On April 3, 2020, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared that everyone in the country must remain at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. He likened the situation to a circuit breaker, a device that safely blocks the current flow in an electric circuit.
The order was supposed to last until May 4. Still, the Prime Minister had to extend the community circuit breaker until June 1 due to the continuous transmission of the globally dreaded virus.
This necessary measure already affected a lot of businesses, including the property investment sector. According to reports, the percentage of HDB flat resale transactions dropped significantly in April. Since the strict protocols that shut down most activities in the city-state will soon be over, some of the affected businesses may resume.
But the number of property agents conducting virtual viewing continues to be on the rise to adapt to the “new normal” and follow the safe distancing recommendations of the government.
A quiet Merlion Park during the circuit breaker in 2020. | Source: Facebook
You may still need to find a new property while the government slowly eases Singapore reopening. Here are some ways to help you look for a new place to stay during the circuit breaker period.
Tip #1: Ask your agent for thorough virtual property viewings
Whether you are planning to buy or rent a new residential unit, virtual house tours could serve as your alternative to the actual house tour that you usually do before the circuit breaker took effect.
This is especially useful if you are looking at new condominium developments right now when many developers’ show galleries remain close at the moment of publishing. A video walkthrough property tour, or 3D property tour of the show gallery unit coupled with floor-plans has led many buyers to purchase units even during the circuit breaker period.
There are mainly 3 types of virtual property tours that exist in Singapore: the video walkthrough property tour, 3D virtual property tour and also lastly, livestream property tours. As mentioned previously, for new condominium launches, as the actual unit is still being built, video walkthrough property tours and 3D virtual property tours of the show gallery are useful for buyers to visualise what they are purchasing.
However, what about resale property? Most of the residential resale property is being lived in by either the seller or tenants. It will be advantageous to ask for a livestream video property tour to see the actual unit so that you can see the actual nooks and crannies of the unit. You can ask to include a detailed look at all the rooms and spaces within the house.
It would be best if the agent will conduct a livestream session to showcase the unit and allow you to ask questions along the way such as specific improvements or renovations that have been done previously to the unit. Livestream or video calls are also more convenient since you can see the unit’s actual condition without any video manipulations done. It will allow you to check if there are cracks in the walls or chipped floorings even if you are not physically present during the house tour.
Tip #2: Look for an agent who is trustworthy and knowledgeable
During this period when safe distancing is a must, you need to work with a property agent you can trust. You need to build a good working relationship with your agent, so he or she can lead you to the right property that suits your specifications during virtual viewing.
In the time of this circuit breaker, property agents must always keep their communication lines open, especially since face-to-face interactions are on hold.
Tip #3: Make sure that the transaction complies with the circuit breaker guidelines
Even after the Singaporean government eases the rules of the circuit breaker in the country, you still need to practice safety measures while transacting with property agents during these times. You must also follow the rules before you decide to move into your chosen unit.
Law firms will still be open for conveyancing (meaning to act to close the transaction) and to facilitate “wet ink” signature. The same goes for HDB transactions, sellers and buyers that have transacted before the circuit breaker will still be allowed to complete the transaction at HDB hub as HDB do require “wet ink” signature to complete the transaction but the agent will not be allowed to accompany their clients during the completion process.
Other delivery methods that used to be done face to face will now be done through couriers. The payment of deposit can still be done but via cheque deposit or bank transfer as banks are essential services that remain operational during this time.
Movers that have obtained Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) approval will still be able to help you move. They will have to adhere to stricter sector-specific guidelines released by the respective agencies. Also, fear not because emergency household services such as plumbers, locksmiths and electricians are considered essential services are still operational during the circuit breaker period and also the various phases of the gradual reopening of businesses in Singapore.
Have a breezy process as you look for your new home
Finding a new property can be tricky during this time when circuit breakers are necessary to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. But if you know how to use virtual viewing to your advantage, you will be able to find a new residential unit that could serve as your home for a long time. Remember to enjoy the process, and let your agent take on the stress and help you find the place that could fit your needs.
Whatsapp message or call KC from Home Quarters for a complimentary virtual viewing and begin finding your new home today: +65 8809 2889! Or drop us an email, commenting on our YouTube or contacting us through our Facebook and Instagram pages! He is extremely knowledgeable about everything to help you find your new home today. Watch KC, your friendly neighbourhood agent here in action:
That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!