Dear Reuel: I Don’t Want To Rent My House To Indians And PRCs

Dear Reuel,

I am having difficulties finding a tenant but I do not want to rent my property to Indians and PRCs. Indians cook ‘heavy curry’. I have read horror stories of how PRCs leave properties in shitty conditions, or built partitions to rent to their compatriots.

I am not taking any chances. What’s your opinion on this?

– Worried Landlord


Dear Worried Landlord,

Stop being choosy. Did you know that our country is in quite a pickle right now? According to Department of Statistics Singapore, from 2010 to 2016, our total population grew from 5,076,700 to 5,607,300. That’s a population growth of around 88,400 people every year.

If we look at 2017 figures, we are sitting at 5,612,300 in total population. That’s 5,000 in population growth.. Only 5,000 people for crying out loud!

There just aren’t enough tenants coming in to rent homes because our Government has been holding back on issuing work visas (because they fear losing votes come election hur hur).

And if I can be totally blunt, we Singaporeans are the perfect example how Singapore is still centuries away from eliminating racial discrimination. We know it’s a serious problem when even the BBC headlined the article ‘No Indians No PRCs’: Singapore’s rental discrimination problem, some years ago.

For all that talk about Singapore being a ‘racially harmonious’ country and a melting pot of different cultures, our foreign friends have to be screened for their nationality before being ‘allowed’ to rent a house. How sad is that?

First of all, how do we define a ‘good tenant’? A good tenant is one who pays rent on time, doesn’t give trouble to the landlord, makes a concerted effort to keep the said property in a reasonable condition (amid normal wear and tear).

Next, may I clarify that property agents are NOT allowed to ‘indicate preference for any race or religion in all advertisements’ according to the Council of Estate Agencies’ Practice Guidelines on Ethical Advertising. Asking your agent to indicate the racial preference is akin to telling him to get his license suspended.

The chief concern most landlords have is that Indians will do a lot of ‘heavy cooking’ which will wreck kitchens or which stench is hard to remove. Yes, I do understand from my Indian national friends that many of them have no choice but to cook from home because they are vegetarians (by Singapore standards). This promptly eliminates much of their choices from the available food offerings in Singapore restaurants and food courts.

Now, who’s to say that renting to a Malaysian, Korean, Japanese, British, Russian, Canadian, German, American [or insert whichever nationality you are biased for] means there will confirm plus chop guarantee not be any problems with your house?

So, their need to cook is undeniable. But instead of denying them from renting your property in this challenging rental market especially when the Indian (and PRC) community forms majority of the renters, why not talk things out? Here’s what I suggest. Talk things through and inform the tenants, “I’m going to need you to return my apartment in the same state as it was before it was rented out to you.”

A good tenant is one who pays rent on time, doesn’t give trouble to the landlord, makes a concerted effort to keep the said property in a reasonable condition (amid normal wear and tear).

Next, many landlords fear renting to PRCs (People’s Republic of China) because they are [perceived to be] rowdy, makes lots of noise, do not take care of the house, or worst of all – illegally partitions out the landlord’s home to make rental income.

So, most of us probably had that first relationship which ended really bad. Are you going to swear off dating and marriage because of that? Does that mean we let that first bad experience stop us from finding the ‘right partner’? If yes, then I give up. Please keep trying to rent your property to non-PRCs.

The truth is that yes, some of their compatriots have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. But that does not mean ALL of them are rowdy troublemakers who wreck homes and partitions properties for profit!

Find a responsible property agent who will do a good screen-through of the tenant. As mentioned earlier, a PRC tenant may be a far better tenant than the British tenant whose dog chews on everything or that Mexican tenant who refused to allow any viewings when you try to sell your property.

All good articles end with a good story, so here’s one. Now suppose you paid for a ticket on a swanky Western airline to fly to your dream destination. You’re in the plane all set and ready to go when there’s an announcement over the intercom, “The plane is overbooked, and we gonna have to ask one of you to vacate your seat for the next flight instead.” Now you’re the only Asian in the plane and somehow, you’re the only one told to vacate your seat. Sounds familiar? Well, that’s exactly how we make our Indian and PRC friends feel too, isn’t it?

In the end, a good tenant isn’t defined by his nationality or place of birth but by his/her ability to pay rent on time and maintain the house in reasonable condition. And the bank installments don’t pay for itself, especially in this challenging rental market as shared in the previous Dear Reuel.

Be a smart landlord, not a choosy and broke one. RW

 

Editor’s note: Every week, Reuelwrites dishes out uncensored, practical advice to friends, family members or strangers regarding real estate. Got a question for Reuelwrites? Email it to eugenetayhy@gmail.com.

Consultation: There is no one-advice-fits-all solution. For more in-depth advice, contact Reuelwrites at eugenetayhy@gmail.com or call +65 9833-6450.

Disclaimer: While the author Reuelwrites is a certified real estate agent with Huttons Asia, the above thoughts represents his own and is in no way representative to that of Huttons Asia.

Advertisements

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?

Image result for singapore hdb flats

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.

Related image

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).

Image result for first timer hdb

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

 

Like what you see?

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

Kingsford-Waterbay11

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

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. 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

IMG-20170313-WA0007

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.