Property Update (31 March 2015)

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Resale private non-landed home prices fall further | todayonline.com

SINGAPORE : Resale prices of completed non-landed private homes extended their decline last month, the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) flash estimates released yesterday showed, with the sharpest falls recorded in the central region.

The SRPI, compiled by the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Real Estate Studies, showed overall prices fell 0.3 per cent last month from January, slowing from the revised 0.9 per cent drop in the previous month.

Prices of homes in the central region, excluding small units, led the decline, falling 0.7 per cent to extend January’s 1.2 per cent fall. Home prices in the non-central region were unchanged following the 0.7 per cent decline previously. Prices of small units — those with a floor area of 506 sq ft and below — fell 0.2 per cent, reversing from the 0.2 per cent rise a month earlier, the data showed.

The broad downward price trend is likely to continue, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of property agency Century 21 Singapore.

“The resale market is taking a cue from the market for new homes. When developers are pricing their new launches slightly below the 12-month average price to push sales, that will have some impact on the resale market,” he said. Read more here >>

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Web portal for comparing insurance products launches Apr 7 | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE : It will soon become easier for consumers to find out more about different insurance products.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Tuesday (Mar 31) that from Apr 7, consumers can compare insurance products using a new web portal called compareFIRST. This allows consumers to easily compare the premiums and features of similar products of different insurance companies.

From Apr 7, consumers can also buy a new type of simple life insurance products – known as Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI). Such products are sold without financial advice, and their premiums are lower than comparable life insurance products because no commission is charged.

Consumers can find out more about the pricing and features of DPI from the various insurance companies. It is a collaborative effort by the Consumers Association of Singapore, MAS, the Life Insurance Association, Singapore and MoneySENSE.
Read more here >>


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Who says Yishun is ‘ulu’ | asiaone.com

SINGAPORE : The cafes are always a sign. Call them the “coolness” litmus test of a neighbourhood. Once they start popping up, it is time to pay attention.

In Yishun, the sleepy estate in the north of Singapore, several new cafes have opened in recent months.
Two of these outfits are Holy Cow Creamery, an ice cream parlour in Yishun Street 22, and RoyceMary Cafe, serving coffee and desserts out of a unit in a mixed-use building in Victory 8 in Jalan Legundi.
And then there are the bike shops, with at least four of them along Yishun Avenues 6 and 7 alone, supplying the hipster transportation staple.

Is Yishun becoming the next Tiong Bahru? Hardly.

But the area, which has more than 250,000 residents, is no lifeless backwater. Read more here >>

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China Loosens Home-Buying Rules to Counter Economic Slowdown | newsmax.com

CHINA : China announced steps to make buying and selling a home cheaper, intervening to revive a slumping property market that’s weighed on economic growth and cut demand for commodities from copper to steel.

The required down payment for some second homes was lowered to 40 percent from 60 percent, the People’s Bank of China said on its website. The finance ministry later said select homeowners will be exempted from a sales tax if they sell after holding a property for two years or more. The previous minimum to avoid the 5.5 percent tax was five years.

Monday’s moves add to the government’s efforts to arrest a slide in home prices and spur growth that the government targets to expand at its slowest pace in 15 years. Two interest rate cuts since November, along with a loosening of property curbs in September, had so far failed to stem the decline, as new-home sales slumped 17 percent in January and February. Read more here >>

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London rents more than double UK average as high property prices lift sector demand | cityam.com

LONDON : Rents in London rose by eight per cent in February compared with the same month last year, as high property prices forced more people into the rented sector.

For the UK as a whole, average rents increased by seven per cent in February compared with last year, figures released by estate agents Barnard Marcus show today.

The supply of properties to rent has dropped 17 per cent, while demand has continued to rise.

In London, there are 8.5 applicants to every property available to rent, up from 5.3 one year ago. For the UK, there are 5.2 potential tenants vying for every property on the market, up from four last year.

The average monthly London rent is now £1,507, more than double the UK average of £705. Read more here >>

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Property Update (30 March 2015)

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Mr Lee Kuan Yew lived to see his life’s work come to fruition: PM Lee Hsien Loong | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE: In his eulogy to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at the University Cultural Centre (UCC) at the State Funeral on Sunday (Mar 29), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his father was the “light that has guided us all these years”.

“Together, we have grieved as one people, one nation. We have all lost a father. We are all in grief. But in our grief, we have come together to display the best of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore,” PM Lee Hsien Loong says in his eulogy.

