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07 Aug 2002
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"I am fed up with
realtors showing me $9,000 homes," Mr Norton said. "My rental budget is $7,500
and it includes maintenance of the air conditioners and pool." He had emailed to me
his housing specifications. I like expatriates who know what they want, saving lots of
time. I am sure Mr and Mrs Norton must have seen lots of homes
with multiple realtors. This was common practice with expats
already resident in Singapore for some time.
Negative Mental Attitude. However, I had a negative mental attitude after so many years of looking for the elusive
dream bungalow with pool for expatriates with rental budgets of less than $10,000 per
month. I emailed to him as to whether he would like to live in District 20 which, of
course, was not a Caucasian enclave area. Caucasian wives don't really like to live in
such areas as they do need the network with others since their husbands usually are
overseas much of the time.
Where do you get a house with a pool for $7,500 in the expatriate favoured
districts of 9, 10 and 11. I am sure all seasoned rental realtors in Singapore would
chorus "No way." This may be July 2002 and Singapore is in recession. But decent
bungalows with pools are in short supply and demand is great. They are even rarer in
districts 9, 10 and 11. Don't waste time.
I knew he would like to live in the Newton area although his children studied in the
Canadian School which was located around 30 minutes away from downtown Orchard Road. Could
my associates be more positive? Well, I emailed to all my associates Mr Norton's
Mr Norton had stayed in Singapore for 2 years in the Newton area which is a 5-minute drive
to downtown Orchard Road and a 15-min drive to Changi Airport where he worked.
Competitors or members of a team? At least 4 associates contacted him.
Mr Norton phoned me to ask whether the associates are competitors
and how did they source their listings?
Two had shown him a semi-detached with a swimming pool. One particularly high
performance new realtor thought of showing but did not do so
promptly since he was too busy and probably had concluded that
this was mission impossible. It was the same house as the one shown by Realtor Ann
and I told him not to think but do. It was now too late to contact
Mr Norton, I said, thinking that Ann had a winner and would surely
close. I was infected with her optimism.
I said to Mr Norton, "My associates are independent operators
and are self employed. They have their personal contacts, network
and sources of house listings. I would say they are
competitors." It is not possible to be a team when
each associate had different styles of working, different
temperaments and energies.
Give what the prospect wants, not what you have. It would
be nice to work as a team but the realtor who put in the long
hours and time would just subsidize the others who want to spend
time with the family and become de-motivated. In real estate, as
in other business, success is simply the long hours you put in
handling prospects, besides other things like being able to give
what the tenant wants.
Right time, wrong location. Mrs Norton was very interested in
Ann's semi-detached with a pool, near the
Canadian School where his children would be studying. However, Mr
did not sound keen to me and phoned me to ask whether I had
others. I had not called him since I passed this case to all
associates. This was an open case to all asiahomes realtors as I
normally don't compete with my associates.
To help Ann, I told Mr Norton that it was important to rent the house as there were so few of such houses with
pool within his budget. This was an expatriate area and though he
said he did not see any Caucasian in this small plot of
residential area beside thousands of condos, I assured him that
there were thousands of Caucasians in this Maplewoods -The
Blossomvale condo neighbourhood.
He said he would a drive from this house to his office to see how
long it would take him to go to work and back.
Positive Mental Attitude. "I am closing the case,"
Ann told me confidently on the first day she showed this one house
to Mr and Mrs Norton. I was glad she had this Positive Mental
Attitude although she was wet behind the ears in Singapore residential
rental real estate but had more boundless energy and enthusiasm
than I have encountered in any housing agent in Singapore over the
past ten years. In any firm, a PMA agent is very rare with so much
rejections encountered and I am fortunate to have two.
"Get the letter of intent signed and the good faith deposit," I
her exuberance. "Better still, get the tenancy agreement signed by both parties
within the next 24 hours."
Any Landlord willing to wait 2.5 months? I had this feeling that the battle was won by Ann, but the
war would be lost as only the wife liked the house. There was a
two-and-a-half month period before their present lease
expired and would there a Landlord in Singapore who would be willing
to wait so long? Time
was not on Ann's side.
