townhouses, expatriate relocation to Singapore educational stories for expats and realtors
are extracted from
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Calling Mr Molony's bluff
"The Owner of a 2,723 sq. ft townhouse of the same floor plan was willing to rent for $3,000 fully furnished," said Mr Molony to the co-broking agent.
He had phoned me saying he just wanted to rent the townhouse and his rental budget was $3,000, not a dollar more. He had seen one unit by himself and the deal was not successful.
I just had a gut feeling that I could close this case if I could find one unit for him as he was very specific about his type of housing. But there were only 3 townhouses for rent and all were asking $3,500 - $4,000.
The co-broking agent put on a very serious face and said, matter of factly: "The asking rent of that unit is very reasonable. I'll advise you to take it." His owner was willing to rent for $3,600 fully furnished, not less.
Mr Molony offered $3,300 but the co-broking agent shook his head.
I said: "Why don't you give Mr Molony's offer to the Owner and come back to me quickly?" From his body language, I did not expect him to call me back. He never did.
Many realtors do not realise that the opening bid by the expatriate may be that. Just an opening bid subject to negotiations. It is essential that the Owner be informed of any ridiculous or low offer and get the owner to make a counter offer.
"Don't waste your time," Ann, my assistant commented, eager to get out of this desert hot 2 p.m afternoon of June 2001.
Ann elaborated: "He can't afford to rent the townhouse and the second unit you showed him was much bigger at over 3,000 sq. ft. It has 5 bedrooms, 2 on level 2 and 2 on level 3 which also has a small family area and balcony. A huge basement room with a bedroom and a bathroom near an air well. The basement could accommodate a table tennis table. There's a long outside car parking lot making this townhouse look more spacious unlike the other unit which has a basement car parking lot. The Landlord wanted $4,000. No way will he can get that place for $3,300 fully furnished."
So, was this a bad judgment on my side? I had not qualified Mr Molony properly. He did say his budget was $3,000 and he had been rejected by one owner. Time wasted for nothing? Ann was right.
However, the co-broking agent was willing to bring the offer to the Landlord. The counter offer was $3,500 fully furnished. It was too much for Mr Molony.
He capped his rent at $3,300. "I told you it was a hopeless case," Ann reiterated. There were no more units available and Mr Molony liked this unit.
"How long would the lease be?" the co-broking agent asked. It was one year only. Not longer. At least this expatriate was honest. Most Singapore Landlords prefer two years. The co-broking agent had rented another unit for $3,900, so this unit should rent close to $3,900, not at $3,200.
I thought over this case. Was there a way to close the monetary expectations of both the Landlord and the Tenant?
Since it would be a one-year lease, would it be better that the Landlord not rent it fully furnished? There was no furniture at present, unlike the other unit which was furnished with pink sofa sets and beds of green colours. Not exactly the British expatriate's kind of colours.
The case was closed at $3,300 without some night curtains, a fridge and a washer cum dryer. I thought it was the end of a case. Mr Molony read the tenancy agreement on the next day at the unit as he would be moving in immediately. I did manage to get for him a separate washer and dryer and thought he would be happy. There was the living set too.
He read the tenancy agreement and objected strongly to a clause there. I could see that his face was reddened as he said in front of the agents and the Landlord: "I do not want to be return the Landlord the pro-rated agent's commission should I breach the tenancy agreement! Commission payments are not an agreement between the Landlord and me"
"Does it mean you will not be staying for a year?" the co-broking agent asked. "The commissions are part of the Landlord's expenses and payable by him upfront.," the experienced co-broking agent explained, a bit annoyed.
Does this mean that Mr Molony had no job stability and therefore it would be better not to rent the unit to him. This was a personal lease and he could just disappear to Britain without paying rent. It would be very difficult to get him to pay the rent or the damages.
Agents work very hard and payment of commissions by expatriates breaking leases are a common practice nowadays.
Where would Mr Molony find such a good bargain for $3,300? A brand new cluster townhouse. No dated bathrooms or kitchen cabinets. Night curtains of tenant's choice of colour. A residence near the subway. Near his place of work. So much savings. His significant other loves this unit. That's important to him as it would be important to anyone telling the world they are in love as they hold hands going house hunting.
"Is he calling the bluff again?" I know his style but the Landlord might not appreciate such games. Such nonsense. All right, the townhouse was not exactly a hot rental property with expatriates at this time.
Mr Molony would need to find another place, definitely none with value for money as this townhouse. Most owners would want a two-year lease and here, he had a unit for a one-year lease.
The pregnatn grey cumulus clouds were ready to spill their waters. How would the Landlord respond to Mr Molony's bluff? Raindrops splattered outside the patio. One objection to the offer of tenancy and Mr Molongy would lose this beautiful townhouse set in a tranquil low rise area of Bedok as this gave the Landlord an opportunity to re-consider his credbility and stability.
Would the Landlord want to take a risk in such a case?
It had already been a hard negotiation case and why not wait for a better tenant? The thunderstorm came without warning. This would be Mr Molony's last bluff. He would be out in the streets if the Landlord behaved emotionally and asked him to get lost.
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