A top neighbourhood in the HDB resale market, Sengkang is a good indicator of the changing mood and aspirations of young Singaporeans.
By Khalil Adis
Having a newly carved GRC and heavy weight political office holders are generally the necessary ingredients to ensure a clean sweep during Singapore's General Election.
However, that does not appear to be the case in 2020.
As seen during the recently concluded election, even having the labour chief and a Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport could not save Sengkang GRC from its electoral defeat.
Helmed by Ng Chee Meng together with Dr. Lam Pin Min, Amrin Amin and Raymond Lye, the election witnessed Sengkang GRC falling into the hands of the relatively young and inexperienced team from The Workers' Party.
Comprising He Ting Ru, Jamus Lim, Raeesah Khan and Louis Chua, The Workers' Party emerged victorious with a 52.13 per cent win against the PAP's 47.87 per cent.
The rejection of both the NTUC chief and transport minister speaks volume on how the electorate feels about employment and transportation issues.
In Sengkang GRC's case, they are both intertwined.
Last November, Dr. Lam announced in Parliament the banning e-scooters which saw the livelihoods of many food delivery drivers affected overnight.
The ban appeared to be the last straw that broke the camel's back.
Despite a closed-door session at Sengkang West constituency with Dr. Lam himself and a S$7 million assistance package, the session was reportedly a tense one.
Elsewhere in other constituencies, many PMD riders had also expressed their disappointment with their respective MPs.
Meanwhile, the younger team from The Workers’ Party was a breath of fresh air and appeared closer to the ground.
They were humble and earnest yet are backed with a strong track record in their respective fields.
Jamus Lim, in particular, won over many Singaporeans’ heart during his live televised debate.
Even the police report filed against Raeesah Khan could not sway voters' opinion.
So what gives?
As a district, Sengkang has a relatively young population.
According to data from SingStats, the total population of Sengkang was 244,600 in 2019.
Of this, 159,840 or 65.34 per cent were aged 45 and below.
If we were to break this down further, 213,380 or 87.23 per cent live in HDB flats.
Of this, the majority of them (99,640 or 46.69 per cent) live in four-room flats.
The young population is worried about bread-and-butter issues such as jobs and social mobility.
A segment of these HDB dwellers were food delivery drivers trying to supplement their incomes.
That is until the ban of e-scooters affected their livelihoods.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this has helped further exacerbate the unhappiness on the ground which has perhaps translated to protest votes on the ballot box.
The 'Jamus Lim' effect
Then, there is also the 'Jamus Lim' effect.
A newcomer to the political arena, he mesmerised Singaporeans by being able to hold his own when pitted against the more experienced and senior politician, Dr. Vivian Balakrishan.
His message of not wanting to give the PAP "a blank cheque", seemed to resonate with many Singaporeans.
He subsequently became a trending topic on social media - a medium that is highly popular among young voters .
This, plus the rejection of gutter politics, as seen in the Raeesah Khan case, suggests that young and educated voters appreciate a clean fight and want checks and balances.
It also suggests that they are looking beyond municipal issues such as social inequality.
Clearly, character assasination and dangling carrots no longer work.
Sengkang is the most popular estate for HDB resale flats
Politics aside, Sengkang is the most popular HDB estate where 1,795 resale flats changed hands in 2019, according to data from the HDB.
This was followed by Woodlands and Yishun at 1,794 and 1,791 transactions respectively.
According to HDB's first quarter of 2020 data, resale HDB flats in Sengkang were transacted at a median resale price of S$340,000, S$425,000, S$480,000 and S$565,000 for three-, four- and five-room flats respectively.
While there are other attractive mature estates with better amenities such as Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio, their resale value have nose-dived in recent years due to their diminishing number of leases left.
Meanwhile, the resale value of homes in newer estates like Sengkang appear to be better protected.
This has perhaps explained why Sengkang is a popular neighbourhood among young families.
The lure of living in Sengkang
One such person who is currently looking for a home here is property agent Ady Ahmari.
“The flats in Sengkang are younger but cheaper, especially in Anchorvale,” he said.
Another reason is their generous sizes which is something he can attest to.
The property agent sold a 1,130 sq ft four-room flat in the area two months ago for S$350,000.
“The units are very big and comparable to five-room Built-To-Order (BTO) flats which are around 1,184 sq ft,” he said.
Perhaps one surprising intangible reason that he is lured to looking for a home here is the parks.
“Sengkang has a big garden where my family can enjoy the outdoors,” he said.
Indeed, Sengkang Riverside Park is popular among residents here featuring a constructed wetland and is rich in biodiversity.
In fact, the Sengkang ActiveSG Gym which is located within Anchorvale Community Club is the only such gym of its kind in Singapore offering a scenic river view of the Sengkang Riverside Park.
Amenities aside, Ahmari said having an opposition party there has also influenced his decision.
“I need an alternative voice,” he said.
Swing towards opposition could be due to declining resale value of HDB homes
Homeownership and their property value are closely tied to voters sentiment.
Let's look into the case of Toa Payoh HDB estate which falls under the Bishan - Toa Payoh GRC.
In the 2015 General Election, the PAP scored a victory with 73.59 per cent of the vote share against the Singapore People's Party (SPP).
