Here’s how to make your home-selling journey smoother, according to property agents who successfully sold The Reserve Residences

Read more: Most expensive HDB executive flat in Singapore: Bukit Timah’s Toh Yi Drive maisonette sold for S$1.291m, matching the price of a 2 bedroom at The Reserve Residences 

For homeowners, selling a home can be arduous, from putting it up for sale, negotiating with potential buyers to settling the paperwork. The process is even harder when it’s been their home for decades.

What better way to make the home-selling process more smooth-sailing than to get some expert insights and tips? We got two agents, Jason Low, Executive Group Division Director from ERA, and Ray Teo, Advisory Associate Branch District Director from PropNex, to share with some insights on what sellers should know when they sell their house.

Before putting the house for sale: What sellers should know

Market value of the house

When asked this question, both Jason and Ray say that sellers should know how much their property is worth.

Ray, who specialises in dealing with landed property, elaborates that landed home sellers should get an indicative valuation for their unit, adding that the property agent engaged should do a comparative market analysis of similar units in the vicinity.

“Landed homes tend to be non-homogeneous (unlike condos), so a detailed analysis based on the land price and relative age of the building will shed a better light on the correct pricing.”

Objective of selling the house

People sell their homes for various reasons, such as to accommodate new additions to the family or to secure a place in a popular primary school.

Jason, who does both HDB and condo transactions (but mainly deals with the latter), believes that homeowners should be clear on why they want to sell the house.

“Portfolio restructuring is really important, especially given the recent government measures and high interest rates leading to 2023.”

Maximum allowable height and future plans for road expansion (for landed homes)

Ray shares that besides getting a valuation of the house, landed home sellers should do a zoning check on the URA Control Plans to find out the maximum height the house can be rebuilt, especially if it’s relatively old.

Landed homes in the designated landed housing areas are subject to height restrictions should they be rebuilt. In general, the limit is two or three storeys.

The URA Control Plans allow you to see the height restrictions and allowable landed property types of the respective landed housing areas. Source: URA“Another important check is the Road Line Plan. This is to ensure that there’s no immediate government acquisition of part of their land for road expansion,” adds Ray, who’s also the founder of Eminence Landed Team.

As reflected in the Road Line Plan, the authorities reserve some land to construct new roads or expand existing ones. Some of the land may intersect with the land plots of landed homes. So for these land plots, if there are plans to redevelop the house, it must not intrude on the reserved land.

What home sellers should do to sell at a higher price

Declutter the space

To stand out from the other properties, Jason recommends that sellers declutter the house.

Similarly, Ray elaborates that removing excessive items, including worn-out furniture, will instantly improve the buyer’s impression of the property.

Spruce up the area

Decluttering the house isn’t enough, though.

Jason adds that sellers can decorate the house with some rental furnishings and whitewash the walls to beautify and enhance the space.

A 3-bedroom unit at Centennial Suites sold by Jason Low.Some listings also comprise a video tour to highlight different parts of the house. For instance, Jason’s group has a media videographer and editing crew for this.

Likewise, Ray shares that furniture staging is often used to improve the visual attractiveness of the unit for sale.

“One special tip is to replace all the lighting bulbs with warm lights. This makes the house more welcoming, and it’s not expensive to do so.”

He also suggests that if the landed house isn’t too old, doing some touch-up work can help reduce the likelihood of a potential buyer rejecting it. It’s also crucial to conceal any unsightly cracks.

On the other hand, it may be pointless to carry out such work if the house is too old and needs to be rebuilt.

“What’s more important at this point is to know the subdivision capacity of the land. If the land can be subdivided, it will attract developers to bid,” Ray explains.

As for non-landed homes like HDB flats and condo units, Jason says that renovation should be the last thing sellers do as it will eat into their overall profitability.

Mistakes home sellers should avoid

Over or underestimating their financial capability

Jason shares that throughout his experience, he’s noticed that homeowners usually over or underestimate their financial capability when they sell their house. This can affect plans for their next home.

“A mistake they normally make is that they marketed and sold the house too cheaply as they didn’t have a clear idea of what’s happening in the real estate market. When I meet them, the first thing I’ll do is run through with them the indicative valuation supported by our local banks. So they’re more likely to know what to expect.”

Buying a new home before they get a buyer for their current home (for landed homes)

When it comes to non-landed homes (especially when upgrading from an HDB flat to condo), there’s always the debate on whether you should sell your current home before buying the next one, or buy the next home before selling the current home.

But for landed homes, sellers shouldn’t rush into buying their next home.

According to Ray, this is the number one mistake a landed home seller can make.

He explains, “If the purchase requires the proceeds from their current house, there will be increasing pressure on the seller when it couldn’t be sold in time.”

Setting an unrealistic price

Another common mistake that home sellers make is selling their house at a new launch price.

Ray explains that by doing so, not only does this make them miss out on genuine buyers, but it also leaves the property overexposed as it’s left on the market for too long.

“This creates the impression that the house isn’t sellable, which will, in time, hurt them when negotiating with a serious buyer.”

What are some things homebuyers look out for in a home that most people don’t know?

Non-landed homes

Take note of unauthorised renovation

This is more of what buyers should know, rather than what they usually look out for.

For condos, Jason tells us that buyers need to check with the MCST if there’s any unauthorised renovation done on the property.

“Buyers need to know whether the property is sold on an ‘as is where is’ basis – that the buyer accepts the property in the current state and condition.”

He recounts an incident that happened to his associate, in which the buyer bought a penthouse with its entire upper terrace enclosed by the previous owner.

A few months later, the MCST asked the buyer (who has since become the new owner) to reinstate the terrace to its original open terrace condition.

“If in doubt, always check.”

Landed homes

Having a lift

According to Ray, landed homes with a lift tend to get more offers than those without one.

“The provision of lift has become increasingly important due to our ageing population.”

Parking space and the road outside the house

He also shares that parking space is becoming more important for buyers. And nowadays, more and more landed homes can park four cars instead of the usual two.

“Seasoned landed homeowners will also be very selective when choosing a landed home; they’ll look at the traffic outside their house and the road width before their purchase.”

Space for swimming pool

Among landed home buyers, it’s becoming more crucial to have a swimming pool as well.

Ray tells us that this makes semi-detached and corner terrace houses popular, as these provide space for a lap pool at the side.

Unit number containing “8”

And yes, it’s not a myth that houses with the lucky number are priced by some buyers. For the Chinese, the number 8 is considered a lucky number as it sounds like 发 (fā), which means prosperity.

“Some landed buyers will go to great lengths to purchase a unit with a unit number 8, 18 or 88,” Ray reveals.

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