Jaw Surgery: The Aftermath

Two years on, Reuelwrites tells it all on the aftermath of the jaw surgery.

Hey all! It’s been a little under two years since I went for the jaw surgery with NUH. Back then I wrote multiple articles on jaw surgery and never would have thought that it would help so many Singaporeans who were in a fix on whether to proceed with the jaw surgery, on the procedures to go about doing so, as well as what to expect during and after the jaw surgery.

You can read the articles by clicking on these links:

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Going For a Jaw Surgery in Singapore
  2. Surviving Jaw Surgery – Week 1
  3. A Jaw-Dropping Experience – Week 2

Two years went by just like that. Even till this day, I have so many enquiries on [going through] the jaw surgery. So here’s my report card on the recovery and aftermath. I have permanent partial numbness on the right side of my lower lip. Yes, permanent numbness is real. Going for the multiple follow-ups for months after the surgery, I was told by my surgeon that the initial numbness was ‘normal’. It came to a point where the numbness continued to be present despite being more than a year after surgery. That was when my surgeon told me that I belong to one of the rare uncommon cases where the patient never recovers from the numbness.

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Taken in 2013: This was my perpetual default face during photo taking because I always worry over presenting an ugly smile

“Does [the permanent numbness] bother me?” No, if I don’t think about it. In spite of that, the numbness does not really deter me from life as per normal.

“Is there any extra procedure during post-surgery?” Yes, I am supposed to wear my retainers all the time for at least two years from surgery to keep my teeth aligned. But being in the sales trade (real estate), I couldn’t afford talking weird so I only wore my retainers every night before I turn in. This step is very important if you don’t want to go back to your orthodontist to put on braces again in a couple of years’ time.

“Permanent numbness?! Reuelwrites, tell me.. Is it still worth it?” Well, to be honest, the numbness is annoying when I am fixated on it. If I can give an example, it’s like a big booger in your nose; it’s there but you won’t ‘feel’ it unless you focus on it (LOL). But this, in exchange for a nice smile, I find the trade-offs still worthwhile on a whole.

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Taken in 2017 after my braces were removed. Same cap, same face, but smaller ‘face’ and nicer smile, I think?!

Having a nice smile helps in my own self-esteem and being in the real estate industry where a nice smile can make a difference, I would say that I would have gone ahead with the surgery even if I knew that the numbness would be permanent right from the start.

So, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “What if I never recover from the numbness, am I able to accept the permanent condition? Does the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?” If yes, then I would say “Go ahead with the surgery!” If that bothers you, you might want to hit the brakes on proceeding with the jaw surgery.

The above are just my experience going through jaw surgery and yours may differ from mine. However, if you have any other questions, feel free to email me at reueleugenetay@gmail.com and I will answer you to the best of my ability and knowledge.

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Is It Necessary To Send Your Kid To A ‘Branded’ Primary School?

Is it really necessary? Why not a neighbourhood primary school?

I was having a conversation with my colleague the other day and found out that she rented a unit in The Minton despite owning a property in the West. Perplexed, I asked more questions and that was when I discovered that she made the move so she could stay within 1km to Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (PLMGS) and get her daughters into the school. For those who don’t know, PLMGS is one of the more popular primary schools in Singapore, taking the 31st spot in the 2016 Primary School Ranking list.

She went on to tell me that she came from a neighbourhood school. During her time there, she ‘had the time of her life’ with her friends and acing her studies wasn’t her top priority. Fortunately for her, she did relatively well in life; achieving fairly okay grades for her studies later on, landed a good job and started her family. But many of her friends were not that fortunate. And that was the driving force behind her determination not to let her children go through a similar route.

My colleague joined the assembly of parents past and present who will do whatever it takes to send their kids to a ‘good’ primary school. But what makes a primary school ‘good’?

What makes a primary school ‘good’?

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PHOTO: The Straits Times

Further segregated into ‘branded’, ‘top’ and ‘elite’, sending one’s kids to a good primary school ranks high in priority for many parents for the longest time. The common traits that these primary schools share include:

Perhaps the most important trait is still the belief that sending one’s kids to these primary schools increases their chance of scoring well at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) – which in turn guarantees they have a ‘headstart in life’. There has been rumours that top school Nanyang Primary School produced 47% graduates who scored above T-score of 250. Nanyang Primary School also produced the top student with a T-score of 283.

For more information on the primary school phases and procedures, click here.