However, the recently concluded election saw a vote swing of 6.33 per cent towards the SPP at 32.74 per cent.
While the PAP won by 67.27 per cent, its support saw a decline of 6.33 per cent.
Likewise, in other mature estates such as Ang Mo Kio GRC and Tanjong Pagar GRC, the PAP witnessed a vote swing towards the opposition at 6.72 per cent and 14.58 per cent respectively.
The endorsement of Sengkang GRC of The Workers' Party is reflective of the changing mood and aspirations of young Singaporeans.
Yes, they want a strong and capable government.
However, they also want a government who listens to them and not one who bulldozes through policies.
Some of these policies include the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which they believe have contributed to social inequalities (CECA became a hot-button national topic last year when Erramalli Ramesh was caught on video verbally abusing a Singaporean security guard at a condominium).
They also want a government that does not resort to hitting below-the-belt when it comes to their political opponents.
While the PAP has retained power in many estates, the vote swing towards the opposition could also suggest that older voters want the diminishing value of their homes addressed.
As one elderly person that I spoke to puts it: “This is not what was promised by Lee Kuan Yew”.
Here are our top five predictions as the Lion City braces for slower economic growth and the possibility of a recession next year.
By Khalil Adis
Singapore had narrowly missed a technical recession in the third quarter of 2013 growing by 0.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis according to advance estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
Still, the economy remains muted as the labour market continues to soften while retrenchments are on the rise.
We are already seeing firms asking employees to take a shorter workweek, particularly in the manufacturing sector as this is most affected by the ongoing global headwinds.
Given the trade war will likely persist in 2020 combined with a bleak job market ahead, here are the possible impacts on Singapore’s property market.
#1: High-end properties will likely take the first hit
High-end properties are those that are located in Districts 1, 2, 9, 10 and 11.
These properties are first to take the hit should a recession occur next year as they are the most volatile - they are the first to rebound during an upturn but also the first to see the largest decline in capital values.
Why is this so?
This is because this market segment is driven generally by speculators and foreign investors.
As the economy takes a hit, they are likely to offload the properties once they are unable to finance their mortgage or secure tenants.
During the 2008 crisis, for instance, we saw properties in prime areas declining by as much as 30 per cent.
Also, the cooling measures that were announced last year will likely see such buyers staying away from this market.
The only exception is the ultra-high-net-worth individuals as seen in the penthouse unit at Wallich Residence that was purchase by British billionaire James Dyson in April this year.
However, such buyers are far and few between.
#2: Vacancy rates for high-end units will likely increase
The soft job market and increase in retrenchments will see expatriates either being repatriated or a cut in their housing allowance.
As such tenants generally favour renting homes in the prime areas, we are likely to see vacancy rates increase as they exit from the market or opt for cheaper housing options in the city fringe and heartland areas of Singapore.
With an increase in vacancy rates, this will likely trigger a price war among landlords as they reduce their asking price in the hope of securing a tenant.
As a result, rentals in the prime areas will likely decline as well.
Again, this was seen during the 2008 crisis.
#3: Mass market segment will be resilient
Mass market homes are those that are located in the Outside Central Region (0CR) as defined by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Why are such homes more resilient compared to those located in the Core Central Region (CCR) and Rest of Central Region (RCR)?
This is because the OCR is driven by genuine homebuyers and where the rentals are more affordable.
While we will likely see a price decline in the secondary market due, it will not be as much as the prime areas.
For instance, during the 2008 crisis, prices in the OCR declined by around 10 to 15 per cent.
#4: Flight to safety in the mass market rental segment
Having said that, the mass market segment is not immune to the economic slowdown and soft labour market.
We are already seeing workers being retrenched or told to take a pay cut, particularly among those in the manufacturing sector.
As the manufacturing sector takes a hit, so will the rental market.
However, this market is still considered relatively affordable for the expatriate worker albeit with a reduced budget.
Therefore, this market will see a flight to safety among the white-collar workers who do not mind living in the heartlands.
Landlords will also likely to lower their asking price in a bid to continue attracting tenants.
#5: Affordable homes will be in demand
The property market is very much sentiment-driven.
However, the affordable home segment is different as it is driven by buyers who genuinely need a roof over their heads.
As such, the HDB market will see good take-up rates particularly for homes that are being offered under the Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises.
In November, for instance, the HDB launched 4,571 BTO units and 3,599 SBF units.
The BTO units are located in Tengah, Tampines and Ang Mo Kio while the SBF units are located in both mature and non-mature estates.
The Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000 that was announced in September this year will provide a much-needed help for homebuyers in acquiring their first home and ease their property journey.
The latest data from various Singapore’s government agencies do not look good suggesting a sluggish property market ahead.
By Khalil Adis
If you are feeling the heat from the sluggish economy, you are not alone.
In fact, chances are if you are running a business, you would have noticed more businesses rolling down their shutters since the beginning of 2019.
Meanwhile, workers are worried about job security.
Coupled with the current China-US trade war, this will have a significant impact on Singapore’s export-dependent economy and the job market.
As such Singapore’s property market is expected to be in the doldrums this year.
