Behind the Scenes of The Property Market

Ten years ago, I began my real estate journey when I just started a family. My first property was a 5-room HDB flat in Bedok. That property let me made my first pot of gold when I sold it at the peak of the 2013 property market. Back then, we had decided to downgrade to a 3-room HDB flat in Bedok. Subsequently in 2017, my family upgraded to an Executive Condominium (EC) in Punggol – The Terrace.

As I look back at my family’s financial journey, I can’t help but marvel how property had indeed played a significant part in my life’s progression. No doubt about it, if you played the game right, real estate can truly unlock value for you. As we are approaching the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) for our EC, we are considering the next step forward. So when property blogger, Vina Ip, invited me to review her book – Behind the Scenes of The Property Market – I thought it was really god-send.

property market

Incidentally, this is the second book review that I am doing for Vina. In 2014, I had done a review on her book “No B.S. Guide to Property Investment – Dirty Truths and Profitable Secrets to Building Wealth through Properties”.

Although I am a financial blogger, I must confess that I have not been following the property market closely in recent years. Apart from providing insights on the new government policies on property curbs and guest posts from property bloggers, I have not been writing articles on the property market.

Vina’s latest book gives me the opportunity to keep myself updated on the latest developments in the property market, and at the same time, enables me to make a more informed decision in my next property purchase. In this article, …

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A Comprehensive Property Buying Checklist

Below is a guest post on property buying in Singapore. It is written by Stuart Chng, Senior Associate Executive Director of OrangeTee & Tie, a renowned leader, real estate broker and personality in the real estate industry.

He is a licensed real estate agent, team leader, industry trainer and speaker, columnist for several property newsletters and blogs and is often quoted in media interviews on 938FM, Channel 5, PropertyReport, PropertyGuru and other publications.

Throughout his career, he has also coached many top million dollar producing agents from different real estate agencies in Singapore. You can find out more about him at

A Comprehensive Property Buying Checklist

Congratulations on starting your search for a new home or investment property!

Whether you’re a soon-to-be parent, a first time property buyer or investing in your Xth property, it helps to have a comprehensive guide & checklist to follow when deciding on a property.

Apart from the criteria cited in my earlier article, Important Entry Signals for Property Investors, here’s a checklist of stuff you would do well to check for when committing to possibly the largest purchase in your lifetime!

Some are basics, some take a little more work.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

A Very Comprehensive Property Buying Checklist


A Guide When You’re Early In The Search Process

Is it for Investment or Own Stay Purposes?

Properties are mostly for investment purposes (Rental cash flow, capital growth play or both) or for your own occupation.

An investment home that’s smack in the Central Business District might not make the best home choice for everyone. Neither does a condominium in Sembawang make the best investment objective choice.

So make sure you have a conversation about what the family really wants with this purchase.

Affordability Check

Before you start searching …

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Very scary truth of the new Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits

By now, most Singaporeans would be aware of the new property cooling measures implemented by government. While most attention is focused on the eye-popping Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 12%, the more sinister aspect of the cooling measures for existing private property home owners should be the Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits. In the worst case scenario, existing home owners may be forced to do margin top ups if their property value plunged in the next few months.

Read on to find out why LTV can be so important to your home loan and why you should pay attention to this cute little rule because if property prices dropped in the coming months, you would likely to suffer refinancing nightmares. And I am not joking.

Many Singaporeans assume that property prices would keep rising. But this may not necessary be true. A lot of factors come into play but ultimately, supply and demand still play a major role. In this respect, the outlook for home prices is quite gloomy. And existing home owners may need to pay attention to the LTV ratios. Just picture the following.


Supply glut

According to URA, as at the end of 1st Quarter 2018, there was a total supply of 40,330 uncompleted private residential units (excluding ECs) in the pipeline with planning approvals compared with the 36,029 units in the previous quarter. Of this number, 23,514 units remained unsold as at the end of 1st Quarter 2018, up from 18,891 units in the previous quarter. From the supply side, there would be a glut of private properties flooding the market in the next few years.

Demand destruction

From the demand side, many buyers would be deterred to enter the market because of the ABSD and also the LTV. Most Singaporeans are not cash rich and would …

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12% ABSD to rock the market?

It seems that the government had thrown yet another hand grenade to the private property market by announcing further housing cooling measures (ABSD) on 5 July 2018, after the closure of the stock market.

On hindsight, the government may be forced to implement new ABSD rates because developers had refused to lower the prices for private properties even after the Qualifying Certificate and Developer ABSD were implemented several years ago. As entities, developers are also subject to the ABSD rate of twenty-five percent, an increase from the previous fifteen percent. Developers may apply for remission of this 25% ABSD, subject to conditions (including completing and selling all units within the prescribed periods of 3 years or 5 years for non-licensed and licensed developers respectively).

Though I am not planning to buy a second property nor am I vested in any SGX stocks, the latest round of cooling measures certainly came as shocking to me. This is because the new cooling measures also targeted existing private property owners through the revised LTV ratios. Whether the new measures that included an increase of ABSD rates and lower LTV ratios would be effective or is well-intended is beside the point. The issue is the timing.

