Newlyweds Jaslyn and Jeremiah prioritised independence when it came to buying their first home together. What that translated into was deciding to buy a home themselves, without guidance from a property agent, despite it being their first time purchasing a property.
Being newbies to property-seeking, they did their best to learn the end-to-end process of buying a home by themselves, the pitfalls to avoid, and the latest market trends.
One of their key takeaways: the near-zero market interest rates at the start of 2022 would soon rise and affect their homeownership’s affordability. This signalled to them a sense of urgency to secure a house and home loan to ‘lock’ themselves down with favourable mortgage interest rates.
Despite multiple hiccups, the couple persisted and ended up finding their home in a 4-room HDB resale flat nestled in the heart of Depot Road, Bukit Merah. Here’s how they did it.
How Jaslyn and Jeremiah Secured their Bukit Merah 4-room HDB Resale Flat (Video)
The Search for Independence Together
Jaslyn and Jeremiah’s story began in music school, where a shared passion for melody brought them close. Four years later, they graduated. While neither pursued a musical career, they both went into the healthcare industry. They decided to look for a home together back in January 2022 and got married in February 2023.
“Staying with our respective parents was challenging since their rooms were small for the two of us. We also wanted independence as a couple,” said Jeremiah.
The desire to build their lives as a married couple as soon as possible meant that they decided not to ballot for a BTO flat, which takes years to complete building.
“As healthcare executives who had been working for a few years, we felt it was financially reasonable to buy an HDB resale flat,” said Jaslyn.
Jaslyn and Jeremiah’s housing criteria:
An area bigger than 970 sq ft
A corner unit that is north-south facing, preferably not east-west facing
No afternoon sun
A location that is between their parents, who stayed in Jurong West and Ang Mo Kio, respectively
On the city fringe, such as Kallang and Bukit Merah
The Key to First-time Homeownership: Resourcefulness
Without the help of an agent, the couple benefited greatly from using PropertyGuru’s tools and features.
When browsing PropertyGuru listings, it was easy to use the search and filter function to sort available projects by neighbourhood, proximity to MRT stations, per square foot (PSF) price, number of rooms, pricing range, and build year.
Jaslyn and Jeremiah subscribed to PropertyGuru’s newsletter to get updates on the latest guides on the HDB flat homebuying process and home financing tips.
In the process, they were introduced to PropertyGuru Finance tools like the mortgage affordability calculator and mortgage comparison tool to assess their budget and compare the latest mortgage rates across all major banks in Singapore, respectively.
“When we were viewing houses, market interest rates were low. We knew that they couldn’t be low forever and would likely increase soon,” said Jeremiah. This made them more eager to secure their home sooner.
While finding homes to view was not an issue for Jaslyn and Jeremiah, securing a flat was.
They explored over 15 houses in total with no success. Without an agent, “Sellers’ agents didn’t take us seriously. We felt pressured to enter bidding wars,” said Jaslyn.
Getting a Favourable Home Loan from PropertyGuru Finance
The couple eventually closed a deal on a 4-room HDB resale flat on Depot Road in Bukit Merah. Fortunately, the owners proved to be highly accommodating. Jaslyn and Jeremiah ultimately offered their price, which the sellers accepted.
They then reached out to a PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Expert to secure their home loan. And just before mortgage interest rates took off in early 2022, they managed to secure a 1.5% p.a., 5-year fixed rate bank loan.
“The process was effortless. After clicking ‘enquire’, I was contacted within just 10 minutes. The user experience and service are amazing,” said Jeremiah.
All’s Well That Ends Well
In renovating their 4-room HDB resale flat in Bukit Merah, Jaslyn explained how they hacked a few walls to get a cleaner and more polished look.
“We both agreed on a light and modern Scandinavian theme. We also consulted an Interior Designer (ID) for practical advice and carpentry. Styling-wise, we sought inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram mood boards that matched our preferences and brought it together,” Jeremiah shared.
Their beloved space is the kitchen, where Jaslyn made a significant investment. “It’s breathtaking, with a city view. It’s my favourite spot where I make breakfast coffee, or my matcha latte every morning before I start my day. It’s also because of the spot where I can overlook the entire house and it just makes me feel like home,” Jaslyn explained.
To enhance functionality, they added a “peninsula” adorned with fluted candles. “This area serves as a multifunctional space for meal preparation, work, watching TV, hosting guests, and simply engaging in conversations while others are in the living area,” she added.
Independence As a Couple, Community With Friends and Neighbours
Speaking of hosting, Jaslyn and Jeremiah enjoy entertaining friends. By removing the kitchen wall, they created an expansive open space that combines the living and dining areas. “We usually host around 15 people at once, but we can comfortably accommodate up to 30 people without feeling cramped,” she beamed.
Additionally, the vibrant neighbourhood, located near Hort Park, offers various activities such as hiking, walking, and cycling. Within about a 10-minute walk, there are affordable and delicious food options like Alexandra Village and ABC Brickworks. Jeremiah’s comfort food, the original Botak Jones, is also close by.
“We absolutely love living here. We enjoy the classic foods, and we also love the fresh and vibrant environment. It’s a perfect mix of young and old generations, giving us the best of both worlds!” Jeremiah concluded.
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