Monday, January 31, 2011

To pay $1.2 million to stay in Sembawang?

On Sunday, I went to the show flat of Canberra Residences in Sembawang. As usual, two agents from ERA and CBRE were fighting to serve me. What has this world come to? Hasn't the property agents earned enough for the past two years? Is time really so bad that they must fight for their potential customer?

The scene above is not the point. The point is already stated in the title. How much do you think you are willing to pay to stay in an underdeveloped estate like Sembawang? The word underdeveloped is the word the agent used.

Here are the prices of a two bedroom, three bedroom and four bedroom units.
A two bedroom unit costs $730,000 to $760,000.
A three bedroom unit costs somewhere between $950,000 to $1 million.
A four bedroom unit costs about $1.4 million.

The agent claims that his company has analysts who did research and said that the units in Canberra Residences can reach $1000 per square feet in 5 years time. The current psf price is already close to $900. To me, Canberra Residences is overvalued by many, many times. So I asked the agent some questions an investor would ask. One of the questions I asked is, "In 1996, the property agents were saying the same thing. People lost their mind, grabbing any properties they get hold of. So what are their returns like?"

In 1996, properties everywhere were at record prices. After 14 years, that is 2010, their current price is still lower than the price they paid for then. the returns are actually negative. The current property market has reached the crazy 1996. I hope you readers can feel it too. I feel that this property market is worse than the stock market in 2008, just before the crash.

Back to the property in Sembawang area, have you checked the prices of neighboring properties like Seletaris (Freehold), Yishun Emerald and Yishun Sapphire (99 years)? You will be surprised that with the same amount of money, you can actually buy two properties in the same neighbourhood. By the way, Canberra Residences is a 99 year project.

So Canberra Residences will not be in my watch list unless the price has dropped to a more reasonable one. You may want to put it in your watch list or you may not want to. The choice is yours.

I will not know how will the prices of the properties go, but I do know that this project is definitely over valued. Look around for undervalued ones. Now do your homework and stop listening to the analysts/agents. Trust your own instinct.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

What to do in this burning hot market?

In this scalding property market, what is the most appropriate property to buy now?


1.   Land in Singapore is scarce. Therefore, prices are always stable on the uptrend.
2.   There are only so many landed property (about 60,000 units?) in Singapore, unlike the condominiums (millions of units).
3.   There are still undervalued 999-years or freehold landed property to look out for. (Trust me, look around for landed properties that are more than 20 years old.)
4.   You can build your dream house, according to your own liking.
5.   Landed property has the least impact caused by any noises (i.e. financial crisis, slow economy)
6.   You pay about the same price as condominiums.
7.   You own a part of Singapore. Isn't that great?

Yesterday, I visited a friend's place at Telok Kurau. It's a new freehold development that has just TOP. The unit is only about 480 sqft. The corridor gives the feeling that you are in a hotel, less the air-con. There is an offer to buy it at $600,000. That's a crazy $1,250psf. However, my friend bought it last year at about $520,000. The unit can fetch a rental of about $2600 to $2800 a month. That's a yearly income of about $28,000 to $30,000, minus all the fees and taxes. Anyway, it's her very first own property. She says she will enjoy her stay there for a year, before she decides what to do next. She is right. She has taken the very first step to own a property, as I have mentioned in my book.

When she bought the place, she just paid with 5% cash, about $26,000. So if she were to rent out the place, that more than 100% returns in the first year. Isn't that great? However, because of the new cooling measures, you may have to pay a cash upfront of at least $52,000. Your yearly returns will be reduced by half.

My relative bought a one bedroom unit (600 sqft) on 17th floor in the West in 2002. It was only 99-year leasehold. She bought it at $385,000 and currently it can fetch a price of $600,000. If she were to sell it, her savings that she used to bought it has grown at a rate of about 11.2% compounded. This rate is calculated after deducting the interest she paid to the bank and other fees involved.

Isn't it clear where you should park your money now?

Time to start doing homework and grow your money...