Experienced but jaded. Would an experienced and hungry realtor do the mission
impossible? Mr Norton phoned me again to say that he was
keen to look at other houses although Ann had shown him a nice
house. He did not need a house till two and a
half months away. I posted his email again to associates and
to one full-time outside realtor who was experienced and I thought
hungry. A $7,500 rental case was no small fish. He did not respond
as he probably judged this case as a waste of time since the
commencement of tenancy was a long time away. Definitely, no
Landlord with a house and pool will wait so long. And for such a
low rent, he must have concluded.
Mr Norton phoned me again about houses in Barker Road. I told him
there was an old bomb not suitable for Caucasians. He had seen it
with other realtors too.
"Do you have other houses to show me?" he
"Go to this house and see whether you like it or not," I
said, giving him an address of a small bungalow with a pool near
Stevens Road. The location was near Newton and downtown
Orchard Road. I was quite sure Mr Norton would close on Ann's
house since his wife loved it. The Caucasian husband
stereotypically rents the house if his wife likes it as she will
be happy and will be spending more time in the house while he
travels a lot on business.
The couple fell in love with this Stevens Road neighourbood house. Mr
Norton phoned me and asked about the rental. "The Landlord is
asking $9,000 rental," I said.
Another $9,000 house agent! I had never met Mr Norton so far but I guessed he must be swearing
at me as another of those agents whom he had earlier complained to
me - the type who showed him $9,000 houses! It was seen by 20
expatriates previously, Mr Norton told me. So, the demand must be
there for this house was in a great location. It had an inground
pool too and nestled in a corner of a piece of prime real estate
seldom visited by the average Singaporean.
"Let me give the Landlord your offer," I said. $7,500
for a newer bungalow with an inground pool in a prestigious prime
location? The Landlord had to wait another two months by now since
two weeks had passed. The Landlord offered $7,500 without pool and air conditioning maintenance,
painting of the house inside and outside and a 2-month wait for
him to commence tenancy. He agreed to the new Tenant moving in one
or two weeks earlier. I
thought this was a good deal.
Mr Norton wanted the pool maintained twice a week, costing $160
per month as he said there were some government regulations
regarding this and air conditioning maintenance two monthly.
Weekly maintenance of the pool would get rid of the chlorine, the
existing Tenant had told him. I said I would gave the
Landlord his offer as this was my job.
Moderating the Tenant's demands. "Am I asking too much?" he asked me. "Let us
live for the hour." The Landlord did not respond
"I want pest control to be done before the commencement of
tenancy," Mr Norton said during the second viewing. There are
no cockroaches, rats and few mosquitoes as the neighbours fumigate
with insecticide twice a week to kill all mosquitoes. The existing
Tenant said his Labrador dog died when left in the garden after
"The mosquitoes would fly over to this house," Mr Norton
said. He was pushing the envelope and there was a real chance of
being rejected for being a demanding prospective Tenant. I
persuaded him not to demand this fogging. There was no more
news from the Landlord for the next four days.
The Letter of Intent and good faith deposit were given to the
Landlord within 12 hours, but the response was slow. The Landlord
had an agent and she was very busy with other matters. Her car
broke down. She had other clients to entertain. The
Landlord did not return the letter of intent or give his tenancy
agreement although he had accepted the good faith deposit.
The pestering agent. "Don't keep on phoning
me," she said, angry at me for chasing her
for the tenancy agreement which was promised earlier. "I also
wish to close the case fast as I spend money on international
calls to the Landlord." She had SMS
a message to me saying that the signed Letter of Intent would be
faxed to me but there was none. Four days had
"I have to look for another house," Mr Norton said as he
wanted to complete this task before he travelled. The delay from
the co-broking agent and/or the Landlord could jeopardise this
deal if Mr Norton found another house with another
The tenancy agreement was rushed to Mr Norton's residence at
Chancery Lane. He wanted a clause saying that the Tenant would
stay till the expiry of the lease if the Landlord sells the house.
"It is no big deal," he said to me when I told him that
this was not necessary and a change in the Landlord's terms and
conditions would mean that the Landlord's offer to him was
rejected and he would lose the house.
