Friday, July 17, 2020

The next Milestone.

[Updated 08 Aug 2020, 11:59 pm] Note: This is going to be an ongoing blog post for probably the next 3 months so do refer the timestamp to know if there is any update.

Blogging might or might not be a thing of the past since everyone is now mostly on Instagram or Tiktok but a blog will never lose its purpose. I started out this blog in 2008 to record down moments of my life, my travels, my thoughts and my milestones, and here's to the next one.

For the longest time, I've always wanted a place of my own. Over the last few years, i have been browsing casually on Property Guru but it was not that serious until last year after i came back from Sydney. Going back to the same small (yet comfy) apartment every single night and lazing on the couch while watching Netflix with pizza was one of the simplest yet satisfying thing to do (especially during winter!) At the end of the trip, i told myself, "Maybe it's time."

I started the whole process of understanding the procedures of getting a place in Singapore. In particular a Condo because in order to get a HDB, i need to be either 1. Married or 2. Age 35 and above, which i am neither. After a couple of meetups with  a few friends to learn more about the process, i decided to do up a blog post which i published last December - "Owning a (resale) condo before 35." I was honestly quite happy to get feedback and comments that the post was easy to understand and it helped to spur certain readers/ friends to consider getting a place of their own as well. So that was in December 2019.

In between the months i also got my friend-agent to set up some viewings here and there to get an idea of how certain places/ unit layout look like in real life but it was mostly meh.

Then the whole Covid thing came. Then Circuit Breaker, and now Phase 2.

I continued to look for a place that was within my criteria such as budget, location, layout etc. It was honestly not easy because we all know the better the location, the more expensive it will be (and more expensive doesn't mean you get a bigger space.) There were a lot of things to consider. At the same time, throughout the months i also setup a folder on my iPhone named "House ideas" where i saved photos/ inspiration of how i want my future house to look like, and the kind of furniture i want, the overall feel and theme of the place etc.
Couple of weeks back, i saw a listing of a unit which looks pretty decent and it was located in the development which i really like. The location was not bad, walking distance to a couple of train stations, it's about 5 to 6 stops away from my current workplace, i really liked the environment and vibe of the whole estate, the price stated seem decent (and negotiable) so i arranged for a viewing and brought along a couple of good friends with me so they can help to assess and turned out they even helped to ask questions which were pretty important when getting a place! (like the sun direction, lol) So glad i brought them along.

What i really love about the viewing was that the unit was clean and vacant. So when i entered the unit, i was able to visualize what i could do with the apartment (remember the 'house ideas' folder?) The owner explained the place well and i sort of could foresee myself living in this space, after the revamp of course.

I needed some time to consider and went to talk to a couple of my close friends and Oh! I also had to talk to my parents and they were slightly taken aback by the decision. They started asking weird questions like, "Are you unhappy here?", "Are we giving you any stress?", "This house we are staying in is gonna be yours eventually" I was like LOL i cannot deal with this but in the end i approached them separately to tell them it's like an investment plus it is my goal to own a place before i turned 30, then assure them it will take some time to transit and i'm not going to stay at my new place 24/7 immediately blah blah blah. Phew.

The last step was to setup a meeting with my financial advisor (FA) to talk about reallocation of funds, and way forward. That session was honestly not easy because despite my whole comprehensive excel sheet (which i tediously prepared the night before), there were still some resistance because of the whole Covid-economy downturn situation but towards the second hour, he seem somewhat convinced (or maybe not, i hope he is not reading this. lol) and we concluded that if this is what i want, let's go ahead and start the whole process.

Day 1:

Texted the seller with my seller with my offer (a couple of thousands off what he was asking for as i had my own considerations) By the same evening, the offer was accepted and we kick-started the process by putting down the "deposit", also known as "Option Fee" which is 1% of the sale.

Day 3:
Met up with a mortgage broker (recommended by my good friend) He seemed really sincere and explained the different type of loans clearly so i decided to go ahead with him and at the same time, engaged the lawyer that recommended who will help to process everything till the completion of sale in October.
Seller came over to my place that night to pass me the first official document and said, 
"Congrats on your new place" Shit just got real, it's official.

So now i have the next 2 weeks to settle what needs to be settled. Mainly getting the bank loan approved. Getting my FA to reallocate my funds, prepare a cheque for the next 4% (also known as exercise fee). I'll also have to pay the Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) which is basically a 5 digit tax amount to the government. 

