By Property Soul (guest contributor)
With no better suggestion from the government, the only way Singaporeans can deal with the haze from Indonesia is to stay at home, with all the doors and window closed. Despite poor visibility, through the glass window we could still see a property agent showing the house of our neighbor living opposite us. And there he was, walking his clients to the house in the midst of a smog, with the PSI reaching 170 and the worst haze hitting Singapore since 1997.
The potential buyers probably couldn’t see much of the house’s exterior. But the smell of smoke might help them better visualize holding barbecue parties at the house during weekends. I could imagine our neighbor shutting all the doors and windows like us, while turning on the air conditioning in full blast.
Property agents ‘in a haze’
The scene reminded me of a similar incident that happened months ago. Well, it was not exactly a haze – the property agents were so confused that they behaved as if they were ‘in a haze’.
A friend was interested to see some houses in my estate. Being a first time buyer, the couple came to me for advice and I promised to join them for house viewing. One fine Sunday I rushed home after lunch for a joint viewing just a few houses away from mine. When I arrived, they were already half-way through the viewing. Up on the third storey, I overheard the couple asking about some ‘crack lines’ on the walls and the ceiling.
The property agent was touching the lines on the wall, trying to figure out what they were. The owner mentioned that they were the first owner of the house, with a look on his face that said “we have been staying here for 10 years so what do you expect”. The couple, on the other hand, had the usual “worried buyer look” on their face.
Don’t know the difference between a crack and a ‘hairline’
I immediately told them that I had seen these fine lines appearing in my apartment before. They were the result of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. That explained why the lines were only found on the highest floor because it was the hottest under the sun. The quality of the paint chosen by the developer also contributed to it.
I also explained the differences between a crack and a ‘hairline’. For the latter, you could cover it by putting a fresh coat of paint over it after you took over the house. I added that I just stayed a few houses away. We didn’t have those lines in the house because we repainted the whole house with good quality paint when we moved in five years ago.
My friend was relieved after my explanation. The property agent was also relieved that she was able to move on to show other parts of the house.
But the rest of the house was dark, stuffy and gloomy. The place looked like it was waiting for its weekly house-keeping. The curtains at the windows were not drawn up and the air-conditioning was not on, except for a small fan in one of the bedrooms. That made us all sweating like hell in a fiercely hot afternoon!
Don’t know anything about the property
The next house was a co-broke case. The agent murmured the address and looked at a loss. Then she turned to me and said, “Since you are staying here, can you show us the shortest way to this house?”
It didn’t help that the property agent on the other side was also ‘in a haze’. He was not familiar with the layout of the corner terrace. For most of the time, we were walking around the house ‘free and easy’.
When my friend couldn’t get the size of the land and the floor area from the two agents, I had to whisper to them the exact numbers. It might be more than five years back, but I had those numbers hammered in my mind after viewing at least twelve houses in the same estate.
Before we left, my friend asked for a layout plan of the house. Both agents said that they didn’t have one. What about the floor plan of the whole development? Sorry, we don’t have that either. I had to whisper again behind the agents’ back. Yes, I keep those at my place and please drop by for a copy after this.
This is the first house viewing experience of the couple. They probably think that it is normal not getting any answer or anything you need from a property agent. This is one of countless times doing a house viewing for me. I just have one question in mind: If you are selling a two million dollar house, will you risk showing it in a haze?
By Property Soul, a successful property investor and enthusiast who shares her experiences and knowledge on her blog.