99-to-1 Tenancy in Common

The stunning new ABSD rates certainly roiled the stock market, with major property stocks like Oxley, Capitaland, UOL and City Development all suffering from meltdowns in share prices. Bank stocks like DBS and OCBC were not spared either as they are the market leaders for local home loans. It seems that the ones who got the last laugh are those who opted for 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common as no matter what the ABSD rates would be, they would be immune.

Previously, I have written an article on 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common. Those who have structured their Manner …

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Buy private property to protect wealth

The mission of SG Wealth Builder is to build and protect wealth. Real estate, especially private property, offers one of the most viable routes to reaching financial freedom for many wealth builders. In this article, I will discuss the outlook of both public and private property in Singapore.

Hard truth about HDB flat

In 2017, Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong rocked the real estate market by clarifying that not all older HDB flats would be eligible for the selective en bloc redevelopment (SERs) scheme. Of more chilling is that all HDB flats must be returned to the government at the end of the 99-year lease. The stunning revelations raise the question on whether Singaporeans should buy private property to protect their wealth.

To put things into perspective, Singaporeans should wise up to the fact that the mandate of HDB is to build affordable homes for Singaporeans. It is not the role of HDB to build homes for Singaporean investors to build wealth. Thus, there is a need to adjust our mentality and refrain from thinking that HDB flats is a form of investment asset.

The Terrace

The Terrace Executive Condominium

You can definitely rent out your HDB for asset monetization purposes in order to supplement your retirement income. But do not bank on the approach of capital appreciation because government policies will always influence the price and demand for HDB flats.

On looking back, Minister Wong may be forced [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

Sign up as member and receive a bonus investment report on Singapore stocks! The membership benefits include:

1) Access to the latest premium articles of SG Wealth Builder
2) Email …

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Should HDB owners upgrade to private property now?

Have prices of private properties bottomed out and is it the right time to buy private property now? If so, should you buy freehold or leasehold properties? To answer these questions, it depends on whether you are an upgrader or investor. Recently, I received the following email from a follower and decided to share some of my thoughts.

Hi Gerald,

I am a big fan of your blog. It’s very informative and insightful.

Currently we are staying in fully paid 4room HDB flat. My husband and I have been searching for property to upgrade this year. We are looking for freehold condominium or landed property with SGD2 million budget. Do you think it’s possible? Any good projects to recommend? Appreciate and thankful in advance.

Previously, I have written an article on my thoughts on freehold and leasehold properties in Singapore. Readers should check it out and have the right mindset when buying freehold properties, taking into consideration the rules and government policies for land use in Singapore. Do not assume that you really own the land and house just because it comes with a freehold tag. In a land-scarce nation like Singapore, you never really own a house. The government has various legal provisions to acquire your property for development purposes – regardless its freehold or leasehold.

Landed or non-landed?

The next question is whether SGD2 million is sufficient to purchase a freehold condominium or landed property. In my humble opinion, the budget is definitely impressive. However, if you are looking at new freehold landed property, SGD2 million may not be enough. A comfortable figure should be SGD4 million. But even with SGD4 million, you can probably only afford those projects that fall outside of the central region.

private property

However, with a budget of SGD2.5 million, buyers can look at 99-year …

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The Dark Side of Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio

Once again, this is an article that all existing home-owners and aspiring home-buyers should never miss. Many Singaporeans tend to focus on the interest rates offered in the market when shopping for home loans. However, the biggest nightmare for home-owners is not the rising interest rates. After all, even if the interest rate of your home loan did spike overnight, the monthly installment amount is not going to be catastrophically high. Instead, the scary thing about home loan is when you are faced with margin call due to the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.

What is margin call? What is loan-to-value (LTV)? Why do they matter and how could they possibly lead to your financial downfall? Once again, I am putting a disclaimer that this article is not meant to be a financial advice. I am sharing this article based on my home-buying experiences. If you have any doubts, please seek advice from your property agent or financial adviser.

If you are using HDB loan to finance your property, then you can sleep well as you would not be subjected to margin calls. This is because HDB loan is a form of concessionary loan granted to Singapore citizens. Unlike banks, HDB would not force home-owners to top up the loan difference in the event that the value of the HDB flat plummeted. So how does margin call or loan-to-value (LTV) works?

Generally, there are two main criteria banks used to assess your loan eligibility and they are the Total Debt Servicing Ration (TDSR) and loan-to-value (LTV).

Loan-to-value ratio

TDSR refers to the ratio of combined total monthly debt obligations (including car loan, credit debt, student loan, existing home loan(s), etc) to the total monthly gross income. Under this framework, the monthly repayment installments for all property loans and other debt obligations are not to …

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The Dark Side of CPF Housing Withdrawal Limit

This is an article that all existing and aspiring home-owners should never miss. And I do mean it. A few years ago, I wrote about a 54-year-old Singaporean lady who was left stranded after she was not allowed to use her CPF monies to finance her home. In her situation, she had to use cold hard cash to pay for her housing loan even though she still had savings in her CPF Ordinary Account (OA). Read on to find out how to avoid this devastating financial pit-fall created by CPF Housing Withdrawal Limit in your twilight years.

Before I proceed further, there are a few things you need to know about CPF Housing Withdrawal Limit. Specifically, they are Withdrawal Limit, Valuation Limit, HDB loan, type of property and lastly, bank loan. I will first discuss the merits and cons of HDB loan.

