Why Are More and More Singaporeans Complaining About Their DBSS Flats?

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By Joanne Poh, moneysmart.sg

As you open the door to your brand new DBSS flat, the scent of fresh flowers hits you. You look through the window and see a dazzling meteor shower rain down from the sky. You take a deep breath and step into your new paradise.

Ha. Yeah right. In real life, many Singaporean couples have opened the door to their new DBSS units only to find that its not what they thought it would be.

HDB’s DBSS (Design and Build Scheme) allows private developers to build flats to be sold under the banner of HDB. They generally cost more than regular HDB flats, but many people go for them because they’re supposed to be more luxurious.

However, in the past few months there’ve been a ton of complaints from DBSS purchasers. Here are the most common.

Flooding
I’m not sure whether they’re making their pipes out of toilet paper rolls these days, but it seems like there’ve been tons of complaints of flooding lately, the worst reported case being that of the Punggol flat that was covered in crap. Some purchasers of units at the Trivelis in Clementi have also complained about flooding in the common corridors after rain and water seeping into the units, which sounds to us like lousy design. The crappy thing about flooding is that it can also ruin any renovation work that’s been undertaken on the flat.

When viewing the completed flat, you really want to check for puddles of water / water stains in unusual places ie corners, behind shelvings, in between floor laminates

Lousy quality
DBSS flats are supposed to look a little more glamorous than the average BTO flat. But it seems they’re a lot like goods on Taobao. They look nice in the pictures, but when you see the finished product you realise they used the cheapest quality and shoddiest workmanship they could find. Buyers have complained about rust on their dish racks, glass panels threatening to shatter and scratched floor tiles.

Be prepared that the materials used may not be of the highest quality, they may look decent but not last very long. Buyers need to be prepared for this.

Layout issues
You would think that a private developer would be able to give slightly better design than BTO flats would, right? After all, that’s precisely what people are paying a premium for. However, it seems that some of these private developers have hired designers who are seriously lacking in common sense. From bedrooms with awkwardly placed doors, shower stalls that can’t keep the water inside, kitchen cabinets that, uh, can’t handle the heat and kitchen areas with dimensions too small to accommodate a standard-sized oven, the gaffes are getting more and more ridiculous.

Buyers should not be complacent about layouts and dimensions, less you be surprised by how the new bed you bought basically cannot fit in the room unless you forgo certain other things…. Like DOORS or wardrobes. Its not just about whether you can squeeze it all in but whether its ergonomic and functional in the long run.

Not as described
So you’ve seen the showflat, and it looked pretty. But when you move into your new place, it looks like a lousy imitation. One purchaser at the Trivelis complained that his flat came complete with garishly visible sanitary pipes and water heater, none of which appeared in the pictures. While not quite on the level of the condo purchasers who were befuddled as to where their infinity pool was when they moved into their units, it still sucks when you realise you got suckered by a pretty brochure.

But then this is something that every buyer needs to be aware of. The brochure is a photoshopped work of art that is not reflective of how things are in reality, most if the time. Water down your expectation from the brochure and you’ll start to be able to see things more objectively.

Think about lighting and daylight and how it plays a part. When selecting a unit, visualize how installed lighting could help and where the daylight comes in from for most of the day.

What to do?
We bet you didn’t read the sale and purchase agreement you signed because it was so thick and boring. But if you had, you would have realised that there’s a one year defects liability period, which means that the developer is obliged to rectify any defects you might find within one year.

One year starting from when, you might ask? This is where things get tricky. The one year begins from the day you receive the Notice of Vacation Possession (ie. The letter telling you you can come collect your keys). This applies even if you were overseas or otherwise busy and could only collect your keys months weeks or months later. So clearly, the earlier you move in the better, as some defects take time before you discover them.

Instead of trying to contact the developer on your own, you might want to get the lawyer who’s handling the purchase for you to do so on your behalf. So long as it doesn’t escalate into a big dispute, your lawyer may do this at no extra charge. Be prepared to email your lawyer lots of pictures and a detailed description of the defects.

