Sunday, 21 March 2021

My Health Problem - Life Is A Roller-coaster, Just Gotta Ride It!

After my last few articles revolving around how we successful sold our old properties and bought our new home, most readers will think that life is good for Rolf! 

Not quite! 

2021 has a rocky year for me. While all seems perfect on the surface, everyone faces problems in life, and I am no exception. 

Health issues cropped up already end last year. 

While I am feeling fine (in my opinion), a scan reveals otherwise, diagnosed me with complex intestinal problems! It is kind of an inherent problem that almost become fatal more than ten years ago. But I honestly know that this time it is way milder, as I feel normal without any major symptoms, unlike in the past that I can crouched in absolute pain. 

That said, doctor is giving me medications, and the body has to endure the side effects. Doctor advised that medication is temporary with surgery was suggested. It’s not going to be a minor surgery, and I am praying for God’s intervention for my miraculous healing, that no surgery will be needed, and I shall be healed. 


God’s healing miracles already took place many times in my family. My own illness healed in the past. My wife's huge tumour miraculously gone within two months, my son being miraculously healed having struggled critically in intensive care when he was born etc. 

Therefore DO NOT be misled into believing life for others is always smooth and sound, while thinking that ours are not as good. 

It is often not as what it seems on the surface. 


MY ROLLERCOASTER LIFE

My life has always been full of ups and down. 

At the age of four or five, I was hospitalised for deadly mosquitoes bites. As adult, I was also hospitalised with near-death incident. And this took place at the peak of my career, somewhat putting a halt onto it. 

Up to even the late 1990s, my parents’ household income is a meagre SGD800 with five mouths to feed. Since young, financial insufficiency always led to quarrels within the family. Then I work hard and started to earn good money myself through tuition with thousands in the bank as savings. Somehow, I squandered all of it to Singapore pool soccer bets. 

At one stage of my working adulthood, I was left with less than SGD50 in my bank account, having to repay my school debts and support close ones. My personal  investment journey began well, before I eventually bought a stock that eventually goes bust. 

Not until I met my wife, my boy-girl relationships were painful with betrayals against me, even from close friends, not just once but twice. In my school days, friends whom I really cherished and treated well were also not the nicest to me. 

My career has not been smooth sailing too. When my career storm to the peak with wealth and authority over a short few years, I took a “tumble” and was humbled to a job to learn to serve rather than to command. The financial and oil crises also allow me to witness many retrenchments and faced uncertainty in my career over a long period of time, even up to today.

Even our children’s birth have not been all uneventful, with many scares and tears, before joy and laughter.  


SUFFER FIRST, ENJOY LATER

With all being said, while for most part of my life has not been all smooth sailing, it does not mean that I am unhappy all the time. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am normally happy and cheerful with always many close one and friends around me, helping me when I am down. I am very thankful!  

Each time, I will take my sufferings as lessons learnt, to become stronger and wiser in life. And each time after being “beaten”, I will come back to become a better person, at least in my opinion. 

The rewards reaped after the lessons are often not tangible, but of spiritual and self-realization that life is not always only about myself, my family, or “what I am going to get out of it”. It is about righteousness, compassion, and having a warm and loving relationships with God and with others, in peace, in love and in joy. 

For instance, my humble beginning taught me to be down to earth. Thereafter I started to grow my wealth slowly but steadily in a more sustainable manner. My erratic career also taught me not be arrogant and over the moon when things are all going so well in the way I want. Instead, I was taught to be humble in work, keep on learning and always preparing for the worst. 

My not so ideal relationships in parents’ household, my own boy-girlfriend days, and with friends in my younger days, enables me to establish much better relationships today, be it with my own family, relatives and friends and my colleagues. 

Throughout my life up to now, I always suffer first and enjoy later. 

In fact, if you look at the bible, all the great people, such as Abraham, Joseph, David, Moses and of course Jesus all suffer first before glory is or will be eventually revealed. 