HDB Loan

Through the years, Singapore government has been packaging HDB loan as a form of “privilege” exclusive only to Singaporeans. To qualify for this “privilege”, you need to meet many eligibility conditions. Hence, this give Singaporeans the impression that getting an HDB loan is the best option when financing property. In my point of view, such thinking may not hold water.

Just think about it. The HDB concessionary housing loan interest rate is pegged at 0.1% above the CPF OA interest rate. The CPF OA interest rate has been 2.5% for the longest time. So effectively, those who opted for HDB loans would be paying 2.6% of interest rate for their housing loans. This is a lot of money considering the fact that housing loans offered by banks had drastically dropped to below 2.6% since the Great Financial Crisis. Currently, there are many different types of home loan packages in the market but essentially, most of them …

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Understanding Joint Tenancy and Tenancy-in-Common

In my previous article, I shared the strategy of using 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common to avoid paying hefty Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) for investors looking at buying second property. Some followers were skeptical while there are those who may not seem to grasp the concept. As such, this follow-up article will explain in more details on how the strategy works.

Before I proceed, readers must understand that 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common only works for Executive Condominiums (EC) and private properties. This is important to note because in April 2016, HDB has banned the transfer of HDB flat ownership among married couples. So now married couples cannot decouple their HDB flat. However, this new HDB rule is not applicable to private properties.


When you buy your first property with your spouse/family, it is important to understand the implication of “Manner of Holding”, specifically the significance of Joint Tenancy and Tenancy-in-Common. This is because this relatively unknown term could have major impact on your future property investments and could even result in bitter court cases in the event of divorce cases or death.

No, I am not exaggerating. In my blog, several readers have written in to share their sad stories. This is real and I want you to fully comprehend this article before making judgement. You certainly would want to avoid such pitfalls.

Most people mistakenly thought that the term Joint Tenancy meant that 2 joint owners would each have 50% share of the property. [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

Read my other articles on property-related investments:

  1. 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common
  2. Frightening HDB rules
  3. Managing your CPF proceeds from the sale of your HDB to build wealth
  4. HDB: The
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99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common

During the Singapore’s Budget this year, many Singaporean investors were disappointed that the government retained the current Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD). However, instead of wishing for the stamp duties to be reduced or removed, do you know you can actually beat the system without paying an arm or leg? In this article, I will share with readers on how to avoid paying the ABSD with Tenancy-in-Common.

Note that the strategy I am sharing here is not “decoupling” (Resale part-share) for HDB, a popular move which involves the transfer of HDB ownership between married couples. In any case, Singapore government has clamped down on decoupling and tightened the rules in April 2016 to ban the transfer of HDB flat ownership between married couples. However, private residential owners are not subject to this rule.


Background of ABSD

ABSD was introduced by Singapore government among a slew of property cooling measures to stabilize market prices. It was revised upwards in 2013 in light of escalating housing prices. Under this rule, home owners are required to pay ABSD if they are buying second property or if they are not Singapore citizens.

Many property investors may have come across articles on property cooling measures in Singapore. But many of these articles may not be helpful in enabling you to make asset planning. Through this article, readers would learn how to avoid paying hefty sum of money to the government through [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

Read my articles on HDB and property investments:

  1. Frightening HDB rules
  2. Managing your CPF proceeds from the sale of your HDB to build wealth
  3. HDB: The thin fine line between Joint Tenancy
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The Terrace Executive Condominium

Prior to our purchase, one of the questions that my wife and I had been thinking over and over again is whether it is worth buying The Terrace Executive Condominium (EC). We are certainly not buying for investment purposes but then again, as a wealth builder, you would want a home with potential to appreciate in value significantly over the long run. In Punggol and Sengkang residential areas, we shortlisted three ECs for consideration and they are The Vales, Bellewaters and The Terrace EC, which is known famously as “Venice of Punggol”.

In terms of location, The Vales is considered the best among the three because it is located within walking distance to the SengKang MRT. However, as an upgrader, we need to pay the resale levy for The Vales, hence this project is not an option for us. Then again, we also noted that virtually most of the good-facing units have been sold. Those remaining unsold are either road-facing or facing the nearby SengKang Hospital. To make things worse, the recently launched EC, Treasure Crest is located just beside The Vales. Thus, the residents of The Vales will have to put up with the incessant noise and dust pollutions for at least 3 years after moving into their new homes.

In terms of interiors, Bellewaters is slightly better than The Terrace and there is no need to pay for the resale levy. We would have purchased this project if not for the fact that the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) is earlier than my Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). But beyond these points, wealth builders need to look at the big picture level, SengKang ECs lose out to Punggol ECs for the lack of major developmental projects that cater to lifestyle needs.

Eventually, we are glad to purchase The …

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Build wealth with property

There are a lot of online debates on how to build wealth with property. In my humble view, there is no absolute right or wrong answer for this topic because whether property is a wealth enhancer or value trap really depends on how you play the game. If you play your cards right, there is no doubt that property investment is one of your best tickets to financial freedom. However, if you don’t have a clear strategy on playing the property game, it can be your greatest financial nightmare.