The developer is ignoring me. What do I do?
The defects are supposed to be rectified within one month from the day the developer is notified. If one month has passed, you can actually just notify the developer that you’re going to repair the defect yourself, tell them the estimated cost and then give them 14 days to decide if they want to get their asses moving or not. If they don’t respond, you can technically get your own workmen to rectify the defect and then ask to be reimbursed by the developer.

Again, if you have a lawyer handling the purchase you might be able to get him or her to write a few fierce letters free of charge, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Source : http://blog.moneysmart.sg/property/why-are-more-and-more-singaporeans-complaining-about-their-dbss-flats/

Private vs public HOUSING in S’pore: What are the main differences?

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If you want your own house in Singapore, then you are one home loan away from rationing individual bee hoon strands. On the upside, expensive housing can also mean big pay offs.

Check out MoneySmart’s primer on private vs. public housing, before making your purchase:

Defining Private Property
In Singapore, residential properties fall into two broad categories: public housing (HDB flats), and private housing.

In the context of this article, private housing refers to:

  • Condominiums
  • Landed Property, and
  • Executive Condominiums

Executive Condominiums (ECs) are only treated as “fully” private properties from the 11th year onward. Before that, ECs are subject to some of the rules of public housing.

The most notable differences between private and public housing are:

  • Home Loan Restrictions
  • Resale Restrictions
  • Possibility of Freehold
  • Eligibility of Grants

1. Home Loan Restrictions
All forms of private housing, including ECs (even before their 11th year) can only be financed by bank loans (or financial institutions like Hong Leong Finance). There is no HDB concessionary loan. (We discussed bank loans vs. HDB loans in another article). To recap, the differences to expect are:

  • Down Payment And Cash Requirements:
    For private housing, you can only borrow up to a maximum of 80 per cent (of the purchase price). For that, you need to be prepared to pay an absolute minimum of 5 per cent in cash. Minimum cash requirements can be substantially higher (up to 25 per cent), after considering factors like your CPF balance, Debt Servicing Ratio (DSR), etc.

    For public housing, you can borrow up to 90 per cent (from HDB) and get away with $0 cash down payment (by paying everything via CPF). HDB BTOs are a good example.

    Option fees for HDB BTOs are also a flat amount of $2,000 regardless of the unit you are purchasing.

    This is different from private properties where you pay 1 per cent for the option fee. Best of all, the money will be refunded once you exercise your option.

  • Home Loan Interest Rate Structures:
    Banks don’t provide perpetual fixed rates, because of complex financial reasons like “So…What are you going to do about it?

    Home loan packages from banks always revert to floating (fluctuating) interest rates after three to five years. If you buy private housing, you must know the basics of home loan interest rates, and how to refinance regularly to keep them low.

    If you’re still confused, the mortgage specialists at MoneySmart can advise you for free.

    While public housing can give you a perpetual fixed rate (through HDB loans), do note that the HDB loan has been more expensive than bank loans over the last 5 years.

    HDB’s current rate is 2.6 per cent, compared to an average of around 1.7 per cent among banks.

2. Resale Restrictions
Public housing comes with a Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP). You have to live in the property for five years before you can rent out the whole flat, or sell it.

If you think you can leave it empty for 5 years while you are working overseas, the fine print also states you need to be based in Singapore.

There is also a resale levy. This reduces the amount of your housing grants (subsidies) when you buy another public housing unit.

For private housing, there is no MOP, but your main worry is the Seller Stamp Duty (SSD). You have to pay this if you sell your private housing within the first four years:

Sold within the 1st Year – 16 per cent stamp duty Between 1st and 2nd Year – 12 per cent stamp duty Between 2nd and 3rd Year – 8 per cent stamp duty Between 3rd Year and 4th Year – 4 per cent stamp duty More Than 4 Years – No SSD

There’s no restriction on when you can sell private property; it’s just a question of whether you can handle the SSD.

