Ins and Outs of moving around in Singapore public housing

What a property agent dont want you to know, is that you could transact a sale or purchase of a property yourself, with help from your favorite banker and lawyer. Unless you really dun want to spend any time on printing a ad and answering phone calls or calling up people who placed for sale ads. Or perhaps if this little effort is not worth saving $10K upwards for you…..

If its public housing aka HDB, the government portal website has a great deal of info and checklist on how to DIY your own sale and purchase. All it takes is good ability to read and lots of patience to read every word of the documents and including the fine prints.

So this is what I did… because I think its not worth paying 2% sale comms for selling my place.. est $7.5K . I start reading the guides, policies, checklist …etc, during my free time, starting in Feb. Also browsed for transacted prices for my type of flats, and flats that I am interested to buy. That is, getting to know the market, in detail.

May, I am now ready to sell my HDB flat. I have decided to sell my flat 1st, before buying another… with the expectation that if it were necessary, we would move to Calliste, and cats to move to the pet hotel and stuff to move to temp storage. Naturally, I hope to avoid that, but I couldnt deal with the financing part of purchasing a flat 1st, before selling this flat. Or else I may end up selling this flat out at a low buyers price because I am desperate to complete this sale to finance my purchase. So anyway, sell 1st is in my best interest…

Step 1) Getting the flat valued is the 1st step to selling. I spent much of April packing up messy stuff into boxes, clearing away blocked windows and unsightly clutter. Early May, I logon to HDB portal with my singpass. Under the “e-Services -> resale application”, there is a box at the bottom that says “submit valuation request”. Complete this request by making sure that the payment is made and emails are sent to your inbox. In a couple of days, for my case it was within 12hrs, the valuer would contact you to make a appointment to visit your place. Within 2 weeks, you should receive the valuation report. … again, in my case, it was 5 days. .. I was amazed! Just my very good luck .. I guess..   This cost me $170.50 …

And while you’re there, on the HDB portal, download the Resale checklist for DIY sellers. Complete it as soon as you can, scan and submit online to the “resale checklist repository”. This is a must! to complete 7 days before you can grant a option to buyers. This checklist expires after 6 months on the repository…

Step 2) Let the buyers know that your flat is on the market. There are 2 ways to do that, its either free or paid. After submitting valuation request, I went online and posted my flat on “st701” and “nation property” which was on the resale prices page of HDB website… well I got some calls, but they were agents wanting to “co-broke”. After getting the valuation report and quite pleased with the value given to my flat 🙂 , I went online to CaTs classified website and booked a 3 line ad for the following Tuesday, which happens to be a public holiday… again, my very good luck that the timing was so right. Okay, so book the ad online, and later they will call you to confirm the ad details and billing. Note its so convenient these days to pay by credit cards, so its the way to go. This, I paid $36.xx .

Step 3) On the day of the ad, be prepared that the phone is going to ring like nobody’s business… but thats exactly what you want.. right? I received like 50 phone calls and arranged like 10 groups of viewers in 3hr period between 1300 to 1800hrs.  By the end of the day’s showing, I have 3 offers. In local terms, HDB is sold by the amount above valuation, aka cash over valuation (COV). I was asking for $50K COV… personally, I think that is a ridiculous amount of money and buyers are mad if they agree to this price. .. but the market is crazy, and if I dun ask for this much, I cant afford the COV for the flat that I am going to buy next. So, thats the reality… and I cant accept $25K, $30K and not even $39K. But I am definately pleased with receiving such good offers on the 1st showing. That gave me much confidence that my flat is going to sell easily at a good reasonable price… now to look for a place for us…

And I repeated the ad on the following Sat, the favorite house-hunting day in Singapore. Again the response was great! … and I went on house-hunt myself .. and became quite comfortable with the idea of accepting less than my “impossible” asking COV…. places that I am looking at is going at around $40K to $60K, and I can ignore those not very serious sellers who are asking for $80-$100K.  

Step 4) Okay, after you have accepted an offer, and its 7 days past the time when you submitted the resale checklist to the repository, you may give the Option to Purchase (OTP) to the buyer. You must! get this set of forms directly from HDB main office or any HDB branch office. Get a spare set.. incase of mistakes when filling in the forms, so you can use a new set without too many alterations …

Arrange for meeting with the buyer (or their agent) to complete this OTP. Receive from the buyer a option fee of between $1 to $1000 (cash or cheque is fine). This is a non-refundable fee. If the buyer walks away and not buy, the seller keeps the fee. Therefore, stick to the norm, ask for the full $1000.

Step 5) The buyer have the option and he/she/they can choose to exercise this option any time within 15 days from the date of receiving this option. Which is, they could still be looking around for a better deal and if they found one, they can walk away and lose $1k, which is really not much, relative to what flats are going for these days. There is nothing a seller can do, in the event that a buyer walks away and the loss of profit exceeds $1k. Eg, when the property market crash in the 15 day period and you had to sell the place for a lot less, 2 months later, and incurring interest on not getting the money sooner… etc.  

Okay, so they may also exercise immediately. As seller, when the buyer wants to exercise their OTP, we must duly complete the resale application and e-file this application online. So meet the buyers again, collect $4k deposit, get more signatures on the OTP, then e-file resale application within 7 days. Keep the exercised and signed OTP forms carefully, for they must be presented at the 1st appt at HDB.  

When doing the e-filing, make sure you get to the page that request for $60 application fee and that it is paid successfully… get the receipts! If this is a “contra”, make sure you choose the “contra” button on during the application. It gets a little more complicated when doing contra, and in this case, I am the “contra”ing party… Okay, so remember, the buyer for my flat have to file resale application, I have to file resale application to sell my existing flat and file resale application to buy my next flat, and the seller of my next flat has to file resale application to sell that flat to me. Total, 4 resale applications to be file by all 3 parties, within 7 days of the 1st party who filed! Clear? The final party in this “linked” resale applications will choose the 1st appt date and time. The desired time for all parties should have been discussed before proceeding to file the resale applications! Phew I did that right… 🙂

Step 6) While waiting for 1st appt, HDB will inspect if the flat is ready for resale. A officer will come check the unit in about 1 week after the resale application. Okay, checked! Next, I am just looking around the house, packing things into boxes, discarding things that wont be going… ..

This is where we are at right now…. 🙂 … Oh BTW, we will be saving around $14K in comms… My cost of  DIY selling and buying is 2 ads on the Singapore CaTs, mobile talktime, $170.50 valuation, $60 x 2 resale application fee, $180 window repair fee (problem as determined by HDB inspector of my flat), and time to be home to show the buyers around. That seem to be a great bargain… isnt it?


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