Hence, it does not necessarily mean you are unlucky or a bad person if you are suffering now. It may be that this trial and tribulation is to train you to be better later, and for something more glorious to take place later. 

THE CONTEMPORARY CULTURE TODAY

Sadly, I think what the contemporary culture teaches nowadays is about big house, big career, big returns from investments, good schools, lots of friends and followers in social media etc

Then my friend sent me a video, with message as follows:


WHAT GOOD IS;

A big house with a small family

High income with less peace of mind

High IQ but less emotions

Good knowledge but less wisdom in life

More education with less common sense

Highly advanced medications, but poor health

Touched moon, but neighbours unknown

Expensive watches, but no time

Many affairs, but no true love

Many friends on Facebook but no friends in real life

In general, there are lots of human beings today, but less humanity. Nobody is interested in helping others or care if they are dying. People are more engross into sharing that event on social media. 

It is sad, but this is the reality. 


CONCLUSION – STAY POSITIVE, HOPEFUL AND FAITHFUL

Despite my problem today, I will stay positive. One colleague who also went through a health ordeal, told me that staying positive is the best medication. I will pray without ceasing, and put my trust in a higher power. I believe that all things happen for a reason now, but eventually it is meant to strengthen and prosper in future. 

While it is not easy, and I admit that I was emotional initially, but it is also exemplary that at least for the past few months, it has not affected my house sale and purchase, and I am happy that this "property thingy" has come to almost an end now. Neither is my family relationship and work adversely affected. In fact, I think they are becoming better lately.  

The bible wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, 

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

So while I am staying positive enduring the side effects of medication, and hoping for the miracles of healing, of course I will be most thankful and willing to receive your prayers or written testimony. Do pm me. This will be more valuable than gold and silver. 

If you are also facing problems yourself, I also hope that you can endure and overcome your problems with God. And if you need anything such as prayers or my humble testimony sharing for encouragement, do pm me too. 

May our Good Lord bless and keep you. 




Friday, 19 March 2021

Thank God That We Finally Bought Our House!

This post is the final series of my property articles.  

After four months, we finally bought our new house. I reckon it is a relatively short time, considering that most of my friends took one year or more to find their dream home!  

Not knowingly, it is somewhat overdose for us in the past months, as we indulged so much of our time and effort into the “property topic”. But guess it is inevitable, as “home” is after all a place that we will live in. 

At times, it can be very mentally stressed too. 

Putting your house on sale with many strangers scrutinising your house is not the most enjoyable. Having your house sold first, and then are left without a house also give us a weird feeling. On the other hand, viewings on other people’s house exudes slightly better feeling. But this is NOT before you were told by the agent of the ridiculously high pricing that the Seller is insisting on selling, even when the condition is not at all on par. 

Browsing through ad listings can be frustrating too. 

Frequently, you can be really disgusted by the listings asking exorbitant pricing without even understanding the market price. Then, you can see the same house listings over and over again, and rarely a reduction of price despite being there for donkey years. The new listings are also getting more and more expensive. And when you discover a decent listing, agent will inform that it was already sold. 


VIEWINGS – “THE SPIRIT” IS IMPORTANT 

The same time when we decided to sell our house, we also did our research for our new house and make arrangements for viewings. 

It is advisable to go for decent number of viewings to have a feel of the ambience. The feel of the surrounding, the neighbours, the roads nearby, the traffic, the noise etc. is what I termed as “The Spirit”. 

In one instance, we viewed a house with their ancestors photos all over the walls of the house. It gave a very eerie feel. The same night my wife had nightmare of the house. 

We also met seller(s) who asked their household member with unfriendly tattoos, stationed at their door front, and gave us stern look during the viewings. We have no idea what is the rationale behind that, but it is definitely a turn off.  

Areas like Eunos and Macpherson have houses with decent pricing. However, “The Spirit” in that area are just not quite right for us. Perhaps it is the aura of the Mosque and Industrial, lacking the homely feeling for us. Then you have Upper Thomson, Lentor, Springleaf that are great areas with Nature Reserve. But for amenities you have to travel a little further to AMK. 

