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About propertysoul

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  1. I would like to share two relevant posts in my blog at Propertysoul.com. Hope you find it useful. http://propertysoul.com/2012/12/21/dealing-with-renovation-contractors-part-i/ http://propertysoul.com/2012/12/27/dealing-with-renovation-contractors-part-ii/ Dealing with renovation contractors December 2012 Are you renovating your house to make it in time for Chinese New Year? I have done four major renovations and countless fixing projects for my properties in Singapore. Over the years, I manage to find at least one good electrician, plumber, carpenter, handyman, etc. But for whatever reason – perhaps it’s because I’m unlucky, or maybe it’s simply the nature of the business – I have yet to find an honest contractor or a reliable renovation company. Yes, not even one. Bad experiences with contractors What I have had are some unpleasant experiences that you may have encountered before if you have commissioned any renovation project: 1) After placing a deposit, the salespersons’ prompt responses becomes late or no reply. 2) They are very busy and you have to bear with the fact that they are often late for (or absent from) any appointment with you. 3) Timelines agreed beforehand are almost always delayed. As clients, you are expected to be flexible to cater to all unforeseen circumstances. 4) You can only expect 60 to 80 percent of what originally agreed to be done. Be prepared to accept materials, end products and workmanship different from your expectations. Of course there are some good contractors who are different from the above. But they are not cheap. Those who provide good customer service, quality workmanship and acceptable completion timeframe usually have ‘reasonable prices’ missing in their quotations. Get good recommendations Having read Margaret Heffernan’s The Naked Truth: A Working Woman’s Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters, I have picked up some tips about managing contractors: "Nine out of ten will tell you horror stories, and if they don’t, get the contractor home and put it to use." I strongly recommend talking only to renovation companies or individuals with referrals from a trusted source. Don’t just get anyone from the local paper, the yellow pages, a sales leaflet or a tradeshow. It is like going for a blind date. You never know who will show up. You really don’t have to deal with any surprise and disappointment. For small tasks like fixing the lights, giving the place a new coat of paint, repairing the leaking roof, etc., ask your trusted property agent for recommendations. Agents arrange handyman to do fixes for landlords and tenants everyday. I am sure that they use efficient and reasonably-priced ones to get the job done. It allows them to rent or sell the owners’ properties without any delay. There are other tips of managing your working relationship with renovation contractors. Some of them I learned from experience, others simply by trial and error. Be firm with contractors "Once you’ve hired a contractor and negotiated a budget, my best advice for you is to be tough on them. If you’re not, they’ll think you’re soft and a pushover." "(Contractors) will try to get away with as much as they possibly can. If you call them on it, they’ll shape up." Even if your contractor is a good friend or your close relative, don’t confuse trust with relationship. Similarly, having a friendly relationship doesn’t automatically mean that you can trust a person. When evaluating whether a contractor can get the job done, differentiate between sociability and capabilities. About budget and timelines "Be clear and upfront about timing and the inflexibility of your budget. If you need the job finished by a certain time, hold the contractors to that date. If you keep an eye on their work and act as knowledgeable as possible, you increase the chances that the contractors will respect you and get something done." Get at least three quotations from different companies. Compare quotes item-by-item. Before you get back to the selected one, draft your own listing of work items with full descriptions. For each item, add in what you think are the reasonable prices. If there is an obvious price gap of a work item between two contractors, negotiate to see whether your selected contractor can match the price. Draft your own payment terms, for example, 10 percent deposit after signing the contract, 30 percent of the fee payable when job commences, and another 50 percent after job completion. Always leave 5 to 10 percent to be paid after fixing all defects. Allow flexibility for delay in completion. However, do add a penalty clause for delay at the end of the contract. In every subsequent meeting with the contractor, put everything in writing and take detailed notes. The notes can serve as both a proof and a reminder for both parties. It will also come in handy next time when there is any argument on what have been agreed. Good and bad times When times are good, contractors are very busy. It is more difficult to bargain on prices. Give a reasonable timeframe for completion but stick to the major deadlines. When times are bad, don’t be too happy if you get too good a bargain. Contractors tend to cut corners to get your business. Be careful of commissioning a project when the market is recovering. Costs of raw materials and manpower will be on their way up when your place is work-in-progress. To make ends meet, the contractor may ask you to top up the difference so that they can afford to pay their suppliers and finish your job. Worse still, some contractors may go bust because of their underquotes in too many projects. Now it’s your turn to share with me your experience with renovation contractors.
  2. It's possible. You just have to make sure that your neighbours buy at the peak of the market, wait for the property market to crash, and buy from them at rock bottom prices. Then at least it worth putting all your eggs in one basket.