Here are three key indicators:
#1: Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) decreased by 15.9% in May 2019
The latest figure from Singapore’s trade agency, Enterprise Singapore, do not look good with a decline recorded in non-oil domestic exports (NODX) due to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in May 2019.
The drop was partly due to a sharp decline in shipments to China, following the 10.0 per cent decline in April 2019.
The national trade agency said both electronic and non-electronic exports decreased.
On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX rose by 6.2 per cent in May 2019, after the previous month’s 0.7 per cent decrease.
Non-electronic NODX grew while electronics declined.
On a year-on-year basis, total trade decreased by 2.1 per cent in May 2019.
This was after the 3.2 per cent growth in the preceding month.
Meanwhile, total imports declined by 0.5 per cent in May 2019, after the 7.6 per cent rise in the previous month.
Total exports decreased by 3.4 per cent in May 2019, following the 0.5 per cent decline in April 2019.
The largest contributors to the NODX decrease were China (-23.3 per cent), Taiwan (-34.7 per cent) and Hong Kong (-24.8 per cent).
Overall, exports to the majority of Singapore's top markets decreased in May, except to the US.
#2: More workers were retrenched in the first quarter of 2019
With trade declining, it has had a knock-off impact on the job market.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Manpower on Thursday (June 13), more workers were retrenched in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter and a year ago.
The ministry’s latest report said this increase was driven by manufacturing and affected workers in production and electronics.
For example, as of the first quarter of this year, 3,230 workers were retrenched.
This was higher than the quarter before with 2,510 workers affected and a year ago (2,320).
The top reason cited for retrenchments was business restructuring and reorganisation.
Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies declined following seven quarters of increase.
According to the ministry, it declined from 62,300 in December 2018 to 57,100 in March 2019.
#3: Government to reduce the supply of private residential units for the second half of 2019
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), there is a large supply of around 44,000 private housing units in the pipeline.
This comprises around 39,000 unsold units from the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme and en-bloc sale sites with planning approval, and an additional 5,000 units from sites that are pending planning approval.
In addition, there are around 24,000 existing private housing units that remain vacant.
“Given these factors, the Government has decided to reduce the supply of private residential units on the Confirmed List for the GLS Programme,” the URA said in its statement.
As such, the GLS Programme for the second half of 2019 will comprise five Confirmed List sites and eight Reserve List sites.
According to the URA, these sites can yield about 6,430 private residential units, 92,000 sq m gross floor area (GFA) of commercial space and 1,100 hotel rooms
The five Confirmed List sites are private residential sites (including one Executive Condominium site) which can yield about 1,715 private residential units (including 480 EC units).
Singapore is a very open economy and will be the first in the region to experience the shocks arising from the ongoing trade wars.
However, this will be mitigated by government spendings in building infrastructure projects such as the upcoming Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) and the Cross Island Line (CRL).
Meanwhile, the large supply of private residential units will favour tenants and buyers as they will be spoilt for choice.
It will also mean the rental and resale private property market will likely see a price decline due to the supply in the pipeline.
Vacancy rates for private properties will also increase.
As such, landlords will likely drop their rentals as more units come on-stream.
Located within the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) planning area of Paya Lebar Central, residential property prices in Geylang Serai have performed relatively well over the past two quarters.
By Khalil Adis
Every year, Geylang Serai will come alive with its vibrant street bazaar.
This year is no different but with a slight twist.
Following complaints last year that the bazaar has lost its appeal due to the invasion of many hipster food vendors, the organisers have set stricter guidelines in keeping with the spirit of Hari Raya and Malay culture.
This is certainly good news that will keep the unique culture of Geylang Serai alive for generations to come.
Since its establishment in the 1960s, Geylang Serai has become a cultural icon that is synonymous with Malay culture and customs.
Every year, Malay families will congregate here to partake in the festivity leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
With Hari Raya Aidilfitri just around the corner, we decided to check out the vibrant street bazaar at Geylang Serai to find out what makes this place tick.
Here are the six places that have shaped Geylang Serai to where it is today.
#1: Geylang Serai Bazaar
Stretching from Sims Avenue, Tanjong Katong Road, Geylang Road and parts of Changi Road, this year's bazaar features over 500 stalls which are significantly less than previous years.
This will allow for more open spaces for the public to enjoy when breaking their fast or just for a place for the entire family to sit down after a day of shopping.
If you are looking for delicious Malay kueh and other traditional dishes, you are in for a treat.
This year, the organisers, Wisma Sri Geylang, has put a guideline requiring 60 per cent of food vendors to sell food that will appeal to Muslim visitors while the remaining 40 per cent may offer "contemporary" or "hipster" options.
In addition, these stalls are also required to be either Muslim-owned, certified halal by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) or fulfil halal criteria set by consultants engaged by the bazaar organisers.
From carpets to baju Melayu, the street bazaar is awash in bright neon lightings when night falls.
For the best deals, come during the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri where most goods are sold at a deep discount from vendors eager to clear their stocks.
#2: Wisma Geylang Serai
Wisma Geylang Serai is the latest addition to the streetscape here. Launched in January 2019, this community civic and cultural centre is located in the heart of the Geylang Serai precinct housing the Geylang Serai Community Club, the South East Community Development Council, the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery Family Service and Child Care Centre, Senior Care Centre, and cultural arts group and social/community-related facilities.
