Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top 10 Tastiest Condos

Let's run a little quiz on the most 'delicious' looking condos! Finally, you can have your condo and eat it!

Can you guess all of them correctly?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Choice of Cooling Measure on a Hot Day

Recent days have seen sweltering heat interspersed with heavy thunderstorms. I happened to be around Vivocity at that time and out of the blue I developed a craving for ice cream. Since pay day was the day before, I reckoned I could afford to indulge in some Ben & Jerry's.

As I approached the outlet, a boarded up shop greeted me. The sign read: Sorry, we're closed for renovation till November 15. Drat. I made my way to Giant next since I had to pick up some groceries.

In the frozen foods section, I passed by the ice cream counters. I saw the good old 'potong' red bean ice cream blocks on sticks going on promotion pricing, and thought, why not, since my craving was still raging and so was the scorching heat outside. Nevermind that it is 'brandless' and not Ben & Jerry's. Walking out of Vivocity, I didn't wait long to feast on the 'potong'. The satisfaction was beyond compare.

We have seen the challenges Sky Habitat in Bishan faced this past year and a half in selling off its units. To date, it is still less than 35% sold. Designed by the world renowned Moshe Safdie, it was positioned as a pinnacle in the developer's war chest, exemplified also by its price range. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, its sister project, Sky Vue, sold like hot cakes in no time with a stellar performance score of 85%. Apparently, without a brand name architect and sky high psf, it proved even more popular.

I guess, when it boils down (pun intended) to a need to keep cool on a hot day, any ice cream will do, whether branded or not. Likewise, a home is but an abode and shelter to rest and recharge in, brand name architect and designer looks or not.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A rose syrup by any other brand would taste as sweet

Me and a group of friends were preparing for a retro theme party the other day. We all agreed that rose syrup cordial was a must-have. However, we absolutely failed to agree on the brand.

A went, "Brand X has a more fragrant scent!"

And B went "But brand Y has a nicer color!"

C joined in the fray "Who cares about those! Brand Z tastes least artificial!"

Suddenly it occurred to me, that a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. Likewise, a rose syrup by any other brand, would taste just as sweet.

No discussion about the property market in Singapore is complete without also looking at public housing. It forms the bedrock of foundation. The HDB resale price index is still on the rise. Any property investor worth his salt would tell you, HDB has hitherto been the highest yielding residential property asset class. The question now then, is: Is it still that?

Lets take a look at recent movements in the resale market for a matured estate HDB like Bedok.

Focus on Blk 214. From the recently resold pricing, you can tell that the yield is still very decent at above 5.5%.

Now let's look at a non matured estate Bt Panjang. Check out Blk 250. Similarly, a great yield is possible. This time even better at above 7%!

Those were the resale prices. Imagine what yield would be for the first hand BTO owner?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Popiah and the Psychology of Paper Profit

There was a gathering coming up and it was decided we were all going to DIY and make popiah (chinese spring roll).

As 5 out of 6 people in the group were retired or in between jobs, given the social atmosphere of austerity and belt tightening, we had a budget drawn up. I was tasked with the enviable responsibility of getting the popiah skin.

With a price cap of $10 in mind (actually also in reality), I went about the co-op supermarket on my CSI popiah skin hunt. There were a few familiar brands and one popular (popiahlar?) one was going for just under the budget at 9.50. Thinking it was just 5 minutes into the hunt, surely I need to do more due diligence. Plus I would look even better in front of my jobless banker and auditor friends if I hit a  lower price.

After a few more encounters exceeding budget, I walked over to the next supermarket few blocks away. A ha! Same brand and cheaper by 50 cents! But... Seems like the expiry date was near. So I sheepishly went back to the co-op for the 9.50 branded one. Then I thought again, hey, we are having the gathering three days away, and it would most certainly still be within the month of expiry. Gloating with my realization, I trekked over back to the 9.00 skin supermarket just...

To realise the last pack had already been bought. Darn! Could have...would have...should have... Yet I still felt sore that I simply couldn't bear to pay 50 cents more.

Taken from Investorglossary.com:

"A paper profit is a unrealized gain on a security or asset. For example, suppose 10 shares of Acme stock are bought at $8 and two months later the stock is selling at $12. The paper profit is (10X12)-(10X8), or $40. If the stock was sold, the paper profit would become a realized profit. A paper profit is just that - a profit on paper only - and should never be confused with a tangible gain. First, a paper profit is usually reduced significantly by both taxes and transaction costs upon realization. Moreover, a paper profit can become an important psychological obstacle to successful investing. Suppose Acme falls back to $10 and part of the paper profit disappears. Some investors will find it hard to sell the shares until they climb back to $12 and the full paper profit re-emerges. In this way, an historical paper profit can make an investor hold a stock too long and forego better investment opportunities."