One thing that readers must be clear is that property investment may not be suitable for everyone because every wealth builder’s financial needs, goals and profiles are different. As such, when it comes to building wealth from property, it is not possible for Singaporeans to adopt a blanket approach. The conventional wisdom is to wait for a financial crisis and expect housing prices to drop and then you go in for the kill as a bargain hunter. However, in today’s context, things are not so straightforward anymore.

To illustrate my point, I shall use my family’s real estate strategy and compare it with a working couple. Let’s assume that both my family and the working couple are presently living in a 3-room HDB flat and planning to purchase the next property. Let’s also assume that both families each have outstanding loan of approximately $100,000 housing loan. For my case, my family will be upgrading to an Executive Condominium (EC) while the working couple is planning to buy an additional property and has obtained approval from HDB to decouple the HDB flat. Which family is better off and why?

Many Singaporeans would have taken the approach of the working couple and purchase a private property while keeping their HDB flat. This is …

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The Terrace Executive Condominium (EC)

In one of my previous posts, I updated that I have recently purchased an Executive Condominium (EC), which is actually The Terrace at Edgedale Plains, Punggol Drive. In this article, I will touch on the motivating factors for my family’s purchase and also share with readers the buyer referral scheme offered by the developer of The Terrace Executive Condominium (EC).

HDB Resale Levy

In 2013, HDB announced that second-timers must pay a resale levy for new ECs launched on or after 9 December 2013. However, for land sale before 9 December 2013, applicants need not pay the resale levy. There is a list of ECs that HDB upgraders need not pay resale levy and it is found here. One of the motivating factors of my purchase of The Terrace EC is that this project is exempted from resale levy, which in my case, amounted to $45,000. If you have previously bought a new Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) or received a CPF Housing Grant, then you need to pay a resale levy when you purchase your next home.

Due to the fact that my family’s first subsidised flat was a 5-room flat, so we need to pay $45,000 for projects that come with resale levy. My wife and I were reluctant to pay this amount of monies to the government. After all, we received only $40,000 housing grant, so why should we pay back $45,000? Henceforth, we were attracted to The Terrace EC because it is one of the last few projects which upgraders need not pay resale levy.

SG Wealth Builder

Good Location and amazing amenities

In terms of location, The Terrace is situated right next to the Kadaloor LRT Station. In fact, upon visiting the actual site, our unit is literally a stone throw away from the LRT …

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Right time to buy private properties now?

I just bought my first Executive Condominium (EC) last month. On looking back, it was truly an enlightening experience because I have learned a lot on the housing regulations and CPF-related ruling. Prior to this, my wife and I had visited many projects for the past 2 years and we were fairly clear on what we are getting. But what we didn’t expect was the whole slew of housing regulations that not many Singaporeans are aware of. In the next few articles, I will touch on regulatory matters relating to private properties. In this article, I will instead share my views on whether it is the right time to buy private property now.

According to data from URA, for the whole of 2015, prices for private residential properties fell by 3.7%, compared with 4.0% decline in 2014. Credit to the Singapore government, the Property Price Index witnessed a soft landing since 2013. Despite various cooling measures firmly entrenched, the property market did not crash but nonetheless, prices have declined from the stratospheric levels seen in the last few years.


Source: URA

One important trend to note for 2015 was the record vacancy rate of 8.0% since 2011. This trend is expected to continue given the huge supply glut of private residential properties for the next three years. To put things into perspective, 26,467 units (including ECs) will be completed this year alone, followed by 17,234 units in 2017 and 16,223 units in 2018. Considering the fact that the whole of 2015, developers sold 7,440 units, compared with 7,316 units in 2014, this pipeline supply is overwhelming. As there are only so many upgraders and property investors, and with so many projects to be completed this year, the market is really at a tipping point.


Source: URA

For the developers, …

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The Ins and Outs of Mortgages in Singapore

There is much to consider when the time comes to take out a housing loan in Singapore. Though it may seem intimidating and confusing at first, understanding the terms that you are dealing with will help, you get a head start on making your decision. Tools like the mortgage calculators offered by Property Guru can help you plan out payments and what fits best into your budget, but it’s best to start by learning about some aspects of mortgages in Singapore that may be unfamiliar. You’ll want to learn a little bit about how the SIBOR affects interest, the different types of rates that are offered on home loans, and how this factors into why refinancing is common in Singapore. Here’s a bit of an introduction to these concepts to start you on the way to your home loan.

Mortgages in Singapore

Getting a Grip on the SIBOR
To put it simply, the SIBOR, which stands for Singapore Interbank Offered Rate, is the reference by which banks in Singapore determine interest rates on loans. Experts indicate that the SIBOR is predicted to rise to 2 percent by the end of 2016. You’re probably wondering what this means to you. Basically, the SIBOR will help you determine the initial interest you will be paying on your bank’s home loan, and can in turn help you decide on whether or not a fixed rate home loan or a floating rate home loan is the best choice for you. Though the SIBOR is predicted to rise, it can also fluctuate up and down, and will be added periodically (usually monthly or every three months) to the interest rate your bank already has set in place. Therefore, the SIBOR can cause your total interest rate to either rise or fall over the length of your loan.


