I went for my first appointment at the Housing Development Board (HDB) on Tuesday 16 June 2009 to process my application to buy a 5-room HDB flat at Yew Tee.
Sitting there in front of the HDB officer who was getting us (the buyer and the sellers) to sign this and that and telling us what to expect next, I felt a bit surreal.
But it is really happening.
My own place.
Friends have been asking me about when I will move in. I didn’t have a clue. Now I do.
The completion date (i.e. the date that I collect my keys) is scheduled on 11 August 2009.
As I said goodbye to the sellers and the housing agents helping us and left HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, a list of things to thank Abba God for rolled through my head like ending credits.
I had been house-hunting for at least 2 years. At first I was looking to buy a 3-room HDB flat in a central location. The prices were quite high then and I wasn’t too familiar with the property market. I saw a lot of houses but nothing came out of it.
When Mark bought a place in Yew Tee an old friend proposed that it might be good to live near him. After several years of living so far apart (I lived in the northeast and he lived in the west) I had become a firm believer that family should live closer.
With that in mind, I shifted my house-hunting sights from Central to Yew Tee.
Yew Tee didn’t have any 3-room flats. So I started looking at the 4-room flats. They were quite expensive. The better ones were asking for slightly more than S$300,000 (this includes high cash-over-valuation). This means that the actual valuation isn’t that high but the markets were pushing the prices up. I do not care what the market say. I did not feel like being the 菜头.
I wanted to wait for prices to come down but general sentiments were against price decreases. I was getting discouraged.
Some time in March I decided to check the transaction prices for 5-room flats. Logically, if the 4-rooms were fetching more than S$300,000, the 5-rooms would be even more. To my surprise, I found the prices very reasonable.
That week, I saw about 3 flats and found the one I want. The asking price was a bit more than I was prepared for but I felt that it was a justifiable amount because it was a bigger flat.
All I can say is, nobody can fathom God’s timing.
From hindsight, it was like Abba God was saying to me “Ye of little faith“. I was asking for too little. I can still remember what I prayed about the 3-room flat…”that’s all I need“.
I started out with a desire to buy a small 3-room flat and He’s gone and given me a 5-room.
Right from the start of the house-hunting, I knew I couldn’t get a loan from HDB. The advantage of a HDB loan is that the interest rate is fixed at 2.6%. This is more than 1% lower than most private bank loan rates.
I had been doing my financial plan with a view that I need to factor at least 3.5% for mortgage interest.
I had 2 weeks to obtain a Letter of Offer from the banks after I exercised my option to purchase. I used a housing loan adviser to check and summarise all the available housing loans offered by the various banks in Singapore.
To my surprise, the rates offered by all the banks were lower than the HDB loan due to the financial crisis.
If this isn’t God’s timing, I don’t know what is.
After making the offer and exercising the Option to purchase, I realized that I have to pay the first 5% of the purchase price in cash. I thought I could pay with my CPF. But that is only if I am applying for a HDB loan.
I don’t qualify for a HDB loan, so I have to secure a private bank loan. And the banks typically specify that at least 5% of the purchase price must be paid up with cash (in a cashier’s order).
To be honest, I didn’t have the cash. I panicked for a short while before I looked to the Lord for provision. It came in the form of dear siblings who were willing to offer bridging loans.
I was instructed by my lawyer that I need to prepare around S$6000 in cash for stamp duty and legal fees. Uh-oh, another amount in cash?
Closer to the date to see the lawyer, I shared this with my housing agent. He was surprised and told me that I MUST ask the lawyer to apply to CPF to allow me to pay these 2 expenses with my CPF.
It was good news as it loosen my cashflow.
This house-hunting is truly an exercise to strength my faith. I have experienced the goodness of Abba God every step of the way. All I can say nearly every time is “PTL!” [PRAISE THE LORD]