The building draws its inspiration from traditional Malay houses with balconies (“serambi”) as well as lemongrass (where Geylang Serai takes its name from) and ketupat. The architecture features a double-pitched roof and columns that look like stilts to give Wisma Geylang Serai its own unique character.
Aside from community care, Wisma Geylang Serai is also home to eight Malay Muslim organisations and agencies to provide one-stop service to the community. They include Association of Muslim Professionals, Creative Malay Arts and Culture, Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud, Muhammadiyah, Pergas, Tabung Amal Aidilfitri, Berita Harian and Persatuan Persuratan Pemuda Pemudi Melayu.
#3: Tanjong Katong Complex
Home to anchor tenants like First Lady and Giant, Tanjong Katong Complex is known for its loud and colourful carpet auction shows located just outside the building that has helped to draw curious tourists and locals alike. Inside, however, there are many stores selling traditional Malay wears, home decor, gold, jewellery and other accessories.
Over the weekend, the shopping complex is a known haunt among Indonesian maids who would often camp outside the venue. Meanwhile, locals tend to congregate outside Giant supermarket in the evening to break their fast. To avoid jostling with the crowd, it is best to come early for your Hari Raya shopping.
#4: Joo Chiat Complex
Known for its wide variety of textiles and garments, Joo Chiat Complex is a treasure trove for those who need to hunt for ready-made traditional Malay wears for both ladies and men. Established in the 1960s, Joo Chiat Complex is still going on strong today and is one of Geylang Serai’s enduring icon.
Aside from textiles, the complex boasts a number of fabric vendors selling curtains and upholstery by the metre. There are also a number of jewellery shops that are popular among Malay ladies who are eager to show off their latest bling collections. Although the shopping complex is a little run down, it is still worth checking out due to the sheer number of shops that can be found here.
#5: Sri Geylang Serai
Sri Geylang Serai is home to the Geylang Serai wet market and hawker centre. Located just opposite Joo Chiat Complex, the wet market is a popular destination among Malay households from all over Singapore as the goods are fresh yet slightly more affordable.
In addition, the hawker centre above houses a number of famous Muslim stalls that have made Sri Geylang Serai popular among those looking for authentic Malay food. Some of the notable hawkers here include Cendol Geylang Serai, Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang and Haji Mohd Yussof Warong Nasi Baryani. Be warned though that you would most likely need to share a seat as the hawker centre is always packed.
#6: City Plaza
City Plaza is the birthplace of Arnold’s which is famed for its fresh, succulent and well-marinated chicken. This fast food restaurant began its humble beginnings from a corner shop located on the second floor here and still continues to maintain its presence there for three decades. Even today, Arnold’s continue to be packed especially during breaking fast time.
Aside from that, there are a number of thrift boutique stores selling sandals, bags and fashionable clothes. City Plaza is also a popular hangout among Indonesian maids over the weekend as there are a number of remittance outlets here.
According to HDB’s first quarter of 2019 data, the median transacted price for 3- and 4-room HDB flats in Geylang was S$265,500 and S$518,000 respectively. In comparison, its fourth quarter of 2018 data showed that they were transacted at S$280,000 and S$480,000 respectively. This represents a price decline of 5.2 per cent for 3-room flats while 4-room flats have strengthened to 7.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, according to the URA’s first quarter of 2019 data, the median transacted price for apartments/condominiums in the area was S$1,157.40 per sq ft. In comparison, its fourth quarter data of 2018 showed that they were transacted at S$1,137.32 per sq ft. This represents an increase of 1.8 per cent.
On the overall, the upcoming rejuvenation of Paya Lebar Central as outlined by the URA has had a positive spillover impact on residential properties here. Some of the completed projects in the area include Paya Lebar Square and Paya Lebar Quarter 1, 2 and 3 which are all connected via link bridges. Upcoming developments that are currently being constructed are Paya Lebar Quarter Mall, Paya Lebar Quarter and Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter.
Under the Draft Master Plan 2013, Novena is currently being transformed into Singapore’s single largest healthcare complex called Health City Novena.
By Khalil Adis
Known for its iconic Novena Church, Novena falls under the prime district 11 and is home to shopping malls, healthcare institutions, offices, apartments, condominiums and landed homes.
Over the years, Novena has been transformed into a bustling healthcare hub called Health City Novena with the addition of three new MRT stations to better serve commuters.
Here are six things to watch out for:
#1: Health City Novena
The Ministry of Health has set a target completion date by 2030 for this sprawling 17-hectare modern integrated healthcare complex that now physically links Tan Tock Seng Hospital, its medical school and all public and volunteer healthcare facilities into one.
In the next 10 years, Health City Novena will see the addition of more facilities and services which will double its built-up area from 250,000 sq m to 600,000 sq m.
#2: Novena Medical Center
Meanwhile, a new mixed-use development comprising a hotel, medical suites and retail shops at the junction of Thomson and Irrawaddy Roads is now open.
Called Novena Medical Center, this privately run medical facility offers a wide range of quality health care services ranging from medical aesthetics to dental surgery.