Read more here >>

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Borrowers upset over hike in margin for Sibor loans | asiaone.com

SINGAPORE : Many home buyers with loans pegged to the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) have been hit with higher repayments following the Sibor’s increase this year.

That is to be expected, but some Citibank customers have also found that the margin or spread – the added percentage banks tack on to the Sibor – has also moved up.

They were informed earlier this month that the spread on their Sibor-pegged loans would increase to 0.85 per cent from the promotional rate they had signed up with. The change takes effect from April 1.

Citibank said the spreads range from 0.6 to 0.8 per cent for customers who took up loans in late 2010 and in 2011.

One customer said he has been on a three-month Sibor loan since 2011 under a two-year lock-in package. His spread has risen from 0.7 per cent to 0.85 per cent.

However, Citibank said raising the spread has affected only a small number of people. Read more here >>


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No more subletting of HDB industrial properties from June | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE : From June 1 this year(2015), tenants of Housing Board industrial properties will no longer be able to sublet them. About 380 industrial tenants are currently subletting part of their space.

Those with existing approved subletting arrangements will be allowed to renew these arrangements up to Dec 31, 2017 to give them time to “make business adjustments”, the HDB said in a statement on Monday.

“The revised subletting policy will better support industrialists in operating their core businesses, and enable more productive use of scarce industrial land in Singapore,” said the HDB. The change will encourage tenants to rent only as much space as they need. Read more here >>

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These 4 key themes will drive growth in the PH property market this year | interaksyon.com

PHILIPPINES – KMC MAG group managing director Michael McCullough is bullish about the Philippine property market this year.

“There are a lot of reasons for this optimism, chief among them low interest rates, quantitative easing from the central bank, and positive feedback from investors. These factors have helped create a favorable climate for both local and foreign businesses,” he said in a recent briefing.

According to him, the first key theme is the growth of townships, which have created pockets of development in Metro Manila. KMC MAG estimates investments in townships this year reaching P300 billion. Among the major developers of townships are Megaworld, Ayala Land and SM Prime, with other players like Vista Land and Federal Land joining the fray.
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“The live-work-play lifestyle encapsulated in these townships have resulted into a lot of success for some of the major developers, so it’s no surprise that new players are working to c apitalize on this and bring the concept to new areas,” said McCullough.

“The township concept also provides a way for developers to be part of the solution
to the congestion in Metro Manila. With developers taking the critical first step and building
in other areas within and outside of the Metro, they’re creating new microdistricts and encouraging more Filipinos to live, work, and play closer to home. We hope that this will help reduce congestion and make Metro Manila more liveable,” he added. Read more here >>

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PH 2nd most attractive outsourcing site | inquirer.net

PHILIPPINES – The Philippines rose a notch to rank second among the most attractive global outsourcing locations on the basis of risks, costs and conditions, according to the latest report by global real estate advisor Cushman & Wakefield.

In a report entitled, “Where in the World? Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Shared Service Location Index,” Cushman & Wakefield noted that two of the Philippines’ strongest points would be the cost of labor and the availability of skilled, English-speaking workers.

“One of the most significant changes in the global BPO market is the emergence of the Philippines as the world’s global leader of BPO and shared services operations,” the report stated.

Last year, the Philippine IT-business process outsourcing posted more than 18 percent growth in revenues to an estimated $18.4 billion, supporting more than 1 million jobs as of end-2014.

“A demand for English proficiency from English speaking industrialized nations is more than met by the Philippines, which graduates some 470,000 English proficient college students every year and has a national English proficiency rating of 92.5 percent. The English dialect of the Filipino workforce is also well received in the US,” Cushman & Wakefield said in the report. Read more here >>


Use Your Apple Watch to Find Your Dream Home | bloomberg.com

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman discusses the company’s real estate app for the Apple watch. He speaks on “Bloomberg West.”

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Martial law to be lifted: PM Prayut Chan-o-cha | asiaone.com

THAILAND : Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he is about to lift martial law and issue an order to deal with security issues.
However, he said he had not discussed this matter with the Cabinet and that it was his idea.
Prayut, who also heads the National Council for Peace and Order, said he was waiting for the right time to issue the order under Article 44 of the post-coup provisional charter, which gave him extensive powers as the NCPO leader.

