We'll be headed to Melbourne for the Aussie open before returning home, then we'll be jetting to Europe for a family holiday before finally settling in to our new home in February:) And I'll probably start work right away :(
In the meantime, to recap the last few months:
1) Visits: My parents + sister in Nov, Darren & Lixin in Dec, and Wallace & Liz in Jan
2) We sold the place! And most of our furniture! Thank you Lord!
I thought this would be a good time to share some picture of this apartment. Elvine took these for the sale of the apartment but the sale went so smoothly we didn't even spend a single cent on marketing/advertising!
Full story of the sale after the pictures!
|From the other side. Behind the glass door is a small study/room, and the entrance is on the right after a corridor.|
|Master - our room|
|Our walk-in wardrobe. This side is mine, that side's his. To the left of the aisle is the toilet and the right is the bedroom.|
|The only part of the house I really hate? The marble top. Why!!|
|Balcony with my sad plants. The tall building's the hospital, which is blocking Mount Wellie.|
|Junior room - Janice's for the year.|
|Another view of it.|
Ok so the story of the sale of the place. Its a long story, so get a cuppa and sit back:)
We actually had the place listed since May with the first agent. He was the guy Elvine's mum bought the place from, so she contacted him again to sell the place. He came in with his camera, took a few (not great) photos and listed it on the internet. Over the next few months, he had one, maybe two viewings. No offers, no indication of interest at all.
After his sole agency contract ended, I decided not to renew it because he didn't give me great vibes. Ok that was very generous of me, lets try again. I really didn't like him. He reminded me of the dad in Matilda, the movie (who was a dodgy used car salesman haha), and had very heavily accented English (someone told me he was Dutch). He couldn't take simple instructions, like, call me on my mobile instead of the landline, and when he couldn't get me on the landline, he would call/email Elvine's mum. Lets just say, I would have been really surprised if he had landed a sale. But his plus point was that his fees were really low at 3%, and since he took the photos himself, there was no charge.
Not renewing his contract proved to be a good move because we heard from other agents later that he really was a dodgy character (bad rep in the industry), and gave me the chance to explore other agents, who ultimately sold my property. As if to further drive home the point, he continued to text /call /leave me messages asking me to buy other properties. Like uh, I was selling the property because we were leaving Hobart, why would I want to buy another! It was a mass message to his database, but he took pains to personalise each message with a name, only in my case, he continued to refer to me as my mother in law's name despite me telling him countless times that this was my number not hers. HAIX.
Ok so moving on to the main point!
When I was taking the sewing classes, I asked one of my lovely classmates who was an accountant with a property agency to recommend an agent. She recommended one of her friends, lets call her P. P had been an agent for more than 20 years, and you could definitely tell by her demeanor. The first time she came to our place, I had just woken up haha so I was wearing my robe, and the house was still messy from the night before. She basically just shot her mouth off, ie get a cleaner, or else. And when you're done tidying, we'll bring in the Interior Decorator and professional photographer (I told her Elvine could take photos but she was like, no. we need a professional.. these photos by Elvine are really not too bad right? She shot them down /boo)
In addition, she left me her pack with her rates/fees. Almost $3k in marketing fees to list the property in the local newspaper, websites etc. And.. her agent fees of 3.8% plus 10% of that (so 0.38%) for GST. She said that was not negotiable, and it was a Tasmanian scale that she abides by for all clients.
So all the fees, along with the professional cleaning, photography etc, added up to alot. And this was all before she even started selling! But I had a gut feel about her, though I didn't like that she was slightly rude to me and kinda dissed my housewifey skills in cleaning, she had an air of confidence and just.. zai-ness that I trusted.
At the same time, we received a flyer from another agent, L (from yet another company) who said she had just sold a unit in our property and would like to help us sell ours. No harm meeting yet another, Elvine said, so I got her to come to our place one morning. Now L was very pleasant, ex teacher, been an agent for 6 years.. but when I asked her things like, which other units are for sale here, she stammered abit and was basically just trying to smoke me. P had told me not only which other units ours was up against, but the prices they were going for, then she advised us on the price to list it. L showed us the same rate scale P had showed us, but immediately offered to give a discount, so her rate was 3%, same as agent 1.
