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renting a condo: what's the agent good for?

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anarkisten
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renting a condo: what's the agent good for?

Postby anarkisten » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 2:21 am

Hi,

I am very likely going to move to Singapore soon and have been browsing condos online. The way I understand it people usually hire an agent to arrange a deal for them. But do I really need an agent, and what for? I have never heard of anyone hiring an agent to find an apartment in my own country (Sweden) so why would I need one in Singapore? Can't I just respond to an ad, pay the rent, and move in?

I'm single, male, will make SGD 10 000 a month, and am looking for a central-ish condo of about 50sqm, if that makes a difference.

Thanks for your help.

Semar
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Postby Semar » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 7:39 am

Hi,

Agents are facilitators. They will help you visit many different places in a short time. A good one may even be helping you get the best deal you can get, not just handle the paperwork, but there are few in my experience...

If you don't mind spending more time looking for a place and handling the paperwork, you may not need an agent.

It's a bit like the difference between buying a package from a tour agency and managing your own schedule on vacation.

Good luck !

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Max Headroom
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Postby Max Headroom » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 8:21 am

The difference is that that is Sweden and you're Swedish, which makes for few unexpected surprises. Here in Singapore, you'll find there's a bit of a learning curve for new overseas peeps.

Now, Singapore isn't Laos or Cambodia, yet all you have to do is read some of the threads here to see to the various ways expats are, at times, quite out of synch with the locals, socially, in day-to-day life and in the business realm.

If you're the malleable kind and you can bend and flex to these little revelations on the spot, then no worries. But most newcomers go through a bit of an adjustment phase lah.

If this adjustment phase comes at the time when you need your wits about you most of all, i.e. deciding on where to settle whilst learning the ropes in your new job, you may find it a bit tough going.

Add to this the initial jet-lag and particularly the weather here, which probably couldn't be any more different to the weather in Scandinavia, and you may find that you'll be glad you got that agent after all.

Incidentally, FYI, a lot of companies provide in-house property agents.

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Postby Sergei82 » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 10:10 am

Semar wrote:If you don't mind spending more time looking for a place and handling the paperwork, you may not need an agent.

If you don't mind your landlords advertising the same units agent-free at the same time with you (whichever is faster game - direct or an agent), then I don't mind spending more time looking for a place.

But you mind. Big time!

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x9200
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Postby x9200 » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 10:32 am

I will be a bit mean, but if you have not managed or was not willing to find some pretty recent threads on exactly the same subject it means it is very likely you will need an agent regardless how bad they really are.

anarkisten
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Postby anarkisten » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 8:38 pm

Thanks for the answers, almost everyone!

I still can't decide what to do. Hiring an agent seems like a big expense for little value, but on the other hand it is a very important decision due to the long lease times in Singapore, so.. I don't know. Maybe.

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Postby BedokAmerican » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 9:28 pm

One option could be to rent a Service Apartment for a month or so when you get here and get familiar with Singapore and then use your free time to look at places yourself. Maybe your company will pay for a Service Apartment short term.

But the ease of doing that would depend on how much stuff you're shipping. Moving a lot of stuff to a service apt and then again to a permanent residence could be a hassle. However, you could call a cab service and request a taxicab van.

anarkisten
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Postby anarkisten » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 10:10 pm

I should have told you my employer will pay for a Serviced Apartment the first month to give me time to look around, and I am not shipping anything. I will arrive with two suitcases and the carryon, and that's it.

Maybe I don't need an agent?

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Postby Beeroclock » Sat, 22 Feb 2014 11:39 pm

For the first time I would suggest taking an agent purely for time saving, as per Max Headroom post. For subsequent moves I would do it solo. Just hope you find a decent agent and regardless monitor them closely and cross check your own research.

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Postby earthfriendly » Sun, 23 Feb 2014 2:38 am

I am assuming you have a car in Sweden and it is relatively convenient to drive to your destination and park your car. In SG, if you are using bus + train, the commute and walking distance will really add up, time wise. Taxi is a time-saving tool and cost more.

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Postby BedokAmerican » Sun, 23 Feb 2014 9:12 am

If you decide to use an agent, your best option might be to ask around at work for recommendations for good agents. You'll want to work with someone who's got their head on their shoulders (if you know what I mean).

I've found some agents here will just tell you what you want to hear. A friend of mine was told by an agent that there would be an oven in the apartment and there wasn't. When asked about it, the agent said he spoke to the landlord and would provide a budget for an oven, but after checking major stores here, there was no oven that would fit in the "slot" because the opening was really designed to be a wine refrigerator. Had to settle for a toaster oven. Not funny.

Our agent forgot to have the gas turned on. I went to make scrambled eggs about a week after moving in and couldn't get the gas working. We had to call ourselves and wait a few days to have someone come out and turn on the gas.

Be very diligent. When touring places, be sure and turn on the air-conditioning and see that it works. Turn on the water faucets. That kind of stuff.

Read your contract very carefully and be sure something is in there that states what you'll be responsible for if something major needs repairing.

Here's an example:
We had two hot water heaters that needed replacing within a few months of each other. We contacted the agent and the landlord sent someone out and we had to pay the entire amount of $1,500 and then deduct it from the next month's rent, minus $150. (Contract said tenant pays the first $150 and landlord pays remainder). Same thing happened a few months later. This wasn't a big deal for us to pay up front, but if landlords take this attitude with some tenants, it could temporarily leave them cash poor.

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Postby AngMoG » Sun, 23 Feb 2014 11:49 am

With my mostly negative experience with agents, I would say if you are here for a month in a Serviced Apartment that is paid for, and if you think you'll have some time in the evening/weekends - don't use an agent. You'll save yourself money and a headache.

You'll pay half a month's rent for somebody who is most likely unprofessional and that you need to double check whether he does his job properly. Nevermind that if you not lucky enough to get a good agent, he also won't help you much with navigating around the legal things.

Just be aware that whatever is in the contract and whatever is in the apartment when you view it, goes. Apart from what is written, you have very few legal rights. (Though they do have to use a contract template from the government now.) My last contract had a clause that if anything breaks within the first month, landlord will pay for it fully. Afterwards, 150SGD for tenant and remainder for landlord. That's a fair clause, and I would insist on it, were I to rent again in Singapore.

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Postby SINexpat » Sun, 23 Feb 2014 11:16 pm

OP, what country are you from?

I will tell you one thing, renting here in SG is far, far, different process than most western countries.

My agent documented every single little "defect" with the condo with color digital photos, etc. Set-up delivery of items, etc.

It's possibel because my company was paying him he was better than usual agent but as an expat doing this for first time local negotiation, I would be reluctant to not use an agent. Here in SG they have very stupid local "standard items" that you would not be aware of without and agent.

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Postby trashmaker » Tue, 25 Feb 2014 11:43 am

It's not like agents are a godsend or anything. I've been screwed over multiple times by different agents. If you have a month's time, do your own research and don't bother with an agent. Try to get a 1 year lease so the maximum you can lose is the 1 month deposit if things go south.

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Postby BedokAmerican » Tue, 25 Feb 2014 3:51 pm

There's also the issue of renting either a private condo or an HDB flat. If you pick an HDB flat, be sure there is a lease approval letter from HDB before you put down a security deposit with the landlord/agent.


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