Property Stories “I Lost Over $165,000 By Selling Early” 6 Common Regrets Of Homeowners Who Sold Their Homes In 2021/22
- Ryan J
- November 30, 2022
- 8 min read
2021/22 is widely considered a seller’s market, with property prices – across all segments – reaching an all-time high. But while we might assume all sellers made of like bandits, it’s not universally true. We spoke to some people who sold their homes within the past year or two, and some of them had deep regrets. Be careful to avoid these yourself:
1. Selling at a peak, but buying at a peak also
By far the most common regret we heard was from buyers who sold at record highs, but then found their replacement homes would cost just as much. In some cases, miscalculations meant being significantly worse off than they expected.
One such case happened to Andrew, who has realised his replacement home will cost much more than planned:
“I found one unit, but I could not put down the deposit first due to some issues with my age and the loan,” Andrew said, “but the seller had given verbal acceptance of my offer.
After I sold and I approached the same seller, their agent told me so sorry, they received a better offer. I was already offering above valuation, but still their other offer was more than $20,000 higher than mine. That was in October last year.
I said forget it, I went to look elsewhere. I’m still looking, I still don’t see anywhere cheaper. In fact it looks like it’s getting worst. This market is crazy. I feel I should have just stayed put.”
One of our readers, who just calls herself S, says their upgrading went way over budget:
“It’s a good thing we had spare cash set aside. After the down payment on our private unit, which is just a resale 3+1, we had nothing left. We haven’t even renovated anything, because we don’t want take too many loans – but our funds for the house are totally dry.
We had initially intended to upgrade, and also cover the cost of renovations with the sale proceeds. But the cost to renovate right now is a killer due to Covid, and we had to go quite a bit overbudget on the house itself. In hindsight I would rather not have all this stress, and just wait till things are more affordable.”
2. Pain from selling too early, and then watching price spiral up
Maurice, a foreigner who sold off an investment property in April 2021, feels the pain whenever he looks at today’s prices:
“Call me a bit greedy – but when I sold in April it was around $1,650 psf. Recent transactions (September 2022) for the same size units are around $1,800+ psf. Being just a little bit early cost me over $165,000+.
And look at the rental market today, my God. My apartment was tenanted, so I’ve lost out on the peak rental price. I could easily be getting $4,300+ in the current market. I should have held on.”
This is a common story for many who sold their homes in the even earlier days of the pandemic as they were expecting the market to get worse. It’s never an easy thing to time the market, and if you were one of those, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself in such an event as even many market experts got it wrong.
3. Remorse about (probably) never owning multiple homes again
J is an older Singaporean (around 57 this year), who previously had both a flat and a one-bedder condo unit. He and his wife had supplemented their income by renting out the shoebox unit, for just over a decade.
J says he felt compelled to sell his shoebox unit when his friend told him such units were “not doing well, so when I said I had a good offer, my friend said I better take it, if not I will regret. Of course the property agent also backed him up.”
However, J now regrets the loss of rental income, and he feels it’s quite painful that he cannot practically own two properties again:
“Now if I want to buy another place, I got to pay the ABSD. 17 per cent is too much; it’s not worth it to own two properties anymore. I regret not just holding on, when I could have had both.”
Regarding room rentals, J says he is not willing to do this, as on numerous occasions the tenant had come into conflict with his spouse. This prevents him from monetising his HDB flat further.
4. Wrecked by the wait-out period, plus some bad luck
D and his spouse were caught by the recent 15-month wait-out period, for right-sizing to an HDB flat (this is under the September 2022 cooling measures). The couple had initially appealed against this, but D says they didn’t follow up with the appeal after they were able to find accommodation with their son.
At the time, D’s son lived in a semi-detached unit, along with their daughter-in-law and just one child. The house was more than sufficient to accommodate all of them; so they agreed to wait out the 15 months there.
Early this month, however, D’s son and daughter-in-law unexpectedly filed for divorce; and it seems likely the property will be sold. Regardless of when that will happen, D and his spouse have to move out anyway. They can no longer bear the discomfort of living in a “cold war” environment while the divorce is ongoing.
D has already started looking for rental options, all of which are at record-highs in 2022. He says that: “It’s been one round of bad luck after another, ever since the day I sold. If I knew what was coming, I would have stayed put, never mind if I make a loss from selling later. Anything is better than this.”
5. Selling and moving made sense in theory, but isn’t making the buyer happy
Anne and her partner recently bought a resale condo unit in Eunos, which checks all the right boxes: it’s closer to Anne’s work place in Paya Lebar, and her partner’s workplace at the Eunos MRT station. Anne’s parents also live less than 600 metres away from them.
While their new unit is smaller (two-bedder rather than their previous three-bedder), Anne says the sale proceeds from their last unit covered the renovations, and paid off enough of their new home that their monthly loan repayments are below $2,200.
The problem is that, four months in, both Anne and her partner dislike the location.
“We miss our usual hangout places in Serangoon,” Anne says “and this area is quite dead in comparison. There’s nothing to do nearby after nine o’clock, and there isn’t the same kind of variety. It’s a bit moody and it’s starting to sink in that, this is it, this is where we’re stuck now.”
Anne says that in future, she’s learned to listen to herself rather than “expert advice” on what to look for in a home.
6. The reduction in living space is more painful than expected
L lives with his sister, and they previous co-owned a landed unit in Geylang; this had been left to them by their parents. However, L had pushed for a move, as the landed home was quite run down, and he and his sister were too busy running the family business to maintain the whole unit.
L says that:
“My children asked me, you come home at 1 or 2 am, you sleep till 7 am; other than that you also never use the house. Weekend you stay at our house, so why not you sell?”
L’s sister was also in favour of this, as she had long wanted a condo where family events could be held.
The siblings sold and purchased a two-bedder condo unit, closer to Newton where L’s children also lived. L says it was great at first, but the novelty started to wear off; and the main problem was spaciousness.
“I miss being able to walk out to the driveway and see my plants there. Also last time I had a tank with some terrapins, and I had a crystal collection that I inherited from my mum. I added on over the years; I had pieces from Germany, from Australia, from USA, and we had a big display, with track lights insde.
I miss it but it’s my fault. Because when I had all these things, I complained that it’s so hard to clean. The plants and my aquarium so hard to take care of. Now I can’t have these things – this space is too small. And I wish I had them!”
L says he hopes that, if his business continues to do well, he will buy a landed property again someday; and this time he will appreciate it better.
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