“The preparation is under way. You will know the order is issued when it is issued,” he said yesterday.
According to Prayut, the order will be announced before he seeks a royal command to lift martial law, which has been in effect since the coup he led last May.
The prime minister yesterday chaired the Cabinet’s retreat in Hua Hin. The lifting of martial law was not on the meeting agenda.

The government has been under constant pressure to lift martial law from the private sector, human rights groups and foreign countries. Read more here >>

3 money myths to avoid at all costs

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By Jeff Cuellar | MoneySmart

Myths are very troublesome because they’re hard to dispel. What’s worse – if a myth crosses over from the realm of obscurity and becomes mainstream “belief,” that’s when the trouble starts.

The sad thing is that a lot of people end up getting hurt by accepting myths as truth – especially when it comes to financial myths that many wrongly assume are right.

So before you mistakenly set yourself on a course for financial disaster, read about the 3 money myths you should avoid at all costs!

1. Your cash savings are completely safe sitting in a bank account

One myth that most Singaporeans thankfully recognise is reality that their Central Provident Fund (CPF) account savings probably won’t be enough to retire comfortably on.

If you’ve read our article on what you can use your CPF for other than retirement, you already know that you’re pretty much limited to using it on housing, investing, education and insurance.

Of course, there are restrictions to how (and how much) you can use. Plus, you know that your money is effectively trapped until you reach the drawdown age (63 currently).

So where else can you put your cash savings, especially if you want to be able to access your money? For many, the only “safe” option is to place their savings in a savings account.

Yes, your cash will be safe in a Singapore bank. They are some of the most stable and safest in the world after all (although if something does happen, your account is only insured up to a maximum of $50,000 with the Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS) – which is something to think about).

However, you’re forgetting one thing – the interest earned on your savings account is pathetically low, even on the best of savings accounts.

It’s simple arithmetic – if you’re making only 1 per cent+ on your savings account deposit but the rate of inflation is 3 per cent each year (or worse), your money isn’t safe at all. It’s actually being lost through inflation.

What can you do?

Learn about investing – because it’s the only way you can grow your money with an interest rate that’s sure to beat inflation. If you’re not very knowledgeable about investing, make sure to check out our Investing Learning Center to increase your knowledge.

2. Your expensive home renovations will greatly increase your property’s value

You already know that your home is the biggest purchase (and investment) you’ll ever make. It doesn’t matter whether you purchased a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat or a condominium, the possibility to see your property purchase soar in value exists.

Chances are you already know (hopefully) that a property’s value is really driven by a combination of nearby amenities (schools, public transport, malls, etc.), view and rental yields (no oversupply of flats/condos).

However, many homeowners mistakenly think that trendy renovations will greatly boost their property’s value.

That’s a huge and costly myth that has left many home owners in shock when a valuation comes back much lower than anticipated.

The reason why most renovations fall flat when it comes to boosting a property’s value is simple – not everyone has the same aesthetic taste and “trendy” renovations change with time.

The reality is that expensive renovations won’t increase the value of your property as much as you expect it to.

If you’re going to renovate your home and want some increase in value – go with functional renovations such as walk-in wardrobes, kitchen islands, wet rooms and partitioning that combines two rooms (ex. a kitchen that doubles as a study/TV room).

3. You should fully be invested in bonds during your retirement years

On myth #1, you learned that investing is pretty much the only way to ensure your money grows at a rate that beats inflation.

During your journey into investing, you’ll learn about portfolio diversification and the how you should adjust your investment portfolio periodically as you reach retirement age.

Basically, when you begin investing in your 20s and 30s, your portfolio will be more stock-heavy. Stocks are higher risk, but also provide higher returns – making it easier for you to reach your retirement goals.

However, as you age and hit your 40s and 50s, your “appetite” for risk and higher returns becomes less as you become more focussed on bringing in “steady” returns that are less risky. That usually means you’ll become more reliant on “safe” investment products such like bonds.

Once you hit retirement though, you shouldn’t just turn your invest your entire portfolio in bonds. That’s actually a dangerous move considering the life expectancy for Singaporeans is 82.

That means if you retire at 65, you need to make sure your nest egg lasts for another 17 years at least. And if you put turn everything into bonds, you’ll run the risk of outliving your savings.

You should always keep anywhere from 20 per cent to 50 per cent+ of your investment portfolio in stocks, depending on your risk appetite.

