Archive for the ‘En-Bloc’ Category

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Insider News

April 22, 2008

“I’ve got insider news”. “Someone I know works inside”. “This place is gonna en-bloced in 6 years time”.

These words were uttered smugly by a bespectacled man with a cigarette in his hand.

I had to walk away upon hearing these words as the resentment welling up within me was too intense to handle.

Maybe I’m just too obsessed with this estate.

As a real estate agent, I had to be professional about such remarks and not let my emotions get the better of me. (By the way, that guy is not my customer. He just bought a place in the HDB section of Tiong Bahru and is currently renovating his place and I happen to overhear his conversation with a buyer who just viewed a unit I was selling.)

Perhaps this frustration stemmed from the seemingly indifferent attitude I witness and felt amongst some Tiong Bahru residents.

Maybe no one really cares if this place would be en-bloced or conserved. What seems to matters most would be how much the en-bloced compensation would be and would the allocated flats be near a MRT station.

Seriously, you do not need HDB to en-bloced your home to get a windfall! There are many other ways to make money.

My family has never benefitted from whatsoever handouts HDB has given out.

When I purchased my 1st flat*, it was a total disaster for my wife and me.

We bought our flat impulsively at $495,000 and plonked in another $80,000 to renovate and furnished it.

HDB gave us a $40,000 CPF grant but that did more harm than help.

We later sold the flat off at $425,000.

Our losses come up to about $125,000 (inclusive of accrued CPF interest). To me, that was a financial disaster.

To add insult to injury, if I ever buy a direct flat from HDB, I would have to pay a levy of $107,000. And that amount does not include the interest incurred from the time I sold my SUBSIDIZED flat till the time I purchase my next one. (I wonder who was subsidizing who)

My wife and I never whine about that. We took it in our stride and recovered from it.

We stayed focused in our plans to become financially educated.

I also put in effort to improve my knowledge in real estate so that I can be a better investor and at the same time provide better advice to my clients.

We are still learning as learning is a journey with no destination.

We kept reading relevant books and tried to put what we have read into action.

I am also fortunate enough to meet many people along the way who could offer good advice and directions.

We have developed some kind of AWARENESS and this is a good start.

We have since made back what we lost from our 1st HDB flat through our real estate investment. (By the way, my wife is not in the real estate business but she took the time to understand how it works…..actually she does not have a choice, I have verbal diarrhoea and I demanded total attention when I am exploring my theories or analysis with her)

I strongly agree with Robert Kiyosaki that all of us should stop having this ENTITLEMENT mentality and instead steer our own future.

As the saying goes, give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

But BEWARE of the person who does neither but wants to sell you the fish. (They have a SELFISH reason for doing so and real estate agents** are classified by Robert as a fish seller in his book, “Why we want you to be RICH!”)

I was sold a fish when I bought my 1st HDB flat. I am now learning how to fish.

So for whatever reasons you might have about buying into Tiong Bahru and one of them happens to be about some en-bloc windfall, I urge you to explore other options which has a more certain outcome.

Betting on some insider news is akin to gambling.

One of my wise clients recently said this to me: “Wiseman PLANs, Poor man HOPEs”. There is much wisdom in that statement.

But if you already living here in the Tiong Bahru Estate and you cannot really tolerate living in these walk-ups anymore, give me a call and I will help you explore possibilities on how you can be happily moved to a place where there are ELEVATORS and extra toilets to serve you.

That way, we can still keep Tiong Bahru low density.

Being collectively INDIFFERENT to the fate of this estate would be the greatest tragedy.

So the song goes, Coz we are living in a material world and I’m a material……..,

If everyone is consumed by that song, the GREED will eventually come and Tiong Bahru’s low density existence will be threatened.

*Note: I was not yet a real estate agent when I purchased my 1st HDB property.

** When real estate agents cajole you into buying a property, do not become too emotional and overstretch your budget. Remember, you are the one who is going to service that mortgage loan over a long period of time and that agent would not be around to help you service that loan after the sale. You need to know your own financial numbers so that no one can pull wool over your eyes.

*** Stumbled upon this site and I would like you to check it out too: http://www.saveclementipark.com/. I am glad there are some people at Clementi Park who cared enough to speak out.

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New "Enhancement"

March 6, 2008

This rustic laid back image has been erased forever.

For the whole of last week, I was wondering why there were so much hacking and drilling activities and I thought a new neighbour was renovating their place.

It was only when I was walking to the Tiong Bahru Market that I spotted some workers along this pavement. I thought they were repairing the drains or just doing some resurfacing of the walkways as there were some cracks along the pavement.

Perhaps someone complained about those cracks as it made roller blading a little bit more challenging.

Anyway, I walked off thinking that it was just some routine maintenance undertaken by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council who responded to some of the resident’s frivolous request.

Saw this yesterday while on the way to Eng Watt Street. So not only did the town council made this pavement a better place to roller blade, they made it a nicer place to roller blade as well!

I hope this “enhancement” will quell all talks about this place being en-bloc in the near future.

By the way, I do not know how to roller blade and I am hoping to learn it someday. Yes, someday.
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Will the lease ever gets topped up?

September 24, 2007

The Tiong Bahru Pre-War section was sold to the existing tenants around 1967 and the properties here were transacted like “PRIVATE” properties.

In 2003, it was awarded “CONSERVATION” status as these buildings have historical significance in Singapore’s history.