We were now in a dilemma, agents all like having sole agency for a 3 month period, by now it was October and we were leaving in Jan so we only had one chance and had to pick the right one. P was obviously my first choice but with all the fees and her higher agent fees, we would incur a loss on the property if we didn't manage to sell it above the list price (never happens). L had the better rate and was pleasant to deal with, but she didn't give me the confidence.
In the end, Elvine picked L but we put conditions like 2 months instead of 3 that sorta thing, so that if she didn't manage to sell in the 2 months, we could go with P for the last shot.
But.. the day before signing L's contract, P suddenly called me to say she was bringing clients to another unit next door and would I like her to just show them our unit too? Since shunbian. I was like sure, why not! So I texted L to say we would like to hold off the contract signing.
Now this other unit for sale with P is only 3 doors down, has a better view, and 2 carpark lots instead of 1 (the owner purchased it from management, and carpark lots are worth about $50K). Their list price was less than $50K more than ours, so..you do the math. But working against them, was the fact that it was tenanted to 3 girls who haven't left the place in the best condition.
Those clients actually offered the very next day, and P called us to tell us the news. But their offer was ridiculously low (almost 10-20% below market rate) so we knew they were just trying their luck. In the meantime, Elvine decided to tell P, that you know hey we like you, but your rates are just too high for us, other agents are all offering 3%. So she had a think, and said, ok I'm happy to match theirs!! HOORAY!! Best of both worlds! But even then we didn't sign a contract haha.
Over the next 2 weeks, everytime P showed clients the other unit, she would bring them to ours. She also partnered with a colleague, S, and everytime he showed his clients the other unit, he would bring them to ours too. So without a contract with either of them, they had brought at least 4 to 5 groups of people to our place!
One fine day, I remember it was a Friday morning, she called me to say that she had an offer. I asked her how much it was (because if it was ridiculous like the last time, I didn't want to waste my time) but she refused to tell me and instead said I had to get Elvine to her office right away. I'm abit scared of her remember? So I didn't argue/insist and instead told her meekly that Elvine was probably in theatre and couldn't pick up his phone so could we come over after work instead. She said she had an appointment at 6 but "I'd have to reschedule that because this is more important" erm..ok..
Elvine finally had a moment to call her, and told her he would go down right after work, but the earliest was 5.30pm.
My parents were here during that period (they take alot of credit for the sale because my dad helped to clean the windows hahaha my mum likes to say this is the first time in 30 years she's seen him clean windows), and I remember we had driven down south to eat sushi where there was poor reception. On the way in to Hobart, Elvine called to say quick come home, he had ended work and was waiting for the car to drive down to P's office. That was the first time I encountered traffic in Hobart.
Elvine went in first while I went to park since we were late. When I arrived, P, S, and Elvine were in a room, and P quickly explained to me that Elvine had just signed the agency contract (haha finally) at the very very good rate of 3% including GST. (Really?? I wanted to say but thankfully I had the wisdom to shut my mouth!)
On the table were 3 sealed envelopes. P started by saying.. that this is what they call a 'Golden Goose' in property retail. She can't remember the last time she received 3 offers in one single morning! WHAT?? From no offers for half a year to 3 offers in one morning??
And she explained that under Tasmanian law, if we get one offer, we can negotiate with the client. If we get 2, we will know both sides and can negotiate with both sides. But if we get 3 and above, we enter into something like a silent auction. Each party will put their absolute highest offer, sign a document that says that they understand the multiple offer ruling, and seal it in an envelope. Then we have to choose one to say ok to, no negotiation, and the rest will be rejected.
So we now had the multiple offer situation. 3 envelopes in front of us. 1 was P's, 2 were S's.
They opened each envelope in the most dramatic fashion, as if they were about to tell us how much we won in the lottery!
First offer was P's client, not bad, matched what we listed it for, but had some conditions to settle (ie finance approval sort of thing). By now, both Elvine and I were grinning from ear to ear. Thank you Lord! I would have accepted happily if that was the only one but nope, it gets better, I sit back in my chair.
2nd offer was S's fist client, only $1K less than the first offer, but no conditions, immediate cash payment. Woah tempting.
3rd offer was S's second client, the most out of 3 offers, but also conditional on finance.
It was between offer 2 & 3, so they told us briefly that #2 was an elderly couple who wanted to sell their big house and move to the city, understandable, since our place was near the hospital and was smaller and easier to manage.