Indeed, the same can be said of property.

Well, I guess I had nothing much to shout about to my popiah friends then.

Passe is the new Posse

The steamboat is a traditional old fashioned 'must have' for every Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Piping hot broth cooked to perfection with pork bones (and MSG if you are having it outside). You then dump raw veges and yam in it while cooking your own servings of meat, fish, quail eggs or whatever you fancy in a netted ladle dipping it in to the bubbling soup.

That was the classic way, and rarely eaten outside of reunion gatherings. There then was a period in time when fish head steamboat became popular. This was where fish head and sliced fish formed the main dish to be cooked in the steamboat. Recent years have seen a resurgence of the steamboat. I am not sure if our candid and friendly migrant workers from China had anything to do with it - since they were the main patrons of steamboat eateries sprouting up along Geylang and Chinatown - but the young and happening don't call today's versions 'steamboat'anymore. They go by import sounding names like Shabu Shabu and Korean hotpot. Many even offer a choice of soup in 'yuan yang' (yin yang?) settings, where a pot is split into halves, each having different broths. So now those allergic to seafood or intolerant of spicy tom yam (like me) can enjoy the meal with other so called more normal friends.

Balestier has always been known as a diverse and culturally rich, yet poorer cousin of Novena. Light shops, seedy budget hotels and good food abound, with a splattering of beautiful conservation shophouses and terraces here and there. With the new Zhong Shan Park and branded business class hotels under construction, interest has been returning to this vicinity the past year. Both pure residential and mixed commercial projects proved to be hot cakes. One Dusun was sold out in a mere 2 days (http://sg-realestate-sg.blogspot.sg/2012/08/another-successful-launch-one-dusun.html). And shoeboxes have even been pushing 2000psf lately. We are going to see a gradual rejuvenation of the entire stretch with new projects topping out along nicely. Finally, the old dame has awoken with a whole new dress, and we might not even be seeing her full potential just yet.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Donuts and Doormats

I remember fondly years back, how my bff would tell me exciting stories about how he finally managed to get his hands on those donuts at the shop in the basement of his office building in town. He would snap photos of the multi colored rings and share on his fb page for all to see.

Although never quite the donut fan, I marvelled how some can queue for hours just for...well, donuts.

Perhaps they injected some addictive compound into their goods? :-)

These could cost as much as ten bucks for half a dozen. The good old ordinary donuts sold in bakeries were probably less than half the price.

Fast forward to today.

Pavillon Square, a 'brand new' retail concept gracing Geylang, just sold out on a Saturday. All 90+ units of mostly MM sized shops. Now there was even mention of one sold at a staggering $10xxx psf. Almost the price level of high traffic Orchard Rd shops!

I think the next CM (on commercial units) is not far... but URA has already released guidelines to prevent a repeat showing, so perhaps not. Let us all focus on the upcoming BTO for singles in July for the time being, shall we...

So if the donuts craze was a fad, it sure lasted a while.

How long do you think this shoebox shop fever will last?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Relativity and Bubble Tea

Long long time ago, but not nearly as far back when mata wore shorts, we were happy drinking our ice lemon tea and kopi c. Whether in the school canteen or kopitiam, they were always home brewed and prepared, served by moody uncles or pissed looking aunties fighting pms. No preservatives.

Fast forward to today, in a modern aircon stall in a busy shopping mall, served by giggly youths, we have the same thing - fruit flavored or coffee and milk cold drinks, except at 3x the price and nicely packaged in air tight spill proof high tech packaging. Add to that a dose of 'bubbles', essentially gelatinous balls, for a nice chew, which gives a nice 10% add on to the already wonderful profit. A nice large diameter thick straw completes the offering. Hey, you even get to pick your color!

So the smart kopitiam uncle and auntie buys the bubble tea cup sealing equipment and supplies, sets up a corner at their drinks stall, and sells their own brand of bubble tea at 30% off the shopping mall brands. They even concocted chinchow and bandung bubbles. I probably have never seen them smiling from cheek to cheek endless with the throngs of school kids lining up for their fix.

Now apply that formula to property projects. Have you ever wondered how some new projects can actually help pull up the price of older ones in the vicinity?

Take for example, the Echelon launched in Dec 2012, saw impressive takeup in a matter of days. Packaged with the latest bells and whistles in luxury fittings and facilities, the average psf hit was as high as 1700psf. 

Contrast that to Ascentia Sky, launched few years back at 1200psf. It has since completed building and how much do you think the owners are now asking for?

That's the power of relativity and vicinity. So as you make your next killing, be sure to do your research on your target projects' vicinity. If there are announced government plans for plots of land sales, whether reserved or confirmed, you can be quite sure you have one leg in the bank vault already.

Meanwhile, I will head for my kopitiam bubble tea with attap chee pearls...