COVID-19 Lockdown Diaries: Confessions of a Karaoke Enthusiast

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
COVID-19 Lockdown Diaries: Confessions of a Karaoke Enthusiast
For many of us, the last two years were a blur of having to adjust to multiple ‘lockdowns’, work from home routines, and rapidly changing COVID-19 Safe Management Measures. Safe to say, the pandemic was not the most positive experience for most.
One person who had a very different lockdown experience is daytime financial planner and nighttime "karaoke queen", Joanne Lim.
When the circuit breaker took effect in April 2020, it left Joanne cooped up at home with nowhere to practice her singing, other than her bathroom. As the ‘lockdown’ extended, she became determined to find a bigger home, indulge her singing habit and house her newly-bought karaoke equipment.

Forking Out $15,000 to Fund Her Singing Hobby

Joanne and her husband (then boyfriend), Lexz, got down to business and thought of five key criteria for their next home. They came up with this list:
  • Price: between $500,000 to $600,000
  • Amenities: plenty of food choices around and shopping mall within walking distance
  • Layout of house: space with a long layout, not squarish
  • Demographic of people living in that area: young and trendy professionals
To the couple, having a room with a square layout was important to build an entertainment room.
"It was my childhood dream to have a room with a Home Entertainment System (HES), and since Joanne loves signing, we decided to have a room to house both her Karaoke equipment and my HES," shared Lexz.
Due to the restricted movement brought on by Safety Management Measures, it was a challenge house-hunting during the circuit breaker period.
But shortlisting choices for their new flat wasn’t as difficult as they thought it would be. With the help of the PropertyGuru app, they lined up several virtual tours and held discussions over teleconferencing.
"I couldn’t physically go house hunting so PropertyGuru was a great help for me. Every night after I completed my work and my bathroom singing, I would use PropertyGuru to do my online house shopping," quipped Joanne.
After a handful of viewings, Joanne and Lexz settled on a 1200 sq ft flat on the 15th floor in Sengkang. The price? $542,000. This was a bargain considering the average price of such homes in the area hovered at $580,000.

Going the DIY Route for Furnishing

For most, BTO construction delays brought on by the pandemic were a pain and pushed many young families into the HDB resale market. Subsequently, HDB resale prices spiked and made homeownership even more costly for those buying a home from the open market.
But for Joanne, this was the wind in her sail.
"I was surprised I got almost $50,000 Cash over Valuation from the sale of my house," said Joanne proudly.
Still, the couple did not escape the pandemic completely unscathed. Labour and material supply crunches were in full swing and renovation prices were skyrocketing. So, Joanne and Lexz sourced all their interior furnishings online to do all the interior decorating and designing themselves. They only engaged contractors for building purposes.
The six-month wait for the shipment due to global supply chain delays did not hurt them very much, thanks to Joanne timing the sale of her home. She only sold her existing apartment only after renovations were complete. All in all, the renovation process was relatively trouble-free.
"Plus, we had a very understanding contractor and single-handedly did all the interior furnishings," said Joanne.

Creating Their Dream Entertainment Room

With additional cash in hand, Joanne and Lexz didn’t cut any corners when designing their dream entertainment room. Costing $15,000, the entertainment room is the most expensive and elaborate room in the house.
Lexz managed to do upcycle and reuse the existing cabinets to create the room’s basic soundproofing structure.
"We had soundproofing on the ceiling, floor and sides of the room and the existing cabinet served to be useful for the room’s structure. We are very happy with the outcome, and I can safely say it’s a dream come true," said Lexz.

Living As Newlyweds In Their Sengkang Home

When asked if they would sell the house in five years after fulfilling the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), Joanne answered, “If someone offers us a ridiculous price for this, why not? Besides, with the PropertyGuru app, I am sure we will have a steady demand for the unit.”
For now, Lexz and Joanne are enjoying their time as a couple and living in the humble abode they built.
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