Stress benefits to tenant. "You will be renting
a house with an inground pool in a prime prestigious address for
$1,000 less per month than the market rate," I advised Mr
Norton. Therefore, try not to demand more and more to kill the
deal by making the Landlord think he is a difficult
In any case, I asked his secretary to check on the various tenancy
agreements of other expatriates in the company. There would be no
such clause as it was already explicit that the tenancy agreement
would be for two years and there was no condition that the Tenant
had to move out once the Landlord or his "successor"
sells the house. The sale will need to be with tenancy. "The
Landlord will have to give you money if he wants you to
vacate," I said to him. Mr Norton took a long time to
The Landlord wanted $200 for minor repairs instead of $100 and
would not paint the outside of the house and Mr Norton accepted my
advice not to object.
"Is the Landlord a good person?" he asked me. I said I
did not know but since the present Tenant looked happy and was
willing to show the house to him on a Sunday morning, that would
indicate that the Landlord-Tenant relationship was good.
The tenancy agreement was signed and the security deposit cheque
High pressure and hot tempers. "What's the cost
of waste disposal?" Mr Norton asked me. This needed to be
checked. "If the Landlord does not reply soon, I will have to
look for another house," Mr Norton said on the second day. So
much pressure from an expatriate very experienced in negotiations.
No doubt he was interested in the house but the real power behind
him pushing for a close was his wife.
The Landlord's agent had by now cooled down her temper since I did
not scold her or say much when she exploded earlier. There was no
need for an apology as she was a busy and young working mother
under some stress. She agreed to expeditiously courier the
documents to the Landlord overseas and get back the documents
within seven days. I would need to hassle her
Patience & perseverance. Dealing with expats who
pushed the envelope required a lot of patience. The Landlord was
not happy with so many demands. He was not in Singapore and was
hard to track down. His agent was furious with frequent
check up. Should you be the hot-tempered type, you would quarrel
with the Landlord's agent who would then advise the Landlord not
to accept this low offer. All the time spent amounted to zero
revenue if you could not handle the case with patience and
Changing your mindset & co-broking.
Every week passes by so fast and if you close one
case of rental per month, you are excellent by the average
standard in this declining market after the September 11 terrorist
attack. This case illustrated to you to change your mindset. The
bungalow I asked Mr Norton to see was listed in the internet and
In this case, Ann and the other two or three associates showed Mr
Norton only the houses belonging to the Landlord. All of
them showed only one house in the wrong location.
Do be proactive in showing more than one house. Scrutinise
the newspapers for houses suitable and practise co-broking.
Earning 50% of the commission, in this case, is better than zero
income. Location and time is of the essence if you want to be
successful in closing.
Cheap bungalows in prime districts are difficult to find
mindset. Unfortunately, we all needed to be burnt to
gain the experience. It is hard to change our mindset that there
are no $7,500 bungalows with pool in prime district 10 and 11
where bungalows with 10,000 sq ft of land and inground pools don't
rent for less than $10,000 per month. This case just illustrates
that there may be one if you look for it. Its land size, by the
way, was around 5,000 sq. ft and the listing was recent, waiting
for any of the associate to pick up and show to the prospect. The
asking rental of $9,000 was enough to put any agent off and might
have put Mr Norton off too.
Otherwise, why would Mr Norton contact www.asiahomes.com
since he could easily tel all agents and do it himself. Once he
contacted me, I will send the email to all associates. You will
have a very short time frame to get what he wants. And to close
the case efficiently and patiently.
Explanation demanded and burning bridges. In
conclusion, do NOT demand,
become angry and ask for explanations if the expat avoids replying
to your email or does not want to
proceed further in your case although he might have expressed lots
of interest and taken up lots of your time.
I get lots of un-replied emails from expatriates whom I have had
spent time showing houses free of charge. The battle may be lost
but the war is still on, the war to win their hearts to get
referrals from them because you are not a pushy agent.
Caucasians dislike hard selling. That's their culture.
You just create ill
feelings and burn your bridge if you demand explanations from Mr Norton
if you can't close. Mr Norton does have friends in
the expatriate community to refer to you.
But not if
you present yourself as a very aggressive hard selling agent.
Breathe ten times if you feel like demanding an explanation, let
go and continue with the next case.
