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Thursday 6 June 2019

The House-Hunting Series [ii] - Selling Off The Existing Property

In House-Hunting Series Part 1 (read it here),  I shared information on how we narrowed down our choices when searching for the dream home, and finally securing the right home.  We also decided to sell off our existing HDB Flat, and hoping to do so within 6 months so as not to incur Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) - a hefty 12% of the property price!

Our first step for selling the flat, was of course, to take (nice) photos of the existing flat for sale. With that, we re-arranged the furniture a little, tidied up the house, and removed any unsightly objects from the photos. This is to portray a good image of the house and give prospective owners a positive feel to even want to contact you for a viewing. No one likes a cluttered, dim home because it simply doesn't appeal.

We sourced for free portals such as Carousell, Gumtree, Locanto, Craigslist and RedAd, as well as our own social media accounts to post about our properties. We copied some wordings from websites such as PropertyGuru, 99.co,  ST Property etc to make the descriptions sound better.

Do not use anyone else's photos though - always use your own original photos. If you need a certain nice view or if you forgot to take a photo of the block of flat's exterior facade, go and take these photographs yourselves.


It depends on a lot of factors, really. Are we able to sell on our own? Some of us may have pretty strong word-of-mouth through neighbours, or maybe an existing neighbour's children want to buy the unit to stay right next to their parents, etc.  What are other issues to take into consideration?

  • timeline / urgency of sale - were we in a hurry to sell our flat?
  • budget - could we spare that extra few thousand dollars so that someone can help us professionally to take photos, offer advice, source for clients, advertise and paperwork?
  • home staging - a couple of agents we spoke to suggested spending money on this. Home-staging beautifies the home and replaces our furniture with nicer ones; the fees include storage of existing (uglier) furniture from our house for 2-3 months.
  • engage on exclusive basis or non-exclusive basis?
  • what were the opportunity costs if we didn't sell the flat in time?

I used a very efficient and down-to-earth agent from ERA Realty Network - Simon Leow. He responded to us very quickly, and was always polite and frank.

Calls started coming in - either through our property agent or directly to us. The other parties negotiated for suitable dates and time to view our flat. If we were not represented by a property agent and the other party is, their property agent may negotiate with us for a fee because their clients ("buyers") are not obligated to pay agent's fees.

Before each viewing (which usually took 10 - 15 minutes maximum), we made sure to tidy up the place and put away newspapers, clothes, used plates etc so that the house looked presentable. When we had more time to prepare, we would also add little touches like lighting up a scented candle, soft classical music in the background, etc.

We would answer the prospective viewers' questions and bring them around the house. I served drinks as I would for any other visitors to our place. I even described each neighbour on the floor to them, so they knew who they would be potentially living next to. This was helpful, especially for families with children.

Sometimes we got weird viewings as well - those that appeared fishy, like managers training their new agents. So the "prospective buyer" would be a young single male or female, accompanied by an agent who claimed to be "a friend".   They would ask a lot of questions, the "agent friend" guiding the "prospective buyer" along, and then you never hear from them again.

Offers began coming in from prospective buyers who liked what they saw. We sat down and discussed the offers, rejecting the ridiculous ones and finally accepting one of the offer.  The flurry of activities began now - visits to conveyancing law firms, paperwork, HDB Inspection (to check for unauthorised alterations to flat), handing over, etc.

Before moving in officially, the buyers may request for a second viewing, or to come by to take measurements for their renovators' quotes. Sometimes they would just drop in to "visit", which we welcomed. After all, they might want to be familiar with their surroundings, or verify the neighbourhood, before exercising their options finally.

We were also very upfront with them on the areas that needed extra repairs such as a fallen kitchen sink, a broken glass panel on the folding kitchen door, etc.


Moving out was a super hectic process. We had so much packing up to do:-

  • discarded many, many old things we did not want to bring over to new place
  • donated many things to The Salvation Army at Bukit Timah
  • blessed furniture and electrical appliances away on various Facebook groups
  • packing up the rest into nearly 40 cartons!

Then it was liaising with the movers, and selecting a perfect date to move out. Some people believe in "auspicious dates" and would work with a Fensghui master on that - we didn't. It depends on individual's preferences ultimately.
As much as I yearned to move out of the flat, I did miss it when the date was drawing near. It was, after all, a lovely home with good neighbours and unblocked canal views, and it served us well. I was delighted to have found it wonderful new owners who genuinely seemed to adore it from the very first viewing. I hope they are happy living here.