Following up from my previous post on Buying My Own HDB Flat Part 1 – Preparation comes the juicy bits – dealing with the property agents. I’ve met so so many agents during my hunt for my house that I now call it my Tinder experience with property agents. Maybe I should call it Pinder…
Anyhoos, I’ve never had much of an impression of property agents (I actually find insurance agents / MLM agents slightly more pushy and dodgy than prop guys based on personal experience). However, I knew I wasn’t gonna engage an agent to represent me because:
- I do not see the point of hiring someone to search for me when I know specifically which areas/blocks I’m looking at, and to pay them what I’m capable of doing myself (dude, those few thousands can buy me a nice sofa or TV).
- It’s the age of the internet – searching is easy, especially when most property listings are consolidated on PropertyGuru, OhMyHome, 99.co.
3) You’re the best QC of your own preferences –
That said, there’s no way I can get out of facing the sellers’ agents. Meh. I now shudder at the thought of facing another property agent.
Let’s start with the easiest – Agent AT (agency P) seemed pretty responsive and nice (but then again, he was trying to sell an $800k+ unit ). Went to the unit, all seemed good… until I looked out of the window to check the direction of the sunset, and was slightly blinded by the glare of the west sun shining into the living room. AT then proceeds to tell me “this unit is very breezy! no west sun!”
Dude. The sun is literally in my face.
THE SNEAKY ONES
I met a team of agents (from agency OT) who tried to stir up a bidding war, and I was totally not having it. In addition, they were sneaky enough to not text at all, so I didn’t have any evidence – it was all over the phone. Basically, this unit was listed for $550k, which was very attractive. During the viewing, the agents (they operated as a team) kept telling us to make an offer, and to place a cheque if I was keen – I told them I’d consider first, and get back the next day. They then called me after the viewing to say that the owner wants to know if we were ok to pay cash over valuation – now I’m no property expert, but I’m pretty sure that cash over valuation is no longer a mandatory thing (since March 2014). Hmph.
THE UNREGISTERED AGENT
This is a real issue, guys – you have to make sure that the agent is a registered agent. In fact, I didn’t really check on most of the agents until I encountered this one. With either their name, mobile number or registration number, you can check it out at CEA’s Public Register of Property Agents. Here, you’ll also be able to see their last transactions/sales and somewhat gauge the efficiency of an agent.
I contacted an “Agent” JC for a viewing of a flat – which was surprisingly overpriced by about $100k (from the last same-sized unit sold in the same block). The difference of a few levels (>4 levels) doesn’t make sense for the overpricing, especially not when it’s an old-ish block (about 30 years old).
Not only did she text terribly (dude, what’s “my unit is Conner” and “corridor until”), but she also turned out to be an unregistered agent!
THE LOUSY COMMUNICATOR
Most of them are the old-school agents who’ve been in this industry for years, and have seen the heyday of property sales. I am not generalising across all agents, but based on those I encountered, common traits include the inability to text well, doesn’t reply promptly (or doesn’t even reply), but prefers to call and communicate over voice messages. When they do reply messages, they’re usually rather curt (“k”), and this can come across as brusque.
I generally prefer to communicate over text instead of calling – it’s more convenient to do this on the go, when I’m at events, or at the office. Plus, it’s also easier to have “black and white” for reference.
Agent GR (agency P): Fits all the abovementioned criteria – bad texter, prefers to call and didn’t bother to reply to my offer (and as of 25 July 2019, his listing is still up and awaiting buyers, and I viewed his unit in October 2018 ).
(I’ve cut out the part where I was talking about my viewing experience) – Dude did not reply to my last offer.
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Two separate agents who just didn’t bother to reply me at all. Huaiiii.
Click here to view the enlarged version
THE PARTY ORGANISER
Not a literal party of course – Agent MG (agency H) had informed me that she had a viewing for the unit at 6.30pm, and since I didn’t want to clash with their timing, I arranged for 6.00pm. Agent MG turns up slightly late at 6.15pm with the next group AND her own husband. I have nothing against a group viewing/open house, but I was under the impression that it was gonna be a private viewing. It’s like getting an orgy when you wanted a a one-on-one hurhurhur. In a more appropriate analogy, it’s kinda like getting a GrabShare when you ordered a Grab. Plus, she chatted a lot more with the other group and totally alienated me. which made me feel like an outsider (lol, needy much?). In addition, she was super reluctant to help me check if the recessed area could be purchased (which btw isn’t possible, HDB has apparently stopped the sale of recessed areas in 1995) -and asked me to check. A well-versed property agent should know that a non-owner does not have the rights to check on this. Plus a simple google check would have sufficed, but she wasn’t keen to help out, and opted to try to push the sale instead.
THE VERY RUDE AUNTIE
As with desserts, I’ve saved the best for last. This one takes the cake for being the WORST agent I’ve encountered – Agent VL (agency P). Let’s call her Ms Lim.
Straight off the bat, she was late for the first viewing – and she turned up in t-shirt and skorts, those that you’d wear to your neighbourhood market. I’m not saying you have to wear a blazer suit, but this is too casual, imho.
You can see from the screenshots that not only was she almost interrogating me, she also straight out insulted me.
“Exploding” humans – what is this, a spinoff of Iron Man?
If it’s information only agents can get, can you blame us regular folk for referring to the HDB resale portal only?
At this point I’m just thinking “forget it” – if it’s not meant to be, I’ll just move along. (that, and she’s also begun to really, really piss me off)
However, one fine day, this message appears (through SMS)
I don’t know which pissed me off more – the fact that she insinuated I wasn’t a serious buyer, or the badly phrased sentence.
At this point I was pretty confused (why is she suddenly asking me to go for a viewing), and then triggered (the insult in bad English). I swung into action – I got in contact with the owner by leaving him a printed letter at his door to inform him about how badly his agent was behaving, and how it would put off potential buyers. I left my name and contact. To my surprise, he called me to say that he did not receive my offer from Ms Lim at all. What the?! It’s unfortunate that he only said this in the conversation, and I didn’t have any black and white to prove this – or else I would have taken it to CEA for sure.
THE GOOD ONES
Of course, that’s not to say that I haven’t experienced good agents – I’ve encountered several on-the-ball, responsive, and relatively truthful and honest agents (who somehow usually are the younger gen aged mid-20s to late-30s). The entire process is regular – viewing, second viewing, offer, negotiations, move along. Nothing eventful happened, and all was good 🙂
And that’s the end of my property agent madness – next up will be the hunt for a suitable ID / contactor. I thought dealing with property agents was bad enough – but the ID/contractor market is even worse. Meh. When will this nightmare end?! Stay tuned for more shenanigans.