Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Buying A Resale HDB Flat WITHOUT Property Agent

The Straits Times has been running articles about the increase in HDB resale transaction that did without a property agent. Hey, I am one of them! I recently got the keys for my resale 4- room flat, and did it without an agent.

My Experience
We bought the flat without an agent. Honestly, the HDB process was simple. Follow all the procedure from HDB website, and you are done. Here is a link to the procedures.

For my case, the hardest was to deal with the other side's (property agent or seller).

In fact, as long as you do your homework (meaning read HDB's website), look at past transaction prices (at HDB website, and you notice within the same period, the prices do not vary a lot for similar floors in similar areas, plus minus a bit for renovations), and are willing to negotiate (just tell them the price you are willing to buy, and ask them to call you if they can match that price), you should be ok.

Some property agents tell you that they can help you with the housing loan. Honestly, you don't need. There are just 3 major banks in Singapore (UOB, OCBC and POSB/DBS) that most people look for for housing loan. You just need to call to request for housing loan, and they can email you the packages offered. Whether you  have a housing agent or not, ultimately, you still need to make your own decision on which loan to take, the tenure, and so  on. You will need a conveyancing lawyer, and in my experience, banks will introduce you one (which are quite reasonable priced), and they will settle the rest for you. Another option is HDB loan. I didn't go for this route, due to the higher interest rate, for now.

Take note of some of the tricks from the property agent from the sellers' side, which I experienced first hand:
- Asking for option fee without asking the seller to sign the OTP. In my experience, the seller's agent asked us to pay the option fee of $1000 without finalizing on the price, and without the seller signing the option to purchase (OTP), to show our sincerity in buying the flat. We refused, of course. Giving a $1000 cheque without a signed OTP is as good as giving $1000 away. Seller can bank in the cheque, and say that there is no agreement (since nothing is signed). You have nothing against them.

- Seller's agent trying to tell you how hard the procedure is, and introduce you another agent to act on your behalf (and collect fees from you).

Next, very important, agree on the date to move into the home and other details before even signing the option to purchase (or when exercising the OTP). Put in down in a signed document. If there are other items agreed upon, e.g. furniture, etc, put it in the document too. In my experience, we did not do so when we exercise the OTP, and the seller pushed back the date we get our keys multiple times! To end the trouble, we engaged a lawyer to write an agreement - black and white. If we had done so at the start, this would have been easier.

My Thoughts
A buyer doesn't need an agent when doing a HDB purchase. Also, once the deal is done, the agent can't do anything. So is it really worth it to hire an agent?

Rather than getting an agent, I would rather engage a lawyer from the point when you sign the OTP to write down all the agreement, and let both sides sign. At least, after the deal is done, you still have a legal document to protect yourself.

For your information, the price to pay for a lawyer for such services (getting a legal document), is likely to be cheaper as compared to the agent fee (unless your home is super cheap), and you get a legal document to protect you (and not an administrative assistant).

HDB allows such private arrangements (go to their FAQ and you will see that many things are the private agreement between seller and buyer).


  1. This is a very useful article. May I know where to find lawyer and to know the fee?

  2. In my case a low 3 digits, where we tell the lawyer how what we would like in the agreement. I happen to know the lawyer personally.

    If you are going for a bank loan, you generally need a conveyancing lawyer. And if you find them ok, can ask the firm about it too.

  3. U can also engage a mortgage broker to help u compile the available bank rates in the whole market (I'm not. Mortgage broker) save more time.

    From my private property , I didn't engage an agent when I bought which I regretted because
    1) in the end it's the seller who pays the both agents
    2) the seller didn't lower the price when he saved on the agent fees

    So the whole process was stacked against me.

    For me next time if the seller engage and agent, I will engage an agent too.

    If the seller doesn't , then I won't engage one.

    I think I overpaid ..sian

  4. Hi, me and my friends are currently doing a study to better understand the journey and pain points in buying properties, such that we can improve the whole process of purchasing properties in the future.
    We are hoping that you would give us a chance to conduct an interview such that we can further better understand the whole process that you have went through.

    Please do contact me at sgmonfortier@gmail.com!