Life in the East – Condos in Bedok

by Aktive Learning on April 15, 2019

By KK Tong (guest contributor)

Bedok is a matured town in the Eastern part of Singapore, and has an estimated population of 289,000, which is the largest of all Sg residential towns. Similar to other towns on the island, Bedok offers a mix of public and private housing. Clusters of private housing are situated in areas like Bayshore, Frankel, Siglap, Bedok Reservoir, and Tanah Merah. Here, we will be looking at condominiums which are around the Tanah Merah MRT area, and doing a comparison of these developments.

In terms of location, Bedok is pretty convenient as it is just next to Marine Parade, which is popular with many home buyers. Being a matured estate, amenities are plentiful. Travelling to the city is straightforward – there are 10 MRT stops from Tanah Merah MRT station to Raffles Place MRT, and travelling time is only about 20 minutes.

Amenities in Bedok

As mentioned, Bedok is a mature estate and is flush with amenities for residents. The main establishments like shops, supermarkets, eateries, recreational facilities, schools, medical institutions, and transport nodes are all in place.

With such a huge population, Bedok has many educational institutes to cater to its residents. Primary schools here include Fengshan, Damai, Temasek, Opera Estate, Bedok Green, and Tanjong Katong. Some of the secondary schools are Bedok South, Bedok View, and St. Anthony’s Canossian. Temasek Junior College and Victoria Junior College are located in Bedok too.

For sports and recreation, Bedok Sports Hall, Bedok Tennis Centre, Bedok Stadium, and Bedok Swimming Complex are all located centrally along Upper Changi Road, centred between the Bedok and Tanah Merah MRT stations. At Bedok Reservoir Park, sports like jogging, cycling or kayaking can be done. Other water sports like windsurfing and swimming can be enjoyed at East Coast Parkway, which isn’t too far away either.

Avid readers and bibliophiles can read to their hearts’ content at the Bedok Public Library situated in Heartbeat@ Bedok, which also houses a polyclinic and a community club.

Shoppers can enjoy retail therapy at Bedok Point or Bedok Mall, where NTUC Finest is also located. Restaurants and cafes are also abundant in these malls. Those who prefer hawker food can find local delights at Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre.

Medical facilities are available at Changi General Hospital.

At the moment, Bedok is served by the East-West MRT line, with stations at Bedok, Tanah Merah, and Kembangan. The Bedok Reservoir area is served by the downtown line, with stations at Kaki Bukit, Bedok North, and Bedok Reservoir. Drivers can access the rest of the island via the AYE (Ayer Rajah Expressway) and the PIE (Pan Island Expressway).

Our Criteria for Shortlisting Condos

For buyers who are considering making Bedok their home, the pluses are really its infrastructure and convenience. So let’s look at some condos that buyers can consider – we have shortlisted 5 completed projects for comparison – Casa Merah, East Meadows, Optima@Tanah Merah, The Glades, and Urban Vista.

Condo #1 – Casa Merah

Our first condo, Casa Merah, is about 280 metres from Tanah Merah MRT Station. It was developed by NTUC Choice Homes and Wing Tai Holdings and completed in 2009.

Figure 1: Casa Merah

Condo #2 – East Meadows

East Meadows was completed in 2001. It was developed by Far East Organisation.

Figure 2: East Meadows

Condo #3 – Optima@Tanah Merah

Our third development, Optima@Tanah Merah by TID Pte Ltd, was completed in 2012.

Figure 3: Optima@Tanah Merah

Condo #4 – The Glades

The Glades is located at Bedok Rise. It was completed in 2017 by Sherwood Development Pte Ltd.

Figure 4: The Glades

Condo #5 – Urban Vista

Urban Vista was completed in 2016. Located at Tanah Merah Kechil Link, it was developed by Bayfront Realty Pte Ltd.

Figure 5: Urban Vista

Comparing the 5 condos

Figure 6: Location Map of Condos

The location of the 5 condos are clustered around the Tanah Merah MRT Station. Distance to the MRT is less than 320m for all the developments.

Using Tanah Merah MRT as the pivot, the amenities within a 1-km range include Bedok Green Primary School, Tanjong Katong Primary School, Bedok South Secondary School, Bedok View Secondary School, Bedok Stadium and Sports Hall, and New Upper Changi Road Market and Food Centre.

In term of proximity to amenities, there is little difference among the 5 listed condos, and no obvious advantage of any condo over the others. Moreover, all are 99-year leasehold projects.

So which one would I choose?

