Property Stories An Introvert Buys Property: The Ones That Got Away (Part 3)
- December 5, 2021
- 9 min read
Buying property for yourself is not just any #treatyoself purchase – you’re imagining how your life could be better. That’s what makes letting go properties you like much tougher, because you’re passing on a version of you that could’ve been.
The FOMO is real.
When I was looking for a home, I had no preference for private or public property. I’ve repeatedly mentioned in this series that I viewed a wide array of properties. If I had to write a dating profile for my ideal property, it’d be:
“35-year-old single male, clean freak, artistic type-ish, great cook. Seeking young, bright and airy, low-fuss space, with a functional kitchen and separate bedroom. Bonus points if you have a great outlook (over a park) and don’t mind being close to my family.”
I had a few close calls over the course of my property search. The places you step into that make your heart flip-flop. This could be the one, my inner voice would whisper. Then, for some reason or another, I had to let them go. And I’m left reeling in disappointment and regret.
Yes, I have a lovely home now, and I’m grateful for it. But it doesn’t mean I don’t think about these properties and the lives that I might have led. Here are three properties that I seriously considered and still give me a little twinge of regret every so often.
1-Bedroom Condo Unit in Choa Chu Kang
How I was lured into this listing can be summed up in two words: fire sale.
The unit was a high floor, one-bedder in Choa Chu Kang’s Hillsta condominium which TOP-ed in 2017. This unit was for the version of me living smug because I’d snagged a really good deal.
I remember the unit being claustrophobia-inducing from the sheer amount of clutter, but on paper, it was a generously-sized 580 square feet. (Perhaps the owners could’ve used Stacked’s tips on staging a home for sale.)
There was a large balcony that could be fully enclosed by shutters. The view was quite built-up, but at least it was unblocked. And I loved the shower in the bathroom, which was one of those Japanese-inspired step-down types.
More importantly, it was priced at 5% lower than its neighbouring units and well within my budget. The selling agent said the owners needed to sell the unit quickly to pay off some debts.
I remember leaving the fire-sale unit completely fired up. This had to be the one! I even went back for a second viewing the next day.
So what got in the way? In one word – Sandra. She’s the property agent that I wrote about in Part 2 of this series.
Soon after sending Sandra the listing and telling her that I was keen to make an offer on it, I got a text back with an image of transacted prices at Hillsta showing a steady decline. Sandra then rang me and began her spiel of how resale properties were always going to lose value. I could feel my interest in the unit being slowly but surely snuffed out.
After the call, Sandra sent me more digital brochures of new launches, and I tried my best not to think about the unit any longer.
As I was writing this article, I looked up how much one-bedroom units had recently transacted at the Hillsta. From the price of the fire-sale unit last year, recent prices are now over 10% higher.
3-Room HDB Flat in Sembawang
I never thought I’d seriously consider living in Sembawang.
The town wasn’t on my radar at all, but it does have a few things going for it. The flurry of development in Canberra and the upcoming North-South Corridor may help buoy property values. There are many green spaces, and like in TJ’s own expedition to the far north, I too fell in love with seafront Sembawang Park.
This three-room, 730-square feet HDB flat at Montreal Ville was rather humdrum, but in a good way. It was a completely blank canvas with almost no carpentry, even in the kitchen which just had foldaway tables and portable burners. As with most young flats, the layout is predictable – squarish spaces with the home shelter located right in the middle of the house.
But what really tugged at my heartstrings was the view from the flat. There was a picture of it on the listing, but of course, I was skeptical that it would look that good. I had to see it for myself. When I arrived at the flat, my eyes immediately snapped to the windows.
The entire flat overlooked the historic, tree-lined enclave of black-and-white colonial bungalows. It was such a picturesque scene and I wanted it for myself. Looking into the untouched rooms, I was already planning my idyllic, quiet life in a countryside retreat.
Obviously, I wasn’t the only one to be taken in by that gorgeous view. At the flat, I was greeted by a property agent with the quiet confidence that she had a gem on her hands. She unenthusiastically informed me that she’d already received several offers and I needed to get mine in before the end of the day.
I didn’t put in an offer at all. As beautiful as Sembawang was, and even though I drove, it really was further from my family than I was comfortable with. And I really didn’t want to get into a bidding war.
But gosh, that view.
1-Bedroom Condo Unit in Yishun
I know Yishun has an unsavoury reputation, but I wanted to live in the town because of its many sprawling green spaces. And I was counting on the North-South Corridor and other new developments in the area to keep property prices up.
The Estuary condominium, completed in 2013, was squarely in my sights because it was right across the road from Lower Seletar Reservoir. When I visited, the condo looked like it had been well maintained, and I loved how much thought had been put into swimming pools, facilities, and landscaping. In fact, The Estuary has a really stellar entry experience for drivers, with a long sweeping driveway and lush greenery all around.
The complex was giving me a really good first impression, but the unit itself – oh, gosh. I fell for this unit hard.
I was eyeing a one-bedroom unit at The Estuary over others in the area because it was undeniably larger at almost 600 square feet. And it had an enclosed kitchen – almost completely unheard of. The balcony was a decent size and even had a sunken bit for plants. The bedroom and bathroom were great sizes too.
To top it all off, the view stole my heart. The reservoir views were reserved for the larger units, but this one wasn’t terrible in the slightest. There was a large road and MRT track just outside the condo, but it surprisingly wasn’t terribly noisy. But beyond that, it was unspoiled Mandai forest, nothing but swathes of green.
I was smitten. This was going to be my swinging bachelor’s pad, me living the high life (albeit in the North). I even sent the floorplan to my interior designer straight after the viewing, which was a big mistake in hindsight.
So, why am I not living in the Estuary right now? I couldn’t afford it.
The unit was priced just above my budget. And I knew if I got the unit, I would also want to do some renovations, so I couldn’t spend my entire budget and then some. William, my agent at the time, helped me negotiate with the owner but he wouldn’t budge. See, he was the second owner, so he wasn’t able to back down on the price without making a substantial loss.
I had to say goodbye to this unit. But this one really hurt.
Trust the Process
I found buying property an incredibly involved process. Both my head and heart were in it. I had a clear vision of how I wanted to live my life, but I also didn’t want to end up in financial ruin to achieve it.
When you put this much hope into an ideal future, you’re sure to wind up disappointed. Especially when you come so tantalisingly close to your dream home, only for it to go up in a puff of smoke.
That is not to say I regret the entire journey. As a first-time buyer, I was learning throughout my property search as well. In ways that I now understand, and some that I still don’t, these three properties just weren’t right for me. Perhaps too, at the time, I just wasn’t ready for them.
If you’re out there hunting for a home on your own, I truly empathise with the challenges you’re facing, especially the ones that dash hopes on the ‘you’ you want to become. Just know that despite the stumbles, just keep on moving and trust the process. You’ll get there someday.
Come back for Part 4 when I tell you how I got my happy ending. Or did I?