Couple sets aside lofty expectations to finally find their dream home

7 min read

When 33-year-old Singaporean “Nellie” and his partner decided to settle down and jointly buy a new home together, he knew it would propel their relationship to the next phase of their lives. However, the circumstances he was in didn’t seem helpful at first.

After working for 17 years in the maritime industry (his partner worked for 7), Nellie sold a private property under his name in late 2020, so they could afford and move into their new home as a couple.

 

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Nellie and his partner documenting their newfound home on IG

Unable to wait and apply for a BTO

Unfortunately, as Nellie had just disposed of private property, he had to wait at least 30 months before he can apply for a BTO flat. This is part of HDB’s eligibility conditions.

Beyond the 30 months, there’s the 4-5 year wait for the BTO flat to be ready (and only if they are successful in their application). Nellie and his partner were not willing to hold out that long. They were also wary of potential completion delays due to COVID-19.

So they began house-hunting for a resale property instead.

Living room
Nellie’s cosy living room, after spending months searching for a suitable home with his partner.

“My partner and I looked at many projects, from resale DBSS (Design, Build & Sell Scheme) to Executive Condominiums (EC) – the ones which have ended their minimum occupation periods (MOP).

“To our surprise, the prices sellers were asking left us with our mouths agape. The amount of COV (Cash over Valuation) we needed to cough up made us step back and do a rethink.”

Having the right expectations and balance

Initially, Nellie and his partner had high expectations.

They wanted a place that is on a high floor, has an unblocked view with good amenities and splendid neighbourhood vibes. However, these came with a big price tag so they eased on their expectations.

In the end, Nellie and his partner found the right balance in a resale condo they saw. While it meant coughing up more money compared to a resale HDB flat, it offered a wider variety of facilities, privacy and security.

Swimming pool La Fiesta
“Our home adorns the pool view, which can be very lively during the late afternoons when kids frolic in them.”

 

Swimming pool La Fiesta
“Serenity settles when the evening comes, which gives a very relaxing vibe.”

Through the help of their agent, they chose a 1,001-sqft 3-bedroom apartment at La Fiesta. Completed in 2016, it’s a 99-year-leasehold condominium opposite the Compass One shopping mall, with Sengkang MRT just an overhead bridge apart.

At S$1,249 psf, the apartment suited their budget and they were delighted that it was relatively new and well maintained – an important criterion during their hunt.

With the apartment, Nellie and his partner agreed they wouldn’t want to compromise on space. They merged the living room, kitchen and dining area into one big space – a free-flowing communal area – as opposed to having traditional, compartmentalised areas.

“We saw the potential of the space when we first visited the development. The cleanliness of the grounds was another plus point. We liked the maturity of the surrounding neighbourhood, which still retains some rather youthful qualities in certain aspects. The rentability of the development was another consideration that helped us cement our decision.”

Agent played the role of mediator

During the house-viewing and selection process, Nellie and his partner had some disagreements as they did not always see eye-to-eye in everything.

“This is when your agent plays a crucial role,” he said. “He needs to be a friend to you both, empathises with the situation, and really does his homework, to offer you the best selections for both.”

Today, Nellie and his partner are happily residing in their fully furnished apartment at La Fiesta, sipping wine.

Not only that, Nellie is most proud of his kitchen, as he and his partner made the bold move to hack away the existing condo cabinetry and walls that separated the kitchen and living area. Instead of upper cabinets, they went with shelves.

La Fiesta - Previous kitchen before renovations.
This was the kitchen before Nellie and his partner did their renovations.

 

La Fiesta - renovated kitchen
Here’s how the kitchen now looks after renovation. Nellie admits that he’s not a fan of upper cabinets so he replaced them with shelves instead.

 

La Fiesta - Living room view of the kitchen
After hacking down walls that separate the living room and kitchen area, Nellie’s newfound home is now one large communal space, using designs that are Nordic-inspired.

He’s also proud of their master bathroom, where they ditched the previous design for a new look using natural stone and an understated wood accent.

La Fiesta - master bathroom
This was the master bathroom prior to the renovations. It’s a typical bathroom design we see in most condos.

 

La Fiesta - master bathroom design after reno
This is the master bathroom sink area with natural stone, wood accent and aesthetic colours after renovations. Notice the new complementary rain shower and showerheads in the background.

Advice for home buyers

Having sold a private property and bought a resale condo, Nellie’s advice to homebuyers like him is to find “understanding and compromise” – especially when buying with a partner.

“People often have very high expectations of their first home together and hence miss out on many good units (because of different checklists and priorities). This is what I personally learnt during my journey. Also, there were many areas to consider. Bank loans, renovation, time of moving in, buying of furniture and appliances.

“These are things one should be prepared for and discuss with their partners when house-hunting.

“Make sure you find a good agent; it is a make-or-break situation. You can find a good home yourself, but they are professionals who can tell you the potential of the property, like whether you are overpaying for the place. Also, they help in the price negotiation process and ensure a seamless handover, especially with a resale unit with a previous owner.”

For Nellie and his partner, the next dream is to attain a second property someday and rent out one of them. For now, they are contented with their new home and hope their sharing helps other homeowners make the right choices.

Do you feel inspired by Nellie’s new home? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Having an East Coast Plan: Tips from a family of 4 who moved from a Jurong condo to one in the East and From city-living to Sentosa Cove condo: How a family’s love for golf made them uproot for a “resort” lifestyle.

Looking for a property? Find the home of your dreams today on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co! If you would like to estimate the potential value of your property, check out 99.co’s Property Value Tool for free. Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto 99.co’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co.

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

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