I would rule out The Glades and Urban Vista for 3 reasons – firstly, its PSF price is about $200 to $480 higher than its competitors – a huge differential even after factoring in its ‘newness’. Secondly, the units number about 600 to 700, which I consider too many in a development. Thirdly, the smallest unit size is really too miniscule – 500+ square feet for a 2-bedroom unit – really?

I will also probably rule out East Meadows as I consider its PSF price high for its age.

Between the last two options, I think Optima@Tanah Merah has a slight edge over Casa Merah as it is slightly newer, yet is priced a bit lower. The total number of units in the development is about 300, which I consider an optimum size. Lastly, its unit sizes, while not big, are acceptable for 2-bedroom units.

Posted courtesy of www.Propwise.sg, a Singapore property blog dedicated to helping you understand the real estate market and make better decisions. Click here to get your free Property Beginner’s and Buyer’s Guide.

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Have We Learnt Our Lesson From the Last Financial Crisis?

by Aktive Learning on April 2, 2019

By Property Soul (guest contributor)

More than ten years have passed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Did the world learn anything from the 2008 financial crisis? Are we heading for the next economic disaster?

Rush in quick. Get out fast

Speaking to CNBC’s “Crisis on Wall Street: The Week That Shook the World” documentary, Warren Buffet commented that another financial crisis is inevitable because of human nature, jealously and greed.

“People start being interested in something because it’s going up, not because they understand it or anything else. But the guy next door, who they know is dumber than they are, is getting rich and they aren’t. And their spouse is saying can’t you figure it out, too? It is so contagious. So that’s a permanent part of the system.”

Because of greed and fear of missing out, Singapore bitcoin buyers crashed two bitcoin ATM machines in December 2017. Two days before they purchased the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin prices peaked at USD19,340 on December 6, 2017. (Read my blog post “Lessons learned from the fall of bitcoin”.)

As I am writing this post, the price of Bitcoin is USD6,446 – exactly three times lower than its peak [Editor’s note: it is now USD4,154]. Analysts predict the price of Bitcoin will continue to drop into 2019.

When an asset bubble is deflated, the people can now see the emperor has no clothes on.

Where are the analysts who once claimed that Bitcoin is Wall Street’s next big thing and the price will hit $400,000? It is the same financial media with quotes from the same group of “experts” then and now.

Who chased the price of bitcoins for fear of missing the next big thing? Who couldn’t wait to dump the cryptocurrency when prices drop?

Who acquired land sites at record prices? Who queued to buy new launch projects at prices that set new highs in the district?

Who will dump their properties in the market first the moment they sense the market slump is coming?

Who lent generously to the housing and construction industries? Who will suddenly tighten borrowing and recall approved loans to avoid non-performing loans and bad debts?

Those who rush in out of impulse, greed and FOMO are often the ones who flee out of panic, desperation and irrational fear.

The same stakeholders, developers, agencies, banks, buyers and investors are contributing to the boom and the gloom of the property market.

We did nothing wrong

Warren Buffet told The Wall Street Journal that there is an important lesson learned from the 2008 financial crisis.

“Every company in the United States was a domino, and those dominoes were placed right next to each other … So when they started toppling, everything was in line.”

When the value of inflated assets started to fall, the house of cards collapsed.

The chain effect of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy triggered a two-year global financial crisis. A financial institution that was perceived to be too big to fail wiped off almost $10 trillion worth of global equities in one month’s time.

“When the dust settled from the collapse, 5 trillion dollars in pension money, real estate value, 401K, savings, and bonds had disappeared. 8 million people lost their jobs. 6 million lost their homes. And that was just in the USA.” – Big Short Movie

Warren Buffet said in the CNBC interview that many Americans wondered what happened during the subprime crisis.

“All they knew is they did nothing wrong and their world was falling apart.”

Which investment banks were marketing those toxic loans packaged into mortgage bonds stamped with AAA ratings?

Interestingly, none of the senior executives behind these financial institutions were held accountable. They got away with fat pays and big bonuses, leaving six million Americans homeless, their companies to face lawsuits and (shareholders too) pay hundreds of billions in fines.

It is not about seeing justice being served. It is about getting other people to pay the price. We can’t solve a big problem with no pain. We can’t save the world with no sacrifice. When somebody makes a mistake, someone else is going to pay for it.

Every time when the top management make a wrong decision and revenue tumbles, do they resign collectively out of shame, or announce an internal restructuring with mass layoff?

