Thursday, September 29, 2011

Looking for an HDB flat to rent - Part 1

I will need to find a new home for rent in a couple of months’ time and I have started to look for a new HDB for rent. As of 2011, the supply of HDB rental flats look less than the demand out there for them so it is wise to go into the market as early as possible to have some idea on the rental situation.

Our first prospective unit was in Circuit Road with a too-good-to-be true price of 1,400 SGD per month. We were not expecting something good but we were not also ready for what we have seen. Although the rental mysteriously increased to 1,700 SGD per month when the agent saw my Caucasian face, we even did not have time to get angry to this problem since the unit was simply terrible.

Second unit was in Bedok, an HDB estate full of old flats, with only handful new HDB apartments available here and there. I live in one of these new units but they are expensive. Last one I know, a 4 room flat of 7 years old went for 2,600 per month in September 2011.

For the second flat, I have contacted the property agent through property guru. When we went there, we have been greeted by a “tenant shepherd” who was preparing to herd 4-5 groups of prospective tenants. This disgusting behaviour of group flat review is something I have heard only in Singapore and only in this year. We have refused to go up but a day later we fell into one of these “tenant shepherds” again accidentally. Although again we even did not see the unit, these 2 occasions offered me some insight into tenants we are competing with.

In 2 HDB flat reviews I have seen 8 groups of prospective tenants. I and my wife were the only couple. There were 2 single people and the rest were groups of 3-4 pax.  Men groups were all IT employee (typical shirt, trouser, backpack combination). As a couple we cannot compete with them, neither we wanted to involve in a group flat visits.

Luckily, there are enough landlords out there who would like their flat to be a home rather than a dorm so they strictly request couples or single family units. I must admit, I did not like to see those rental advertisements openly excluding certain races or nationalities but it was not long before I have started to concentrate on them. Competition on these flats is more reasonable and you usually compete with families with a family budget rather than a group of "foreign talents" with a combined large budget on a mission to inflate the price of everything.

It also looks like a little bit difficult to find a property agent working really like a traditional property agent, especially if you are looking for a place through web property portals. Many seem to pack groups of people in flat views. But actually persistently rejecting to see these property offers paid off in a couple of days and we have started to come across property agents rather than “tenant shepherds”.

Anyway, the forth unit, a 3 room HDB flat again, was in Bedok with a ridiculous price tag of 2,200 SGD per month. We knew the building, so we have decided to offer 1,800 SGD per month and never accept something above 2,000 SGD per month. When we have seen the unit, we even did not bother to offer anything. The unit was old, awful (awful for that price) and even did not deserve anything more than 1,200 SGD per month. Last unit we have seen was again 3 rooms flat, this time in Tampines with a price tag of 2,400 SGD per month. And again, we even could not offer any starting price to bargain since the unit’s asking price and the price it deserves was no match.

We have now realized that 3 room flats on the market are mostly old flats in bad condition. So we have abandoned looking for one and we will probably go for a 4 room flat although renting out that extra one room will be a total waste. Let’s see what the following days will bring.

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