a Home - When the Seller starts to get Unfriendly (Ep. 2)

3:56:00 PM

If you had read our previous blog post on officially getting a Home to Ourselves, you would know that we did not engage a property agent (saving us about $4,800!) and also the heart-attack we had when HDB was only willing to loan us 50% of the price of our house. We also shared about how we sourced for houses to view on our own, how we appealed for a higher loan, the difficulties we had as a self-employed couple,  documents you need to prepare and also covered terms like HLE and OTP.

To read this info-packed article, click HERE.

So we last left off at arranging for our 1st HDB Appointment and that we had spent $5,279.25 so far. You will want to read on to find out about our HDB appointments and also other difficulties we had faced before renovations started, as the title of this post suggests. Haha!

1st HDB Appointment

The earliest appointment date they could give us was about 1 month later on the 8th of April. Not much a deal for us but we know the sellers were rather in a hurry because they had to purchase their new flat. In the meantime, it gave us some time to think of what we wanted to do with our house and plan what we needed to buy. Unlike how we planned for the wedding, this time round it was more difficult to set a firm budget amount as to how much we were going to spend for the house - electronics, furniture, renovation work etc. Thankfully, we still had some balance money after paying off our wedding bills.

Note: It's really a wise idea to keep to your wedding budget. Not meaning that you have to set it at a real low price but you have to be comfortable spending that amount if you are getting your house right after your wedding. Please give more budget to your home as compared to your wedding. A wedding is a once in a lifetime experience but this is a home that you will be living in everyday and you want it to be comfortable and cozy to stay in for as many years as you are going to be staying in this house till you get a new one :)

For the list of documents to prepare for your first HDB Appointment, click here.

Once you've arrived for your first appointment, you will be appointed a HDB Customs Relations Manager whose main purpose is to brief you on all admin matters like:

  • To verify the buyer’s eligibility
  • Explain the resale procedures to buyer
  • Obtain buyer's authorisation for the HDB to act for the buyer in the conveyancing (buyer may engage his own solicitor to act for him)
  • Fix the Completion Date for the purchase (YAY!)
(and he / she will be the one who clicks the button to wipe out your CPF money, haha, in a way la)

How the deduction of your CPF money works

Here we give you an example of a married couple (X and Y) being the home buyers, and that X had $10k in her CPF Ordinary Account and Y had $20k in his CPF Ordinary Account;

1. HDB will split whatever grant money equally to X and Y. So if the total grant given was $40k, $20k would go to X and $20k would go to Y. Haha unfair right, but it will all deplete any way so it makes not much of a difference.

Now X would have $30k in her OA and Y would have $40k in his OA.

2. HDB will churn out a list of fees that you have to pay on that day;
  • Conveyancing fee
  • Caveat fee, 
  • Title Search fee
  • Home Protection Scheme (HPS) Premium, only if you are applying from HDB, which we did not apply for in the end. Instead, we bought an i-Term plan from NTUC Income which ensures a level-term coverage throughout the premium term as compared to a reducing term insurance like the HPS or a commercial protection scheme.
(Scroll down for the amount we had paid, only as a gauge. Fee prices will differ!)

3. From here, they would start to deduct the above mentioned fees, the deposit which you have already paid the 10% downpayment of your flat plus the valuation amount (if any), and tell you the balance (if any) that you have to pay up by Nets / Cashier's order / Cheque or Cash within 10 days. You can pay up on that day itself as well, so bring along your cheque book so that you don't have to make another trip down.

Conveyancing Fee = $1,101.00
Stamp Fee = $9,816.60
Caveat Fee = $134.25
Title Search Fee = $10.40

The balance we had to pay in cash after all deductions because our loan amount was still far off from the resale price = $30,900.00

After the procedure and payments, you wait for your 2nd HDB Appointment. In the meantime, you should be shortlisting your renovation team and deciding on whether you need to engage an Interior Designer. If that is necessary, all you have to do is to bring your floor plan to them and they would do up some pictures for you to visualise how they are planning to design your house. Some HDB sellers are okay with you bringing your ID to the house to take measurements and have a better idea of your unit. For us, our previous owner was not staying there anymore and they were not able to pass us their house keys as they had valuables in there, so we could not make such arrangements and had to rely on the video we had taken to remember how the house looked like.

Some mobile apps and websites that we highly recommend for home ideas would be:
  • Qanvast app (very easy to use and it's an amazing app! you NEED to download it!)
  • Pinterest app
  • Singapore Home & Decor Website
  • Renopedia Website & App
  • Specific interior design company websites that you are interested in as they would upload their portfolio in their page

As we were making minor changes to our home, we had initially wanted to engage a contractor and carpenter (both introduced by relatives) to do the job. We scrapped this idea in the end due to several reasons, which we will share in our next Mel Ben Gets a Home series, and went ahead to engage an ID, one of the wisest choice we had made in our renovation journey.