/xiaoheartpain.

Day 10:

One week into the exercise period and today i was informed that my bank loan was approved! Made an appointment go down to the law firm this Saturday to "exercise the option" and i have to bring a couple of things such as my IC, the original copy of OTP document and a cheque book. This is the part when you start forking out the 5 figure sums and there are 2 options to pay it. Obviously it's not as easy as paying via PayNow or Paylah! where you can just use the app and transfer on the spot. The 2 methods are via cheque or this thing which i just learnt called the "Cashier Order"

I don't think most of us have a cheque book lying around so it's either you request one from the bank. OCBC charges a $10 fee and delivery of the cheque book via 5-7 workings days. I honestly don't see why commoners like most of us need a cheque book but still, good to have i guess.

As for the other option, you can go to the bank and request for a cashier order. What the bank does is basically prepare a cheque on your behalf (and it will cost $5 per check) The amount stated on the check will be immediately deducted from your bank account and will be held by the bank. The only 2 ways that the money will be released will be either 1. The recipient stated on the cheque cashes the cheque out or 2. You yourself bring the cheque back to the bank and have it returned to your account (admin fee of $5 applies. IKR, wth. Own $$ still need to pay a fee...成何体统!) So i requested for 2 cheque. 1 for the 4% exercise fee and 1 for the BSD.
( I google imaged the above photo)

Recently I've been spending a lot of time looking at renovation ideas and was deciding between having to engage my own contractors or hire an Interior designer (ID) instead. Both have their pros and cons and i would think that sourcing for my own contractors will be a much cheaper option but it also means that i have to handle all the coordination and make sure they do a proper job, which honestly can be quite tedious and taxing if i have a few reno works running back to back plus hello, i have a full time job. LOL

Just sourcing for one simple glass door over the past few days i want to die already. (Anyway a glass door is really expensive omg. Like $600+???) I haven't venture into finding a contractor to tear down a certain feature and building a wall. *facepalm* So now i'm actually having second thoughts about doing everything myself.

On a side note, i'll be getting my keys on 08/08! Huat date! *insert pineapple emoji*

Day 15:

Going back to the law firm (again) tomorrow to submit the final documents. Last update i mentioned about the cashier order and guess what? The name reflected on one of the cheque was wrong *facepalm* Not my fault, the lawyer firm's GM didn't indicate the full recipient so i had to go back to the bank and spend $5 to cancel the cashier order and another $5 to make a new one. TMD, waste my $10. (The lawyer fee cost me $2288 fyi.)

Over the past few days, i have been talking to a few IDs and contractors. Gosh, it's so tiring trying to explain my requirements over and over again. Most of the time i'm just telling them what i want (instead of letting them design, kinda defeat the purpose of getting an ID but still) and getting them to quote me for the works. So what i did after the first few was to give the rest a set of photos with all my doodles and comments, and i told them if they are unsure about any of the images, just call me. Rather than i explain one by one.

When the first quotation came (surprisingly costing only half of my budget), i was like can i just go ahead with this. The items are definitely marked up, like i wanted this feature paint wall which the ID quoted $950 but i got a quote at half the price by a contractor. So obviously i will remove these smaller items from all the quotations and engage the external contractors instead. But still, i will patiently wait for more quotations (like every other home owner) and compare them, check their reviews/ portfolio before deciding on one.

At the same time i'm also starting to look at furniture. Been browsing online stores like Hipvan, Fortytwo and taking screenshots of items which i'm considering the new place once the reno is done up. I think over the next few weeks i will just visit some physical showrooms as well to take a look at furniture.

Day xx:

I lost count of the no. of the days but i know today is 8th of august which is 08/08 and it seem like a pretty auspicious day and it's also officially the first day i took over my new house! Went over after lunch to film a couple of short "things to do when moving into a new place" videos which includes:
1. Rolling of pineapple into the house. LOL

and some other "rituals" like carrying auspicious items into the house (in my case, fruits), opening of all windows and doors to allow the air to flow through and also turning on all water taps and electrical appliances. I spent some time just sitting there staring at the place and it just felt so surreal. It's like, i did it. I really did own a place of my own at the age of 30. I still have to go over to take measurements and take some "before" photos so that i can do a comparison after renovation is done.
Went over to a couple of places such as DAISO, IKEA and Giant to get some cleaning supplies as well as temporary furniture such as table and chairs so that at least there is decent place to have meals and stuff for the time being. The cleaning part was crazy (there is still a lot of things to clean...) Gosh, now i know why people hate doing household chores. I'll probably be heading over to the place over the next few days to continue cleaning and take measurements so i can start sourcing for furniture during the renovation period!