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Making a Smart Move for Your Mortgage

An Information and Networking Luncheon by Property Club Singapore

In the coming months, my mortgage loan will be due for refinancing. Under the loan agreement, I am supposed to be paying interest fees at board rates set by the bank and the interest fees payable are scheduled annually accordingly. The fees payable is of course much lower than the HDB concessionary rate.

However, last month, I received a surprise upward revision in the interest fees, probably due to the soaring SIBOR rates in the market. This triggered me to check the term and conditions in the loan agreement, which stated that the bank actual reserves the rights to revise the fees according to market conditions. In my opinion, this is a fair clause and I am not complaining about the bank practice. But I thought that as an engineer by profession, I should have factored in safety margins in my mortgage loan to cater for such unexpected circumstances.

While the additional amount to be forked out is small because my mortgage loan is not much, many others in Singapore may be starting to feel the heat from the rising SIBOR rates. Aspiring homeowners, upgraders and investors are starting to feel the pain as banks start to adjust the refinancing and repricing packages. Incidentally, Property Soul, Singapore’s leading property blogger, invited me to her mortgage luncheon Making a Smart Move for Your Mortgage Information and Networking Luncheon this Saturday at NTUC Centre.

With the rising SIBOR rates hitting the home loan market, how would it affect homeowners? What precautions should property owners and investors take to cushion the impact of interest rate hike? How to make a strategic choice out of refinancing, repricing and restructuring? What are the legal implications that all borrowers should know when financing their properties?

Get …

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SG Wealth Builder Email Interview with Co-Founder of

SG Wealth Builder is pleased to conduct an email interview with Myles Clement,  co-founder of, a property platform that connects Singapore investors to the UK property developers.

1) Congratulations on the launch of! Can you share with the readers what gap or problem is the platform addressing?

Thank you! was created to give Singaporean investors CHOICE when looking to invest in the UK. We saw there is a gap in the market to create a clear, simple, impartial, platform that brings investors the latest UK properties directly, with no heavy sales tactics as we are not agents. Currently only the medium to large developers can afford to market their developments out here at great cost. Why not allow everyone to be able to market to the Far East market, bringing greater transparency, more choice, and hopefully better value to the investor, as opposed to being sold what is launched on any given weekend. We feel investors aren’t being given the best options available to them within their budgets. You have worked hard to buy that investment property in the UK why not have a choice.

Logo with web address 2 (2)

2) Who is the target customers? targets anyone who is interested in investing in property based in SE Asia, from the first time investor, to the professional investor with large portfolios already. We aim to create a service that is useful to all, and not just one specific type of investor. We want the platform to grow, so if investors want to buy in say Scotland, we will look to list developments in Scotland. is an investor and developer platform so we want to work with both to help grow the site.

3) How does the platform works?
It is simple. You simply go to for free, no login …

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Buying My First Private Property 1-Day Workshop

In today’s article, SG Wealth Builder is pleased to catch up with Property Soul on her upcoming property workshop. Property Soul is one of the most well known property bloggers in Singapore  and is the author of the best selling book “No B.S. Guide to Property Investment – Dirty Truths and Profitable Secrets to Building Wealth Through Properties”.

Can you share with the readers what are the key takeaways they can expect from your upcoming Buying My First Private Property 1-Day Workshop?

They will learn how to save faster to buy their first property, and what is the highest property price that they can afford. They will know where the hidden traps are, and what properties to buy or avoid for first time buyers. They will also pick up tips on negotiation skills, housing loans and dealing with lawyers and property agents.

This workshop is basically designed for first time private property buyers to help them avoid all the costly mistakes that would have cost them thousands times more than the small fee of the workshop.

What are the general profile of those who attended your seminars and workshops? Property investors, upgraders or first time property buyers?

It depends on the topic of the talk or workshop. For Buying My First Private Property 1-Day Workshop, the participants are mostly first-time buyers, HDB upgraders or aspiring investors. For talks like “Everything You Want to Know About Property Auctions and Mortgagee Sales” and “Buy, Fix and Profit from Old Houses/Apartments”, there are more savvy investors or investors who own multiple properties.

20150321_094140s 20150321_094150_s

You have built your wealth through properties at a time when Singapore has not implemented the cooling measures. Against the current backdrop, would you agree that the bar has been raised for property investors? Do you think that the measures could

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URA improves property price index (PPI) to better reflect price changes in private residential market

Data don’t lie but how it is sliced can lead to different pictures. Therefore in a bid to improve the methodology, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released the flash estimate of the private residential property price index (PPI) for 1st Quarter 2015.

The rationale for the revision is because there is greater variation in the housing size and age profile of the private housing developments. With this in mind, URA has decided to switch to a regression method and used the period of 1Q2009 as baseline reference.

Flash estimate of 1st Quarter 2015 PPI

Using the revised methodology for the PPI, the overall private residential property index fell by 1.1%. This is the sixth continuous quarter of price decrease. This moderate decline is within my expectation and in my view, the slide is expected to continue unless the government lift some of the restrictive cooling measures.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties declined in all market segments, as they did in the previous quarter. Price fell 0.6% in Core Central Region (CCR), 1.8% in Rest of Central Region (RCR), and 0.9% in Outside Central Region (OCR). Prices of landed properties fell 1.1%.

