What Nightmares Do Buyers Face When Getting Resale Flats?
Successfully purchasing a resale property can often feel like accomplishing a life-long dream. After going through the completion appointment, meeting lawyers and the House and Development Board (HDB), you finally get the keys to your flat, feeling giddy with excitement as you enter the house with your contractor, doing final checks to get ready for your renovation only to discover this: leaking pipes in the toilet.
Hidden problems like this are one of the biggest nightmares property buyers can go through. In fact, in the first 15 days of January 2018 alone, HDB reported 700 cases of popped tiles in Singaporean flats, shedding light on the complexities and potential pitfalls of purchasing a secondhand property that even the most diligent buyers like you, can miss.
But sometimes, sellers can also cause problems that add up to the already complex resale process. The question now is, what can you do? To help you navigate these situations, we will be going through some of the common issues I’ve come across and figure out the best steps you can take to avoid or resolve them.
The unfortunate reality is, most cases I’ve handled involve defects that are very hard to detect, sometimes these defects are so hidden that even sellers themselves are unaware of. From unseen busted pipes, leaking electric sockets or in one instance, popped flooring lurking underneath heavy drawers. Concealed issues like these often resurface nearing the completion process raising the question of who should be held liable.
Understanding Contractual Clauses:
Whether you’re transacting with HDB or condominiums, your responsibility and rights as a buyer is disclosed within the clauses of your contracts.
Usually, contracts include a clause stating that the buyer is fully aware of the state of the flat, putting forth the task of inspecting the unit to you as the buyer, stating you had carried out necessary checkups, and have no objection to the state of the property.
An “as is, where is” clause is also generally present in most contracts. In plain terms, this means “what you see is, what you get” but in cases of unforeseen defects, this could extend to the problems you cannot see.
Issue is, pre-sale inspections are sometimes just executed to check if the seller has cleared out and might not reveal underlying structural or functional issues. Clauses like these doesn’t leave much room for you to claim against a seller for hidden defects after the resale has been completed.
Another hiccup that you could encounter are sellers not having the keys or in cases of condominiums, the cards. May it be that they lost it, forgot to duplicate one, or renew another (for condominiums), it could leave you grappling with the added expense of buying another before even taking over the flat.
Seller Didn’t Clear Out:
As outrageous as it may seem, one of the most frustrating problems a buyer could come across are sellers that fail to clear out.
From big furniture like tables, fridges or trampolines, to smaller ones like rice cookers or luggage. May it be on purpose or not, sellers can sometimes leave out their belongings.
If you’re lucky, cooperative sellers will come back to move out these belongings, but more often than not, there will be sellers that does the bare minimum and leave their hands out of it.
What can you do:
For specific cases of missing keys and abandoned items, the best possible option is to buy another key and move the abandoned items yourself.
Although you can possibly ask the seller to move out their belongings, or claim against them if they refuse to cooperate, the process could be tedious and take more time than removing the items out yourself. Another possibility could be do donate or resell abandoned items, as contracts often declare you are the property’s new owner, the items that come inside are now also yours to claim.
Ultimately, the best way to save yourself from the stress of dealing with uncooperative sellers or expensive repairs, is opt for purchasing a brand-new property. Brand-new properties have warranties in place to ensure that future issues arising are handled by sellers or developers.
Luckily, undervalued properties are available in the market that sells for lower than the market price, “How to Find Undervalued Condos to Buy” guides you through the process of finding the best deals in the market.