Every School, A Good School?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Perhaps the Government is trying to back-paddle on their previous stance and deal with this growing elitism issue. The slogan first mentioned by PM Lee in his National Day Rally speech in 2010 and popularised by then-education minister Heng Swee Keat at an MOE seminar in 2011, the Government sought to bridge the divide between the supposed-good primary school and a neighbourhood primary school. Putting their hand where their mouth is, the Government has made adjustments to the handling of PSLE with the most recent move to replace revealing T-scores in favour of 8 scoring bands instead.

I asked my colleague, “Do you agree with the Government’s statement?” She replied in a heartbeat, “No, of course not.” Well, good is relative. Good can mean a school’s ability to educate a child, to get them curious with acquiring knowledge, or to inculcate good values in them? Perhaps her – and many other parents’ – definition of good is the school’s ability to help their child get good grades for the much-needed boost in hyper-competitive Singapore.

I do agree with the Government’s statement that every school is a good school with qualified teachers and a sound curriculum. However, I would say that not every school presents the same opportunities to a child.  Statistics and probability don’t lie.

The brutal truth the Government won’t admit at this juncture is this, a kid who goes to a branded or top primary school is going to find himself placed in an environment with more opportunities to do academically well and to make better informed decisions than a said kid who enrolls in a neighbourhood primary school. Notice I did not say that a kid who goes to a neighbourhood school cannot do well, but the odds do not favour him as much as it does for the kid who goes to a branded school.

Are Grades And Going To A Top School Everything Then?

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PHOTO: The Straits Times

I thought it more as a propaganda move but a 2015 article published by The Straits Times described how many parents are choosing neighbourhood schools for their kids instead of branded ones. Sending one’s kid to a top school may increase the odds of one’s kid doing better later on in life, it also comes with its challenges.

Studying in a top primary school can be extremely stressful, do we want to subject our children to such stress at a young age? With the Government’s push for more well-rounded students (who are also expected to do well in CCAs) as opposed to students who just excel academically, the demand on a student’s time and cognition could be amplified. It may also require parents to uproot themselves and plan ahead since they have to stay at the registered address within 1-2km to the choice school for 30 months.

At the same time, perhaps something needs to be done with the labelling of primary schools. While we can’t make every school equal because it just isn’t going to work, we can stop calling normal primary schools ‘neighbourhood’ primary schools. It carries negative connotations?

I was with a friend with a family of five at The Criterion EC showflat and another client at Kingsford Waterbay showflat just last Sunday, and witnessed how both parents with no relation with each other are unanimously determined to upgrade to provide a better lifestyle for their children. In the end, everything that parents do, they do it so that their kids can be happy. Some parents decided that the only way for their kiddos to be happy is to make sure they do well in life. Some parents just want their kids… to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with both schools of thought.

The Pursuit Of Happiness

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But if it was up to me, I would say it isn’t absolutely necessary to send my child to a branded primary school. I rather my child be happy above everything else. But that’s just my opinion.

The Government has made many active steps to highlight their stance – that every school is a good school – but parents just aren’t buying it. And they won’t, neither will their obsession with branded schools and grades let up.. Unless we see our Ministers’ children start attending neighbourhood schools, all the measures to bridge the divide would be for naught.

When the Ministers does do so, perhaps then we can send a clear signal that the hallmarks of a successful child is not just in getting into good schools to get good grades; but one who is morally upright, socially responsible, has a thirst for knowledge for knowledge’s sake and most importantly, one who is happy.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that it is necessary to send your child to a branded primary school? Why or why not? RW

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Share this article with your friends! The above article represents the writer’s honest opinion and does not reflect the sentiments of any Government organisation and bodies. Need advice on finding a property near primary schools? You can reach me at 9-833-6450 or eugenetayhy@gmail.com. The author is a licensed real estate salesperson with Propnex.

Afterthought – 再辛苦也值得

Afterthought.

Showflat visiting last Sunday with clients and their kiddos. I’m touched by their intention to upgrade to provide a better lifestyle and ultimately to leave behind something of value to their children.

In the end, even if parents have to work harder, the joy of seeing their children enjoy the fruits of their labour is priceless and it makes their hard work all worth it. 再辛苦也值得。RW

The Government’s Stand On SERS And How It Matters To You

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has cautioned home buyers not to assume that all old Housing Board flats will be automatically eligible for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers). – The Straits Times, 24 March 2017

On 24th March 2017, the collective voices of Singaporeans could be heard all the way up in the heavens as they tore their garments and cussed. Okay, a little over-dramatic there.