3. Freehold versus Leasehold
HDB flats are on a 99 year leasehold. For private property, you might find freehold land. It’s also possible for some properties, dating back to the Colonial Administration, to have a 999 year lease.

So far, few properties have come close to the 99 year lease expiry. But if your definition of home includes words like “ancestral”, then private is what you want.

Some people also believe in land-scarce Singapore, freehold properties will continually rise in value over their leasehold counterparts.

For details on how freehold affects property values, follow us on Facebook.

4. Eligibility of Grants
Obviously, private housing doesn’t come with government grants. Right?

Eh, kind of. This gets a bit sticky with regard to ECs.

Although ECs are financed by bank loans, and become private on the 11th year, you can still get grants for buying them. Grants from ECs range from $5,000 to $30,000, based on your income level.

That’s one of the main reasons for their popularity; it’s the only form of private housing that’s subsidised by the government.

Final Two Key Points to Note

  • Landed Property and Foreigners
    Foreigners need the government’s permission to buy landed property. This comes from the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit (LDAU). Foreigners also cannot purchase HDB flats unless they are marrying a Singaporean.

    There is no restrictions on foreigners purchasing condos. They just need to pay a hefty 15 per cent ABSD (Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty).

  • Upgrading to Private Housing Under Construction (Excluding ECs)

    Let’s say you’re upgrading from a HDB flat to a private condo. And you have one massive problem: the condo is still under-construction and will only be ready for move-in 3 years later.

    In order to get 80 per cent financing for your condo, you cannot have an existing home loan so you will need to sell off your flat (bank loans are capped at 50 per cent if you have an outstanding home loan).

    That’s a problem, because now you’ll have no flat, and your new condo will only be ready 3 years down the road.

    This is why most people avoid upgrading to private properties that are still being developed, no matter how much the developer discounts are. Prepare to rent or move in with your folks until the condo is finished.

Note: As the header of this section states, this problem does not apply when upgrading to Executive Condominiums as banks can grant buyers a “conditional 80 per cent” loan.

This means you can be granted the full 80 per cent today for your new EC so long as you sell off your current property within 6 months of the issuance of the EC’s Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP).

So whether you are upgrading to a private or executive condominium, you can speak to the friendly mortgage specialists at MoneySmart who can ensure that you secure the best home loan that’s right for you.

Source : http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=515792:private-vs-public-housing-in-spore-what-are-the-main-differences?&Itemid=3#axzz3al87uXOA

Property Update (20 May 2015)

Executive flats hold up well amid overall decline in HDB resale prices | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE: A 149 square metre (sqm) maisonette at Bishan Street 13 was sold for S$1.05 million last month. It is not the first time resale prices there have crossed the million-dollar mark. Another maisonette in the same estate went for almost S$1.1 million in October last year.

While not many executive flats like the one in Bishan have changed hands, housing analysts said prices of executive flats are holding up better amid an overall decline in HDB resale prices. One key reason could be their limited supply, and the bigger space that such flats offer.

Executive flats, which include maisonettes and executive apartments, were first built in 1980. But construction stopped when executive condominiums were introduced in 1995. Read more >>

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Developers face hefty extension charges over unsold units | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Property developers may incur up to S$90 million in extension charges for unsold units in their condo projects from April to December 2015, followed by S$238 million in 2016 if the health of Singapore’s real estate market does not improve.

This adds up to a staggering S$328 million that developers are expected to fork out in the worst-case scenario should they fail to sell any units by end-2016, according to calculations by property consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield (C&W).

As at the end of the first quarter, developers had paid about S$119 million in extension fees for unsold units for condos completed from 2010 onwards. Condos completed before that were mostly fully sold in the property market boom, C&W said. Read more >>


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Singapore tops in Asia, third globally in ‘Business of Cities’ ranking | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Singapore is Asia’s top-ranked city across a broad range of indicators, beating Tokyo to take the third place worldwide, according to a report by global real estate firm JLL and The Business of Cities, a London-based intelligence and strategy group.

