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Buying a Home in Singapore? Be Afraid


TATTLER: The letter writer asked for a waiver of the 3 year waiting period for a HDB flat after downgrading from private property ownership. Instead of being free to hop about happily in the garden, his rabbit will probably be confined to a hutch in the balcony. And poor doggy may have to be debarked to maintain the silence of the lambs housed in high rise pigeon holes with 99-year leases. Such is the fate of those who swallowed the sugared blue pill of asset enhancement.

Talking on the Chinese language station 95.8FM  radio call-in , even the prime minister admitted that there are retirees who are asset-rich cash-poor. “We should take a close look at this problem…. “, he said, without venturing any solution.

The Reuters report of another quiet group highlighted the eerie silence at night in Sentosa Cove, the only place in Singapore where foreigners can buy landed property. Spurred on by the 2004 Financial Investor Scheme (FIS) that allowed foreigners with a global net worth of $20 million to become permanent residents (PRs) if they parked $5 million (raised to $10 million in 2010) in country, $2 million of which could be put into property, the gold rush was on.

Fast forward to July 2014, a four-bedroom apartment in Sentosa’s Turquoise condominium went under the hammer at a mortgagee sale for $1,400 per square foot. In 2012, a similar flat in the same block went for $2,450 per square foot and in 2007, it fetched $2,800. “The rental can’t even cover the mortgage for these high-end investments – they want to offload but there are no takers,” said the head of research at property consultancy OrangeTee.

No pity for this lot. Without a doubt, they helped pushed the COE to untenable levels. Last month United Overseas Bank (UOB) reported a doubling in its bad debt charges for the second quarter, attributing to a group of investors struggling to service high-end property loans.  Inevitably, the banks will have to hike interest rates, and even those flat buyers who opt for the Housing Board’s fixed concessionary loans may not escape the bloodbath ahead. Be afraid, be very afraid.


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