She is a property agent who is also, in a sense, a social worker.
Ms Riyan Ria's clients are mostly couples going through acrimonious divorces.
Indeed, she once acted as a human shield when a woman got angry with her ex-husband. In another case, she was filmed by a disgruntled ex-spouse who refused to move out of her flat.
For the past five years, Ms Riyan, 42, has specialised in helping home owners going through divorce sell their HDB flats.
The vice-president of Francis Tan Realty told The New Paper she chose to enter this "niche market" because of the satisfaction it gives her.
She said: "I can't get it from any other job. It's more than just the money, I think it is one way for me to fulfil my self-actualisation needs - to be able to reach out to people."
The property agent of 10 years added that about 90 per cent of the 70 or so flats she sells annually are from people who are divorced. A divorcee herself, Ms Riyan said divorce cases are often problematic for property agents.
"Some of them (the agents) have the perception that they have to handle the emotional aspects (of their clients' divorce) as well," she said. "Sometimes, you just need to make it clear (to them) that you are just their property agent."
Ms Riyan said couples who are the keenest to sell their flats are usually those who are undergoing a bitter divorce.
"Either they have a bad relationship or they want to move on, so they want to sell the flat as quickly as possible," she explained.
DWG group property agent Effande Yashin has also seen his fair share of tough cases due to divorce.
He is currently handling seven such cases.
"It's hard to get them to be agreeable about the price as the husband may want to sell at a higher price, while the wife just wants to let it go and be over and done with," he said.
Mr Effande said the total debt servicing ratio, which imposes restrictions on the amount that a buyer can borrow, has made it more difficult for such sellers to find buyers as there are fewer of the latter in the market.
Ms Riyan described a case she is handling.
The couple are divorced and the man, who is the flat owner, wants to sell it.
But his ex-wife refuses to move out, going as far as to take videos of Ms Riyan whenever she took potential buyers to view the flat. She even placed a note warning potential buyers not to touch anything in the flat.
Ms Riyan said: "She was trying to scare people off, so when buyers saw that the house has problems, some of them got offended." Although Ms Riyan eventually managed to find a buyer, she anticipates more problems and the case may well end up with the woman receiving an eviction order.
In another case she handled last year, Ms Riyan said the flat had to be sold within six months of the divorce after the husband successfully appealed for such a clause to be included, following the initial syariah court order.
"The ex-wife was supporting their three children," she said.
Although her children are all adults, the eldest is wheelchair-bound.
Ms Riyan said: "My fear was that if I were to sell their home, they would not have a place to stay in. If she were to buy in the open market, money from the sale would not be enough even for a one-room flat."
Ms Riyan appealed on the divorcee's behalf and secured a two-room Built-To-Order unit for her.
The divorcee had bought the four-room flat directly from HDB, and had to pay a levy of $70,000, which Ms Riyan managed to reduce by half to $35,000 after appeals.
The family finally managed to move into their new home in March this year.
Ms Riyan said: "Buying a flat after divorce can be difficult because the divorced party may now be relying on one person's income instead of two.
"The loan restrictions and the levy they need to pay if they had bought a flat from HDB makes it even harder."
Rules for divorcees
-If divorced owners wish to resell their flat in the open market, they must have completed the minimum occupation period (MOP) of five years for the flat, as at the date of divorce completion.
-If the divorce is within the MOP and none of the owners is eligible to retain the flat, the owners may have to return the flat to HDB. The compensation for the return of flat will be determined by HDB.
-To retain the flat, the divorced party must have the custody of a child, subject to eligibility conditions. If there are no children from the marriage, the divorced party (flat owner) may retain the unit if he/she is a Singaporean, at least 35 years old, and the matrimonial flat is a resale flat purchased without the CPF Housing Grant for Family.
-Within three years from the date of the divorce, only one party in the divorce can own an HDB flat or executive condominium.
-The debarment period for divorcees with full custody of all children buying a second subsidised HDB flat was shortened to three years from five years in 2012.
-The three-year waiting-out period will not apply when buying a flat with either parents or a new spouse, or buying a resale flat from the open market without the CPF Housing Grant.
-To help divorcees and the widowed with children, HDB has reserved a 5 per cent quota for them when they apply for two-room and three-room flats in non-mature estates.
Source: HDB website
This article was first published on May 24, 2014.
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