You've been shopping for a HDB resale unit for a while and have finally found one that you like. But how do you know if the reason the property is unsold (especially if it's been several months) is because of the bad property market, location or other decidedly more morbid factors?
As a buyer of a resale flat, one may be wary of loanshark harassment or cases of unnatural deaths that may have occurred in the flat.
We know of one couple who moved into their newly bought home, only to be the target of loan shark runners. Besides getting red paint splashed on their door and "O$P$" letters to their mailbox, their gate was even padlocked from the outside on one occasion, trapping them within.
The harassment stopped after some months, probably after the debt collectors realised they were misdirecting their efforts.
Then there's the other type of 'haunting' that is of a more spiritual nature.
According to Propertyguru, one family in Toa Payoh moved out of their home shortly after a family member said she witnessed "a female ghost dressed in white" outside her bedroom, as well as a "floating head with long hair".
Homes that are believed to be haunted, or that have seen murders or other crimes, are called "stigmatised properties", said the site.
In the US, there are even websites you can pay to find out whether or not someone died in a house, with search data drawn from millions of police records, news reports, and death certificates.
In Singapore, guidelines set by Council for Estate Agencies state that property agents have to find out if asked and convey information to the buyer or buyer's agent on any loan shark harassment, bankruptcy issues, recent deaths from unnatural causes, and property defects.
However, if you still have reservations about the property you have your eye on, there are other ways you can tell if a property is haunted by loan sharks or spirits, according to Propertyguru.
1. Price below valuation
If the price of the flat is too good to be true, it probably is. You should ask for the reason why the seller is letting it go for below market price or if they seem overly eager to dispose of the property
2. Google the property
Do your own checks - were there news reports of loanshark harassment or unnatural deaths in the area? Doing your own investigative work may pay off if you don't trust the seller to be upfront and truthful.
3. Speak to the neighbours
They will probably be able to provide more insight about the history of the flat, or if they are unwilling to divulge much, one could probably detect it from their body language anyway.
4. Consult a fengshui expert
If you believe in fengshui or are superstitious, one could also get a geomancer to assess the unit. According to property agent Damian Chia, some families bring their young children to viewings as they believe children are more sensitive to supernatural energies. "If they are happily playing inside, you know it's the right unit," said Chia.