  3. The quotes for renovation are sky-high these days because of higher material cost, high demand for renovation, booming market, etc. Why buy new house at high price now and renovate it at high cost?
  4. Everytime after I bought a property, I went to the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) to photocopy the floor plan and specifications of my unit. For your information, the library of the IEA office keeps all property brochures distributed during any new property launch. I am not an IEA member and they charge me photocopy fee. The last time I went there was 2007 and they charged S$6.8 for close to 20 pages. Found the address in their website: 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 HDB Hub East Wing #07-02 Opening hours: Mon - Fri 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Tel: 6323 1770 Website: www.iea.org.sg Hope this helps.
  5. I relied on my property agent to manage my properties. It's her contractor. Please PM me if you need the contact. P.S. I think getting the help from the management office is the most efficient way.
  6. I've experienced a few complaints of ceiling leakage from my tenants over the years. Agree that you have to ask the management office to issue a letter to your neighbour, emphasizing that owners have to attend such matters by law. In the letter, suggest a convenient time for your contractor to go inside their unit for inspection and give them a deadline to reply. Your contractor has to inspect both units to confirm whether the problem lies in waterproofing, piping, etc. If the problem proves to be from the unit above, your neighbour can use a contractor from either party to fix it, but they have to foot the bill.
  7. To me, HDBs and private properties are two different things that cannot be compared apple-to-apple. Strictly speaking, HDBs belong to the government. They are for your stay only. Private properties are yours. They can be your residence or your investment. Just want to share with you more at http://propertysoul.com/2011/07/27/hdb-or-private-for-1st-time-buyers/
  8. For almost two years I stayed in a shoebox unit with less than 400 sq ft. I can say it's a totally different dwelling from a developer's shoebox showflat. Just want to share my life in a shoebox unit in a post at http://propertysoul.com/2010/12/22/so-you-want-a-shoebox-unit/ I've some experience investing in private properties here but sorry I'm not optimistic about investing in shoebox units in Singapore, especially when there's a downturn in the economy. Shared my views in two posts below. http://propertysoul.com/2010/12/22/so-you-want-a-shoebox-unit-part-ii/ http://propertysoul.com/2010/12/24/so-you-want-a-shoebox-unit-part-iii/
  9. You may like to read the following post on my personal experiences of renting my properties by myself versus by my agent: http://propertysoul.com/2012/04/05/to-let-by-agent-or-by-yourself-part-i/
  10. I think the agent deserves to receive commission from the landlord if: - He/she is the one who rented out the flat for the landlord in the current tenancy. And two months before the tenancy ends, he/she initiates to contact the tenant for any intention to renew the contract. - He/she will check the condition of the flat, prepare the tenancy renewal document for both parties to sign, and have it stamped for the landlord's filing. - After renewal of the tenancy, he/she will continue to be the main contact of the tenant. Arrange for necessary repairs and settle the payments on the landlord's behalf. - In case of any dispute (e.g. late payment, complaints from neighbors, etc.), he/she will consult the landlord before settling the matter with the tenant. - In case the tenant asks for early termination, he/she will follow-up with the tenant for the landlord for penalty stated in the contract and refund of agent's commission (pro-rata).
  11. I've posted about "repossessed properties, bank auctions and mortgagee sale" in my property blog. You may like to check it out at http://propertysoul.com/2011/09/06/repossessed-properties-bank-auctions-and-mortgagee-sale/ Hope it helps
  12. It has nothing to do with the gate but the motor system. We changed to a new autogate system when we first moved in. And for 4 1/2 years, it was repaired for at least 5 times. The problems included: - One side not closed properly and had to adjust the timing for proper closing - Motor spoiled (each side changed at different times) - Wire got cut off (by a bird?) Also, there is a limited number of times for opening and closing. If your gate opens and closes very often, it definitely shortens the lifespan of the system.
  13. Thanks a lot for your encouraging remarks. I'll try to post as often as possible. Feel free to send your comments or messages. I look forward to learning from you too.
  14. The industry practice is: If the monthly rental is S$2,500 or higher, the tenant does not have to pay any commission to the agent. The agent will get the full commission from the owner. If the owner has his/her own agent, it's a co-broke case and the commission from the owner will be splitted equally between both agents. Hope this helps to clarify.
  15. In a co-broke case, you only pay your own agent commission and he/she will split it with the tenant's agent. My agent doesn't mind co-broke (i.e. earning half of the commission) if it's the best offer and from a good tenant. PM me so that I can ask my agent to contact you directly.