Sunday, January 23, 2011

CNBC Stock Market News — Buffett's Favorite Dow Stocks: Earnings Preview — Stock Blog - CNBC

Dear fellow investors,

You may want to learn a skill or two through this:

CNBC Stock Market News — Buffett's Favorite Dow Stocks: Earnings Preview — Stock Blog - CNBC

McDonald's has the largest potential in 2011.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is value investing?

Value investing is a process where we put our money in the value of an item, be it company stocks or property, and hold on for a long term before selling it for a handsome profit.

Earning a small profit within a short term is not considered an investment. When we do investment, we look at the long term and the amount of profit must be reasonably good.

To do this, we must know the value before making a decision to buy it. These few points may be of help to you.

1.   Do I have the money or spare cash to put into any investment? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you have taken the first step to grow your spare cash. If the answer is no, then you must start saving a sum of money from your income every month. You will eventually have enough to start the first step.

2.   When we talk about investment, we do not want to over leverage. It is not necessary take on huge loans to make an investment. 
      For example, if you are thinking of buying shares of a company, you must have the sum of money ready before you are ready to buy and hold for at least 3 to 5 years. If you intend to buy Cerebos, which is now trading at about $5.02, you must have in your hand, at least $5,050 to buy 1000 shares (minimum) of  Cerebos. If you do not have that sum of money, you will have to work harder to save more, or look for another alternative company that you can afford to buy.
      If you intend to buy a property, make sure that you do not overstretch yourself in housing loan. My wife and I were contemplating whether to do an extension to our house, which will cost about $400,000. Or  should we just do an interior renovation, and make it look brand new, for only $100,000. If we choose a former, we will have to take a new loan from the bank, on top of the current housing loan. Isn't it overstretched?  Therefore, we have decided to choose the latter.

3.   Investment is all about patience. We do not buy stocks or properties, just because we are afraid of "MISSING THE BOAT". We must really do our homework to know the value of the things we buy before we act on it. Patience is the root to every success. When we do an investment, we look at long term of at least 3 to 5 years. We wait for a golden opportunity to strike. We wait for the value of our investment to rise past our target selling price, then we sell it.

4.   We must have the power to bargain. In property investment, when we cannot reach a good price, "OUR PRICE", I would rather let it go and look for another valuable one. If you are able to buy the property at a "DISCOUNTED" price, that it, price that is about 8 to 10 percent of neighboring estates, that will put us in a very good position of RULE#1. 


    When we buy at a discount, we are actually giving ourselves some leeway for errors that we cannot control like, people's emotion.

Hope the few points can be a starting guide for  a novice investor, especially the young ones. 

Happy Investing!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Will the cooling measures introduced on 14 Jan 11 affect us?

Hi all,

First of all, I would like to thank those who have bought my book, "Route to Successful Property Investment in Singapore". Hope you have enjoyed reading it. Kindly post your feeling and comment to my email, as stated in the book.

Today, MAS introduced a new set of property cooling measures as follows:

1.   Those who has outstanding loan with the financial institutions can only take a loan of up to 60% of the purchase price. So, we have to come up with 40% for downpayment? Yes, we can use cash to pay 10% and 30% from CPF. So, those who are CPF rich, will not be affected.

2.   The seller's stamp duty (SSD) will increase from 3 years to 4 years. So, if you intend to sell your property, bought on 14 Jan 2011 onwards, you will have to pay:
      a.    16% of the selling price in the 1st year.
      b.    12% of the selling price in the 2nd year.
      c.     8% of the selling price in the 3rd year.
      d.     4% of the selling price in the 4th year.

So, how will these two measures affect value investors like us?

Well, I will say that it may even be good news to us.

1.   We can wait for the property market to really cool down first, then buy. Meanwhile, build our war-chest with lots of cash and CPF.

2.   We can buy an incomplete property from developer and sell after TOP. The best is to buy those properties that has completed their foundation work or earlier. The monthly loan repayment will be less than $1000 per month for the first 2 to 2.5 years.

3.    Gather a group of friends to buy the same project. A bigger group of people will have bigger bargaining power. Can ask for a huge discount from the developer.

As value investors in properties, I would say this piece of news is great news to us. Don't you agree?
Just like what I wrote in my book, our strategy is timeless. We can always buy a good property at reasonable price at any time. We do not rush into buying, we strike only when the price is right.