#3 was a young couple who own a 'successful restaurant' by the wharf and want a place near enough to walk home from the restaurant after dark. Also a very good reason. The reason we were told the restaurant was doing well was so we had confidence their finance would be approved.
Then we were left in the little room to discuss and tell him which offer we chose.
S had been hardselling the 3rd couple "I had a talk with him just before this and he is very confident the finance will approve etc" so we bit down hard and said ok we'll go with the highest offer.
Very happy, shook hands on the offer, and he proceeded to tear up the 2 rejected offers. Told you it was all very theatrical.
Then he told us that the restaurant was XXX, I could see Elvine's face drop too, because we had just dined there and hated it (I ermmm quickly came home and retracted my negative blog post hahahahhhaha so childish), and that "between you and me, you have unit XX (the other unit for sale) to thank for the sale". Ok la since its supposedly secret (though I'm sure he was just being dramatic, and I'm sure P would already have told the owners that see, you didn't sell because you didn't cleanup as I told you to) I won't say too much, but its along the lines of the contrast between the cleanliness of our place vs theirs.. Sad for their misfortune because they still haven't sold their place but really really thankful we managed to sell ours! Can only be God's grace!
Finance actually ran into some problems, but P told me it was normal over the Christmas break, "I wouldn't worry about it" but it finally got approved which is why I'm talking about it:) We are really so so so blessed. From not being able to sell, to having 3 offers that matched our list price! And.. the best part, no marketing spend, and lowest agent fees ever! I was feeling abit bad coz the agents really earned very little from our place (almost 1% less!) but it was very little extra work to them, it wasn't really meant to be their unit to sell in the first place and they made an extra sale before Christmas, which is always a nice way to end off the year.
As for the low agent fees, after leaving the office, I asked Elvine how come it was 3% agent fees including GST and he chuckled and told me the story of how it went down:
P: So the fees, as we spoke, is 3% plus GST. (this is actually what we all understood to be the case)
Elv: Plus GST? *raised eyebrow*
long awkward pause
P: Ok fine 3% including GST.
Elv: (calmly) right thanks.
If you know Elvine, this is completely out of character for him! First he shocked me by actually 'bargaining' about the rate with her, then he pulled off this stunt to again lower the rate further? Just goes to show how bold you can be when theres nothing to lose! Getting so cheeky ah this husband!
So after taking away the fees and legal fees etc, we managed to just breakeven, which is considered very good for Hobart I think! I guess that could be why people here don't feel the need to buy houses.. though it isn't expensive because prices never really go up! Property prices in SG may be exorbitant, but at least you can treat it as kind of a long term investment, because even if you don't profit on it, it'll still be more worthwhile than paying rent. So lets try to see the positive aspects of it!
Inspired by this buzzfeed list of questions Indians are sick of answering (its super hilarious btw, if you haven't read it you must check it out), I have compiled a list of things Tasmanians have said to us with regards to our motherland.
1) Oh Singapore. Is that the capital of China?
2) I was just there 5 years ago! We loved Raffles Hotel, have you visited Raffles Hotel? You MUST visit Raffles Hotel.
(umm yea, I had my wedding reception there. But I don't tell them that because I don't feel enough for Raffles Hotel to have a discussion about it)
3) And that little island? We loved it! I can't remember the name but it was so lovely.
(They're referring to Sentosa btw)
4) Your.. English.. is.. so.. good! Or, so you're in Australia to learn English?
(Which is funny, because I have watched many many seasons of Beauty and the Geek Australia, and I now know one new country that I don't want to learn English from. Yes 5 seasons of 8-10 girls each is a good sample size)
5) Do you have tall buildings there?
(HAHA coming from the city where the tallest building is all of 19 storeys high. The next one is 14 storeys high.)
6) I love Singapore! You have the best airport!
(ie they've never stepped out of the airport)
7) Oh I heard chewing gum is banned over there!
(yes get over it already. same to canning etc)
8) Is it like Bali?
(The people here love Bali like its part of Australia. I read a satire article on the Onion about how the Indonesian government threatened to shut Bali to get Australians to comply hahah)
To be honest, at least a majority of Australians have heard of Singapore and even traveled through Singapore while on their way to visit relatives in Britain. If we were living in America, I'm sure this list would have been twice as long and pistol-to-the-head worthy.