As we all know, every statement released from the Government is loaded and carries a lot of subtle messages. The Straits Times published an article on 24 March 2017 capturing the key essence from the ‘controversial’ blog entry by our National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. So how does this affect aging flat homeowners and buyers? Reuelwrites gets to the bottom of the matter.

But first, what is SERS?

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PHOTO: sbr.com.sg

 

What is Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS)?

According to HDB website, SERS was introduced in 1995 to redevelop the existing land for better use and to ‘inject vibrancy into the area’. Residents of flats selected for SERS will be compensated with the market value of their flat paid by the Government, and can enjoy the following rehousing options:

  1. Purchase a new 99-year lease flat at replacement site
    Basically you bao jiak (sure get) a new flat at subsidised price, no need to compete with the rest of Singapore for a new flat. You will also be eligible for a SERS grant of up to $30,000* credited to your CPF.
  2. Apply for a new flat elsewhere
    Don’t like the replacement location? Apply for a Build-To-Order (BTO) or Sale of Balance Flat with HDB. 10% of the flats offered in BTO or SBF exercises for priority allocation under the Resettlement, Relocation, SERS, and Tenants’ Priority Scheme. There is still competition but less. You will also be eligible for a SERS grant of up to $30,000* credited to your CPF.
  3. Buy a private property
    Want to upgrade instead? Rather than take the SERS rehousing benefit, you can opt to receive a ex-gratia payment of $30,000 (half transferred to your CPF ordinary account). However, you will only receive this money after you have returned the SERS flat to HDB.

Points to note:

  1. The SERS grant (amount depending on your household status) can only be used to buy a replacement flat and nothing else.
  2. Flat owners who have enjoyed the SERS grant benefit have to return (with interest) to their own CPF ordinary accounts if the replacement flat is subsequently sold or transferred.
  3. You cannot enjoy the SERS grant benefits more than one. So if you’re thinking of buying another flat with SERS potential with the desire to earn again, the government is telling you to dream on.
  4. One should also note that only 4 per cent of HDB flats have been identified for Sers since it was launched in 1995. How many more flats will be chosen is anyone’s guess.

There are a lot of other terms and conditions tied up to SERS and its accompanying benefits which is really too many to write down here, so do read through the contents on the website carefully before you make any decision relating to a SERS flat.

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PHOTO: straitstimes.com

Why did Minister Lawrence Wong make such a strongly worded blog entry?

I try to put myself in the Government’s shoes to understand the reasoning behind why they do things, so here goes. To grasp the full weight of Minister Lawrence Wong’s entry, we have to first understand the intentions that supported the decision and announcement. Right from when the first HDB flat was completed in 1960 to solve a housing crisis, we know that public flats are heavily subsidised (and can be further subsidised with additional grants) with taxpayers’ monies so that the lay Singaporean can afford a roof over their heads. It was never really meant to be a money-making device.

Stated clearly on the title of HDB flat lease agreement which we all agreed and signed on reads that our flat will be returned to HDB after 99 (or 999 years for some flats) who will in turn surrender it back to the State, which will then be re-purposed. The reasons for implementing a lease policy will be debated and challenged (until the cows come home) so it will not be discussed.

Granted that not all Singaporeans are literate and adept in money management (like you), there are limitations to buying flats using CPF monies, and approval of HDB/bank loan for properties with lease of less than 60 years or will expire before the home buyer reaches 80 years of age. Whether you believe in this or not, this is the Government’s blanket policy to ensure Singaporeans still have enough money for themselves when they are old and wrinkly.

While the Government allow our flats to appreciate on the (resale) free market with *light-touch regulations, it is also the Government’s intention for flat prices to go down as the lease shortens. The Government is not obligated to bail home owners out when they choose to hold onto their property for donkey years, or pay a high price for a flat with not much years left on its lease for the sake of profit-making. Then why don’t the Government just enbloc every flat when it gets old? You might as well tell the Government to make all flats freehold right? That’s another topic altogether.

Simply put, if we choose not to sell our flat after it appreciated in value and choose to hold onto it indefinitely – with hopes of enbloc – until the lease expires, we can effectively treat our HDB purchase as paying the monthly rental (which is still fair). There might be a possibility of a lease buyback scheme kicking in in future but just like waiting for the enbloc, the risk is on us to pray that HDB lets us top up our lease or choose our flat for enbloc. The odds are not really in our favour.