It is also linked directly to Oasia Hotel Novena for the convenience of overseas private patients to recuperate.
#3: Three new MRT stations under Downtown Line 2
To offer residents enhanced connectivity to the rest of Singapore, three new MRT stations namely Newton, Stevens and Botanic Gardens, were opened in December 2015.
Comprising 16.6 km of train line that runs from Bukit Panjang to Bukit Timah Road, residents can hop onto the North South Line at Novena before transferring to Newton MRT interchange station to get to the downtown Singapore in 14 minutes flat via Downtown MRT station.
By 2021, residents can look forward to the addition of two more MRT stations at Mount Pleasant and Stevens via the Thomson-East Coast Line.
Stevens MRT station will be upgraded to an interchange station where commuters can hop onto the Thomson-East Coast Line towards Woodlands North or Sungei Bedok.
#4: Velocity @ Novena Square
Located directly above Novena MRT station, this sports-themed mall offers shopping, dining and beauty options as among some of its offerings.
Home to an outdoor basketball court, sports lovers can look forward to sporting events that are held here from time to time.
Some of its anchor tenants include UOB, World of Sports, Cold Storage, Starbucks and Toast Box.
#5: Zhongshan Park Integrated Development
The Zhongshan Park Integrated Development was conceived by its architect as a unique opportunity to rejuvenate the Balestier Conservation Area which has more than 160 years of history.
Located at Balestier Road and adjacent to the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Zhongshan Park has now been integrated as a sprawling 39,100sqm mixed-use development comprising Zhongshan Mall, two hotels and an office tower.
#6: 35 Gilstead
In anticipation for Novena’s rejuvenation, a new condominium development will be developed at 35 Gilstead Road.
Called 35 Gilstead, this upcoming freehold condominium development will comprise three blocks of 5-storey residential apartments with an attic and basement, swimming pool and communal facilities.
Offering 70 units ranging from one- to three-bedroom plus penthouse, 35 Gilstead will likely appeal to parents with school-going children as it is located very close to good schools such as Anglo-Chinese School Barker Road, Catholic Junior College, Singapore Chinese Girl’s Primary and Secondary School and St. Joseph’s Institution.
The Draft Master Plan 2019 which was announced last week and is fast taking shape to take Singapore ahead into a vibrant yet liveable city.
By Khalil Adis
A decentralisation strategy to bring jobs closer to homes in the next 10 to 15 years, here are the five growth areas to watch out for:
Woodlands Regional Centre: Woodlands Central
Woodlands Regional Centre: Woodlands North Coast
Punggol Digital District
Scaled model of the Punggol Digital District. It will be a hub for innovation with industry clusters such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, data analytics and Internet of things. It will also be a transportation hub linking Punggol Coast MRT station to Jurong Lake District and Changi by around 2030 via the Cross Island Line (CRL). Photo: Khalil Adis Consultancy.
Paya Lebar Central
Jurong Lake District
Greater Southern Waterfront
Despite the tepid HDB resale market, Punggol has bucked the trend with a loft unit at Punggol Sapphire recently changing hands for almost a million dollars. Here are the lowdowns about living in Punggol.
By Khalil Adis
Punggol has indeed come a long way from being an ‘ulu’ area.
Once known as a rural settlement complete with kampungs and farms, Punggol has since 1998 transformed itself from a backwater area to a vibrant, modern yet green satellite district.
Amid Punggol’s oasis of calm, you can see LRT trains whirring through the residential areas, passing by the ample lush natural landscape before taking you directly to the heart of the district, Punggol Central.
While Punggol’s rustic charms may appeal to outdoor lovers, there are certain downsides about living here.
We list them down here:
#1: It’s oh so quiet
Punggol has an estimated population of 161,570 as of 2018 with a projected 96,000 housing units once the entire "Punggol 21-plus” master plan is completed.
Despite its high density, Punggol is surprisingly very quiet at night save for the traffic whizzing by the Tampines Expressway (TPE).
This is definitely good news for those wanting some peace and quiet but bad news if you want the buzz of city life.
If you still want to move to Punggol, fret not as Waterway Point has all the modern conveniences and amenities for your city living.
#2: Well landscaped parks and gardens
Nature and outdoor lovers will revel in the many landscaped parks and gardens that Punggol has to offer, including the award-winning My Waterway@Punggol.
From the Matilda District, you can enjoy a stroll or jog by the Punggol River before reaching Punggol Dam and Punggol Point.
This is part of the comprehensive Park Connector Network (PCN) linking the entire island.
The view is awe-inspiring and enough to make even the laziest couch potato get up and explore nature
#3: Properties here are in demand.
Being a relatively new township development with a young demographic, Punggol has proven to be popular among homebuyers as a few HDB housing projects are now eligible to be sold in the resale market.
According to the fourth quarter of 2018 data from the HDB, the Resale Price Index (RPI) fell by 0.2 per cent, from 131.6 points in the third quarter to 131.4 points in the fourth quarter in 2018.
For the whole year, the RPI declined by 0.9 per cent in 2018.
Despite the lacklustre market, a five-room, loft unit in Punggol Sapphire was sold for S$910,888 in January 2019.