That’s to ensure that your portfolio continues to generate returns so you can maintain your retirement lifestyle for as long as possible.

Source : http://business.asiaone.com/personal-finance/investments-and-savings/3-money-myths-avoid-all-costs

4 tips on tackling the Philippine real estate market

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Jacqueline van den Ende shares her success as a foreigner in the market

In recent years, the Philippines has made its mark as one of the hottest property markets in Asia. Economic growth remains strong, property prices are rising and interest from overseas investors is increasing. At the same time the real estate market is maturing as buyers become more aware of quality, brand reputation and investment returns.

As a result, we are seeing more foreign entrepreneurs moving to the country to take advantage of this market growth. I should know — I was one of them. I arrived in the Philippines in 2013 to launch the local branch of global property portal Lamudi. I was immediately struck by the incredible warmth of the people of this amazing country. I believe Filipinos are the happiest and friendliest people on the planet. The people working in my team are entrepreneurial, proactive, super hard-working and a lot of fun. It is a joy to work here.

Although the real estate profession is dominated by locals, foreign professionals are able to work in the country, provided there is a reciprocal arrangement with their home country — that is, that Filipino nationals are allowed to work as real estate brokers in their country of origin. For example, American real estate agents can get a license here because Filipinos can practice in the U.S.

At present, most foreigners are employed by big brokerages such as Colliers, JLL and Cushman & Wakefield. However, increasingly you see some foreign entrepreneurs setting up professional real estate brokerages in the Philippines. A good example is KMC MAG Group, where the two co-founders, Greg Kittelson and Amanda Carpo, are American and Filipino respectively.

So for real estate professionals who are dreaming of a sea change, the Philippines should be at the top of their list. Here are my top tips for those looking to do business in the country’s vibrant property market:

1. Exercise patience.

Above all else, you need patience and perseverance. When Lamudi first arrived in the Philippines, it was difficult to secure sales because we were a completely new brand in the market. It takes a lot of time to build trust, especially with big clients such as developers and banks. Now after only one year, with repeated follow-up and strong brand visibility in the market, many deals are finally succeeding and developers are starting to come to us rather than the other way around.

2. Look to the Internet.

The world of online property search in the Philippines offers a wealth of opportunities. Internet penetration has grown 531 percent over the past five years — to reach 39 percent at present. This is expected to cross the 50 percent mark this year. Because of this rapid growth, those working in property now realize they need to be online. Consumers are now searching for property online. Brokers and developers all are aware of the need to market their properties online. That makes for a perfect opportunity for brokers, agents and developers.

3. Be aware of cultural differences.

A major advantage of working in the Philippines is that nearly everyone is fluent in English. As a result, you experience much fewer cultural problems than you normally would because you speak the same language. Filipinos in many ways are culturally closer to the U.S. than to other Asian countries.

Generally, they are entrepreneurial, proactive and outspoken. However, on the opposite side of the coin, they can also be nonconfrontational. They find it very difficult to relay a negative message and will rather avoid you in every possible way than tell you the hard truth. So you can have a great business meeting one day, and the next day the same client will not answer your calls.

4. Know the market and your customers.

If you are looking into starting a rental business, you will need to know your customers thoroughly. Do research so that you go in knowing what properties they want and what amenities they are looking for.

You will then be fully prepared to match their needs. For those looking into cashing in on capital appreciation, choose your developer and location wisely. For example, the mid-end condo market in metro Manila is slowing due to oversupply, but the capital’s high-end and luxury segments are still experiencing healthy sales takeup due to strong leasing market and capital appreciation. Market research is key on both sides.

I hope these tips are encouraging to you, and I hope you might consider the Philippines. I love it here, and I have found success here by implementing these strategies.

Source : http://www.inman.com/2015/03/26/4-tips-on-tackling-the-philippine-real-estate-market/

Property Update (27 March 2015)

Why Singapore became an economic success | economist.com

When it started life as an independent, separate country in 1965, Singapore’s prospects did not look good. Tiny and underdeveloped, it had no natural resources and a population of relatively recent immigrants with little shared history. The country’s first prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew is credited with transforming it. He called one volume of his memoirs, “From Third World to First”.

Why did Singapore become an economic success? More here >>


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3 values from home ownership, a legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew | asiaone.com

SINGAPORE : One of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s greatest legacies is home ownership. He believed that home ownership is a key pillar of a strong society.