Now to address the next question,

  1. What does this mean to me as a HDB flat owner?
  2. What does this mean to me as a HDB flat buyer?
Image result for hdb model straits times

PHOTO: straitstimes.com

What does this mean to me as a HDB flat owner?

You probably received calls and messages from real estate agents (I could be one of them, Laughs) informing you of the SERS article, telling you to consider selling your (ageing) flat. Before you put up your flat for sale or write it off as a marketing gimmick, what and how does the recent news relate to you as an existing flat owner, especially if you are holding onto a property with a lease of around 60 years or less?

Most HDB flat owners fall within these categories stated below:

  1. Don’t want to sell because waiting for enbloc
  2. Don’t want to sell because house got sentimental value leh
  3. Don’t want to sell because rental yield is *high

There is really too much to address so I will just address the first topic to stay on point. As mentioned above, by holding onto an ageing property you are really 守株待兔ing, (guarding a tree-stump waiting for rabbits). Don’t cry foul when the Government don’t choose your flat for SERS.

The second group of people are the ones who believe their flats are super valuable because it will be enbloc-ed. However, unless your property has been slated for enbloc, there is a chance that it won’t be as stated by our Minister. In my real estate career, I have met sellers before who have given me an unrealistic asking price to sell their flat (eg. recent transactions are around $400k-$415k but the price seller wants is $460k) because they believe their flat has “enbloc potential”.

Notice, the enbloc is only a ‘potential’, not ‘confirm plus chop’. If you want to sell your flat at a high price because you believe that your flat has enbloc potential, what you are essentially doing is you are passing the risk to your buyer. Selling at high price also means the Cash-over-value portion will be high. The question to ask is, would the average flat buyer have so much cash on hand? Never mind that a investor has to sell all his properties to buy your flat, they would have bought a private property with more potential capital upside (see MoneySmart.sg article and statistics).

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PHOTO: channelnewsasia.com

What does this mean to me as a HDB flat buyer?

After all that is said and done, I’m not saying one should never buy an ageing HDB flat. It also depends on your needs and how old you are. Ageing flats have their own charms. Ageing flats are usually (much) bigger, are located in a mature estate with many amenities, are in prime locations, or are very accessible (near or next to MRT, shopping malls, et cetera). At the end of the day, how you view your flat purchase matters – is it for convenience or for profit? The prospective buyer should not expect to buy an ageing flat with the intention of making a profit in the future.

If you are getting on with age and am just looking a retirement place to settle down, an ageing flat with its many amenities within a stone’s throw away might just be your solution. If you are still young (in your 20s), an ageing flat with a lease less than 50 years should not be in your consideration since financing your flat using CPF monies and loan will be challenging – unless you’re cash-rich? But why would you buy an ageing flat then? RW

 

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Share this article with your friends! The above review represents the writer’s honest opinion and does not reflect the sentiments of any Government organisation and bodies, any real estate agency or stakeholders. If you are a home owner or looking for a flat and you want to know how to proceed from here, you can reach me at 9-833-6450 or eugenetayhy@gmail.com. Disclaimer: The author is a licensed real estate salesperson with Propnex.

Condo Review – Kingsford Waterbay (D19)

Located along the Sungei Serangoon River and Park Connector, Kingsford Waterbay is Hong Kong-based Kingsford Development’s second project in Singapore. The massive development has sold more than 600 units so far.

Details

KWB

Pros

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Without a doubt, the price is easily the most attractive element about this project. With the 2 and 3 bedders going below $1 million, and their 4 bedders well below the $1.2 million range (average $1.1k to $1.2k psf), the barrier of entry to acquire a private property for homestay is very low. It’s competitive pricing also means exiting (selling) won’t be difficult. Avid joggers will rejoice since the massive project is located along the Punggol Park Connector. The project also contains a childcare centre and six retail space. Not really a ‘shopping mall’ but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Another of the projects main selling point is in the project surrounded by water. On the benefits of staying near water, read this article Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains. I would prefer the units facing the Sungei Serangoon River since there is potential for the government to improve it further with its Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters Programme. Kingsford Waterbay is also a peculiar development where the pool facing units (which are usually the premium priced units) is also the west-facing units. Value buyers who love pool-facing and don’t mind a little sun will be delighted.

Cons

Kingsford Waterbay isn’t exactly near Hougang MRT (3 bus stops), so buyers who are looking for a home within walking distance to MRT will be disappointed. But hey, there is 2 years free shuttle service and the units are priced from $1.1k-$1.2k psf, it’s safe to say that the gains outweigh the losses – unless you die-die want a condo near MRT to which you also have to pay a premium price.

