How I Helped My Client To Tranfer To Her BTO Flat Within An Inflexible Timeline
I met this client through a referral from another client.
This nice lady stayed with her mother in Bukit Merah Estate. When we met in June 2017 she explained to me that she wanted to sell her flat because in about 3-month time she would be collecting keys to her new BTO flat.
Though it seemed like I just need to sell but I still did a careful assessment on her, especially on timelines. I could see that she was worried with timelines as in the letter received from HDB, there was no date or month stated at that point of time. HDB only informed that she would be collecting keys soon.
After knowing her situation I tried to plan and draw a ‘safe’ timeline for her. She was quite relieved upon seeing it, and happily took a snapshot as I finished my presentation.
Understanding that her mother was advanced in years, I promised her to be extra careful with the timelines.
Flat Sold in One Viewing
We marketed her flat in July 2017 and in less than a month I found a buyer who wanted to deal right after one viewing.
Before we opened door, I had explained to buyer and her agent that this house would need an extension which means, completion would fall in January / February 2018. After signing the exclusive form, I actually told seller to call HDB branch office to get more updates on the estimated month of keys collection. She managed to speak to an officer who verbally informed her that it might be in September but she must wait for the next confirmation letter.
Getting an offer in just one viewing was supposed to be exciting, but things were becoming more complicated instead.
Faced With an Inflexible Timeline
My client accepted the offer after a quite straightforward negotiation. However upon acceptance of the offer and we were supposed to get the option fee, buyer brought this up…
Despite being aware of the extension required, buyer insisted that seller must hand over the unit in November end. The reason was firstly, because buyer was very confident that seller would definitely collect her BTO keys in September even though it was just verbally indicated by HDB branch office Manager.
Secondly, buyer was also highly confident that we could go for our first appointment by latest mid-September, followed by final completion in November (this case happened before the new resale procedures kicked in). As such, in her opinion extension was totally unnecessary.
Regardless of long explanation and negotiation on the timelines, buyer still believed and argued that such arrangements were possible, simply because, though it was not put in black and white yet but the one who mentioned ‘September’ was HDB officer.
Buyer pressurised seller to deal but with her terms and conditions written in an undertaking letter. One of the T&C stated that seller must vacate her house by latest 15th of December or else, rental charges at market price would be unavoidable.
I needed to pull my client aside to alert and advise her that this deal would surely give her a difficult timeline and the undertaking letter would be solely on buyer’s advantages. I could foresee a lot of problems ahead and would rather market the house again to find a more compromising buyer for her situation.
My client wanted to deal anyway, and as her agent I had to follow her decision.
Appeal Letter to HDB
I started drafting a letter to HDB to help seller with her BTO keys. The purpose of this letter was to ask whether she could be in the earliest batch of keys collection since her flat had been sold.
Though I fully understand that we were not in the position to tell HDB what to do but my client needed this priority as we were counting days to our first appointment.
Meanwhile as I predicted, seller was not able to collect her BTO keys in September. HDB announced that keys collection would start in October. And as I had also predicted, we could not get first appointment slot in September as expected by buyer. The next earliest date available was in mid-October.
HDB First Appointment Day
We finally met buyer and her agent again on 11th of October 2017 for our first appointment. The first thing they wanted to know was, whether seller had collected her BTO keys. We showed them our letter to HDB as a proof that we made efforts to speed up the keys collection but no response so far in spite of following up closely.
Thankfully the first appointment went smoothly and HDB resale officer scheduled the final completion date to be in early December whereby both parties initially agreed.
However, soon our buyer changed her mind, she wanted to push it forward to 22nd of November despite knowing the fact that our letter to HDB was not responded yet and eventually seller’s key collection date was still unknown.
We rejected this idea considering buyer might ask seller to vacate the flat immediately after 22nd of November even though one of the clause in the undertaking letter stated 15th of December as seller’s last day.
Change of Second Appointment Date
Buyer told my client not to worry because she would put an additional clause in the undertaking letter, extending seller’s last day to 31st of December. Since we were inside HDB office, I suggested to seller that we should meet any BTO officer available on that day to inquire on our letter. Fortunately, we managed to speak to a lady officer who immediately agreed to help us after reading my appeal letter.
My client was finally confirmed to get keys on 3rd of November. Hence with this green light and buyer adding the new clause of extending her stay until 31st of December, seller then gave her consent to change the completion date to 22nd of November 2017.
However, The Tension Increased…
On 2nd of November buyer’s agent texted me saying that her client wanted to take over the flat by latest end of November. This is their assumption, if my client could get keys on 3rd of November and contractors start working immediately, this renovation work could be completed by 24th of November.
I quickly replied that seller’s flat defects check was scheduled on 14th of November and the date was given by Building Service Centre. It was so obvious that contractor could only start the renovation job after defects check was done. Hence, taking possession in November end was totally impossible.
Buyer Intended to Start Charging Rental Fee
On November 13th another text came again asking the same thing, when the renovation would start…
Besides asking on the same issue, the message also said that BTO renovation only needs 3 weeks to complete which is why seller must clear the place earlier. Buyer’s agent implied that if seller would only move out on 15th of December or later, then as of 22nd of November onwards she should not be staying there rent free.
It’s clear to me that buyer’s side did not intend to keep their words. They kept blaming us for not being able to collect keys earlier and not requesting for an early defects check while what happened actually was nothing but forcing their own assumptions to materialise from the very beginning.
I tried to stand firm all the time to stop them from confusing our situation with their strategies, and on 14th of November I gave them my reply:
On the next day, buyer’s side still pushed for renovation to complete in 3 weeks as they claimed to be an easy job. Their final ultimatum was flat keys must exchange hands on 6th or 7th of December.
The same thing was repeated all over again until the case finally closed. The tension would go up each time the same questions asked and the same explanations given, but I tried to keep my professionalism upfront in all communication.
This was by far the most complicated case I had in my practice. I was determined to fight for my client and protecting her interest was really, really my top priorities at that time.
She was very patient and accommodative, despite the high tension on her case, I truly enjoyed working with her.
We had a smooth hand over on 15th of December 2017. All of the stress I went through gone when I saw my client and her mother transferred happily to their new home.
At the end of the day, my client was protected by the undertaking letter. It was actually meant to protect buyer’s side but along the way I had been using it to help and protect seller’s side.
I am writing this article to share on how I helped my client transferring from the old flat to her new home within an inflexible timeline successfully. It is not meant to shame or disrepute anyone.
I hope this sharing is useful, and I welcome you to drop a message if you need advices on timelines, upgrading or property wealth planning. I would be happy if you invite me for a non-obligatory property discussion. Hope to hear from you soon!
Lina Halim is on a mission to assist you in reaching your real estate goals.
As a Senior Associate Director with OrangeTee & Tie Pte Ltd, she takes the time to listen and understand your unique needs, only to plan and tailor a custom strategy that will help you acquire the specific property assets.
Never a fan of high pressure tactics, Lina centers her business on being committed, sincere and genuine with her clients.
She uses her real estate experience and property market knowledge to scope out only the most fitting opportunities for her clients.
Be it a need to get the right buyer or seller, she always put the client’s interest and ultimate goals as her priority.