Why I Bought Jervois Mansion As My First Home: My Journey As A First Time Homebuyer In Singapore
- Daron Ang
- October 28, 2022
- 7 min read
I’ve always thought buying a home was a very straightforward process.
First, you determine your budget. Then, you come up with a list of ideal homes, narrow down the list through pros and cons, and then decide on which you like best.
As someone who has helped many others buy and sell properties over the last few years, it had always seemed pretty methodical to me.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt that day.
One word. Nerve-wracking!
After having gone through the process myself, I have gained a newfound level of empathy and understanding about the intense level of emotions that a homebuyer gets before, during, and right at the moment before they commit on the dotted line.
It was especially surreal for me, as the old debt-ridden me would have never thought I would be in a position to actually buy my own home.
Back in 2015, having just freshly graduated from university, I was in survival mode because I was drowned heavily in debts from student loans, credit card loans, and an inflated lifestyle beyond my earnings.
Why I decided to buy a new launch condo as my first home
As you might well know, singles under 35 are unable to buy an HDB.
Given my age, a resale HDB under the Singles Scheme wasn’t a choice I could take.
As such, it was a decision between choosing a new launch or a resale condo.
Having stayed in an HDB all my life, the initial thought of moving to a resale condo seemed like a really attractive proposition because I could realise this “dream” of mine much more quicker.
In fact, I almost pulled the trigger on a specific project that I had eyed for a while because it fit all my criteria, or rather ‘purpose’ as how I like to tell all my clients.
But all this went out the window when I read our team’s review of Jervois Mansion.
This may sound like self-promotion to some, but that’s truly how I discovered just how different Jervois Mansion is from the other projects.
So why Jervois Mansion?
Most condo projects are either the result of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme, or a collective sale.
So I was intrigued when I learned that this plot of land has been held on for decades by the Aw family of the Kimen Group.
But the real game changer for me was that they would be retaining 25 of the 130 units for themselves. If that’s not a strong sign of confidence in their own product, then what is, right?
In my mind, it really aligns with our incentives, and it was a good sign of assurance – despite them being smaller and less well-known developer in Singapore.
I could go on and on here, and some might say this is a buyer’s bias (which I suppose is probably true).
But from the expanse of land that is a rarity in District 10, to the black and white architecture drawing inspiration from colonial bungalows of the early 20th century, and even the cherry blossom trees by the entrance driveway, I was highly drawn to the meticulous planning of the Aw family had when crafting this passion project.
What Was The Homebuying Journey Like?
I’m not sure there is anywhere else in the world where buying a home is done in such pressurising conditions.
Especially when the development is hot, the pressure to purchase is high – and more so when you see the striking red sold sign being pasted on the chart in quick succession.
I was fortunate that as an agent, I had the privilege to purchase right after the multiple-unit purchasers which meant my chances of purchasing a choice unit were increased.
Even so, by the time it was my turn, 58 of the 105 units offered had already been snapped up. So it wasn’t exactly like I had the freedom to pick out anything I wanted.
And so two tips I always give to new launch condo buyers on the booking day is firstly to do your sums beforehand to account for the difference in ‘expected pricing’ versus the ‘actual day pricing’.
Even for a fairly seasoned agent myself doing calculations daily, there were moments leading up to my turn when I had doubts about myself.
The second tip is to shortlist up to 5-10 units (for smaller boutique projects) and up to 30 units (for medium to large-scale projects) a few days prior so that you can remain free from emotions at the booking table.
Of course, ideally, we all hope to secure our first-choice unit, but that is seldom the case given how the ballot numbers work.
It’s a lot of work, but by pre-selecting up to 30 units ranked in order of preference, you will be able to make a calculated and sound selection when it is your turn to select a unit.
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A Day To Remember
As someone who has been part of many new launch purchases, I’ve always been quite curious about the lack of fanfare about it.
Other than a nice bag of perhaps the brochure, and the documents in a file, there’s never been much done to signify what is the bigger purchase in anyone’s life.
And so I really liked the personal touches that Jervois Mansion gave buyers, from the hand-written message on the owner’s brochure, and the bottle of scent, it did make me feel like I had just purchased something of quality.
But what really made me feel like I was buying into a community than just a home, was when I was invited to a farewell party held for both outgoing tenants and incoming owners.
Growing up in an era whereby most of my neighbours kept to themselves and conversations were restricted to greetings if we bumped into each other by the corridor or lift, it was indeed a breath of fresh air for us as incoming owners to witness the bond and friendships that were created by the expatriate community living in Jervois Mansions.
I even had the opportunity to speak to a handful of domestic helpers and they were genuinely sad about having to part ways with each other after having forged many friendships over the years, some of which have spanned for more than 10 years.
For the kids, it was evident from their carefree barefooted running, jumping into the pool, and free rein over how they wished to spray paint the walls, you could sincerely feel that these kids have really had a whale of a time within the safe boundaries of Jervois Mansion.
I must add too, that none of the domestic helpers nor kids was coerced into spray painting any messages on the walls so you knew these ‘Thank You’ messages came genuinely straight from their hearts.
As this was the last get-together at the compound, the Kimen Group took the effort prior to record all the personal stories and memories of the residents in a coffee-table book for us all to take away.
I was particularly drawn to the message by the Teixeira Family, who like others in the book, consistently mentioned the deep sense of community, friendship, and harmonious living that is really special to them.
To quote them: “This place is like an oasis. It’s quiet and peaceful, yet in the middle of the city. We really love the greenery and that It’s close to the river”.
In time to come when this project is completed, I sincerely wish for the same to come true for me this home will be my oasis.
Truth be told, I did have my initial doubts about the need for a community as I felt one can do without it and it was more of a good to have, but not a must-have.
But after speaking with Arthur (the passionate developer of Jervois Mansion) during the farewell gathering, it’s hard to not buy into his ideals.
His belief is that “when the community takes ownership of the development, it comes alive and becomes a place that is filled with wonderful memories and amiable friendships.”
Considerations Potential Buyers Should Know
I am an agent after all, so I can’t quite write a piece like that without adding in my two cents for potential new-launch condo buyers.
For Jervois Mansion, being an “En-Bloc” project of sorts, the typical construction time takes longer as compared to a Government Land Sales (GLS) project because additional time is required to account for the tearing down of the existing development.
So if you are a flexible own-stay/investor owner who is in no hurry to stay and can also choose to lease out the unit, developments like this will be an attractive proposition.
This is because the longer construction time means that I can stretch my money whilst at the same time I can still run down my Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) period.
What do I mean by stretching my money?
From an investor standpoint, I have not commenced any loan repayment since November 2021 when I exercised my option because the foundation and first loan disbursement were only slated to be ready in 2023.
This means I have no installment nor interest payable over the past year. That is good for me.
However, if your needs lean more towards own-stay and you wish for a quicker construction time because you need the roof over your head, you might be better off finding a GLS project or a post-launch project that is closer to its key collection date.
Also, I observed that while there is a recommended guideline for the sequence of payment for Progressive Payment, each new launch Condo varies and some developers may tweak the sequence vastly differently from what is expected.
When assessing your finances and cash flow, do always practice prudence and account for more liquidity so that you do not get surprised by the changes to the Progressive Payment Timeline.