Total paid so far (in cash, not considering all that is paid via CPF) after 1st HDB Appointment:
$5,279.25 (from previous blogpost) + $31,044.65 
= $36,323.90

2nd HDB Appointment

Prior to your 2nd Appointment, you will need to inspect the house to make sure it is in the condition that you have seen it before you purchased it. At times, movers could be careless in their job or may have accidentally damaged certain parts of the home when moving out furniture and bulky items.

During our inspection of the unit, we noticed that the kitchen toilet water heater had been removed when it was not stated that they will be removing it. Upon asking the owner what had happened to the heater, she told us that the contractor had "removed the water heater unintentionally which resulted a crack on the surface of the heater" when removing other fixtures from the toilet like the taps and bidet spray. We were willing to let this pass if we were redo-ing our toilet but we did not factor the hacking and retiling works into the purchase decision so we wanted to keep the toilet the way it was, which would save us a lot of money since most of the items were close to brand new condition. 

As you can see from the image, there were holes in the tiles from the heater that was being removed. In order to cover them up, we had to purchase the exact same heater which was longer in height than most ordinary heaters. What made us more upset with them was when they gave us illogical replies when we asked them to get their plumber to install back the heater that was being removed, since it was ultimately his mistake and not theirs. It made us feel that they intentionally removed it and hoped that we didn't find out during the inspection.

Turns out, they were not willing to compensate us in any way for it and got their agent to liaise with us directly. Of course he had to protect his clients (who were his friends too), but by trying to change the game and telling us things like "you are very lucky that the owner has given you such a beautiful house" was not necessary. Yes we are grateful for a home that needs minimal renovations but we have been understanding buyers as well, who accepted the high price of the house without much negotiations and tried to expedite the process in order for them to purchase a new home quickly.

Give and take. If they had admitted the mistake and apologised, we would have accepted it and would not ask for any compensation. 

So on the day of the 2nd Appointment, we met up with the agent to discuss on the matter and after to-and-fro conversations with the sellers, the agent agreed to compensate us on behalf of them. Case closed, the money was not enough to cover the installations but moving on...

There's not much that you need to do or bring at the 2nd Appointment. All you have to do will be to sign document after document and collect your house keys from the sellers. If the previous owner has paid property tax for the rest of the year, the HDB officer will calculate the amount that you have to pay them back. As for fire insurance, there is a counter to check if the house is currently covered by ETIQA.

Total Amount paid on the day we collected our keys = $36,411.90

And we thought it was the end of having to deal with the sellers but we had to ask them where they got their floor and wall tiles as the ID they engaged did not purchase extras.

Note: Always purchase extra tiles. A few pieces is okay to standby for future use because you will never know if these pattern of tiles will still be available few years down the road.

We are not sure if our questions to them got them tired, busy, annoyed, fed up etc... (we didn't ask much actually and are okay if they didn't have the answers), but the very last reply from them about the warranty cards for the air-con units they had left behind for us left us rolling our eyes at the message.

The owners were nice enough to leave us a set of system-3 LG air-con, which we knew we had to sell them because we wanted a system-4. We started to post on our various social media platforms and interested buyers would return to us checking on its' warranty. That prompted us to check with the sellers on the warranty card, which they had forgotten to pass it to us but did it a few days later.

We saw that the warranty card was not filled up and was not even mailed. There was also no receipt attached to the card (we always staple our receipts to the cards because some companies request for that when we send it for repair or servicing), only some voucher which entitled you to an extended warranty ONLY IF YOU MAIL IN THE WARRANTY CARD. So we just checked back with them if they had registered the warranty previously (you know some companies allow you to do it via the web, so much easier than mailing!) or if she had forgotten to pass us the receipt / invoice, only to receive a reply which read,

"This warranty cards speaks for everything. Warranty cards means things are paid for. If it is unserviceable, all you got to do is to get the agent with the warranty cards in hand and get him to do the repair works. This is self explanatory."

Apparently, they got it all wrong. 

And we hope they will learn in some way or another from their mistakes. 

Mel called LG the next day to check if the warranty had been registered and we are right, they did not mail the warranty card back to LG. So not only was the air-con not eligible for the extended warranty, it was also not eligible for the minimum 1 year warranty. And when we asked LG what could we do about it, they asked us for the Receipt, the receipt that we requested for from the previous owners and got lectured about the definition of a warranty card in reply. Haha. 

This was such a funny episode (we don't take such things to heart) for us. We are lucky that we have a good and reliable air-con servicing team who is going to install and service our newly purchased system-4 and are also going to be reinstalling the system-3 for a friend.

With all paperwork completed, we can finally begin on the renovation. Will blog about our renovation process in the next post in this Home series. We know we still owe readers some wedding posts! Truth be told, Mel is the only one updating this space for now so please be patient. Thanks for all the wonderful messages every now and then. We are surprised and glad with how our posts have benefitted couples in one way or another. You can also keep up-to-date about our lives at the following platforms:

Facebook: Mel & Ben 
Instagram: @strawmelly 
Dayre: @melbengets 

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