More than five years ago in September 2013, at the press conference to announce the selling of Nokia Mobile Phone to Microsoft, Nokia’s then CEO Stephen Elop ended his speech with tears in his eyes, “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.”

The Nokia employees did nothing wrong. But somehow half of them lost their jobs. Anyway, we are sure that Elop could swallow his sorrow and recover from this setback much easier with a €19 million (USD22 million) package.

Let them pay the price

During the good old days of quantitative easing, there is an infinite supply of cash at ridiculously low interest rates. With cheap money, developing countries can grow their economy; investors can buy assets worldwide; big corporations can acquire small companies; and entrepreneurs can build new start-ups.

But interest rates have risen seven times since December 2015. Borrowers start to feel the pain when there are four hikes in a year. Strengthening of the US dollar also means higher borrowing cost for debt-ridden countries and companies.

Economic turmoil often starts from emerging countries. It doesn’t take long for investors to sell off in these high-risk-high-return markets and retreat to the safe haven of US dollars.

On the other hand, US has always positioned itself as the world power by being a big brother to offer generous financial assistance to emerging countries. But not anymore. With Trump’s America First policy, US is no longer giving away any trading benefits and tax exemptions to them.

For the BRIC countries, the economy of Russia, Brazil and India is already in bad shape, leaving only China to fight a lonely (trade) war.

Venezuela used to be one of the richest countries with the world’s largest oil reserves (and most winners in beauty pageants). With falling oil prices, the country’s budget was gradually under deficit.

Without support from the US, Venezuela turned to China to borrow another USD5 billion to be repaid in oil or cash.

To save a sluggish economy, the Venezuela government continues to print money until there is serious hyperinflation in the South America country.

The government keeps issuing new banknotes in higher amount. Banknotes with highest value has gone up to 100,000. Even so, the exchange rate of this banknote is under US one cent in the black market. Anything that costs one dollar at the beginning of the year may go up to ten thousand and one dollars at the end of the year.

If shoppers in a department store don’t take the merchandise to the cashier right away, the price can be doubled in two to three hours’ times.

Venezuelans are now resorted to bartering to get the food and groceries they need. There is serious shortage of food and children are starving. Women who are teachers and doctors in their country are now working as prostitutes in Colombia to keep their families fed.

Who is accountable for all these mishaps?

When the government has made a mistake, the people are left to foot the bill.

When somebody has messed it up, somebody else has to clean it up.

Have we learned our lesson?

Are banks really safer compared with ten years ago? Are they under stricter regulations since the last crisis? Can we trust our banks with our money?

The truth is: Banks in Europe haven’t quite recovered from the collapse of Lehman Brothers yet. The number of European bank branches is down 21 percent from ten years ago.

Under higher scrutiny in other continents, Europe also becomes a new paradise for money-launderers.

In September 2018 the largest Dutch bank ING was slapped with a €775 million (USD900 million) fine after admitting to money laundering. Denmark’s largest bank Danske Bank is under investigation for money laundering with inflow from Russia and other countries. Brussels is under pressure to join the crackdown on money laundering and terrorist financing in the country.

In case anything happens, the banks believe that their government will bail them out. Because they are too big to fail. No one want to see the collapse of cards under domino effect.

But the financial sector is more complicated than ten years back: Banks have grown larger in size. Governments have printed more money. Buyers have created more asset bubbles around the world with cheap money. Investors have placed bigger bets in high-risk markets.

Global debt has jumped 40 percent since the 2008 financial crisis and reached a record high of $247 trillion in July 2018. In the second quarter of 2018, US household debt hit an all-time high of $13.2 trillion – half a trillion higher than its previous peak in 2008.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has warned local banks to be careful and stress test when underwriting. Property cooling measures with borrowing restrictions, lower loan-to-value and higher entry cost are in place to avoid overleveraging and overheating the property market.

But buyers and investors continue to drive up prices. Banks argue that it is justified to approve big housing and construction loans in tandem with rise in property prices.

With high liquidity and high margins, what better ways can banks achieve higher business targets and secure bigger market shares than giving out more loans in a small and competitive market?

We haven’t learned much from the last financial crisis. We haven’t done much to prevent the resurgence of an economic catastrophe. Are we waiting for another financial system meltdown and a full-blown recession before we will investigate our faults seriously?

By guest contributor Property Soul, a successful property investor, blogger, and author of the No B.S. Guide to Property Investment. Posted courtesy of www.Propwise.sg, a Singapore property blog dedicated to helping you understand the real estate market and make better decisions. Click here to get your free Property Beginner’s and Buyer’s Guide.

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