Case written to asiahomes realtors on emails sent to all
asiahomes.com realtors. I am afraid it is open competition to our
agents and time is of the essence.
Remember AIDA in marketing books.
I - interest
D - desire
A - action.
For Realtor Ann, AID were there for Mrs Norton, but no action on
the part of Mr Norton. The expat will call you if all four
ingredients are there and get the tenancy agreement signed
PICTURES OF SINGAPORE BUNGALOWS FOR RENT TO EXPATRIATES
"Bungalow" in Singapore means a detached
house without sharing a common wall with neighbours. It may be
one, two or three storeys. Bungalow means different to the Caucasian
from the U.S and U.K though.
Caucasian expats looking for bungalows expect a very high standard of
bathrooms and kitchen. For $10,000 - $15,000, they can get a brand
Park 4-bedroom 2885 sq. ft with its sprawling resort and condo
facilities, downtown location and near the American Club.
The main competitor of upscale Ardmore Park is a nice
bungalow with a pool and rentals equivalent to Ardmore Park's quality
interiors are around $14,000 - $20,000.
Some bungalow prices have dropped
to less than S$500 per sq. ft in good bungalow areas like District 11's
Dalkeith Road. One 10,000 sq. ft unit was offered $4.5 million but
the Owner was not in a hurry to sell it. Valuation was $5 million. This
research report gives some tips on investment bungalows, i.e. bungalows
you want to rent out fast to generate revenue.
However, when most Singaporeans and permanent residents buy a bungalow,
chances are that they want to enjoy staying there. Therefore they
renovate according to their specifications, without regards to the
future. Later, they may want to upgrade or migrate to greener
pastures in Australia.
Be investment minded if possible.
Know what the Caucasian expatriates want and you can rent out your house
faster than others.
I can advise the following:
1. Install a big long bath or at least make sure that your bathroom does
have space for a long bath.
2. Shower stalls without frames are more expensive to install but
3. Homogeneious marble-like coloured tiles of over 2 feet x 2 feet
are anytime better than glossy white or grey ceramic tiles for the
living and dining rooms, if you don't want to install marble or granite
floored tiles. Avoid orange-red-black streaky marble tiles -
Caucasians dislike this loud colour. Safer to install neutral
colour marble flooring.
picture below will illustrate what I mean.
FOREIGNERS are not allowed to buy bungalows, but Permanent Residents
(classified as "foreigners"), if given government approval
which lasts 6 months, can buy a bungalow for less than 15,000 sq. ft of
land for their own stay.
"GOOD CLASS BUNGALOWS" areas permit only 2-storey bungalows of
over 15,000 sq. ft of land to be built.
Light brown marble tiled living and dining area. Good-sized inground
pool with a big sundeck made of pastel coloured tiles.
Many Caucasians appreciate the creatively landscaped contoured pools.
INSTALL a pool with increasing depth as tenants may have toddlers and
you don't expect toddlers to swim in a deep pool since you are unlikely
to have a children's pool and another for adult.
Try to balance the built in and garden area to 60:40 if possible so that
you have a house with a good-sized garden to install a pool and a
You may need to invest in at least 10,000 sq. ft of land to have space
for a decent sized pool.
If you rebuild a new bungalow, devote more grounds to a bigger garden in
front rather than at the back so that you will have space for a bigger
swimming pool later.
An ideal bungalow
pool has a sloping gradient (important for Caucasians with small
kids), landscaped rocks and plants and carpet grass and be at least 15
A solid brick wall provides privacy if you have the length of garden
e.g. more than 40 feet frontage. Being on a higher ground helps to
You may like koi ponds or ornamental lounge (narrow small pools) but
Caucasian expat tenants are not particularly interested.
Position the bar counter in a correct position otherwise it becomes an
obstruction to the flow of human traffic.
If not, install or rent a above-ground pool. Rental of a big above
ground pool is $300 per month as at July 2001. Maintenance is $150 per
month at twice per week attendance. Fenced up pools are not
mandatory in Singapore unlike Australia. Toddlers have
drowned in pools.
