How to sell your house for a higher price in a slow market? Home Staging : An additional Perk or a Must Have?

How to Sell my home at a high price

How to set up your home to appeal to the buyers.

At the point of writing this article, the Singapore Property Prices have faced consecutive quarters of price decline. This may be a result of the various Government cooling measures which have been effective in cooling the red hot market.  With the impending massive supply of BTOs and Private Housing entering the market in 2014- 2018, you might be keen to sell your unit now before the prices drop much further.

However, you may have heard that it is a currently a buyers market. Coupled with the TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio) that has limited affordability, Buyers are also adopting a wait and see approach before purchasing a unit.

How then can a property owner take control of the selling process to ensure he can command a high price when the demand is low?  One way is to stage the home to ensure that it appeals to every buyer that walks through the door.

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A Quiet 2014? What does this mean for buyers and sellers of HDB Flats in Singapore

HDB Flats in Singapore

Recently, several newspapers have been publishing forecasts of a quiet 2014 for the real estate market including HDB Flats in Singapore. (For example, this one by Straits times.) This, in addition to all the cooling measures rolled out by the Singapore Government since the September 2009. As an observer who owns a HDB or need one pretty soon, its no wonder you’re confused about how it’s going to affect you.

Housing is a tricky topic. It can make a person rich if bought and sold at the right time, but at the same time there are thousands of bankruptcy cases because decisions are made on impulse and without proper planning. Despite that, no one can argue that housing is a basic human need, because everyone needs a roof over their heads. As public housing, HDB flats in Singapore were created for that purpose, i.e. to fulfill the basic human need for shelter.

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First Timers Dilemma : HDB BTO or Resale Flat?

Should first -timers buy a HDB Build to Order (BTO) Flat or Resale Flats?

In Singapore, HDB (Housing and Development Board) is the main developer of public homes. High rise apartments, or better known to those living in Singapore as HDB Flats, is home to more than eighty percent of Singaporeans.

Each Singapore Citizen married couple (or Singaporeans within accepted criteria) is given 2 chances to purchase apartments directly from HDB. These apartments or flats are subsidized and are better known as Build-To-Order (BTO) Flats.

Which is better BTO or resale

For newly married couples excited to begin their lives, there’s always the choice between buying a new HDB BTO or a resale flat. Until recently, resale flats in the open market have been too expensive for most first timers, with COVs ( Cash Over Valuations i.e. the cash premium above and beyond the flat’s valuation) going for an average of $30 000 to highs of $100 000. It is not likely that these young couples have that amount of spare cash, especially if you consider wedding and other expenses. COVs have been falling to the point that it is no longer a norm, however it may still exist if you purchase a flat above the valuation price.

(Confused? Don’t worry, we break it down in this article. Does $0 cov mean no cash upfront?  If you need more info regarding the steps to buying a resale flat, read this, " Buying a HDB resale flat ")

However, for new couples, settling into your own home as soon as possible can be one of the single most crucial steps in life. Unless you’ve been living together prior to marriage, a practice not very common to Asians, you would treasure the privacy that a new home provides, allowing you and your new spouse the opportunity to negotiate simple things in married life (like who cooks and does the dishes) and slowly work on constructing your lives.

If you are one of those still undecided about if you should be buying a HDB BTO or a HDB Resale Flat, these are some facts you can consider.


Resale Flats

Waiting Time

The waiting times have an average of 2-4 years depending on the developer’s schedule.

Once you decide on a house and exercise the option to purchase, it would take about 3 months to the point you receive keys to the flat.


Living with either set of parents can result in a lack of privacy, having to meet the expectations of the In-laws etc.

The privacy that comes with your own space, having a room with an en suite is most ideal

Flat Sizes

New Flats are typically smaller in size.

Resale HDB flats are much larger in size

Settling on one with an Size and Ideal Position.

Buying a BTO is similar to buying an item virtually or online. You view it on a screen, put in you order and be patient until its delivered.

Unfortunately for HDB BTO, there is no return policy if you are not fully satisfied with it.

When buying a resale flat, you would put in an offer to purchase the flat if you are totally satisfied with it. This includes being satisfied with the size, the location and the position of the flat i.e. the direction it is facing, the view, etc.


The cost of a Build to Order flat is subsidized by HDB which means that it is cheaper.

This means that you will not be able to utilize your first timer grants. ( $40k - $70 k )

However if the total income of you and your spouse is less than $6500, (depending on the size and location of the flat you select), you will be eligible for the

Additional Housing Grant and the Special Housing Grant.

Also, if your order for the BTO is not put in at the initial launch, i.e. you buy it at the SBF (Sale of Balance Flat) Exercise, the price may have risen substantially to be similar to flats in the resale market.

Resale Flats prices are pegged to the market rate of houses in the area and the current Real estate prices at that point in time.

For first time buyers, HDB provides a grant of $40 000 - $50 000 or more depending on your household income.

This is not inclusive of the $20 000 Proximity grant that you can get if you pick a flat close to your parents/ parents-in-law

You may also qualify for the Additional Housing Grant  of up to $40 000 if your combined income is less than $5k.

Additional Housing Grant

Renovation Costs

New BTO flats come unfurnished and you have to factor in renovation costs.

However, as they do not have existing floorings, cabinets etc, you can save quite a lot on hacking costs. You basically have a blank canvas to create your ideal living space.

Another positive point for new couples is that buying a flat that would only be ready in the future enables you to save up for renovation costs instead of paying additional interest on loans

With regards to Renovation Costs, there 2 are scenarios which can happen.

A) You can select an apartment in good condition and save time and effort and money.

B) If you want to redo the flat, you would need to spend more on hacking and tearing down the current furnishings.

Old homes may also come with defects that form over time, for example leakage in pipes, crack in ceilings etc.


New flats in new estates usually do not have established amenities in the neighbourhood.

Mature housing estates have amenities conveniently within the neighbourhood

If you are ready to purchase a resale flat but you are not sure where to start, you may find this article useful : Buying a resale flat.

HDB Resale Flat - Where to start

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? I’ll probably steal the jars instead!

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your kitchen but the purse strings aren’t long enough at the moment, you may want to consider smaller eye catching projects that would instantly perk up the room. Clearing out your kitchen countertop of everything but coordinated storage jars will immediately bring in a new aura to your kitchen. Try these DIY Projects for unique creations nobody else would have.

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Location… Probably Heaven.. Homes you can’t stop dreaming about

Your home is your personal heaven. After a hard day’s work, you want nothing more than to come home to a place which melts away all your stress, and admit it, validates your choice to work so hard to pay off that mortgage.

These are 9 homes that we are so in love with.

1) The one where you can walk on water. 

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HDB Living Rooms you can live in forever…. and ever… and ever….

I know we said forever and ever, but, sorry we lied. HDB leases are only for 99 years.

Still, the appealing designs of these HDB flats really makes us want to stay in there, forever and ever.

1) Industrial Chic.

HDB deco inspiration

Source :

2) Earthy Tones

Disclaimer: We’re not quite sure if this is a HDB Flat but, the layout seems similar.

HDB Deco inspiration


3.  Moroccan / Spanish Tile chic.

Beautiful Home Decor

4. Black and White.

This is a kitchen, but we sure wish the tiles follow us back into the living room.

Unique  HDB Flat Decor

Source :

5. Minimalism at its best

HDB Inspirational Decor Source :

The 36 Things you Obviously need in your (Singapore) home

So you’re dying to make your home so unique, money’s no object. Here’s 6 options that suitable  for your Singapore Property, that might stoke your fancy.

Source: BuzzFeed’s ‘The 36 Things You Obviously Need in your home’.

Obviously, right?

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