The Terrace

The flash estimates are compiled based on transaction prices given in contracts submitted for stamp duty payment, caveats lodged and survey data on new units sold by developers during the first ten weeks of the quarter. The statistics will be updated 4 weeks later when URA releases the full real estate statistics for 1st Quarter 2015, which captures more data from the caveats lodged, stamp duty records and the take-up of new projects.

Past data have shown that the difference between the quarterly price changes indicated by the flash estimate and the actual price changes could be significant when the change is small. The public is advised to …

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Singapore private property prices decline for the first time since 2008

According to data released by URA on 23 January 2015 for 4th Quarter 2014, the prices of private properties declined by 4% for the year of 2014 as a whole, compared to an increase of 1.1% in 2013. The report also highlighted that there were price decrease across all segments of the private residential property market, including the central region, which seen drop of 0.9%.

Source: URA

The current market trend is in line with what most analysts predicted last year and the market mood is expected to continue to be sour moving forward. With the slew of cooling measures firmly in place, many property investors are still adopting a wait-and-see approach. Because of this, for the whole of last year, developers sold 7,316 units, a figure much lower than the 14,948 units sold in 2013.

Source: URA

To make matter worse, if we include the 14,220 Executive Condominium (EC) units in the pipeline, there would be a total of 83,180 units in the pipeline. Also, based on the completion dates reported by developers, about 24,796 units (including ECs) will be completed this year and another 25,717 units (including ECs) are expected to be completed in 2016. Clearly, the data indicated that the supply is outstripping the market demand since 2010 as reflected below.

Source: URA

My view is that prices would still continue to decline gradually by 5-7% until end of this year. Even so, this does not mean that this is a buyer’s market because most developers did not slash prices and the additional stamp duty, coupled with the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) Framework, continue to put off investors. So it is a stalemate for both investors and developers. Unless developers “price to sell” their projects, they may face difficulties in attracting serious buyers or investors to …

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Smart and Stupid Property Investors

During my in-camp reservist training a few months ago, I had a conversation with one of my army buddies regarding his matrimonial home in Clementi. He purchased the HDB flat with his wife and funded it with HDB concessionary loan about four years ago. I asked him why he didn’t look around and source for mortgage loans with lower interest rates instead. His reply to me was, “Why go for the hassle? Out of sight, out of mind!”
His response might sound cocky to many people but to me, he is just being stupid and careless with his money. Given the low interest rates for mortgage loans, he had effectively lost about $5000 in terms of higher interest incurred in the past four years. This amount of money could had been put to better use instead of giving to government agency (HDB). For example, he could have used the money to invest in himself and take up courses to upgrade his knowledge. He could also use the money for holiday trips to relax himself and enhance his well being. Instead, he chose to waste the money.
My friend is a teacher and hold the position of department head in his school. In this regard, his salary should be respectably high, but in my opinion, he is not savvy with his money. Even though he is highly educated, he could not grasp the key concepts of money and financial management. As such, I doubt that he would be a successful wealth builder in the long run. I wish he had read Property Soul’s book, which touched on how to get the most out of housing loans.The paperback can be purchased online at
The ebook can also be ordered online at Investment WorkshopAccording to her, there are generally
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Property Education Seminar: Smart Landlords Vs Smart Tenants

This week, my mother is shortlisting new tenants after giving the marching orders to her current tenants. They are her fourth set of tenants in two years and all of them are Malaysians. Somehow, she always had issues with her tenants and all of them never last more than a year. Interestingly, the disputes were always on living habits and never on rental issues (all the tenants always paid the rental on time). As her children, we always advise our mother to give and take as there will definitely be frictions and misunderstandings when you live with strangers. Ultimately. it is better to develop harmonious relationships and create a win-win situation.Is there a good way to screen potential tenants? I wish I know because it is not possible to tell whether you can live in harmony with that person based just on a preliminary meeting. We all have bad habits and it takes time to adjust to your tenants or even family members’ bad habits. But of most importance is dealing with dishonest tenants and agents – how do landlords safeguard their interests against cheats? I have read articles of landlords being cheated of thousands of rental fees by tenants and agents. There are also tenants whose work permits have expired and choose to overstay in Singapore illegally; in such cases, how do you protect yourself against liability issues?

I do not have the answers to the above issues but I believe that  to make money from property investments, there are nuances you have to look out for.  To this end, I am glad that fellow blogger, Property Soul, is kind enough to invite me to her upcoming property education seminar, Smart Landlords vs Smart Tenants. She had invited me to her seminars previously but due to work exigencies,

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Why I would not encourage my mother to take up the Enhanced HDB Lease Buyback Scheme

On 03 Sep 2014, the government announced four enhancements to the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) as follows:1)  The scheme will be extended to 4-room HDB flats and to sweeten the deal, there will be a $10,000 cash bonus per household when the elderly participate in the scheme.

2)  The income ceiling will be raised to $10,000 from $3,000 per month to allow elderly who are still working or still living with their family members to qualify for this scheme.

