As of a month ago, Nurashikin Rashid, 37, is a proud homeowner of a cosy three-room flat in Sembawang and she feels more empowered than ever before.
Before getting the keys to her own place, Nurashikin stayed at her parents’ home in Yishun. For over 20 years, it has just been her with her 65-year-old mother, under one roof. They have been estranged from her father since he walked out on the family when she was 14-years old.
One Challenge After Another
As if it was not challenging enough being the sole breadwinner of the household — she was supporting herself and mum on her salary alone — Nurashikin’s mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia five years ago. The situation became harder to deal with, to the point where her mother required medication three times a day. As Nurashikin works as a full-time program executive at a private education company, she was not able to watch over her mother throughout the day. She was advised by a psychiatrist to place her mother in a daycare centre during work hours.
Despite her father’s absence for years, it was only in 2019 that her parents finalised their a divorce. Towards the end of the divorce proceedings, Nurashikin realised there was a possibility they would need to sell the flat. Seeing as there was a chance that she and her mother could then be homeless, she decided to look for a place of her own.
“It felt like the right time to get my own flat, so I thought why not go for it,” says Nurashikin.
Moving Forward and Higher
While Nurashikin was excited about the possibility of owning her own place, she didn’t know where to begin. There were also other factors to consider.
Affordability was paramount as she was supporting herself and her mother on a tight budget.
She also needed her new home to be near her mother’s daycare centre. Otherwise, her mother would lose the motivation to visit the centre daily, and her situation could take a turn for the worse.
Having heard about PropertyGuru from her friends, Nurashikin tried her luck there and was surprised at how easy it was to navigate. Through the portal’s search and price filters, she found some options in the Sembawang and Yishun district that were within her budget of $300k. Nurashikin knew she had to buy a home but did not know where to begin. Thankfully, she managed to engage the support of an agent to guide her along, making all the difference.
With no knowledge of CPF, deposits or available grants, Nurashikin was reliant on her agent’s expertise. Nurashikin shared that her agent was very knowledgeable and patient when advising her of all her options, so much so that within weeks, she felt like she was a “semi-expert”.
Her agent found a PropertyGuru listing for a three-room flat in Sembawang that he thought was perfect for Nurashikin, and arranged for her to view the apartment.
First and most importantly, the house was affordable. While the unit was initially priced at $320k, her agent discovered the owner was willing to let it go for $300k. Her agent also advised Nurashikin that she was entitled to both the singles, enhanced and proximity grants, which offset her cost by a further $65k.
His help didn’t stop there, he ensured all the correct documents were signed and stamped and was there for each step of the buying process – even when the keys were handed over.
With that price point, Nurashikin was surprised the apartment was located on the top floor. She was delighted that she could finally enjoy a nice view from her apartment. This was in contrast to her parents’ place that was located on the ground floor.
Another plus point was that the flat was only 10 years into its lease, which is perfect for a “forever home”. Furthermore, the unit looked almost brand new as there was not much renovation done by the previous owner.
“It was as if I got a new BTO. It was a blank canvas!” exclaims Nurashikin. It seemed almost too good to be true.
Nurashikin agreed to purchase the house on the spot.
The Ups and Downs
While the house was perfect in her eyes, life threw her another curve ball.
The process was delayed by three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The home was previously co-owned by a Singaporean and Malaysian couple, with the latter based in Johor Bahru. Because of the travel restrictions in place, there were issues with getting signatures on the official documentation, which lengthened the whole process.
“The wait was frustrating but it had taken this long to find my own place so waiting a few more months was easy,” says Nurashikin.
From the time she said yes to buying the flat in Jan 2020, it took five months before she finally moved in.
It was all worth it though: When Nurashikin finally held the keys to her new home, she was over the moon. Even today, she jokes that she still cannot get over how she now has a home that’s hers, and hers alone.
With a laugh, she remarks: “It felt so surreal. Did I really just buy a flat?!”
A month into her home ownership, it has slowly started to sink in, and she is now well prepared for what the future holds.
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