I’ve been a property agent for about 8 years now. Before I embarked into property, I was in the SAF for 7 years. As such, I am able to look back and be able to make a basis for comparison on how my mindset has shifted since I started handling property transactions for a living.
One of the key shifts in the way I think is fully understanding that I am a Human-to-Human business. (That’s why the rise of apps doesn’t really faze me – a digital app to handle property transactions is a positive development but it doesn’t necessarily mean I will be replaced.)
Handling various different types of property transactions with a colourful mix of human behaviours, here I share some of the observations I’ve made.
Observation #1: Having emotional attachment to your first home
I have met many couples who are emotionally attached to their first home. The feeling is “there is no other place” like the existing current home. The thoughts of replacing it with another home seems painful even.
There is a sense of pride – this is the place where we raised our family. This is where we have relief and comfort from the outside world. This is where we invested a lot in terms of renovation, furniture and time to turn this concrete property into a home.
But to be honest, your first home was actually a place you grew to love. At the beginning, I am sure you were not familiar with the place and surroundings. But slowly, you got used to your surrounding environment, amenities and the area itself.
If you recalled back the first day you received keys to your home – there was probably some excitement and some nervousness. Maybe a sense of pride even – our first home!
But there was no emotional attachment – not yet. Those feelings were slowly built up over the years. Emotional attachment doesn’t appear overnight.
Observation #2: The longer you stay at the property, the stronger the emotional attachment becomes
I encounter this with the older clients. Those who have stayed for decades within their home.
It becomes tougher to deal with such situations. Here are the logical facts that I present to them:
- The value of a property (HDB or even 99-years leasehold private condo) will simply become stagnant after a certain age. No appreciation means no hedge against inflation.
- Their retirement funds are essentially locked inside the property.
The emotional attachment can be so strong that it ignores logical and financially sound options.
For example – Selling off the current home to access funds in order to obtain a property that has better potential to appreciate is a logical option.
Are there risks if you proceed to sell? Yes. No transaction is truly risk-free. But if the risks has been mitigated – then why not proceed?
Simply put – emotional attachment becomes too strong – overpowering logical conclusions.
Observation #3: When it comes down to the wire, this is THE ESSENTIAL Question they ask
Most cases I encountered is homeowners having a choice. They could choose to proceed or choose to remain.
But I have encountered cases where homeowners have no choice. For whatever reasons, they don’t have any other alternative choices and have to proceed to sell off their property.
When the day comes they are forced to sell the property, this is the only key question they ask:
How much money will we make when we sell this property?
Clarity comes in only when one is no longer clouded by emotions. Sad to say, this clarity exists only when no other options becomes available.
Having a sense of emotional attachment helps you to stay rooted and provides you with a sense of identity.
People who stay in the eastern part of Singapore joke that going to Jurong West requires a passport to cross over. That is a sense of identity that has been reinforced slowly and subtly without you noticing.
But the honest truth is that emotional attachment will NOT help your property to appreciate an additional $100k – $200k.
The heart and the head – who will win?
There is a tug-of-war between the emotional and logical thoughts every time I sit down with my clients to discuss.
Of course, some people will say I have an agenda – I am here to sell and make my commission.
The above sentence is 100% true.
As a property agent, I am governed by CEA and I must abide by their code of conduct to keep my licence.
But as an agent I also have:
- To provide the best deals for my clients as word-of-mouth referrals is still the most powerful form of marketing. 1 client can lead to 10 more!
- To ensure my clients succeed financially to ensure they trust me continuously
- To have their best interests at heart so I can sleep at night
In these 8 years, I have seen property transactions from the entire spectrum – 6-figure gains, negative cash sales, forced sales, downgrading, upgrading and many many more. I also realized how loss-making transactions could have been easily avoided.
So basically, when I share insights – it probably came with some context and “case studies” that will back me up.
As an agent, I provide my logical assessment while trying to navigate the emotional thought patterns of my clients. It is not always easy and that’s why I am not worried about apps taking over my job.
Is what I encountered a unique experience by any means? Well, when I sit down with my fellow colleagues, they echo these encounters as very common and prevalent.
Bear in mind, in order to serve my clients well – here are the 2 things I must do – open BOTH of my ears and CLOSE my 1 single mouth.
(There is a reason why God gives us 2 ears and 1 mouth – we need to use them in proportion)
My sincere hope is that this sharing helps to open up your mind and realize the dangers of emotional attachment. It is a very natural human tendency to attach emotions.
But from my experience – attaching emotions to physical places will not help you plan that retirement.
This is a dangerous cognitive bias – an emotional bias essentially – that could hinder your future.
If you would like to seek an assessment on your current property portfolio, please contact me. I have assisted many clients to get clarity on what they can do next.