In my personal opinion, the Eastern side of Singapore is definitely one of the better locations in Singapore. So many nice food, lesser pollution, near to East Coast, and low rise buildings etc. Then again, “The Spirit” for us now is also not right. It is probably a place we will consider staying when our kids are older, as their schools are just too far, and we do not intend to change their schools. 


GOD’S CHOICE FOR US

After close to 40 viewings, including 5 second viewings, we finally optioned-purchase our house at Serangoon Gardens. 

We have the best feel in Serangoon Gardens. Every time we go there, we have a very peaceful feeling and the ambience feels right for us. 

In the morning, there is wet market and hawker that sell really tasty local food. At night you have Chomp Chomp. There are also coffee shops, and so many nice cafes and restaurants, and NTUC at MyVillage, with so many banks around the area. 

Location wise in Singapore, it is also central. Many people tell me about the horrors of jam into/out of Serangoon Gardens. I know that area very well, having drove there many times in the last decade or so, and it really depends on where in the Gardens you are located, and how well you know the area to evade traffic jams. 

The exact location of our future house is fortunately not to be located in the jam zone. It is also within close proximity to the Garden circus, as well as walk to bus-stops that is only few stops to MRT. 

We are thankful that this is definitely a house bestowed to us by God. 

First it was not a house that is always in my mind. There is this one house that has been always in my mind that I almost wanted to offer, but it just didn’t happen. Each time there will be reasons stopping us from making an offer. 

On the contrary, this house of ours, just popped out of nowhere after our disappointments with all the viewings. The deal was closed within one week, including viewings, offers, negotiations and acceptance of cheque. This is very similar to the previous houses purchased, with deals all closed within a week including the first viewing. 

So many times in my life, the things I wanted most with my own desire and using my own strength has often turned out to be NOT the best option for me. Instead, the those things that come out of nowhere when I am “down, broken or contrite” has turned out to be the most suitable for me. 

Not just that, we are also very comfortable with the agent(s), and the seller(s), of whom both parties are very friendly and reasonable in the selling and negotiations. This also explains why the deal was closed within a week. 

It is also the nicest house we have viewed so far (within our range), and in terms of price PSF, it is also definitely one of the most reasonable. 

The appearing of the house is also after we prayed fervently. Furthermore, prior to the purchase, we were involved in a righteous act of God with parties concerning to this house. This gave us a very peaceful and joyful feeling that this is the right house.  

“The Spirit” is just right! 

Thank God for helping us to choose our house. 


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Things To Look Out In Your Property Search! Our Real Experiences.

In my last post, I detailed the factors to consider when selling your properties. In this article, I will share our property search experiences over the past few months and things you should look out for. 


CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION 

Areas that are definite “No No No!” 

FIRST, crossed out locations that are completely out! For us, they are fringe locations such as Changi, Loyang, Woodlands, Yishun, Sembawang, Seletar, Kranj, Boon Lay, Chua Chu Kang etc. 

Then there are areas next to or very near cemetery. For instance in D19 Japanese Cemetery, the houses at or nearby i.e. Perry Avenue, Chuan Hoe and Jalan Limbok that are “No No no” for us. We are not afraid of ghost, but in general the “Spirit” of these locations will not be that ideal. 

Zoom into “shortlisted” locations

For a start, our shortlisted focus are as below: 

- D19 & 20 : Serangoon, Kovan, Thomson, Bishan, AMK

- D13 & 14 : Macpherson, Potong Pasir, Eunos 

- D15 & 16 : Eastern precincts of Katong, Joo Chiat, Bedok

- D23 : Hillview, Dairy Farm, Bukit Panjang 

- D26 : Upper Thomson, Sembawang Hill, Lentor, Springleaf

It is quite a wide area of focus because we do not want to be restricted by limited advertisements within a specific area only, that we eventually miss out on good deals! 