Kingsford-Waterbay-Plan

Kingsford Waterbay is Hong Kong-based Kingsford Development’s second project in Singapore. So they have a lot to prove if they want to compete with the big boys for buyers. The first project is Kingsford Hillview Peak in Hillview Rise, which almost sold out except for the last handful of penthouse units. The development has some minor defects (as with most new developments) but the developer has – and I quote – “been helpful and willing” to resolve the issues.

Another concern for potential buyers are probably the number of units in the development. Kingsford Waterbay has 1,165 units altogether. More units may result in higher competition for tenants or for sale when MOP day comes, so buyers buying a unit here purely for investment might be disappointed. At the same time, if we take a look at Kingsford Waterbay’s most identical competitor The Minton, 1,145-unit development which completed in 2014 transacted 34 sales and 202 rentals in just year 2016 alone (source: The Edge Property). So maybe, the concern of oversupply and competition is unwarranted.

The Verdict

Overall, I think Kingsford Waterbay is a safe and good buy simply because of its very attractive pricing. This project will be good for buyers looking to upgrade. I’m not exactly sold on the idea of it being a investment development but only time will tell, and maybe with the government’s intervention, first movers will be rewarded after all. RW

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Share this article with your friends! The above review represents the writer’s honest opinion on the project and does not reflect the sentiments of any real estate agency or developer. Want to buy and need more info? You can reach me at 9-833-6450 or eugenetayhy@gmail.com. The author is a licensed real estate salesperson with Propnex.

Condo Review – Artra at Redhill (D03)

Touted as the place that’s right next to the city without the hustle and bustle, Redhill has been the subject of interest with the addition of the new condo by FEC Skyline Pte Ltd (a subsidiary of Tang Group of Companies) amongst other completed and soon-to-complete developments.

Here’s what Reuelwrites have to say about Artra.

Details

Artra

Pros

Without a doubt, Artra’s best asset is in its location. Located right beside Redhill MRT, residents and tenants need not fear about the elements. Since moving in to a condo in Kovan that is situated right beside a MRT, I cannot even imagine having to walk more than 3 minutes to get to an MRT anymore. Besides that, Redhill MRT isn’t some ulu MRT station in the outskirts of Singapore. So location alone, Artra is a winner.
pool evening view -e

Besides that, Artra is the only mixed development in the area with 16 retail shops, a childcare centre and Fairprice Finest. Plus, if you stay high enough (tentatively*** above 29th floor and facing south), you can actually enjoy sea view! There is also a sky garden on the 44th floor for all to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city and the sea.

But most importantly, the major concern for all homeowners and investors is to enter at the right entry price. Based on insider info, we are hearing that the lower floor units will (highly likely) start from $1.53k psf (and might be even lower) while the higher floors will start from $1.63k psf. Comparing this with prices of the nearby new launches and even the new developments in Queenstown MRT, we have a clear winner.

Cons

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One of the main complaints of Artra is the potential oversupply of condominium developments in the vicinity. Numerous condos have been built in the recent decade to the likes of The Metropolitan (TOP 2009), Ascentia Sky (2014), Echelon (2016), The Crest (TOP 2018), Alex Residences (TOP 2018), Principal Garden (TOP 2019). Oversupply? Only time will tell. But the fact that Artra’s location is the best (closest to MRT) and price is very competitive makes this a non-issue for investors and potential home owners.

The other main complaint is ironically related to Artra’s greatest strength. The development is located right beside an above-ground Redhill MRT which also means there will be MRT track noise. Fortunately, it is located next to the station and not the tracks in-between, noise level should be kept to a minimum since the MRT trains would have slowed down on approaching the MRT station. Of course there is the “Please mind the gap” announcement everytime (Laughs).

The Verdict

In short, just for the location and price alone, I don’t see why this project doesn’t sell well on the launch day (expected to be in end April 2017). There will most likely be balloting for the units (only 400 in total) on the first day as observed at other new launches this year especially since the psf is so low. Only the fastest buyers will get their choice units so do contact a real estate consultant and register your interest as soon as possible. RW

This space will be updated once developer disseminates more information. 

Like what you see?

Share this article with your friends! The above review represents the writer’s honest opinion on the project and does not reflect the sentiments of any real estate agency or developer. Want to buy and need more info? You can reach me at 9-833-6450 or eugenetayhy@gmail.com. Disclaimer: The author is a licensed real estate salesperson with Propnex.