His leadership has guided the creation of one of the most vibrant nations in the world and, in his words, it started with home ownership.

In opening the Pinnacle@Duxton, he remarked, “If all the HDB flats built over the past 50 years were rental flats, Singapore would be a very different society today.”

“We would not have the stability, progress and prosperity that the stake in home ownership of a growing asset has made possible.”

At SRX Property, we looked through Mr Lee’s speeches and writings and identified three values of home ownership: community, responsibility, and prosperity.

In other words, Mr Lee believed that home ownership glues different ethnic groups together. A home is something that everyone can aspire to and achieve, regardless of race, creed or culture.

It’s possible for different people to build a community together because each owner has a stake in their home, and, thus, the community.

He said, “The pride people have in their homes prevents our estates from turning into slums, which is the fate for public housing in other countries.” Read more here >>

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Singapore to Carry Forward Lee Kuan Yew’s Business-Friendly Legacy | wsj.com

SINGAPORE : The death of Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew marks the end of an era at a time when the country is facing slowing economic growth and struggling to complete its transition to a first-world economy.

But despite the current difficulties, businesses say Mr. Lee’s policies and philosophy will outlast the elder statesman, and that his son’s administration has proved that it will continue the legacy of pragmatism that characterized the Lee years.

“Singapore has always been able to change and adapt in order to remain competitive in a world of changing dynamics,” said Stuart Dean, chief executive of General Electric in Southeast Asia. General Electric has been in Singapore since 1969 and characterizes itself as “one of the pioneers of the then swampy Jurong,” referring to Singapore’s now-modern industrial island. Jurong Island is now home to some of the world’s largest chemical and oil companies. Read more here >>

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Singapore banks seen profiting as rising rates bolster margins | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Singapore’s three major banks are poised to benefit from gains in local interest rates, which could signal bigger profits from their domestic lending.

The three-month Singapore interbank offered rate, or SIBOR, has more than doubled this year to just over 1 per cent, the highest since December 2008. If rates continue higher, DBS Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp could reverse a squeeze on their net interest margins, the difference between the interest they charge for loans and pay out to depositors.

Singapore banks are “at a turning point,” said Ivan Tan, a Standard & Poor’s analyst based in the city-state. “The rise in margins would mark an important reversal after several years of compression, and has important revenue implications.” The three banks derive about 60 per cent of revenue from interest income at their core lending businesses, Mr Tan said.

Weakness in the Singapore dollar and expectations for higher US lending rates propelled SIBOR’s rise from December. With deposit rates climbing more slowly, the three banks should be able to boost their net interest margins from last year’s 1.69 per cent average, Mr Tan said. Read more here >>

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Prime property market in Dubai sees sales fall | propertywire.com

DUBAI : Dubai luxury home prices remain relatively resilient despite a drop-off in sales activity, according to the latest analysis of the Emirate’s residential real estate market.

Sales in Dubai’s prime segment, comprising properties worth over AED10 million, hit the lowest level since the end of 2012 in the final three months of 2014, the research document from international real estate firm Knight Frank shows.

Despite this however, Knight Frank’s prime residential price index saw a relatively modest fall in the three months to December of 1.2% quarter on quarter, the second consecutive quarterly fall.

Indeed an examination of the data shows that these two declines nearly reversed the increases seen in the first half of last year, leaving values just 0.3% higher year on year in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Despite the lower level of transactional activity however, the nationalities investing in real estate in Dubai remained diverse. Data from the Dubai Land Department (DLD) shows that, in 2014, more than 140 nationalities bought property in the Emirate. Read more here >>


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London firm enters boom market for city student properties | independent.ie

UK : Hattington Capital, a boutique firm that is involved in private equity deals and real estate, is planning a €25m project to build a development with almost 250 accommodation units on the site of the landmark Frawley’s store on Thomas Street in the capital.

It’s the company’s first foray into the student accommodation market either in Ireland or the UK. Hattington is understood to be on the lookout for additional sites in Dublin.

There are 80,000 full-time students in Dublin and another 100,000 language students.

The site on Thomas Street was once owned by developer Liam Carroll. It’s believed that Hattington bought the site from the receiver for around €2.5m.