This was considered a record for an HDB flat in northeastern Singapore.
Additionally, OrangeTee & Tie's research showed that in the third quarter of 2018, Punggol was the fourth most popular area for HDB resale flats with 469 units transacted followed by Jurong West (505 units), Woodland (516 units) and Sengkang (528 units).
On the overall, resale statistics from the HDB showed that the median prices of three, four and five-room flats were transacted at S$343,000, S$455,000 and S$445,000 respectively in the fourth quarter of 2018.
#4: Comprehensive public transport network
Commuting in and around Punggol is very convenient as there is a comprehensive transport network comprising MRT, LRT and buses.
In fact, the township has been planned such that each housing estate is located within 300 m away from any LRT station.
An exception, however, is the new housing area at the Matilda district.
#5: Punggol Digital District
Come 2023, a new smart city is set to rise in Punggol called the Punggol Digital District. Housing technology firms involved in key growth fields as well as the new Singapore Institute of Technology Campus, Punggol Digital District will create around 28,000 jobs while providing residents with more lifestyle and dining options.
In the pipeline includes the new Punggol Coast MRT Station which will be an extension of the North-East Line.
Punggol Digital District will also enjoy enhanced connectivity via the Cross Island Line (CRL) which will link it to Jurong Lake District and Changi by around 2030.
Collectively, they will act as property boosters for Punggol.
#6: Lack of good hawker food
Food. That’s our favourite national past time that defines if we love or hate or neighbourhood.
Having lived in Taman Jurong, I must say I was spoilt for choice with various options of mouth-watering hawker fares such as the famous Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak.
However, the choices have become extremely limited in Punggol unless you are into fast food.
While there are coffee shops serving local cuisines, they pale in comparison to the well-established hawker fares that you can find elsewhere.
You are better off cooking your own meals.
If you hate spring cleaning, be prepared for a rude shock.
With many construction works going on, you will find yourself dusting up every single day.
Windows, top of shelves, cupboards and other surfaces collect dust easily.
This certainly isn’t good news if you are asthmatic or are prone to allergies.
If so, you might want to invest in a good ioniser to keep your indoor air free of particles and other irritants.
#8: Get ready to jostle with the early morning crowd
If you think Singaporeans are a kiasu lot, be prepared to see that word taken to new heights when you commute to work in the morning.
In fact, many would play ‘musical chairs’ as they hustle for seats at on the MRT.
Meanwhile, getting a Grab or taxi would be almost impossible.
To get around this, I would leave home by 6 am and get to the office by 7 am.
#9: That acrid smell in the air
While Punggol may be planned as a green township development, be prepared for a strong burning smell that would emanate from time to time.
Located just opposite the industrial area of Pasir Gudang, Johor, the smell has become increasingly acrid over the past few days that it will linger from night till dawn.
In fact, it can get so bad that you might have to get up in the middle of the night to close the windows.
This is something perhaps developers and HDB will not tell you.
Buying a home will be your single most expensive investment in your life and these are the most common mistakes you should avoid.
By Khalil Adis
Buying your first home is an exciting experience that will have you go through a range of roller-coaster emotions.
From scouting for the right property to securing a loan, the procedures are endless that it is so easy to lose sight of what is important:
#1: Buying based on emotions
Buying a property based on emotions can cause you to gloss over some of its inherent shortcomings.
It is like falling in love in someone gorgeous until they start to open their mouth.
The initial phase may elicit a response such as exhilaration over its interior design finishing and then imagining how it would be like to sit in front of that bay window in that sleek glasshouse apartment.
However, your emotions can bite you back over the long run as such a home will result in hefty utility bills in the long term.
When buying a property, you should make calculated decisions by asking yourself these basic questions:
Is the property priced fairly?
Do your market research to find out what is the average price per sq ft of the property in the vicinity. This is important as it will ensure your property can have room for capital appreciation in the future.
Are there nearby amenities like schools, hospitals and train stations?
This will make the area desirable and attract people to want to live, work and play there. As demand increases, it will attract a significant population leading to the capital appreciation of your property. If you want to start a family, these are important considerations.
Can the property be rented out or sold in the future?
There will be some point in your life that you may end up as a landlord or a seller. Therefore, you must put yourself in the position of a tenant or a buyer by really looking at the property for what it is. As such, check if there any defects that may affect its future rentability or value. It is a good idea to upkeep your property to ensure all the electrical points and sanitary appliances are working while giving it a fresh coat of paint every year. You might also want to look at your interior design, layout and colour schemes and see if they will appeal to potential tenants or buyers.
#2: Buying a house facing East-West orientation
You should avoid buying a house that is facing the East-West orientation as it is directly exposed to the afternoon sun and therefore increases the heat gain. During night time, the concrete walls will radiate back the heat to your home leading to higher utility bills from your air-conditioning unit. Instead, you should go for a home that is facing North-South orientation. Do also ensure there is cross-ventilation from one end of the house to another to encourage natural air flow.
#3: Buying an odd-sized unit
An oddly sized unit refers to a layout which has odd corners like a triangle or irregularly shaped like an oval or circle.
Such homes have an inefficient layout meaning that it will result in wasted space which cannot be utilised.