3) The requirements to top up their CPF Retirement Accounts with the LBS proceeds will be relaxed as reflected in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Change in CPF Top-Up Requirement* for Households with Two or More Owners

Owner’s Age
(Age-Adjusted MS)
(0.5 x Age-Adjusted MS)
CPF Draw-Down Age
(now 63) to 69
70 to 79
80 or older
 * Based on prevailing CPF MS of $155,000
4) Elderly can choose the length of lease to retain instead of the standard 30 years lease. This is to cater to the need of those who are in the 70 years old and above age group.
HDB lease buy back

By and large, the LBS is a good scheme that allows the elderly the additional option to monetize their property asset to fund their retirement needs. But then again, I would not encourage my mother to participate in it. This is because I know my mother too well. She lacks the financial discipline and will to handle the large amount of money. Within months, I am quite sure she would use up the proceeds from the LBS. So I prefer her to rent out the spare room in her flat. In this way, she can still monetize her flat and in addition, we also give her monthly allowances to

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8 Things You Should Know When Using CPF for Property

Below is an article published with permission from the CPF Board. Singapore home owners should pay close attention to the policy on accrued interest for CPF monies.

Many members use CPF savings when buying a property. Before you decide on buying your dream home, we highly recommend reading “Things to look out for when buying a property using CPF” and watching “Buying a House” videos.  Here’re 8 essentials you should be aware of. Please note that the information may be different if you are using CPF for multiple properties.

Q1. What CPF savings can I use to buy a property?

Only Ordinary Account (OA) savings can be used for property. You can use it to:

(i)  Pay lumpsum/downpayment to HDB for the purchase of an HDB flat, or to a property developer or a seller for the purchase of a private property.

(ii)  Repay the housing loan taken for the purchase of HDB flat or private property.

(iii)  Pay legal fees, stamp duty, transfer fees and other related costs incurred in relation to the housing purchase.

(iv)  Repay a housing loan taken for the purchase of land and/or for construction of a house on that land (for private property).

If you use your CPF savings to service a housing loan on a HDB flat, you are required to be covered under the Home Protection Scheme. This is a mortgage-reducing scheme to protect you and your family from losing your home in the event of death or permanent incapacity before the housing loan is paid up.  The annual premiums for this can be paid using your OA savings.

See more details on how you can use CPF for a HDB flat and private property.

Q2.  Do I need to refund the CPF used for housing

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Building a Win-Win Relationship with Your Property Agent Education Seminar

Two years ago, my wife and myself engaged a property agent from Propnex to sell our five room HDB flat. At that point of time, HDB had already implemented a slew of cooling measures to tame the bullish real estate market, so we are aware that there was a need for us to engage the services of an experienced property agent to assist us to navigate through the myriad of HDB rules. We also did not want the hassle of spending too much time on researching the HDB rules as my wife just gave birth to our daughter. Fortunately, the property agent was very experienced and he helped to ensure that the whole process of selling and buying transactions were smooth sailing.Most Singaporeans far underestimate the role of property agents in their property transactions. A good property agent will do a proper financial planning before proceeding to market his services to you. This is important as there are many investors, down-graders, first-time sellers/buyers in the market and everyone’s financial situation is unique. In view of this, property agents cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy in approaching would-be property sellers/buyers. Basically, a competent property agent must be able to assess and help you plan your finance at first-hand opportunity to ensure that the transaction can go through. Take for example, during our first meeting, our property agent defined the potential show-stoppers in our transaction, such as  our accrued CPF interests for our existing property, whether we intended to do “contra”, what was our expected cash-over-valuations and etc. If you are clueless on the terms highlighted in bold, then it is important that you seek help because these are important factors that might make or break your property transactions.

I counted myself to be fortunate because our agent was knowledgeable in the
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Interview with Gerald Tay, CREi Academy Group

SG Wealth Builder is honored to conduct an interview with Gerald Tay of Conspiracy of Real Estate Investments (CREi) Academy Group. CREi provides property investment education tailored specifically to the ordinary investor & folk; and share time-tested, proven investment strategies which every keen ordinary investor can learn and apply with consistent success.
Growing up, how is your childhood like? 
How does it shape your investment philosophies?
Unlike many, I was very fortunate to be born into a very rich family in the 1970s Singapore and learnt important wealth philosophies from my multi-millionaire grandfather. Our family were in businesses and property development, and some of these businesses were listed on the SGX Mainboard. 
This particular early part of my life has laid down the foundation of real wealth and investment philosophies, which many ordinary people do not have the fortune to have access to. Their only information on growing their wealth is to rely on the media, so-called wealth ‘experts’ and other misleading sources who have only vested interests in making money out of the ignorant.
Due to unforeseen financial circumstances during my early teens, I have also experienced financial hardships and started work at the tender age of 15 years old.  So, candidly, you can say I have the fortune to experience the different perspectives from both the rich as well as the poor. 
You may read more about my personal biography,
What is your company, CREI all about?
How does it add values to investors?
CREi Academy Group (Conspiracies of Real Estate Investments) was founded on principles to educate the main-stream about the many truths as well as myths on wealth and investments, specifically in the area of property. 
There’re simply too many half-truths and untruths about investments
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What Should Property Investors do with their Money Today?

In this article, guest blogger Gerald Tay, CREI Academy, is sharing his views on what property investors should do with their money today.

I want to share some personal thoughts and investment decisions based on the 2013Q1 URA PPI flash estimate and what it means for the property market.