Met a couple of IDs and got quite a number of quotations over the past few days so i'm taking this long weekend to decide on which ID to go with. There are quotations that were (surprisingly way) below my budget and there are those exorbitant ones so i really have to scrutinize through each line item, read reviews and then finally engage one company to do up my place. Hopefully renovation can start in 2 to 3 weeks time!

To be continued,                          


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Content Creators.

I recently received a campaign brief over email on an upcoming ambassador program (revealing on IG really soon!) and had some food for thought which i decided to pen down in a quick blog post.

After reading the brief, i suddenly got reminded on how challenging it is to be a content creator. (I'm not using the term - influencers cos 1. I'm personally not a fan of the term cos it's being used too loosely and 2. I can go on and on rambling about the "influence" people actually have and the actual effectiveness of what they produce. Maybe i will talk more about it later in this post) 

Ok, back to being a content creator.

I must really applaud the ones who actually spend time creating good and useful content that delivers the message across. I'm not talking about those pretty/ handsome faces who just hold the product and take a selfie with it kind and then post the photo with some caption which no one reads. *cough* "influencers" *cough* I'm referring to those puts in the effort to come up with a concept in line with the brief that they got from their clients. At the end of the day, they are proud of what they came up with.

(I'm probably gonna offend some influencers in this post but whatever lah.)

These content creators are different from celebrities. Celebrities when they endorse a certain product, they just have to appear on set and do everything as directed because there is a whole team behind that already conceptualized the idea and all they need is someone of influence a.k.a the celebrity to bring out the brand/ product. I'm not saying they no effort but they also need to pose or act and they are obviously good at their craft.

Content creators might or might not have a team, but they are usually only a one man show which means he or she does everything from liaising with client, coming up with concept, plan outfits, select location, self "photo shoot" (sometimes even using self timers cos they are alone), then selection of photo(s), post editing, thinking of content/ caption and i'm sure there are more things on top of those that i just mentioned. All for just a post. Be it just 1 instagram photo, a video or a blog post. 

The amount of effort behind the scene can be tremendous and it can get really stressful when there is just no inspiration plus there might have a deadline to meet. At times as a content creator, you might even ask yourself, should i just pose with the product like some people and get over and done with? Honestly speaking, there are a couple of times i did that due to pressure and i was filled with regrets after. To the point that after a couple of months past the campaign, i decided to delete the post away because i'm not proud of it.  

(I keep using the word "they" but i also actually meant myself lah, HAHAHA. I've done countless of campaigns with brands on my blog and i know how difficult it is. So i'm giving myself a word of encouragement through this blog post. *gives myself a pat on the back*) 

I really applaud those who made it big through their efforts because they truly deserve it. In local context, we have YouTubers like NOC and Jianhaotan, or bloggers like Jemmawei and DreaChong and even though there are some debate on whether some influencers deserves the fame and what comes along with it but what we cannot deny is the effort behind the scenes in creating content that we see online now. They are the true influencers. How many of us dare say we can sell out a product offline?

Even if you have 20,000 or even 50,000 followers online  how much influence do you really have? (as we all know, numbers can be inflated anyways) Is it based on your number of average likes per post? That might be used as a KPI for clients but probably only you yourself know how much influence you have exactly or when you have something to prove it. Like when DreaChong collaborated with the shoe brand, Superga and it was so successful that several media outlets wrote about it and people actually set a reminders on their calendars to go down to the stores to get the shoes that she designed together with the brand. How many the so called "influencers" now can achieve that?

I'm not saying the rest of people (including myself) have zero influence but i just felt that like what Uncle Ben in Spiderman said, "With great power comes great responsibilities" Make good use of the platform you have not just for personal gain, but think of how you can use it to deliver certain messages better and be proud of what you put out to everyone. 

Am i sounding too serious? Am i making any sense? Anyway, just food for thought. Ciaos.