4 Lessons I Learnt From Selling My Freshly-MOPed BTO Flat

26 June 2023 | BY

This couple decided to sell their BTO flat after it MOPed, and here’s what they learnt from the entire experience.

selling bto

Selling your BTO after it hits its MOP is a tale as old as time. For some homeowners, it’s a way to take advantage of real estate appreciation and cash out. For some others like Rachel and Zac, the 5-year MOP made them realise that their BTO flat was not big enough for their growing family, and this was an opportunity to upgrade their dwellings from an HDB to a bigger home.

However, it was all much easier said than done. In their excitement to upsize their abode, they made a couple of compromises that created some problems and delayed their eventual move. To help other couples avoid the mistakes they made, here are 4 lessons they learnt that you should take heed of if you’re looking to sell your BTO when it MOPs.

Following after parent’s BTO-to-resale strategy

In 2021, Rachel and Zac welcomed their second child. But this also meant that they were outgrowing their 4-room BTO in Punggol. “We wanted a bigger home where we can have a dedicated home office, a space for the kids to play, and also a larger living room for us to host family and friends,” the couple shared with us about their motivations behind selling their flat.

selling bto - living room with children's toysThe TV and console in Rachel and Zac’s BTO flat were removed so that their kids could have a play area.
Image credit: Rachel and Zac

It also helped that Zac’s parents had sold their own BTO earlier in the year with ease and on their terms, including a 3-month extension of their stay. During that period, his parents found a resale condo where the owner did not need an extension, so they were able to move in straight from their former BTO into their new home.

Alas, Rachel and Zac did not have the same success when their turn came around. “We were expecting a similar situation for our sale but it turned out to be very different,” they said. While the sale of their BTO went as smooth as butter – offers were streaming in immediately following the first viewing – the rest of it was marred with obstacles and challenges to overcome.

Couldn’t find a new home in time & had to live with parents

Rachel and Zac accepted an offer from a buyer who was willing to pay a premium of $20K to move in immediately. The only problem was that the couple had intended to extend their stay in their BTO for 3 months to find a resale property.

“Initially we thought that it was a good bargain, but we eventually realized that the $20K premium was not worth all the hassle that we had to go through,” Rachel and Zac said in retrospect. Soon after the deal was inked, they had to move out ASAP and find storage space for their furniture. It also didn’t help that they had 2 young children who had to adapt to multiple new surroundings in a short period.

To add salt to the wound, they also couldn’t find a suitable rental home for the short term as it was during the period when the rental market was skyrocketing in favour of landlords. So they moved into the common room of Rachel’s parent’s home for around 5 months as their search for their new home continued.

Buying a bigger resale condo

Thankfully, Rachel and Zac managed to find a resale condo that checked off all their boxes. It had 4 bedrooms, a utility room, and a service yard. The location was also great as it was near the schools that their kids attended and is a walkable distance to Punggol MRT. Zac’s parents were also staying in the same development, which made the decision a lot easier to make.

selling bto - new dedicated playroomThe playroom for Rachel and Zac’s 2 kids.
Image credit: Rachel and Zac

At the end of the day, the couple has zero regrets about selling their BTO flat to upgrade to a bigger resale condo. “We love most aspects of our new home,” they shared, adding that now each of them has a dedicated space. Their 2 children have their bedroom and playroom while the adults have a dedicated workspace and a larger living space to entertain friends.

Still, there were some things that they would’ve done differently if they had the powers to turn back time.

Lessons learnt after trying to sell BTO after MOP

1. Don’t compromise on your requirements

Hindsight is 20/20, and one of the things Rachel and Zac would’ve approached differently was to be patient and wait for a suitable buyer rather than rushing to sell their BTO unit without considering the consequences.

One of Rachel and Zac’s most important requirements when finding a buyer for their BTO was getting an extension of stay for 3 months. This was to have ample time to find a resale apartment and make the transition easier for them.

thinking about paperworkImage for illustration purposes only.

However, they received an offer which was $20K more than their asking price with a catch: the 3-month extension has to go. What might have seemed like a bargain – imagine renting out a 4-room HDB flat for $7K/month – ended up creating more problems for the couple, as they were unable to secure a home in time.

Rachel and Zac ended up having to move in with their parents before moving into their new home, and they had to do all this with 2 young kids in tow. This was extremely disruptive to their routines, especially for the little ones, as moving twice in 5 months can be stressful for anybody, let alone young children.

2. Have a backup plan

Thankfully for Rachel and Zac, they had a backup plan which was to move in with Rachel’s parents if things go south. But many other couples might not have the luxury of falling back on their parents when their real estate decisions go awry. In that case, it’d be best to have a Plan B.

It could either be having a friend with a spare room that you could move into or ensuring that you have sufficient overlap between selling your house and moving into your new home. Either way, it’s better to have a backup plan that doesn’t get used, than to not have a backup plan and get shafted when thing’s don’t go according to plan.

3. Be decisive when you find “the unit”

selling bto - couple on a bedImage for illustration purposes only.

“When buying, act fast when you think that you have found the right unit,” Rachel and Zac advised all those who are shopping for a home on the market. They had to learn the hard way when after viewing more than 20 units and putting in an offer for 3 of them, they still turned up empty-handed. “All 3 were rejected for various reasons like timeline mismatch or we got outbid by other buyers who offered way more than the asking price,” they explained.

For the unit that they eventually bought, Rachel and Zac put in an offer immediately after their first viewing because they were afraid that they would be outbid by other buyers.

4. Don’t start the search too early & get emotionally attached to a flat

Browsing through property portals when we don’t have the capital yet is a trap that we’ve all fallen into at one point or another. Rachel and Zac were not excluded from this. They were so excited about moving that they started house hunting one month before their flat’s MOP. But when they found a unit that they liked, they couldn’t put in an offer.

This pattern continued a couple of times until they finally scored their new 4-room condo. “Each time we failed to get our desired unit, we felt disappointed and worried that we will not find another one that is as good,” they said. To help other couples avoid the emotional roller coaster they went on, Rachel and Zac advise them to put off the property search until they are ready.

“Don’t get too affected when you don’t get the unit you want because there will always be a better unit out there, as long as you take the time and effort to search for it,” they added.

Selling a freshly MOPed BTO flat & lessons learnt from that

selling bto - living room of a condo with arched shelves and a samsung frame tvRachel and Zac’s new living room in their condo.
Image credit: Rachel and Zac

As much as we all wish that selling a freshly MOPed BTO flat is a walk in the park, the reality is that it’s a lot more complicated than it seems. There is the uncertainty of rising property prices, arranging a timeline that caters to everybody’s moving schedules, and whether or not your house is desirable in the market. 

Rachel and Zac are glad to have been done with the whole process and can now relax in their new home. But their solace did not come without some moments of anxiety and a lot of worrying, which they hope that other couples embarking on their BTO-upgrading journey will not have to go through.

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