What originally started as an entertainment pastime during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period in 2020 became a reality for this young couple.
Upset at being separated for a prolonged period, Wesley Foong and Angelina Poon, 26, decided to occupy themselves and take their minds off being apart by looking at houses together through Zoom virtual viewings.
This was not their first foray into house-viewings. Prior to scouting for a home together on various property platforms, they tried their luck at applying for a Built-to-Order (BTO) project twice in 2019 and 2020. However, they were unable to secure a ballot number and were put off by the long waiting time to collect their keys.
Pivoting into the resale market
Frustrated, the couple looked to the resale market and officially started their home-buying journey in June 2020 before placing a deposit for their first matrimonial home in August 2020.
They are now proud owners of a 5-room resale HDB apartment in the north of Singapore, with an expansive floor space of 1,206 sq ft. Their before-and-after home buying and renovation journey have been lovingly documented on their Instagram account, along with helpful tips for other couples looking for home inspiration.
A near miss
However, the couple almost passed up the viewing that led them to buy their home. After spending nearly every weekend scouring Singapore for potential units in shortlisted areas, they were left dejected and feeling like all options had been exhausted.
Furthermore, the real estate agent who was supposed to lead the viewing was busy handling another appointment. Despite being prepared to call it quits, they decided to push on and do one last viewing, which turned out to be the home they were looking for.
In the end, the final unit checked all of their boxes, including it being a newly MOP corner unit with a bright and spacious layout, flanked by quiet neighbours. It was also within walking distance to amenities such as supermarkets, eateries and clinics.
What to do before going for viewings
During their house hunting period, Angelina and her then-fiancé were preoccupied with both work and wedding planning. To save time and effort for them as well as the sellers and agents, they decided to have a pre-screening process by compiling a list of questions for the agent and sellers before committing to any viewing appointments.
A few questions they asked were the exact floor of the unit, if it was a corner unit, where the main door faced and how many neighbouring units were in close proximity.
Another way Angelina saved energy and maximised their efficiency was to view several units in the same or adjacent estate in one day.
Embarking on home renovations
After securing their home, Angelina and Wesley embarked on a home renovation process that they documented substantially on Instagram. Posts shared on the account span from housekeeping tips, baking recipes and various renovation experiences.[embed]https://www.instagram.com/reel/CX3d3l3sVKf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link[/embed]
Despite choosing not to work with an interior designer, they enjoyed a smooth home renovation process. The renovation was also completed within a short amount of time.
“Our renovation was pretty quick; I think we lucked out on that because Covid was really under control back in Dec 2020 as compared to this year, and things were beginning to open up.”
Angelina suggests setting aside a sizeable amount of money for potential adjustments after moving in and living in the house for a couple of months. “Even after a year, we still have plans to improve our home, which involves contractors.”
Proud cat parents
Other residents living in Wesley and Angelina’s cosy abode are their two adorable cats, Pancake and Pretzel.
The adopted strays were a significant factor in the couple’s choice to go with a 5 room instead of a 4 room flat. With the additional space in the house, the cats enjoy an entire room to themselves.[embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/CLBD5QWhc_A/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link[/embed]
“Pancake is a very shy and fearful boy. He takes a long time to warm up with strangers. We thought having a room in which he could feel safe would be best for him. Now that we’ve lived with two cats and worked from home, it is pretty much one of the best decisions made for our home!”
The cats have a fixed routine and stay in their room throughout the afternoon, leaving Wesley and Angelina to focus on what we need to do during the day.
Despite having moved into their new home for just over a year, Wesley and Angelina are already setting their sights on a bigger goal for the future.
Family and friends make up a big part of their life, and they love hosting and cooking meals to have together. As such, they’re hoping to upgrade their home to have more space for a bigger kitchen due to the space constraints of the standard BTO layout.
“Also, since this was our first home we bought and renovated, we stayed pretty safe with our design choices. Perhaps in our next home, we would go all out in terms of our individual styles after having experienced it once, which increased our confidence quite a bit.”
At the end of the day, Angelina concludes that buying a home should be approached with personal needs in mind.
“A home is pretty much a personal thing. I would advise prospective buyers to focus on their own needs and wants instead of going for units with characteristics that will “sell well” in the future. It doesn’t make a difference at the end of the day, so you should go for something that could be home to you and your family.”
This article was first published in 99.co.