In the past, twice we had ended up buying houses that were not our initial choice of locations. As we looked back, they are very good choices liken to be “God chosen” to suit His and our needs. 

For more info about list of districts, refer below: 

Source: www.ura.gov.sg/realEstateIIWeb/resources/misc/list_of_postal_districts.htm  

KNOW WHAT IS MARKET PRICING

Be aware of prices across all places

During the initial search in Propertyguru, 99.co and SRX, we did not set filter on “locations”. The reason being we wanted to have an overall feel of the market pricing. In this way, you will know if buyers are asking reasonable or ridiculous prices. 

Please also use 99.co to check the transacted pricings or visit URA website here. URA website only gives transacted pricing up to last five years, while 99.co is extremely informative providing very detail information on past transacted prices up to few decades back. Accuracy of the information to be verified! 

Find out what is the last offered price

When sellers are asking for sky high prices in a sellers’ market, it can be really demoralising for the buyers.  Being there at house viewings conversing with the agents can give you a better feel of the realistic price level to close the deal rather than just depending on the asking price on the advertisement! 

Always try to find out what is the last offered price and when was that, and what is the deal closing price the seller(s) is(are) asking. 

Of course you have to give leeway to what agents tell you. Many will just fake that there is a last offered pricing even when there isn’t, just to arouse your interest to offer. That said, smart agents also want to close the deal quickly to earn their commissions, knowing that giving potential buyers a unrealistic offered price will turn off the deal. 

Find out the “Valuation of Property” 

Prior to making an offer, it is almost a must to find out the valuation of the property as it will affect your loan amount. 

For example, a house is selling at SGD2 million. Then, 75% bank loan is SGD1.5 million. But if the same property is only valued at SGD1.8 million, then you can only borrow up to 75% of SGD1.8 million which is SGD1.35 million. You will have to top up the difference (SGD1.5 – 1.35 million = SGD150K) in cash. 

During viewings, I recommend that you ask the agents what is the valuation of the property. Most agents will always tell you “Valuer can match asking pricing”. BUT, that is always from the sellers’ point of view. 

It is advisable to get the valuation from Buyers’ point of view, i.e. your own bankers. 

If you need help on getting free valuation of the properties of your interest at a better service than the typical bankers, even during viewing stage, please PM me at rolfsuey@gmail.com. 

Know what is “Entry Quantum Price”

The entry pricing of FH-999 landed property today is set at a minimum quantum of SGD3 million. For condo, it is at least SGD1 million. 

At entry quantum pricing, the PSF is usually higher. For e.g. >SGD1,700 psf for a landed property is considered high PSF, if it is neither a brand new house nor at a very ideal location. However, because the entry quantum is SGD3 million for FH-999 landed, then for a land size of 1600 to 1700sf, it is not considered  expensive anymore with SGD1,650 to 1,700 psf. You can imagine that SGD3 million decent landed properties will be sold within a short time. 

Price Yardstick 

In general, FH-999 landed will be priced above SGD1,000 psf. Anything below SGD1,000 psf will be single storey or remote locations or really big land making the quantum price higher, beyond the mass market’s reach. 

If you are able to find anything below SGD1,300 psf for 2.5/3 storey FH-999 landed, it is considered decently good pricing. Of course, conditions, locations, and Gross Floor Area (GFA) and many other factors will influence the pricing too. I will discuss more on pitfalls in the next section.

A rough benchmark of SGD300-350 psf can be used for additional levels/floor area if you are considering  A&A. This means that additional 1000sf of floor area should be SGD300K to 350K. For E.g. the same land size one with 2.5 storey, 3000sf of floor area is priced at SGD3.8 million, while the other is 2 storey priced at SGD3.4 to 3.5 million. 

Newly constructed landed properties are usually priced above SGD2,000 psf. 

Discount

Our experiences tell us that ~ +/-7% discount to the asking price can be a good benchmark. For E.g. 3.5 million asking price closing at 3.25 to 3.3 million. 1.6 million closing at 1.5 million.  We had also encountered properties with asking price 15-20% above market pricing, hence it is really very subjective, depending on sellers. 


