similar unit in the near future.  Until out of the blue, a brand new 4-bedder listing came on the market.

When we saw this second unit, we knew this was even better than the earlier one,  in terms of facing and room layout.  The view was also better.  We especially liked the fact that the master room was bigger than the last unit we made an offer for.

The property market was beginning to be trending down, and news reports of impending falling property prices began to appear more often.  So, we grabbed the chance to make an offer.  Our offer was again quite below the owner's asking price and in fact, even lower than our offer for the earlier unit.

It helped that the unit was still new in the market, so no other offers were made.  The owner was also in a hurry to sell.  As it turned out, the agent, who is a friendly, honest lady, told us that the owners had bought the condo jointly with their daughter, and now the daughter wanted her name removed so that she could get her own property without being subjected to additional taxes.  Who would have thought, the ABSD scheme helped us!

All the stars seemed aligned.  The owners finally accepted our offer.  Our long search was over.

So, to add to my post on not being emotional when buying a home, I have to say you also need a bit of luck. Some of this luck you can create on your own, by being very vigilant and aware of market trends.  But some, well…you can only hope and pray for it.

But one thing we've learnt: patience shall be rewarded!

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this honest and insightful post ;)

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    1. Good to see you dropping by! Hope to share more and give another perspective on house renovations in one of my future posts too.

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  2. Hi!

    May I know, what is roughly the price range of your house?

    LS

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, The price range for a 4 bedder unit of our size (>1,400 sqft) in this development ranges from $1.39million to $1.55 million depending on floor level and facing. Thanks for dropping by!
      YP

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