Throughout my career, compared with being a department head in the management team, it is more satisfying to be an independent property blogger – I have absolute freedom to write what I like, say what I believe is right, and tell the truth from my heart.
In return, I receive messages from readers who also bare their heart to share their property stories.
Once in a while, there are sad stories from homebuyers or investors who regretted buying the wrong thing at the wrong price.
Some of them said they didn’t plan to buy in the first place. It was because the property agent told them this, assured them that, urged them again, and cornered them some more that they felt “paiseh” to say no and finally committed to the purchase.
Paiseh in Singlish implies shyness, shamefulness and guilty. They bought not because they wanted to. They bought because the agents had offered their time and services, they were indebted and obliged to return the favour. They felt bad to let the agents down.
The next question that will surely come up include but not limited to the following:
“What do you thing I should do now?”
“What should I do if I can’t get 80 percent loan?”
“Is it possible to return the unit and get back the deposit?”
When you change your decision to buy, the option money will be forfeited by the developer or the seller. If you lodge a complaint with the Council for Estate Agencies, you have to prove that you are buying under undue pressure or misrepresentation by the seller.
To avoid falling into the trap of buying big ticket items like properties out of paiseh, I would like to share with you three proven strategies. You can even practise them in everyday life.
Strategy #1 – S&S (or Short and Sweet)
Last week I went to a beautician for an express service. I was persuaded to top up the amount for the latest technology which is on promotion with a very special price just for this month.
I said, “No, thank you.”
Next, I was advised to sign up for a prepaid package that can save money in the long term.
I told the beautician, “Thanks, but I don’t need it.”
At last, I was introduced to some add-on products and services that were very suitable and helpful to me in different ways.
I replied, “Maybe next time.”
Every time I would wait patiently for her to finish her sales pitch, then gave her a short but firm answer. I know if I tried to be polite and explained why I couldn’t commit, I would very likely give in to buy something that I don’t really need.
She finally gave up and proceeded with the service that I originally planned to do.
The same applies when you visit show suites or go for flat viewing.
If you say you are not sure when is a good time to buy, the agent will reassure you that it’s now the best time to buy.
If you don’t know whether you can afford the property, the agent will use his calculation tool to show you how affordable it is.
If you point out the fact that the project is next to a cemetery, the agent will tell you there is already plan for relocation.
Unless you are really looking for an answer or a solution, it is unnecessary to let a salesperson know what is holding you back from buying.
Unless you really intend to buy, it is a waste of time to go into an in-depth conversation or discussion, while giving the salesperson the false hope that you will buy eventually.
The situation is like when your admirers confess their love for you. If they are not your type, never tell them what is missing in them that you are looking for. Don’t give them the chance to address your concerns.
Simply tell them that they are too perfect for you. And cut the conversation short.
Strategy #2 – BMW (or Blame My Wife)
My husband has this tendency to make a purchase after seeing a product demonstration. All the department store promoter aunties love him.
He would stand in front, watch the cooking demonstration, and taste the cooked food give to him by the promoter. So when he is asked to buy the product, he is too paiseh to say no.
Spend money never mind. Buy-but-never-use is fine. But it is annoying when the almost brand new product is not working and you need to send it for exchange or repair. The promoter auntie is unfortunately nowhere to be found.
Once he nearly bought a new car – just because he passed by the auto showroom, was approached by a friendly sales rep, let slip his profession, listened to the sales talk and went for a test drive.
He didn’t even like the car’s performance after the test drive. But the pushy sales rep kept pressing him to place an order.
He suddenly remembered that his wife is thick-skinned after years of negotiations for her properties. So he told the sales rep to wait for her to come.
As usual, I waited patiently for the sales rep to finish his sales pitch, before taking a quick look at the car.
After getting the hint from my husband’s facial expression, I told him firmly,
“You can buy that car. But don’t expect me to sit in it.”
The decision-maker was clear. The seller was shocked. The prospective buyer was relieved.
The next day the “bitchy wife” sent her husband an article about a driver survey that voted the car model “The Most Unreliable Car of the Year”.
The morale of the story: If you are the easily paiseh type, let your significant other play the bad guy.
If you are married, the BMW or MHA strategy can come in handy. Tell the agent that “It’s not I don’t want to buy from you, BMW (blame my wife)” or “I don’t know. It’s all MHA (my husband’s awry)”.
Strategy#3 – RDC (or Really Don’t Care)
Jim Rogers said in his book A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing that “Boys will need you more than you’ll need them”.
I am a mother of two girls too. I am going to tell them what my teacher taught me when we were in a girls’ school,
“When a boy asks you to do something, ask yourself whether it is him who wants to do it, or you who want to do it. Never succumb to pressure just because you don’t want to upset him. He will look for alternatives and approach other girls for the same thing. You are only one of his options.”
American civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
Similarly, don’t feel bad to say no to sellers or property agents. They will certainly look for and can definitely find another buyer. You are only one of their options.
Regretful buyers often said they have to buy because they don’t have a choice.
Not true. You have a choice. You can get the control back if you are willing to take the driver’s seat and grab the steering wheel by your hands.
Ask yourself: It’s you yourself want to buy, or the salesperson wants you to buy?
And remember, they need you more than you need them.