BEWARE OF PITFALLS 

Houses that just cannot sell

Aside from ridiculously priced houses, there are also houses that are just so difficult to sell being in the market for a very long time with multiple agents marketing. I was told by a friend that one house that we have viewed was already in the market since 2018 until today.  

Somehow, “The Spirit” of these houses or the owners are just unexplainably bad too. 

My recommendations is NOT to buy these houses that has been in the market for a very long time already. This is despite that they are generally cheaper. You may be able to buy cheap now, but likewise, you will need to sell cheap too in future, and it will be very hard to liquidate too! There is always a reason why these houses are so difficult to sell. 

Odd-shaped house 

Don’t ever go for odd-shaped house. It can be a very nicely renovated house, cheaper than prevailing market rates, but there must be a reason why they are cheaper. Usually, there is a lot of wastage in floor area, meaning less usable area. We have seen odd-shaped house either on triangular land or all the rooms’ layout are just weird with lots of corners, and there is no way you can change the house layout. Normally odd-shaped house also have narrower living room, and you will never have the “can see far far” feeling once you step into the house. 

Traffic in front and back 

Houses with main door facing the busy main road is also a “No No No”. That said, houses with the backyard facing the main road is still ok, provided that the front facing is quiet. Also, it is better not to have too many bedrooms facing the main roads, otherwise noise and dirt will be a big concern. 

Door number, Road names

114, sounds ok in English. But because I am Hokkien, 114 means “death of hunger”! Aside from 114, 44 is another number we avoid. Door numbers 4, 14 and 24 etc are generally still ok for us. There are road names that sound a bit too funny. For e.g. I wanted to arrange for a viewing of house at Jalan “Lanjut”. Then after second thought, I think better not. Imagine you tell people you stay at “Lanjut”, translating that into Hokkien! Then there are “Lim Tua Tow”, “Lorong Pisang”, “Jalan Manis” etc. 

Super low ceiling 

Landed house with floor to ceilings height below 2.8 metres is also a “No No No” for us. I did buy a laser distance meter to verify floor to ceiling height during our viewings. With low ceilings, you will still get the small feel of house, regardless of how big the house is. 

Super dark house

Then there are houses especially inter-terrace house that are super dark. While traditionally North-South facing is good, but for Inter-Terrace, it is better not to go for NS facing as it will be very dark, if without a proper air well. 

No parking or super crampy roads outside

There are also houses with very “crampy” roads outside. We once visited an area of Sembwang Hill Estate and there many roads there that are just so narrow.  All the roadside parking were “jammed up”. It will even be so difficult to park car once you reach home. Then there are houses with no parking outside for visitors, because it is all double yellow lines outside. Visitors will have to park somewhere else and walk few minutes to your house. 

Elevated level 1

Then there are landed houses with elevated level one. This means that after you park your car, you have to climb 1.8 to 2m of stairs before arriving at the door of your living room. Imagine you have friends or relatives visiting who are wheelchaired? You will need to plan carefully to install a wheelchair elevator or someone strong enough to carry the disabled. 

Direct west-sun-facing

House with direct west-sun-facing is also not popular. However, it is less of a concern if there are proper balcony and not many rooms are facing west. Normally the newly constructed houses within 10 years old will take west-sun facing into their design consideration and cleverly evade the west sun heat. You can also plant trees to block the west sun. 

For west-sun-facing house, if it is Semi-D or Corner Terrace, it is not so much of a concern. This is because the west and east-sun facings are also shining parallel into the sides of the house, in fact making the house, especially the living room, very brightly lit, giving a very good feeling. 

CONCLUSION

In my next final article, I will write about our viewing experiences and our final choice! Stay tune… 

PS: The author seek legal disclaimers on all recommendations or pricing or psf figures. These information are provided solely based on writer’s personal experiences and as a rough rule of thumb to help readers with information. Readers or buyers should do their own due diligence or check with professional for advice in their property purchase journey. 



