SINGAPORE — With the residential property market showing signs of recovery after a protracted downtrend, property agents are pulling out the stops to sniff out potential sellers, including going door-to-door at some developments in highly-sought-after locations.

A check with residents at three residential properties nearing or past their Minimum Occupation Period — The Peak @ Toa Payoh, Ghim Moh Link and Clementi Avenue 3 — showed that estate agents have, in the past two months, intensified their efforts in finding owners willing to sell. Units bought under the Build-to-Order (BTO), Design, Build and Sell, and executive condominium schemes can only be sold after five years of key collection.

At The Peak — which reaches its minimum occupation period of five years this year — a resident, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Tay said she has been receiving “at least 10 flyers” each week from different agents. The flyers started landing in the mail last year, but have intensified in recent weeks, said the 38-year-old housewife.

Although a keycard is needed to access the residential floors, some agents have managed to get in and have been knocking on doors to seek out potential sellers, residents said.

Ms Joey Tham, 34, said an agent has appeared at her doorstep on one occasion and asked if she was planning to move out or invest in another property. Her domestic helper had also turned away “a few” others, added the former schoolteacher. Flyers have also been placed on the windscreen of residents’ cars.

A retired schoolteacher, who gave his name only as Mr Tang, 80, said he has also fielded “a number of calls” from agents at his home at The Peak.

Residents said the aggressive wooing by estate agents do not bother them much.

Ms Tham said: “They’re not very pushy, (so) I thought it was okay.”

Mrs Tay added: “I’m waiting for the agents to get over it. It’s just a matter of time they’ll stop sending these things.”

When TODAY visited Block 28 Ghim Moh Link on Friday (April 14) afternoon, flyers from the same agent lined a row of eight units on the 40th storey.

A resident, who wanted to be identified only as Mr Lim, 40, said his unit reaches its minimum occupation period this month and flyers have been stuffed into his mailbox or between the grilles of his door “almost every week”.

Mr Lim, who is self-employed in the engineering industry, said: “We get updated on the resale prices ... which is a good thing.”

Another resident, Mr Siew Yew Kong, 65, said he receives up to five pamphlets each week, both at his door and in the mail. With no plans to sell his unit, he has not responded to the agents: “When you approach them, they’ll keep chasing you.”

The retired sales representative said the choice remains in the hands of sellers. “Why should you be angry? They’re also earning a rice bowl,” he said.

Some blocks at the Clementi Town Centre, such as 441A and 441B Clementi Avenue 3, have also reached their minimum occupation period. Resident Tan Chek Kwang, 44, said he receives “four or five” brochures each month from agents, who started handing them out late last year.

Some agents, the product manager added, had indicated the rates of units that changed hands in nearby blocks. A four-room unit, for instance, could go for about S$900,000 — more than double the S$400,000 he had paid for his unit.

For the time being, he does not intend to let go of his home: “If you sell high, you’ve to buy high, unless we downgrade.”

Property agents interviewed by TODAY said it was not unusual for them to focus on properties nearing their minimum occupation period, especially when these are in good locations.

Ms Cheryl Chua, from the Dennis Wee Group, said home hunters who are unable to get a BTO flat would mostly seek out newer flats, particularly those in good locations like Ghim Moh Link, which is a stone’s throw away from Buona Vista MRT Station.

She said sales in the area have moved “very quickly”, with deals closed after “fewer than 10 viewings”. She has sold three or four units there in the last six months.
ERA agent Brandon Zheng said there is typically a large pool of sellers at such properties, with “hundreds of listings” close to their minimum occupation period.

“Normally, after five years, people would like to sell,” he said, noting that he has about 10 clients looking to sell their units at The Peak.

The agents said the property market has picked up in recent months, compared with the same period last year, with sales volumes on the rise.

In a sign of positive seller sentiment, HDB resale transaction volume and prices rose in March, according to SRX Property’s figures.

The number of units changing hands totalled 1,910, up 75.4 per cent from February, while prices inched up 0.3 per cent. Non-landed private home resale prices also rose for the fourth month in a row.