For 42-year-old Raj Narwani and his wife May, their current Henderson Crescent flat has served them well the past 10 years.
They’ve enjoyed many happy moments, including hosting gatherings for family and friends, and enjoying the serene neighbourhood with its vast open spaces. However, as their family grew larger, the couple realised that they needed more space to accommodate everyone.
Whilst the search has been challenging, Raj and May have narrowed down their list of potential properties, and hope to settle on their new family home soon.
A first family home to remember
When Raj and May bought their current four-room flat 10 years ago, it was an easy decision. The place was close to where Raj’s parents live, and it was spacious enough for the two of them.
The couple worked with real estate agents who found this flat using PropertyGuru. Raj and May had a set of specific criteria in mind – from the flat size to its location – and PropertyGuru’s filter function allowed them to easily shortlist potential properties. They didn’t need to waste time viewing unsuitable ones that didn’t meet their criteria, and within four months, found their current home.
They thoroughly enjoy their home at Henderson Crescent. The family often spends quality time together in the surrounding estate where there are plenty of ample green open spaces and family-friendly spots to hang out. Some of their favourites include the nearby playgrounds, cycling areas, Delta Swimming Complex and Tiong Bahru park, where May’s mother gathers with her friends for morning exercise.
With the home’s convenient location, Raj and May also enjoy opening up their place to host social gatherings with their friends and family.
But while their current flat was perfect for their needs back then, the family nucleus has since grown by five. The couple now have four young children, including a one-month old newborn. After May’s father passed away three years ago in Malaysia, May’s mum also moved in to live with them in Singapore on a dependent’s pass.
With eight people at home now (including their domestic helper), it is getting a little too cosy for comfort.
“We have made many pleasant memories in this home, and we’ll really miss it when we move,” says Raj.
Pressed for space, especially in the current climate
While Raj and May have worked around the space constraints and have many fond memories with their friends and family here, an upgrade to a bigger space is very much in order. This need was especially heightened during the Circuit Breaker, where Raj and May were working from home and the kids did home-based learning.
At first, Raj converted one of the rooms into a study area for the children. However, with the arrival of their new baby, the study room had to be shifted to the living room.
“This arrangement is not conducive at all as they get easily distracted,” he explains. “When they get older, they will definitely need a dedicated room to study or work from.”
After having to deal with such stay-at-home space constraints, Raj is prioritising finding a roomier flat. The ideal one would have five rooms – three bedrooms and a dedicated study room for the little ones.
Given the family’s love for the Bukit Merah area, they hope to find a home in the same neighbourhood. It also has to be near May’s Lower Delta workplace and their children’s preschool. This way, the kids can go to May’s office after school and head home together, rather than be placed in after-school care.
Raj prefers a unit on a high floor too, as ventilation and pest problems will be less likely.
Clicking their way to a new house
Appreciating how simple and intuitive it was to find his current home on PropertyGuru, Raj is once again looking to the property portal for his next home. In particular, he likes the app’s user-friendly interface, detailed listings and responsive agents.
“May and I both have the mobile app and we always send each other listings of homes we like,” he says. “The PropertyGuru agents are just a click away too – so far, our experience is that they are really accommodating, with some even responding to our messages at 11pm!”
Photographs, videos and floor plans of PropertyGuru listings are comprehensive and high-quality as well. This allowed Raj and May to make informed decisions during the Circuit Breaker, where physical viewings were not permitted.
So far, the couple have viewed as many as six promising homes, and hope to close a good deal soon.
Reflecting on his home-buying journey, Raj also ran into some challenges when trying to apply for a subsidised flat directly from HDB.
In his search for an affordable home, he applied for a new 3Gen flat. Unfortunately, he was disqualified due to his mother-in-law not being a Singaporean or PR. With her elderly age and the fact that she’s no longer working, he feels that the chances of her getting approved for PR status are low.
The couple have also tried applying for a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat several times, but their attempts have been unsuccessful. Considering that Raj belongs to a minority group and has third-child priority advantage, he is puzzled by his failed attempts.
Observing that there remains an ample supply of 3Gen flats in the open booking system, Raj hopes that the government can review their policies and be more flexible with the eligibility criteria for these flats.
“There are many like us who genuinely need a larger place, but don’t qualify or are unsuccessful. Perhaps HDB can consider families with members of another nationality if they really want to continue promoting bigger families,” says Raj.
For now, Raj and May are continuing their search in the resale market. After house-hunting for the past four months, the couple have narrowed down their search to three resale flats around the Redhill area – wish them luck!
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