It is also bad in terms of feng shui should the odd corners have an acute angle as they will collect energy that cannot be dispersed.
Instead, you should opt for a regularly shaped unit like a square or rectangle.
Remember this golden rule when it comes to a home layout: boring equals good.
#4: Buying a common unit versus one that is scarce
This is especially applicable for the property market in Malaysia where there is a severe oversupply of homes particularly in Johor and Kuala Lumpur.
When buying a home, you should opt for a unit that is scarce.
You should first study the development carefully and the unit types that are available.
For example, in a project where 4-bedroom greatly outnumber 2-bedroom units, you should opt for the latter.
This is because such units will be easier to offload in the resale market should you wish to sell or rent it out in future.
Of course, you must take into consideration your family size before making the final decision.
#5: Not asking about your prospective neighbours
A neighbour can make or break your property.
This is especially true if you are buying a resale home.
Recently, a friend confided how he had to move out from his current home to rent another place in eastern Singapore.
He had bought the HDB flat from the resale market from an owner who appeared desperate to sell it off.
“Don’t tell the neighbour downstairs how much I sold this house,” the owner said ominously.
This should have been a red flag.
After moving in, he realised his neighbour downstairs would often make a din throughout the entire day.
Sometimes, he would have the police knocking on his door as the neighbour had complained about him for no reason.
This caused him and his family so much distress that the neighbour’s mom had to come up to explain and apologise for her son’s erratic behaviour.
Apparently, her son suffers from a mental illness.
After talking to his neighbour, he realised the previous owner was not on good terms with the entire family.
This explains their decision to sell the flat.
While he now lives a quieter life elsewhere, his tenants are now at the receiving end of the neighbour’s constant abuse.
For example, recently, he received a call from the HDB complaining about the apparent noises from his unit.
Thankfully, the HDB and the police are aware of his problematic neighbour and have since closed the case.
Unfortunately, you cannot choose your neighbours if you had bought a new home directly from the HDB or developer.
However, you can mitigate your risks by being a good neighbour.
For instance, why not offer a serving of cookies or cakes during your festive celebration?
While your actions may not be reciprocated, a friendly hello on your neighbour’s door and offering such goodies will certainly go a long way in making a good first impression last.
Neighbours do talk so why not give them something good to talk about?
Phase one of Cross Island Line (CRL) is finalised. Here are 5 quick facts on Singapore’s eighth MRT line
Spanning 29km with a target completion date by 2029, phase one of the CRL will run from Bright Hill to Changi with 12 stations in all
By Khalil Adis
Come 2029, you can hop onto the train via a fully underground line that will link you from Ang Mo Kio to the aviation hub of Changi.
Announced just last week by Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, phase one will comprise 12 stations.
When fully completed by 2030, the entire line will span some 50km and will serve existing and future developments in the eastern, western, and north-eastern corridors.
This will link it to major hubs such as Jurong Lake District, Punggol Digital District and the Changi region.
According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the CRL will be Singapore’s longest fully underground line.
Here are five quick facts on phase one of the CRL.
#1: 29km of fully underground line
The CRL will run parallel to the current East West Line (EWL).
When opened, it will serve the residential and industrial areas such as Loyang, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Defu, Hougang, Serangoon North and Ang Mo Kio.
This will definitely help ease congestions along the popular line which has been in operation since 12 December 1987.
When the full CRL line commences service, the LTA envisages time savings of up to 30 to 40 minutes from Changi to Jurong.
Construction for phase one of the CRL is expected to commence in 2020 and will be completed by 2029.
#2: 12 stations
Phase one of the CRL will comprise 12 stations namely, Aviation Park, Loyang, Pasir Ris East, Pasir Ris, Tampines North, Defu, Hougang, Serangoon North, Tavistock, Ang Mo Kio, Teck Ghee and Bright Hill.
Of these, four will be interchange stations.
Bright Hill, which is on the Thomson-East Coast Line, will become an interchange station with the CRL
Meanwhile, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang and Pasir Ris will be an interchange station with the North-South Line, North East Line and the East-West Line respectively.
#3: More than 100,000 households will benefit
According to the LTA, more than 100,000 households will benefit from phase one of the CRL.
Additionally, the LTA said envisages the projected daily ridership of the entire CRL to be more than 600,000 in the initial years before increasing to over 1 million in the longer term.
#4: Open up access to more areas
The LTA said previously inaccessible areas which currently have no MRT access such as Serangoon Gardens, Serangoon North and Aviation Park in Changi will enjoy greater connectivity.
This means common recreational spaces such as Changi Beach Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Hougang Mall and Ang Mo Kio Hub will also become more accessible by public transport.
This is definitely great news for outdoor lovers and mall enthusiasts as such spaces will enjoy greater connectivity.
There’s more good news.
The LTA said the line may be extended to link up with Changi Airport.
#5: CRL will support three new economic hubs
Singapore plans to bring jobs closer to homes with various plans in place to build economic hubs away from the central business district.
Minister Khaw said that the CRL will help to support these new economic hubs that are being planned such as the Punggol Digital District, Jurong Lake District and one at the Changi region.
The CRL will help to boost property values along the 50km stretch.