Frawley’s closed in 2007 after more than a century of trading on the site. Read more here >>

Lee Kuan Yew and the lessons of Singapore

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By Thomas Lifson

The life and spectacular success of Lee Kuan Yew is a challenge to everyone who believes in the virtue of democracy. In the words of Theodore Dalrymple, he was “undoubtedly the most intelligent and capable world leader of the past half-century.”

Lee led Singapore with a velvet-gloved (mostly) iron fist from its first day of independence, and he took it from a sleepy, crime-ridden, ethnically divided, and poor ex-colonial outpost to a wealthy and sophisticated world center of finance and commerce, with a per capita income 50 percent higher than its former colonial master, almost no crime, and arguably the best-educated populace in the world.

Lee believed that the people of Singapore were not ready for democracy, and that the country faced so many threats of ethnic strife, with its mixed population of Chinese (~80%), Malays, and Indians, that real democracy and freedom of speech were out of the question. He believed that an intelligent government could lead the nation up the value chain, starting with relatively low-wage industries like supertanker-building, through electronics manufacturing, on into the highest-value activities like finance and global corporate management. And he pulled it off.

Sure, journalists went to jail for writing things of which Lee and his People’s Action Party disagreed. And sure, the PAP got unrealistically high percentages of the vote in the elections that were held. And yes, drug offenses, even possession of marijuana, were punished by hanging, and petty crimes such as vandalism resulted in flogging.

But it worked – really, really well. Something resembling fascism, to be sure. Singaporeans gave up on the values we cherish, and in return for the sacrifice, they became rich, secure, and sophisticated.

I watched Lee Kuan Yew and the city-state he ran, Singapore, with deep fascination for several decades. When I first arrived in Singapore in 1971, I was stunned by the contrast with Hong Kong, its rival, and Malaysia, its next-door neighbor. Hong Kong was a chaotic, dirty, crowded mess, exuberant, money-obsessed, and fascinating. Singapore was then known as the “garden island” and was ordered, safe, and heads-down hardworking.

The year before, Malaysia, with its Malay majority and substantial (~40%) Chinese minority, had just gone through bloody “ethnic strife” that saw Chinese Malaysians beheaded by raging mobs of Malays. I will never forget, days before my arrival in Singapore, sitting in a coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur with a British journalist who told me that he been there when a mob of Malays entered it and proceeded to behead all the Chinese who were present.

No expressions of ethnic chauvinism were permitted in Singapore. No freedom of speech at all when sensitive topics were concerned. Everyone learned their ethnic language: Mandarin Chinese (not the various dialects of the regions from which Chinese Singaporeans has immigrated), Bahasa Malaysia, and Tamil. But everyone had to learn and use English, the language of world commerce and a neutral common ground.

I actually got to meet and talk with the man a bit over 30 years ago (I don’t remember the exact date), when he took a few months to come to Harvard, meet with faculty, attend classes, and absorb knowledge. I don’t think I had a thing to pass along to him, but nonetheless he took time to chat pleasantly with a junior faculty member who knew a few things about Japan and how its giant corporations managed themselves.

Because I remain committed to democracy, I feel the need to explain away why Lee’s version of autocracy, a Platonic republic ruled by a philosopher-king, worked so spectacularly well, and why it is not a good idea for America, or almost any other country.

There are two relevant considerations:

  1. Singapore was so small (roughly three million population at the time it gained independence) that in any field of endeavor, all the major participants know each other personally, and observe each other’s activities closely. Because Lee insisted on a culture of honesty and public service, personal corruption was not possible, for the most part. Instead of messy checks and balances, mutual surveillance and shared values kept people honest.
  2. Singapore was surrounded by much poorer, much bigger countries, and was disciplined by its fear of being taken over by hostile larger neighbors – Malaysia and Indonesia, both of which were angry at and bigoted toward their Chinese minorities, who excelled at business and built wealth that generated envy and animosity. Singapore, like Switzerland, invested heavily in defense, so that taking it over by military force would not be worth the trouble.

Benign autocracy or benevolent dictatorships can be effective, but they are subject to corruption through self-dealing and rationalizations. Lee’s governance could never have worked in a larger country where a lack of serious and immediate external threats and anonymity would have allowed self-dealing. And I wonder how long and how well it will work for Singapore. But in the meantime, Singapore is a superbly functioning, rational, and enviably prosperous republic. A bit boring, as almost all visitors note, but compared to its neighbors, a paradise.

