My First House Hunting in Singapore

house hunting in Singapore

God demonstrated His goodness every step of the way during my first house hunting in Singapore.

On 16 June 2009, I went for my first appointment at the Housing Development Board (HDB) to process my application to buy a resale 5-room HDB flat at Yew Tee (North Choa Chu Kang).

Sitting there in front of the HDB officer who was getting us (the buyer and the sellers) to sign this and that and telling us what to expect next, I felt a bit surreal.

It is really happening. My own place.

Friends have been asking me about when I will move in. I didn’t have a clue. Now I do. The completion date (i.e. the date that I collect my keys) is scheduled on 11 August 2009. As I said goodbye to the sellers and the housing agents helping us and left HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, a list of things to thank Abba God for rolled through my head like ending credits.

Thanksgiving 1 – From a 3-Room to a 5-Room Flat

When I started house-hunting, I prayed for a small 3-room flat. God exceeded that prayer and gave me a 5-room flat instead.

From hindsight, it was like Abba God was saying to me, “Ye of little faith“. I was asking for too little. I can still remember what I prayed about the 3-room flat. “That’s all I need“.

I had been house-hunting for at least 2 years. I was looking to buy a 3-room HDB flat in a central location. The prices were quite high then and I wasn’t too familiar with the property market. I saw a lot of houses but nothing came out of it. I came close to offering a 3-room at Telok Blangah. But Elsie did not like the location. The apartment block is located on top of a hill. Grandma, who is staying with me, might have a problem with the stairs. So, it was good that I backed out.

When Mark bought a place in Yew Tee, an old friend proposed that it might be good to live near him. After several years of living so far apart (I lived in the northeast and he lived in the west) I thought it was a good idea.

With that in mind, I shifted my house-hunting sights from Central Singapore to Yew Tee.

Yew Tee didn’t have any 3-room flats. So I started looking at the 4-room flats. They were quite expensive. The better ones were asking for slightly more than S$300,000 (this includes high cash-over-valuation). This means that the actual valuation isn’t that high but the markets were pushing the prices up.

I wanted to wait for prices to come down but general sentiments were against that. I was getting discouraged. After several months of viewing apartments, I made an offer for a ground floor unit. Both Elsie and Mark objected for different reasons. Elsie did not like the surroundings and felt that it is too far from the town centre. Mark felt that I could have offered a lower price. I started to regret my decision.

Fortunately, the sellers needed me to wait several months while they look for a new place. I use that as the reason to back out without any penalty! After this incident, I took a break before resuming house hunting in the new year.

Pastor Prince proclaimed the new year as the Dektos Year of the Lord. “Dektos” in Greek means “acceptable, favorable.” 2009 is the favourable year of the Lord. I am confident I will receive my apartment this year.

With renewed energy, I asked Mark what he thought about me buying a 5-room. He was surprisingly positive. No question about whether I can afford it. In fact, he shared that if he had calculated whether he could afford his current place, he wouldn’t have bought it. He went by faith. And things are working out nicely for him financially.

Sometime in March, I decided to check the transaction prices for 5-room flats in Yew Tee. Logically, if the 4-rooms were fetching more than S$300,000, the 5-rooms would be even more. To my surprise, I found the prices very reasonable.

That week, I saw about 3 flats and found the one I want. The asking price was a bit more than I was prepared for but I felt that it was a justifiable amount because it was a bigger flat. I spoke to Mark. He didn’t object and encouraged me instead. On Tuesday, I went back to take a second look during the day and noticed more things that I like. In the late afternoon, I made an offer. The seller accepted.

I was asked to show my commitment by paying the seller S$1000 as option fee. I panicked slightly and asked Elsie to go with me to meet the sellers and check out the place. It seems a bit late but I value her confirmation. She saw the place and liked it too. AMEN!

From hindsight, I see God’s patient hand leading me slowly to a bigger place.

Thanksgiving 2 – Lower Mortgage Interest

Right from the start of the house-hunting, I knew I do not qualify to get a loan from HDB. The advantage of an HDB loan is that the interest rate is fixed. It is more than 1% lower than most private bank loan rates at the time.

I had prepared my financial plan with a view that I need to factor at least 3.5% for the mortgage interest rate.

I had 2 weeks to obtain a Letter of Offer from the banks after I exercised my option to purchase. Using a housing loan adviser to check and summarise all the available housing loans offered by the various banks in Singapore, I was surprised to find that bank rates were lower than the HDB’s due to the financial crisis.

If this isn’t God’s timing, I don’t know what is. Thank God for placing me at the right place at the right time.

Thanksgiving 3 – Financial Provisions

I realized that I have to pay the first 5% of the purchase price in cash. I thought I could pay with my CPF. But that is only if I am applying for an HDB loan. I didn’t have the cash so I panicked. When I finally looked to the Lord for provision, it came in the form of dear siblings who were willing to offer bridging loans.

Next, I was instructed by my lawyer that I need to prepare around S$6,000 in cash for stamp duty and legal fees. Uh-oh, another amount in cash? Which I do not have? I shared this problem with my housing agent. He was surprised and told me that I MUST ask the lawyer to apply to CPF to allow me to pay these 2 expenses with my CPF. It was good news indeed. God knew my specific need regarding cash flow even before me.

This house-hunting experience is truly an experience of God’s goodness. I have experienced the goodness of Abba God every step of the way. All I can say nearly every time is PRAISE THE LORD!

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For God so loved you, He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for you. You are precious to Him.

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