Things you should do on your own (without an agent) when purchasing a private property

I just recently sold off my private property.


The sale couldn't have come in at a better timing (in a sarcastic way). Just 2 weeks after I sold off the property, the government released new cooling measures. I wrote an article about these cooling measures and you can access the article here.


The one which impacted me the most is the waiting period of 15 months before I can purchase a HDB resale again. I initially have the option to either buy another private property or a HDB resale. With the new cooling measure, buying a HDB resale no longer seems as attractive due to the long waiting period.


I'm curious what most people will do in light of this new and unique cooling measure and hence take a poll in the Telegram channel.


Here are the results.


It seems like most of us prefer to buy another private property instead of waiting for 15 months to buy a resale HDB.


Hence, I'm back on the hunt for private property again.


I know that most people will probably go straight to an agent when they are purchasing a private property.


I do think there is value in engaging an agent's services.


However, I think that there is some due diligence that we should be doing on our own without fully relying on an agent.


Here are some information sources which are fully available to the public and I encourage you to explore them.


First, URA private transactions caveats.


Do you know that you are able to access information relating to private property transactions on the URA website?


Just simply type in the property you are interested in and you can access the transaction records (including $psf, area, price etc) over the past 5 years.

(Source: https://www.ura.gov.sg/realEstateIIWeb/transaction/search.action;jsessionid=r0vZvM9fYhbY3mULXZmHKTOBtTFDMmbpK6TQd1_y9PycSD1xicNn!-876209748!-908705468)


You can also export all these data (download them into CSV) and do your own analysis via Excel or Power BI etc. Or you might just simply print them as a PDF for you to just have a record of the transactions happening in your shortlisted properties to know if you are paying more than what the usual market rate is.


Second, 99.co.


You might think that 99.co is just a site for you to search for listings. That's not true. There are some research results which you can get from 99.co. For instance, transaction history of the units within a particular private property.


While you can get some brief information from the URA website (as shown above), the transaction history provided by URA does not cover individual unit details. This piece of information is important as I believe you also do want to know how much the previous buyer buys the unit. For example, I'm looking at certain subsale units right now and I am very bothered by the ridiculous margins that some sellers are looking at despite only holding the units for 3 years. (Just take a look at Daintree Residences- so many sellers are asking for 200k profit margins -.-)The reason why I am able to know these margins is due to the transaction data information that is available in 99.co. Simply just ask any agent what's the unit number for the property listing you are interested in and do your own research via the transaction records on this website.


(Source: https://www.99.co/singapore/condos-apartments/maysprings)


While you might not have the exact unit number shown (like what you see above), it's not difficult to guess what unit number it is based on the area and block information. You just need to deduce it yourself. This service is after all free and we can't be too picky about it.


In case you like to see the price trends etc, this information is also available in 99.co.


(Source: https://www.99.co/singapore/condos-apartments/maysprings)


Lastly, Edgeprop Research.


Edgeprop Research has quite a lot of valuable information beyond what URA website or 99.co which users can access to.


For instance, they have a very neat table showing all the sales transactions within a particular property.


(Source: https://www.edgeprop.sg/condo-apartment/maysprings)


In their site, you can see that they provide detailed information like what's the profit for each of the transactions like, how long was the holding period, annualised gain rate etc. I find this information very useful. The downside to this is that you can only see 10 transaction information if you are not a paying user. To access the full transaction records, you need to pay $99 (or $106 with GST) for 3 months' worth of subscription. This probably makes sense for the agents but not the individual homebuyer. Hence, I have not paid to be a pro-user ever since I started using this site.


I hope these information are useful to you if you are looking to purchase a private property anytime soon. The power of information is important when you are making what's perhaps the biggest purchase of your life. As what we have seen, the information asymmetry between us and the agents is simply too huge and it's important for us to have some information on our own. I still think engaging an agent is important but finding a good one is not so easy. While we search for an ideal agent to take care of our needs, let's all ensure we do our own due diligence.


I also do share additional content in my Telegram channel. Anonymous polls are also held in this channel to give you a perspective of what do the crowd thinks on certain financial/investment themes. Do join the channel if you are interested.


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