Source : http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/03/lee_kuan_yew_and_the_lessons_of_singapore.html

Property Update (26 March 2015)

The political and economic legacy of Lee Kuan Yew | cnn.com

Jamie Metzl of the Atlantic Council explains Singapore’s political closure and economic success under Lee Kuan Yew to CNN’s Richard Quest.

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Mortgage rates expected to climb further due to rise in SIBOR | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE : Singapore mortgage rates have risen on average by at least a third within the past month, amid an increase in Singapore’s benchmark interest rate.

Market analysts have said mortgage rates are expected to climb further in the coming months and more home owners are reviewing their financial position.

Mortgage rates for home owners on floating rate loan packages are estimated to have risen on average from about 1.5 per cent a month ago, to 2 per cent now, according to mortgage broker FindAHomeLoan. This comes amid a steady increase in the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR).

The benchmark lending rate was at 1.00529 per cent on Wednesday (Mar 25). This is more than double the figure at end-December, when it was around 0.45 per cent. According to market watchers, it could rise further to about 1.5 per cent this year.

Mortgage brokers said that in anticipation of further increases in SIBOR, more home owners are refinancing or repricing to fixed rate loan packages. They said about eight in 10 now opt for fixed rates, compared to just over half of home owners, two months ago. Read more here >>


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Shophouses sizzle amid cool Singapore property market | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE – Shophouses in Singapore are seeing a surge in investor interest.

Their median price has more than doubled from $1,455 psf in the fourth quarter of 2009 to a record of $3,772 psf in the fourth quarter of last year, said real estate consultancy Colliers.

Median rents have also risen over the last five years, said Ms Chia Siew Chuin, Colliers’ director of research and advisory. Quarterly median rents generally remained below $4 psf per month before 2012, but they hit a record $5.42 psf per month in the fourth quarter of last year

Here’s a look at the prices reached when some shophouses recently changed hands. Read more here >>

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Inbound Investment Into Asian Real Estate Set to Double in 2015 | newsmaker.com.au

HONG KONG, CHINA : (Marketwired – Mar 25, 2015) – While the flow of outbound capital from Asia will accelerate this year, it is inbound capital that will take a “quantum leap” in 2015, according to a new white paper from Colliers International.

“Inbound investment into real estate in the region will increase by 102% this calendar year”, Terence Tang, Managing Director of Capital Markets & Investment Services, Asia, predicts, “more than three times the rate of growth in 2014. The office market Asia-wide is at a stage in the cycle where new supply will rise 152% to about 100 million square feet, presenting significantly more opportunities. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore remain the best target destinations, but structural change in markets such as India is making them more attractive.”

Outbound flows into real estate will increase 61% in 2015 from a record US$46 billion last year, Colliers predicts, thanks to continued appetite from traditional investors and relaxation measures on the policy front. For instance, China has streamlined the approval process for mainland companies that are investing outside the mainland. In Japan, the US$1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund is considering allocating 3 to 5% of funds to global real estate, which would make it the world’s largest real-estate allocation.

In terms of volume, mainland China (31.0%), Singapore (27.2%) and Hong Kong (12.9%) have been the top three sources of outbound real estate capital, accounting for 71.1% of the total outbound capital the region invested in 2014. Read more here >>

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California Pending Sales Spike in February, Highest in 6 Years | worldpropertyjournal.com

US : According to the California Association of Realtors, pending home sales in California soared in February 2015 to record the first double-digit annual gain in nearly three years, the third straight year-to-year increase, and post the biggest annual increase in nearly six years. The California Association of Realtors also reported the following data:

California pending home sales

  • California pending home sales jumped in February, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) increasing 24.8 percent from a revised 89.9 in January to 112.2, based on signed contracts. The month-to-month increase easily topped the long-run average increase of 17.9 percent observed in the last seven years.
  • Statewide pending home sales were up 15.6 percent on an annual basis from the 97.1 index recorded in February 2014. The yearly increase was the largest since April 2009 and was the first double-digit gain since April 2012.
  • San Francisco Bay Area’s PHSI stood at 124.8 in February, up 23.3 percent from 101.2 in January and 13.1 percent from 110.3 percent in February 2014.
  • Pending home sales in Southern California jumped 25 percent in February to reach an index of 98.9, up 15.2 percent from 85.8 in February 2014.
  • Central Valley pending sales soared 57.1 percent from January to reach an index of 83.7 in February, up 15 percent from 72.8 in February 2014. Read more here >>