Don't forget to plan for a space for a big American-sized fridge in the
kitchen even though most Singaporeans don't use such big
fridges! Plan to have a bright kitchen with natural daylight
It is good to have a green fence to provide some privacy as the bungalow
is surrounded by flats. Of course, prospective tenants don't like the
lack of privacy from high rise looking at them all the time. If
you can, don't buy a bungalow surrounded by high rises!
Carpets in bedrooms look clean but it is best to strip them and put in
light yellow wooden strips. Window grilles should be removed
as Caucasians do not like the "prison-like" feeling and this
gives the impression that the bungalow is in a bad neighbourhood.
The grilles have been installed for child safety and security reasons
but if you want to rent out, do remove the grilles.
Strip away the orange wall paper and paint the whole house white or off
white colour. All this attention to what the Caucasian expats love,
helps your realtor to rent your house much faster and at a higher rent.
As for semi-detached with pool, a 5000 sq. ft of
land and a good architect can give you a good-sized pool and built in
areas of over 3500 sq. ft and a roof terrace too.
I have seen a well designed ones with an indoor lounge pool at the
basement, behind the car park lot at Sian Tuan Avenue. It really takes
your breadth away. All Caucasian expatriates love this unit and it
was rented at around $14,000 quickly.
You will find it hard to believe this story but it is true. One
bungalow I saw in July 2001 has an air conditioner installed inside the
master bathroom. In order to do that, there must be a wooden
partition separating the Water Closet (W.C) and the main bathroom so
that the air conditioner unit can hang from the top. This confines
the W.C to a small room of around 30 sq. ft. Caucasians tend to be
bigger in size and this W.C room induces claustrophobia.
Every time the Tenant goes to the W.C, he swings open the two doors, the
type you see in cowboy shows at the bars.
You guess it. It was extremely difficult to rent out this bungalow. Who
wants swing doors and a c claustrophobic W.C?
You will rent faster if you have a house without wall
paper, without window grilles, at least one big white long bath
tub and day and night curtains in neutral colours. Paint the
walls white. Remove all carpets and install wood strips in the living,
dining and all bedrooms.
The Caucasian Tenants usually love a wooden flooring. They do not
need to figure out what you are going to do and can decide fast.
SOME BUNGALOWS DESCRIBED BELOW
MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR RENT OR SALE
Nassim bungalow with 20,000 sq. ft land, renting around $20,000
white bungalows usually have over 40,000 - 60,000 sq ft of land and good
ones rent around $20,000 - $30,000
storey. Will not suit Americans who usually love modern houses.
Park bungalow with big garden but not renovated bedrooms.
and inground pool renting around $13,000
small garden as the house takes up most space. A small pond inside the
Clementi bungalow asking $10,000. Bar counter may be positioned
incorrectly, blocking traffic flow.
open-air bathroom bring nature into the bungalow.
space designed for big fridges.
Timah bungalow rents lower. $8,000. Lack of privacy, being surrounded by
apartments. Good-sized inground pool but everybody looks at
flooring not suitable for expat tenants
on wall not suitable for expat tenants
pool, 3500/10000 $14,000. One storey. Carpeted
grass. A good proportion of pool area to house area, making this
Contoured slopping inground pool good for small children. Rocks and trees providing greenery
and privacy Wooden flooring attracts Caucasians.
and manicured garden bring nature to the bedroom door.
of the type of bungalow all Caucasian expats love.
backyard with tiled area for washing machine. Fruit trees
area opening into a patio for alfresco dinner.
Gardens 6+1 4800/12500 $13,000. Suits expats who want
space and do not mind not having marble flooring in the living and
Long driveway provides privacy. Many bedrooms. Large
side garden with inground pool.
Ceramic tiled living area no longer seen in modern bungalows.
Estate Road 6+1 5000/10000 $12,000. 3-storey. Small above
ground pool. Brand new kitchen, light blue ceramic tiled flooring and
but lots of living areas. A quiet children's park nearby. Suits
expats with large families.
complaint is that the long bath tubs are smaller than the usual and may
not suit big American expats.
RELOCATING TO SINGAPORE:
Pool maintenance twice per week is around $180 per
month. This is usually paid by the Tenant. An above-ground pool
rents around $300 per month.
Please contact Asia USA Realty, tel:
+65 9668 6468, 6254 3326 email@example.com
to help you get the best deal.