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The Sneaky Role of Property Appraisals in Shaping Singapore’s Home Prices

Posted by Jayson Ang on January 20, 2024
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At times, it feels less like a precise science and more like tossing a set of tarot cards into a spinning fan, then trying to interpret whatever lands near you.

Take, for example, when you’re hunting for a mortgage. You’ll see that some banks think your property is worth more, while others think it’s worth less. Some figure it out on their own, while others lean on the expertise of external valuation companies (I learned this the hard way when I had to cough up $700 for such a service during my last refinancing).

Property valuation isn’t as concrete as physics; there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. For instance, there’s no guaranteed equation to calculate the difference in value between a higher or lower floor, or how much extra a 3.2-meter ceiling height is worth compared to the standard 2.6 meters.

With individual sales happening sporadically, the price can fluctuate as wildly as a bar in Orchard Towers on a Friday night.

So, what’s the real deal with that last price surge? Is it an accurate reflection of the item’s worth? Well, who can tell?

Perhaps the transaction right before this was a parent cutting their kid a sweet deal, which would mean that the price was way off. Or, on the flip side, the latest buyer might be one of those people who breakfast on Bird’s Nest soup and doesn’t mind paying a little extra.

But here’s the real head-scratcher: who decided what the thing was worth, and how did they come up with that amount?

Without a history of past prices to go by (which some folks already think is pretty shaky), working out how much something’s worth can get really subjective. Even the big companies that try to put a number on everything (like, they’ve got some fancy formula to work it all out) probably couldn’t tell you why they ended up with the number they did.

I can see why people are hesitant about sharing how they come up with these figures. Nobody’s going to pay for a valuation that starts with: “We kinda think it’s maybe worth $X,” and no bank wants to admit “We based the loan on a hunch, give or take.”

Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Most of the time, figuring out the value of a property boils down to the latest prices paid at the place. If a few recent buyers shelled out more cash than usual (not worrying about bank valuation), it’s like hitting a jackpot for you, as your property valuation shoots up.

Shopping around for a home loan can feel like navigating through a maze, right?

The part I absolutely loathe about getting a bank loan is haggling over the property valuation. Sure, you can try to push for a higher value so that you can borrow more. Or maybe have your mortgage broker on the lookout for banks ready to play ball with a higher valuation.

But here’s the snag. These valuations indirectly impact property prices. If a bank is gunning for bigger home loan targets for the month, voila, property prices climb up.

Sometimes, it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. For instance, you might find yourself comparing mortgage packages from Bank A and Bank B. Bank A might offer a deal with 3M SORA + 0.7%, while Bank B’s package includes 3M SORA + 0.9%. But guess what? Bank B is ready to agree to a valuation that’s $50,000 more. This might tempt you to take up their higher rate.

Home loans are pretty much all the same apart from the interest rates. So, when the loan package seems a bit too expensive, some banks try to reel in borrowers by accepting higher valuations. I’ve seen many homeowners who have bitten the bullet and gone for terrible loan packages just because they were dazzled by the high valuation.

If you’re on the hunt for a mortgage, I’d suggest taking a hard look at the extra interest you’ll be shelling out and your increased stamp duty rates before making a beeline for the highest valuation.

And oh, don’t forget that stamp duties like BSD and ABSD are calculated based on the higher of the selling price or valuation.

Should You Buy, Sell or Wait?

If you’re reading this, you must be trying to figure out the best course of action right now: is it the right time to buy or sell?

It’s difficult to give an exact answer since everyone’s situation is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

I can bring you a wealth of on-the-ground experience and a data-driven approach to provide clarity and direction. From beginners to experienced investors, our top-down, objective approach will help you on your real estate journey.

I can help you by:

  1. Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
  2. Connecting Your Home with the Perfect Buyers – Through stunning visuals, an effective communication strategy, and an in-depth knowledge of the market, we’ll ensure your home is presented in the best possible way to fulfill your goals.

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