Saturday, 13 March 2021

STEPS ON - How To Sell Your Property And How to Plan For The Purchase Of Your Next Property!

Those who follow my blog will know that we managed to sell two properties early of the year. READ: How We Sold Two Properties In One Month and Very Close to My Asking Price! 

End last year, the conviction came that we should sell our properties, and purchase a new property. We went for it!  

For those who have intention to sell their property and buy a new one, hope that this article recounting our experiences can be of help to you. 

The sequence how we started are as follows. 

REASONS FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE

To begin, it is obvious that you ought to be know the reasons why are you selling your house, and why are you buying your new house. For us, it is crystal clear and the reason was cited in our earlier article. 

SALE – ASKING, TRANSACTED AND SELLING PRICE

Next, do your research in PropertyGuru, 99.co or SRX apps. Search within your vicinity/condo the “Asking Price” and the “Past Transacted Price”.  

The price guide is normally in Price per square feet i.e. psf. 

For better units within the same condo, such as newly renovated, high floor, good facing and regular layout, the psf is definitely going to be higher than the average transacted psf. 

Below is a screenshot extracted from Propertyguru for the Condo Bishan Point. 

source: Propertyguru 

You can also visit URA website for actual transactions that have their Caveats lodged. Refer here. 

The “Asking Price” is usually higher than the “Transacted price.” This is because the Seller will want to give room for negotiation. Hence, in the ad, you will see “Negotiable” beside the asking price. However, do note that some Seller will instead indicate “Starting from” or “View to offer”. 

For example, after doing your research, your ideal selling price is SGD1.3 million. You can then probably either set your asking price as SGD1.4 Million “Negotiable” or SGD1.25 million “Starting from” or “View to offer”.  

Frankly, it is better to set pricing as “Negotiable” rather than “Starting From / View to Offer” since most buyers love to negotiate down the pricing giving them a “sense of achievements”, rather than bid up the pricing, that potentially can turn off the real buyers.  

WORK OUT YOUR FINANCIALS 

Create an Excel Sheet 

Next, I created an excel sheet. See below two examples. This is to ensure that my financial is in place. For those who wanted this excel format, please email me at rolfsuey@gmail.com 

Below are just arbitrary numbers for your reference. 



Loan Eligibility 

Contact your bankers to check your indicative loan IPA i.e. In-Principal-Approval. Otherwise, I recommend Redbrick Mortgage Advisory (refer here) who renders extremely good services and can help you search the best loan and legal conveyancing deal in the market. 

Monthly Mortgage 

Check your monthly mortgage. You can either download apps on phone, or you can ask for an excel sheet from your bankers. 

Affordability 

Referring to my excel spreadsheet that with all inputs identified, you can then clearly know

- what is the value of house you can afford 

- how much cash you have left for renovation

- what is the monthly mortgage cash outlay after deducting CPF

CONTACT YOUR AGENTS 

It is better to do your research first before contacting the agents for discussion. Then at least you already know your stuffs, and will not be over-influenced by the comments of the agents. 

If you are not very sure about the choice of agent, maybe it is good to get two agents for different opinions, or even get two agents to do the marketing. 

Refrain from getting too many agents to freely market your house. I have seen ads with more than 10 agents marketing, and sometimes it can be really a turn-off, and they have been in the market for a long time “unable to sell”. 

For me, my agent is my decade-long friend who knows the estate really well with good transacted track records in the past. Not only I gave my agent a longer exclusivity for the sale, I also did not short-change her/him and gave 2 percent commission plus GST. In return, my agent managed to sell my house in a short time, and at record PSF, and way above my initial expected deal closing price. 

Everybody is happy! 

Good luck to you if you are selling your house. 

In the next article, I will share my experience on my search of house. 

Hmmm.... I am not going to be a property blogger. It is just that the topic of "properties" have a big place in my mind for the past three to four months.