(HOW TO RENT YOUR NEW CONDO WITHIN 2 WEEKS OF GETTING THE KEYS?)
"Thank you John," said Mrs. Lim after she got her deposit and
a first-month rental cheque from the New Zealander pathologist.
"My name is Jeremy,"
Dr Hopkins replied in a somewhat irritated voice.
"Always use the surname and you can't be incorrect!" said the
Asia USA realtor, trying to ease the tensions and quickly said goodbye
to the good pathologist before he changed his mind about renting this
When Mrs. Lim related the incident at
home, her daughter told her that "John" is not a good name for
Caucasians but did not tell her why.
"John" is a slang for the customer of the prostitute!
How did this landlady
rent her condo so fast, with all debris
outside the corridors and foreign workers hanging around the condo?
- Planning ahead.
Shop at sales for the cheapest but high quality upscale furnishing.
The condo was already furnished with appropriate stuff.
- Get the keys and
commence interior defects rectification. Do not be too fussy if
tiles are slightly cracked as the Developer will take
weeks to rectify. It is difficult to rent an apartment with stickers
showing defects everywhere and a dirty not polished floor. Most
units will be in same state of getting defects rectified, so the
early bird ready for occupation, catches the worm.
- Furnish the apartment
immediately while others are still rectifying defects. This
was done within 7 days of getting the keys, while other
Owners could show bare dirty units and promise good quality
furnishing. Some Owners wanted every crack rectified and this can
delay to few months.
- Furnishing with upscale
branded-name products. The Tenant could see that the glass
top dining table with 4 black metallic legged chairs, the glass top
oval coffee table, the square glass top side table, the sofa set and
the "elephant" wooden chair are quality stuff most
landlords will not provide for S$2,300 rental.
- Know the rental market
decline. Asia USA was contacted directly by her as
Owner. She had asked for $3,000 rental initially and dropped
the rent to $2,300 a few days later.
- Know what the Tenant wants and
provide more than what the market does. Certainly her
unit was much better furnished than the swanky service apartments
downtown, with items such as the ironing board, iron, vacuum
cleaner, crockery, pots and pans, telephone instruments, television
set and stand, retractable clothes hanger, pillows, bed covers, bed
sheets, a quality king-sized bed (usually queen-sized provided by
landlords) & mattress and little clock, not usually offered by
landlords of the new 2-bedroom condos).
- Contacting all rental
housing agents in Singapore (Asia USA knew of her condo
through her direct phone call and her personal request to help find
a tenant fast). It requires time and effort for the Owner to do
- Giving an exclusive
marketing right to a well known realty firm. Her accountant
husband pestered her to do it, against her intuition.
2 years ago, any realtor can get
you a tenant for your brand new condo, well located, within 3 days.
Go for the realty
firms doing residential rental housing, not the brand name.
- Advertising in the Straits
Times as Owner. Probably she did that but she had insisted
on co-brooking with her exclusive realtor. This made her property
"unattractive" as co-brooking realtors with the Tenant
would have to split 50% of the brokerage fee with her exclusive
agent and therefore, there would be no special motivation to view
her unit since there was a glut of condos.
- Be easily connectable.
Yes she did respond to paging but since she has no mobile phone, it
took her some time to do so.
(In 2000, most Landlords use mobile phones to be contacted.
Only problem is that the battery may go flat and the Landlord cannot
- Realising the mistake made
and regain the ground lost. One realtor who had a French
couple interested in her condo told her she would not co-broke. In
other words, she would not show her unit to her prospective tenant.
She agreed to pay the full commission. In signing the exclusive
marketing agreement, most Owners will have to pay the exclusive
agent commission even if the Owner finds a tenant. You will
need to check this out.
The French couple was very keen and decisive. Mrs. Lam was a mother
of a top 3% IQ daughter. She was prepared to cut losses. She had to
pay the exclusive agent the marketing fee even if she found a Tenant
herself. In this real case, the exclusive was signed on Friday and
she got a Tenant from an outside realty firm, Asia USA on Sunday, 2
- Selling the advantages
of the apartment as Owner, maximising local knowledge. "Main
door faces South East, which in Chinese feng-shui will bring good
fortune and prosperity" said Mrs. Lam earnestly. Which
prospective Tenant would not want prosperity? That was a selling
I was selling more on the panoramic
beautiful MacRitchie reservoir and green trees views from the high
floor's living room, reminding him of New Zealand. No opposite buildings
affecting his privacy as a bachelor or obstruction of the view.