At the moment, the lease remaining is about 59 years and many buyers, particularly the younger ones, are affected by the CPF withdrawal limits. These rules were implemented by the Government to ensure that her citizens are able to live in the property till they are 80 years old.

The intention of our Government is primarily GOOD but these 2 events may have created a unintended barrier that prevents the place from achieving its true value.

While I am pro-conservation, I also recognized that the “Conservation Status” has effectively cut off the resident’s hope of obtaining a windfall through a collective sale exercise. There is no way they can get a developer to “reset” the lease to 99 years through a redevelopment proposal as the “conservation status” prevents that option.

So while other aging leasehold properties could negate the dwindling remaining lease through redevelopment, this place offers no such hope at the moment.

Maybe this could be the reason why many buildings that were built in the 70s are fast disappearing. The obvious and easiest way out to protect the owner’s assets is to tear it down and give it a new lease of life….not to mention a handsome profit as well. Not many will be so noble to let the lease run down and see their hard earn savings go down the drain.

Let’s explore the various possible scenarios that this place may have for the flat owners

Scenario One: No TOP UP lease
Nothing happens. Life goes on as normal. The Government is not obliged to top up the lease for these flat owners. All investment carries risk and all owners knew about the rules and regulation prior to purchasing these flats. They can still live in the flat for another 50 over years before the Government takes it back.

Scenario Two: The lease gets topped up
The lease gets topped up to 99 years again but residents are required to pay “market” rate to top up the lease. For those who are not gainfully employed or retired, the Government may allow them pay when they sell the property. They will be charged “interest” on that original “top up lease” amount.

With the lease topped up, the entire place will certainly experience a surge in prices as the buyer’s market widen and many more yuppies could afford to buy into this area.

However, this scenario has its problem as well. If the entire Singapore property market heads south after the “top up” exercise, “Negative equity” owners may have problem coming up with the “top up” money plus interest. But I am confident that our Government will be able a produce a good solution for everyone here.

Another factor to consider is that our Government CANNOT and WILL NOT be reckless in allowing the place to be topped up to 99 years without doing a thorough audit on the buildings. They must be very sure that these buildings can stand for another 100 years before allowing the topped up exercise.

The challenge here is to get all owners to co-operate and put up with the inconvenience of the building audit. After the audit, the rectification and repair exercise will definitely follow right after that. This is the part which will ruffle many feathers here as those with unauthorized renovations within their flat will probably be the most uncooperative ones.

But I guess this will be the bitter pill the residents here have to swallow before they get to enjoy the FRUIT.

Whatever the outcome may be, my sincere hope is for this place to prosper continuously and Tiong Bahru Estate can become yet another showcase to prove that “conservation” status does not always means being “shortchanged”.

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We are destroying what is uniquely Singaporean

August 11, 2007

The Straits Times
Lifestyle
Aug 11, 2007

I AM neither an architect nor a history buff. However, a part of me died a little when I read the story, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (LifeStyle, Aug 5).

I am only in my mid-30s and I cannot show my young children the library and the live theatre I used to visit.

Growing up in Chinatown, I saw how the life and soul of the area were taken away and reduced to what many see today – a tourist trap.

I saw beautiful pre-war houses in Teo Hong Road and New Bridge Road – homes to average folk – being taken away, only to make way for carparks.

I do not deny that many buildings in Chinatown have been preserved, and elsewhere too, but for whom and to what extent? Were our pre-war houses painted in bright multi-colours like you see today? Did they house mostly bars, pubs and restaurants? Did the shopkeepers sell keychains, T-shirts and CDs? Is it not an irony that we spend money telling the world that we are ‘Uniquely Singapore’ yet we keep on destroying what is uniquely Singaporean?

We have replaced uniquely Singaporean architecture with ‘iconic’ modern buildings built by foreign talents.

While I understand that Singapore needs attractive man-made attractions like theme parks and casinos to attract tourists to stay economically healthy, I hope that the authorities would realise that it is the human geography of a country that touches the hearts of many visitors. It is what gives a place authenticity and culture, and which will win the hearts of people.

With Singapore-style architecture disappearing, our indigenous identity is on its way to a slow demise.

Singapore’s history is already young. With the architectural heritage weakening, the day will come when instead of showing my grandchildren the places I used to go or have fond memories of, they would be showing me their latest playgrounds instead.

Meanwhile, I will spend my next weekend visiting the horse-shoe Pearl Bank Apartments to show my daughters that this is the place where Mummy first earned her keep as a young student tutor.

Tan-Wee Yin Ping

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Share my Grief.

July 27, 2007

Drop my kids off their kindergarten at Pearlbank this morning and was shocked to see that 80% of residents at Pearlbank has agreed to put their property up on sale.

I may not have lived in Pearlbank before but I still feel a deep sense of loss. Everyone who had lived in the Tiong Bahru Estate before could not have missed this Iconic building during their stay here.

This building was recently featured in URA’s SINGAPORE 1:1 City, A Gallery of Architects and Urban Design. But I guess that has done nothing to help protect this building from destruction. It will probably remain in URA“s Gallery and we will have nothing REAL to show the future generations except for pictures from flickr or videos from youtube.

I’m not sure if it is too late to help these Pearlbank Anti En-Bloc folks now.

I sincerely hope their resistance will not be futile.