Archive for the ‘HDB Related’ Category


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: I am glad there are some people at Clementi Park who cared enough to speak out.


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.

A fresh coat of paint.

January 21, 2008

Finally! Tiong Bahru will be getting a fresh coat of paint. What a relief!

I found out from this tender notice as well as from the Tanjong Pagar Town Council.

It was a little puzzling to be told that the Tiong Bahru Estate would only be repainted NEXT YEAR in 2009!

One year to plan the re-painting job…….sounds like a very elaborate one.

I just hope the colours Tanjong Pagar Town Council eventually settled for would be pleasant enough for all of us here.

Hope we don’t end up like those flats at the Jalan Kukoh area. The Jalan Besar Town Council chose shocking pink combined with hunting green for that area.

What a weird combination!

By the way, when was the last time Tiong Bahru was re-painted?

I was told that Town Council usually re-paints the flats between 5-7 years.

Anyway, it feels good just to know that this place will look and smell fresh again next year!


Make Tiong Bahru a preserved site

November 10, 2007
The Straits Times

Life Section (Mailbag)

Nov 10, 2007
I READ Tay Suan Chiang’s story (Pieces Of Singapore, Life!, Nov 3).

It brings to mind the SIT flats in Tiong Bahru which hold many fond memories of younger days for many Singaporeans.

I remember returning from my studies in Britain and feeling overwhelmed by the sight of these flats. I felt I had arrived home.

Their architecture is unique. Not long ago, two architectural students from Sweden begged me to let them in to view the interior of the flat.

The buildings are characterised by the round stairway balcony with a porthole at the side, and the sheltered five-foot-way.

The Tiong Bahru market blends in beautifully with the neighbouring blocks and the town council has done a wonderful landscaping job.

In Yunan, China, the government preserved the Old Town of Lijiang and it is recognised as a Unesco preserved site.

Can the same be done for Tiong Bahru?

Lee Hoi Yin

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The "Seng Poh Road" Divider

September 4, 2007

There is an error in the current issue of the Home and Decor magazine. They have erroneously tagged the transacted prices for HDB in the Tiong Bahru Estate as Conserved flats. And to make it worse, the magazine mentioned me and my website. (Hello!? Were you working under pressure?)

Home and Decor did ask me to provide the prices of the Pre-War flats but I told them I only have the HDB transacted prices in my website. As for the Pre-War section, there are no public records of them in either the HDB or URA website. We gotta find out from the valuers or do a search on them….with cost. (I wonder why these information are not readily available).

Anyway, to “right” the wrong, I hope to be crystal clear this time around in explaining where the HDBs are and where the conserved ones are located.

Seng Poh Road (highlighted in PINK) is the road that separated the 2. I hope the picture I have provided below would clarifies this once and for all.

Extreme Makeover

August 4, 2007
BEFORE ????????????

AFTER ????????????

In case you are wondering if someone in Tiong Bahru has done an Extreme Makeover – Home Edition……sorry to disappoint.
The 1st picture was taken in the Tiong Bahru Estate while the nicer one was taken at the SMU Residences @ Prinsep .

If you intend to buy a ground floor unit over at the Tiong Bahru Estate, perhaps you can take a cue from these trendy hostels.

Where are the Privates and where are the HDBs?

July 21, 2007
There are 2 categories of flats in the Tiong Bahru Estate and these flats are
split up into 2 sections within the Tiong Bahru Estate.

On one side are the HDB regulated flats while on the other side are the privatised properties.

HDB SIT flat (Post War)

The HDB Post War flats are rather angular and the shapes are very standardised. Some people always refer to it as the ones with the round balconies. Actually, they are not balconies but the staircases for the residents to climb up to their unit. It is also what makes the building unique and charming.

These flats were built from the 1948 – 1951 period. It was built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). Some people refer these flats as the LIM YEW HOCK flats but I do not think they are built during his reign as Chief Minister of Singapore as he only took office in 1956. So to call these the LIM YEW HOCK’s flats is actually inaccurate. I usually call them the SIT flats but that still does not clear up the confusion as the PRE-WAR section are also built by SIT.

An easier way is to identify them by the block number. Blk 17 to Blk 50 are flats which requires the buyer to comply with the HDB’s eligibility scheme.

Originally, these flats were rented out and later, resident were “encouraged” to buy them in 1973, when HDB took over the responsibility of running the estate.

Blk 55 to Blk 82 are the Pre-War Conserved flats which were privatised in 1965 to 1967 under the Government’s pilot Home Ownership Scheme. The conservation status was only awarded in 2003.


These flats were built in 1936 and most of them survived the bombing of World War II. Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street even has a bomb shelter beneath them.

The walls of these buildings are really tough. If you even need to hack away these “historical” wall, your contractor can get rather creative with his choice of words while hacking them.

Although these buildings look almost the same from the outside, the buildings actually contain apartments of various sizes. Even the building height is rather varied. Some buildings are a mixed 2 to 3 storey high while some are as tall as 5 storey. The “super senior” taxi drivers will always refer this place as the “GOR LAU CHU” (5 storey flats). (Do not attempt to utter this to the modern day taxi drivers…unless you have a lot of time or is dying to start a conversation.)

The Singapore Government started selling these flats to the residents from 1965 to 1967 under a Government’s pilot Home Ownership Scheme. Which explains the reason why the 99 lease starts from 1965 to 1967 and not from 1936.