Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Insider News

“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.


Readymade said...

That's a real shame! When will the enbloc madness end?!?

I've been reading your blog for a while, and I sympathise with your love for the Tiong Bahru area

(wish I'd found an Alexandra brick too!)

I'd love to live in Tiong Bahru, in one of the old walkups. I've always been drawn to the age of the place, and if I could live there I wouldn't change anything and if I had to I'd do research first.

All I need is a safe neighbourhood, proximity to MRT or the bus, and wi-fi :D

Unfortunately Tiong Bahru's prime location is as much a curse as it is a blessing. A curse, because the high rents that can be extracted from housing there make Tiong Bahru prime enbloc fodder :(

choonkeat said...

I'm not indifferent to this estate. I love it here.

Thanks for getting me this house.

SGalf said...

Hi ReadyMade,

It never occurred to me that TB’s prime location is both a blessing and a curse. Now that you have enlightened me....I think you have hit the nail spot on.

This is what I'm anticipating and I hope it will NEVER come true:

1)HDB announces SERS for the HDB Section.

2)Residents get allocated some new HDB flats in the vicinity.

3)At best, HDB restores all the flats, at worst, knocks all of them down. If they go for the middle road, they keep some for OLD TIME sake.

4)If HDB did not go for worst case scenario, they will sell or lease these flats out like what they did with the LINK HOTEL and the GLOBAL residences at Tiong Bahru.

Let’s watch what HDB will do to the Silat Area after the residents move out from there. Their fate MAY BECOME Tiong Bahru’s fate. (I will blog about the Silat Area when I have the time. Silat Area is another beautiful S.I.T. estate which did not have the opportunity to metamorphose into a highly desired estate like Tiong Bahru and that place has been "SER".)

SGalf said...

Hi Choon Keat,

Thanks for standing up. I'm glad you are not indifferent to the fate of this estate.

Digress a little, I'm still trying to snap a photo of the person who uses the basket to collect and pay the Satay man, Ah Seng. I'm glad you managed to snap that "GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY" photo and left it in flickr.

That kinda "basket" experience is becoming very unique and I'm proud to know that we can still do that in Tiong Bahru!

When there are no more low density housing estates around, that will be an UNIQUELY TIONG BAHRU experience.


ber said...


I have following your blog for some time eversince shifting into the area.

I think what you mentioned about the possible en-bloc may be true after all.

Happened to looked at the draft URA master plan 2008 at http://www.ura.gov.sg/DMP2008/home.htm

Saw that the HDB area is still not marked as conserved. Hope they can make the changes before they released the actual masterplan.