Moving out of my in-law’s place and into my own home was the best decision I made as a new mum
I was a new mum living with my in-laws. When problems arose, buying our own home was the obvious solution, but I didn’t know how to go about this huge step in our lives…
When Ryan and I got married, all we knew was that we wanted to be together. Buying a house was the absolute last thing on our minds, hence we didn’t mind living with his parents. In fact, it seemed practical to move in with Ryan’s parents so we could use all the money we saved on rent for travelling around the world instead. It helped that Ryan’s folks were affectionate and understanding as well.
But everything changed after we had baby Emma.
Emma was the darling of the family, and my in-laws naturally doted on their only grandchild. But after a while, all the love and concern began to feel suffocating.
When it came to Emma, my mother-in-law insisted that she had to have her way. She started interfering in everything, from feeding, to diapering and even dressing the baby. We argued more often, and misunderstandings became a daily occurrence.
Ryan and I had fights about the issue too. At one point, I even asked him to choose between his mother and me. I started longing for “my own family” time – just Emma, Ryan and me.
We also realised we needed more space – especially if we planned on having another baby. Our room was already over-crowded with baby toys and diaper packets!
The answer to our problems was obvious – buy our own home. But was it really worth the hassle?
Both of us were working, and new to parenthood. We did not want to add more stress to our lives, but I knew that it was the best thing to do to avoid straining my relationship with my in-laws any further. I didn’t want it to get to a stage where I would have to keep my daughter away from her grandparents.
My good friend, Cynthia, suggested that we get a property agent to help ease some of the stress of finding a new home. She told us about Kevin, the agent she engaged when looking for her current place, and even showed us his photo on the Council of Estate Agencies’ Public Register so that we could see how “clean cut” he looked! (The Public Register, by the way, is the list of all registered property agents in Singapore.)
We met Kevin a few days later, and within minutes, we knew we were in good hands. Kevin was sincere and knowledgeable, and took the time to understand our needs.
In fact, he was so easy to talk to that the discussion about his commission rate wasn’t even difficult. Cynthia had mentioned that sometimes negotiations can get a little awkward, but we settled on a comfortable commission rate quite quickly. Following Kevin’s advice, we made sure to document the agreed upon rate in the prescribed estate agency agreement to avoid any disputes later on.
As this was our first time buying a property, we were completely unfamiliar with all the forms and paperwork we had to fill up, like the Customer’s Particulars Form, which helps prevent money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism. It all seemed so daunting, but Kevin explained everything clearly and made sure we understood the various clauses and fields in the documents before we signed.
Once the initial paperwork was done, we moved on to the fun part. It was time for house-hunting and apartment viewing!
Since we wanted to move out as soon as possible, Kevin suggested looking at resale HDB flats. We wanted an apartment close to an MRT station, and with childcare facilities nearby. And of course, we wanted an apartment that fit our budget.
Kevin suggested that we look for a flat in Punggol because it was popular with new parents like us. Punggol, being a relatively new estate, would also have a decent pool of well-maintained resale flats to choose from, he said.
Kevin showed us around the apartments that met our criteria and budget. He was always responsive to our calls and messages, and was able to provide us with useful advice and tips on what to look out for while viewing the apartments. He pointed out things like where the afternoon sun streamed in, and proximity to supermarkets and other conveniences.
He always let us know how long the property had been on the market. We felt that this was important, as there is often a reason why a good flat hasn’t been snapped up. Kevin was willing to answer our many questions on the recent transactions in the area, so we could get a better idea of current property prices.
Finally, after many house visits, we found a flat that was perfect for us. In our excitement and eagerness to start our new life in our new home, we tried to hand the down payment to Kevin to pass to the seller, but Kevin explained that he was not allowed to handle certain money related to our transaction, and that the proper procedure would be to pay the seller directly. That was the only awkward moment in an otherwise perfect working relationship!
In the end, it took us about three months to find our perfect home, but I’m glad we made the big move. Our little family is happier today, and the little one has settled down into childcare quite nicely.
We usually drop by my in-laws’ place over the weekends so they can spend precious time with Emma too. Life is good.
Moving out of my in-law’s place and into my own home was the best decision I made as a new mum.
*Parents, here are some things you should know when engaging a property agent:
- Ensure your property agent is registered with CEA.
- Negotiate and document the commission rate with your agent before he starts work.
- Your agent should only represent you in a property transaction (i.e. no dual representation).
- Handle the money related to your property transaction on your own.
If you have any doubts, visit the Council for Estate Agencies’(CEA) website at www.cea.gov.sg/happyconsumer. CEA is the government agency that regulates Singapore’s real estate agency industry.