The 2013Q1 estimate of 213.1 represents a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter increase, which is a moderation from the 1.8% q-o-q pace we saw in 2012Q4, but suggests that the market prices are still rising, albeit slightly, despite 7 rounds of government cooling measures.

Today, we’re at the record peak of the property cycle since 1965. It does not take a lot of common sense to tell us we need to tread extremely carefully, especially in current uncertain economic climate.

My personal predictions (I personally hate to invest on predictions), if you may, is that there might be further price increase in all segments of the property market. The residential market is still being supported by local first-time buyers (though we don’t know for long yet), while the commercial and industrial sector have continued hot money flows resulting from the severe cooling measures on the residential sector.

However, this does not mean property investors should simply rush out to buy that new launch property today and hope to cash out in the next few years. The potential downsides are much greater than the upsides, and basing on the price-rental index which is 57% over-valuation (The Economist), buyers and investors today are already paying for future prices years down the road.

SG Wealth Builder
SG Wealth Builder

I have done my personal investment calculations for the residential market, comparing price versus rental. Even with current low-interest rates imputed, most properties (resale & new) are already fetching negative yields, not to mention when these rate start to rise

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The Best Property Cooling Measure for Singapore

Today, the Singapore government announced a slew of measures to cool the residential property market. It also introduced a Seller’s Stamp Duty on industrial properties for the first time, to discourage speculative activity in the industrial market.

Measures Applicable to all Residential Property
The following measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:
a)      Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates will be:
i)       Raised between five and seven percentage points across the board.
ii)      Imposed on Permanent Residents (PRs) purchasing their first residential property and on

Singaporeans purchasing their second residential property.
b)      Loan-to-Value limits on housing loans granted by financial institutions will be tightened for individuals who already have at least one outstanding loan, as well as to non-individuals such as companies.
c)      Besides tighter Loan-to-Value limits, the minimum cash down payment for individuals applying for a second or subsequent housing loan will also be raised from 10% to 25%.

SG Wealth Builder

Measures Specific to Public Housing
The following measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:
a)      Tighter eligibility for loans to buy HDB flats:
i)      MAS will cap the Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) for housing loans granted by financial institutions at 30% of a borrower’s gross monthly income.
ii)      For loans granted by HDB, the cap on the MSR will be lowered from 40% to 35%.

b)      PRs who own a HDB flat will be disallowed from subletting their whole flat.
c)      PRs who own a HDB flat must sell their flat within six months of purchasing a private residential property in Singapore.

Measures for Executive Condominium Developments
The following measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:
a)      The maximum strata floor area of new EC units will be capped at 160 square metres.
b)      Sales of new dual-key EC units will be restricted to multi-generational families only.

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Reckless HDB buyers

Lately, one of the fellow bloggers responded to one of my previous posting which criticized him for promoting unethical values in The Finance SG. I always believe in differences in views and accepted that different people can have different opinions and outlook in life.
But promoting unethical values that border on criminal act of false information declaration is another matter altogether (the culprit actually lied to the authority and gave fake information for delaying the signing of agreement so that he can use his girlfriend’s December CPF bonuses to pay for the downpayment).

The culprit got the cheek to claim he got the money to pay the downpayment. Fine then go ahead and pay in cold hard cash please. By delaying the payment, the blogger is actually depriving another deserving Singaporean couple of a chance to own a HDB flat. My sister-in-law is among those who are affected by such scumbags.

This fellow needs a reality check but obviously he is still a student and has not stepped into the working world.

And to top it off, his younger sister of 21 years old is also applying for a HDB flat after getting into a relationship of 7 months. No wonder the government is implementing measures to prevent young couples from abusing the system. It is irresponsible people like this blogger and his sister who messed up our HDB system.

These are immature young adults who lack personal financial knowledge and working life experience. They apply for HDB flats without knowing the consequences and heavy commitment. And this investment blogger is actually supposedly to be a role model for his younger sister.

To me, this blogger is not a man. I challenge his girlfriend to read this article and asked if he is worth her love. This blogger has no

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My Investment Notebook

I started my investment journey more than 10 years ago when I was serving my National Service. Back then, I had bought 2 lots of Unisteel using my brother’s account and I remember I had invested about SGD2000. It was a small amount of money by any measure but I found it memorable because this investment kick-started my wealth building journey and led me to create my first investment notebook.

Unisteel was a listed company that specialized in producing fasteners and screws for computer hard-disk drives. By and large, it was a successful investment as the stock price increased consistently throughout the years. I sold my shares in Unisteel before it was de-listed and had went on to invest several other shares in the SGX.


Although my experiences with Unisteel was a positive one, I had my ups and downs with other stocks. Nonetheless, these battles had provided me valuable investment experiences.

Throughout the years, I had kept a little blue notebook to capture down my various “victories” and “defeats”. To me, investing in stock is like being engaged in a war. You have to prepare and research well; devise strategies and tactics to win the battle. Of course, choosing the right generals (stocks) is crucial as well. Nothing beats the thrill of finding a multi-bagger and the anguish of owning a “falling knife”.

It is through all these battles that I became a better and wiser investor. The little notebook contains my various thoughts and reflections made throughout the process of investing. It has served me well and honed my investment experience. Do you keep an investment notebook as well?

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Magically yours,

SG Wealth …

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