Investors to note: The .....-01 units in Block 913,
Oleander Towers, high floors, are examples of good rental property
investments. However, the Oleander Towers apartments are hemmed in
by the public housing and many Caucasian expats prefer not to reside in
a highly dense property area.
The central location near downtown and a 5-minute walk to the Toa Payoh
subway which is 3 stops to Orchard subway are extremely attractive
factors in investment.
- Reminding the prospects he
is getting more than value for money. "The dining
table with glass top, the coffee table, the side table are from
. (an upscale furniture shop). All the agent has to do is to
- Be immediately available
when the Tenant wants to close. Not waiting till the next day. Mrs.
Lam took a taxi to meet us at the Tenant's hotel to close and get
the cheques. Not wasting time or offering inflexible terms and to
re-type or review tenancy contracts as in the case of many owners.
- Somebody wants to
rent. "Somebody wants it if you delay making
decision" is a favourite tactic of all good salespersons. Mrs.
Lam did say that a French couple would be phoning the next morning.
"What do you think?" asked Dr. Hopkins. Our agent believed
her and the doctor believed her. He had seen 10 other
units but this was the best.
- Prompt payment of agency
commission without being asked. On the signing of the
tenancy agreement the next day, Mrs. Lam invited our realtor to have
tea in the condo, wrote a cheque to the realtor without the
formality of asking for the invoice first. No realtor in
Singapore will forget such a kind gesture.
You can be sure that
every realtor in Singapore wants to send her Tenants as she is of the
rare and sophisticated breed of landlady to do business with. Some
Landlords delay payment of commission as long as possible.
A gem to her husband who need not lift
a finger as she ensured that the investment property was rented with the
minimal vacancy rate.
"But do you have another unit on
the same block?" enquired Dr Hopkins. He still could not get
over the fact that Mrs. Lam had installed a set of 3 sliding doors in
front of the breakfast counter (an open concept kitchen extremely
popular with Caucasians). This is the fatal mistake. Mrs. Lam wanted to
enclose the kitchen (which is already so small that only 2 adults could
be inside) so that when the Tenant fries bacon, the oil will not
disperse to the living/dining room.
This is where the Chinese culture (enclosed kitchen) clashes with the
Caucasian culture (open concept kitchen).
She spent money to erect a 3-sliding
door frame to close the kitchen when cooking. Even when opened, the
sliding doors would take up one-frame space and there is barely
sufficient space for one person to sit at the breakfast counter of the
Without the frames, you could seat 2 persons. This is a nightmare for
the realtor. During our first visit last week, she did not have this
Well, the French couple might not
mind. The only way to close was that the glass sliding door frames could
be dismantled and kept in storage.
There were no other similar units available as most owners have had
their keys only recently. None would be expected to offer above value
for money and a caring responsive landlady.
The pathologist could move in with suitcase in 3 days' time and save
costs on hotel accommodation. The deal was closed with some objections.
Things ought to be done to provide a
- There were no day curtains (which
should have been installed as most Tenants love it). Prepare for
2-track curtain rails, one for the day and one for the night
- Provide pastel-coloured beige
curtains instead of a deep blue. The pastel colour suits most
- Provide light-coloured
fabric/leather seats (2-seated will do for the 896 sq. ft
2-bedroom). Do not use hot colours like deep yellow/red.
- Provide thicker curtains as there
may be strong afternoon sunlight.
It was value for money at that time
as the rent was $2,300 fully furnished. A 2-bedroom service apartment
rents for around $4500/month in downtown although one could not
compare apples to oranges.
2-bedroom condos of less than 900
sq. ft attracts a particular category of expats: the single or
couple and should be able to rent out within 4 weeks with active
As at July 10, 2000, the new Trellis Towers condos have given much
competition. Suburban condos owners have a hard time renting their
2-bedroom units above $2000 per month.
Many new condos have design faults.
1. The UE Square Condos have had air-conditioner compressors
located inside the living room (with box and door to shield the noises)
or occupying 50% of the small balcony of the kitchen. The compressors
are now relocated to the outside the building as at June 1998.
It is extremely difficult for the
occupant to listen to music, with the compressor humming away in the
2. The Oleander Towers have 4
long sewerage pipes running from the top floor downward, concealed
inside the store room which is located adjoining the master bedroom of
the 2-bedroom units. Now, the flushing noises can be heard easily and
3. Insufficient space for
a refrigerator is commonly seen in some new 2-bedroom
condos. Sometimes, it is even difficult to open the kitchen door after
installing the fridge.
It is hoped that the younger
architects are more aware of the problems of noises and come out with
- Oleander Towers