The districts that will benefit greatly are those described above where the government has laid across a masterplan especially for Punggol Digital District and Jurong Lake District.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Punggol Digital District masterplan, the innovation district will house technology firms involved in key growth fields such as cyber-security as well as the new Singapore Institute of Technology Campus.
It will be opened progressively from 2023 and will create around 28,000 new jobs.
Meanwhile, Jurong Lake District is set to become the largest commercial and regional centre outside the city centre.
According to the URA, the district will create more than 100,000 new jobs with 20,000 homes to be built when it is set for completion after 2040.
As for Changi, the URA’s Draft Master Plan 2013 showed Changi Airport’s ambitious expansion plans with two new terminals that will be built - Terminal 4 was completed in 2017 while the new Terminal 5 will be completed by around 2025.
In addition, Project Jewel, an S$1.7 billion mixed-use development is set to open this year and will be seamlessly linked with the existing Terminal 1.
This iconic development will feature a vast indoor garden and more shopping options.
The URA envisages these three new developments to anchor Changi Airport’s air hub status for years to come and to generate thousands of new jobs for Singaporeans.
As such, homeowners residing in Jurong East, Toh Guan, Teban Gardens, Taman Jurong, Punggol and Changi areas will benefit the most from the opening of the CRL line.
A vibrant district is about to take shape over at Woodlands Regional Centre in the next 15 years with enhanced connectivity to Johor Bahru via the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link. We give you the quick low-down on this gateway district to Singapore.
By Khalil Adis
Living in Woodlands is about to get even more exciting as Woodlands Regional Centre will be developed into a sizeable commercial hub and bring jobs closer to homes in the northern region of Singapore.
Comprising 100 hectares of land, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) envisages Woodlands Regional Centre to become home to new spaces for industry, research and development, learning and innovation over the next 15 years.
Just last month, the URA released a white site for sale under the reserve list of the second half of 2018 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme.
A white site means it can be used for different functions such as commercial, residential and industrial.
The sale of the site is especially momentous as it will provide a seamless connection for commuters travelling to Johor Bahru via the RTS Link by 2024 at Woodlands North MRT station before disembarking at Bukit Chagar station.
Here are a few quick facts on the site:
#1: Located next to popular shopping mall, Causeway Point
The site is located within Woodlands Regional Centre which comprises two complementary precincts - Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast.
The white site itself is located at Woodlands Central which the URA said will be transformed into a bustling commercial and community node with a mix of office, retail, residential and attractive public spaces for live, work and play.
#2: A vibrant mixed-use site with a GFA of 115,000 m2
The mixed-use site measures 2.75ha and can potentially generate some 115,000 m2 of gross floor area (GFA) for office, residential, retail and entertainment uses.
At least 45,000 m2 of the maximum permissible GFA of the development will be set aside for office use.
Meanwhile, the URA said the remaining GFA can be for additional office, retail, entertainment and residential uses.
#3: 27,000 households in northern Singapore set to benefit
According to the URA, the new public spaces planned for the precinct can be enjoyed by more than 27,000 households in the vicinity.
Woodlands Central will also serve as a community gathering point for the residents in Woodlands and the rest of the north region.
#4: Strategically located above the upcoming Woodlands Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) station, (TE2)
The site is planned to be seamlessly connected to the existing Woodlands MRT station.
As such, the site will enjoy a direct connection to both the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) and the North South Line (NSL) via the Woodlands TEL station, (TE2).
From the TE2 station, commuters can hop onto the RTS Link at Woodlands North MRT station located one stop away to Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru.
#5: Direct basement connection to TE2 station
The new development will have a direct basement connection to the future Woodlands TEL station, providing shoppers and commuters with easy access to the rest of the stations under the TEL.
This includes the Central Business District, Marina Bay and the shopping, dining and entertainment options at Orchard Road.
#6: 100,000 new jobs
When fully developed, Woodlands Regional Centre will have about 700,000m2 of commercial space and offer approximately 100,000 new jobs.
#7: Innovation district at Woodlands North Coast
Meanwhile, a mixed-use business cluster will be coming up at Woodlands North Coast which will include future industrial and business park spaces.
Woodlands North Coast will be served by the Woodlands North MRT station
The URA has envisioned it to provide flexible workspaces that encourage experimentation and innovation and are geared towards the needs of both small to medium enterprises and multinational companies.
As we can see from the infographics above, prices of HDB resale flats across the board have fallen except for executive flats.
However, the upcoming TEL and developments at Woodlands Regional Centre will act as a property booster for homes in the area.
The opening of Woodlands TEL station and Woodlands North MRT station will be the first property booster followed by the rest of the developments that are being planned.
Homeowners of 3-, 4- and 5-room HDB flats should hold on tight to their properties in the next 15 years before selling.
Meanwhile, it is a good opportunity for home buyers to start their property hunt in Woodlands and wait for the capital appreciation as Woodlands Regional Centre becomes more mature.
As for the RTS Link, the Malaysian government has remained committed on completing this project.
In fact, this is one of the major infrastructure project that will be carried on under the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government.
For a detailed master plan of Woodlands Regional Centre, do check out the URA site here
An independent analysis from yours truly