The report analysed some 200 globally recognised city performance studies. According to the results, Singapore pipped Tokyo across six of the strongest indices, making it Asia’s frontrunner in higher education, mobility, science, broadband and technology.

Worldwide, Singapore was in the third place after New York and London. Among the Asian cities, Hong Kong was in the second spot and Tokyo in third.

Singapore, which was the No 1 city globally for business friendliness, is also rising in popularity among tourists and expatriates for its growing buzz. Read more >>

China’s property sector haunted by ghost towns | channelnewsasia.com

CHINA : China’s property sector is suffering from many empty towns dotting its vast landscape, as the number of cities built has far outstripped the demand. The impact is prominent in the Tianjin metropolis, where ambitious development projects have either stalled or been left occupied.

Property Update (19 May 2015)

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Executive condo site at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 launched for sale | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE : The Housing & Development Board (HDB), as the Government’s land sales agent, on Tuesday released an executive condominium site for sale that can accommodate about 490 units.

The 99-year leasehold parcel at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 comes under the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme for the first half of 2015.

The site spans 16,386 square metres and comes with a maximum gross floor area of 49,158 metres.

The closing date for the tender is June 30, 2015.
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Read more >>


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Govt releases new developer rules on show units, sales data | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Legislative changes to the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act will now require developers to provide detailed sales data on a weekly basis and disclose the value of any benefits to buyers in transaction documents. For the first time, the government is introducing a new set of rules to also ensure that developers accurately depict actual housing units in their showflats.

Amendments to the Act and the new set of rules on show units under the subsidiary legislation, Housing Developers Rules, will take effect from this month to “improve safeguards and provide more information to prospective purchasers of private residential properties”, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Monday.

Augustine Tan, president of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas), noted that developers that are already ensuring accurate representation in their showflats “will not have any issues” with the new rules. Read more >>


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Singapore hotel market to remain tough for buyers: CBRE Hotels | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : The Singapore hotel market attracted robust interest from investors in the first quarter of this year but remained a challenging market for buyers, according to CBRE Hotels.

As a result, there were a limited number of deals in Q1 2015.

“Investors turned more cautious during the period and become more rational and analytical when evaluating potential deals,” said CBRE Hotels (Asia Pacific) assistant vice-president Junrong Teo in a report. “As with the broader investment market, there is a bit of a price gap at present with vendors under no real pressure to sell, although CBRE does still see some opportunities in the market.”

A single deal was recorded in Q1 2015, a related-party transaction where Frasers Centrepoint acquired Capri by Frasers at Changi City from Ascendas Frasers for US$148 million. Read more >>

As part of a joint venture partnership, GIC and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will each own a 50 per cent stake in the mall next to Sindorim Station in Seoul.

As part of a joint venture partnership, GIC and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will each own a 50 per cent stake in the mall next to Sindorim Station in Seoul.

GIC, CPPIB to acquire Seoul mall for S$348m | channelnewsasia.com

SEOUL, KOREA: Sovereign wealth fund GIC and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) will be acquiring the D-Cube retail mall in Seoul in a joint venture for US$263 million (S$348 million).

In a joint media release on Monday (May 18), GIC and CPPIB said they will each own a 50 per cent stake in the mall following the acquisition from Daesung Industires. D-Cube, which was completed in 2011, is situated next to Sindorim Station, a major transportation hub connecting Seoul with Incheon and other major metropolitan cities near the capital.

The mall will be rebranded as Hyundai Department store and will be operated by Hyundai, one of the top retail operators in South Korea, GIC and CPPIB said. Hyundai, working alongside GIC and CPPIB, will also reposition the mall to better serve the Korean retail market’s expected steady growth over the long term. Read more >>


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California Home Sales, Prices Uptick for Third Month | worldpropertyjournal.com

CALIFORNIA, USA : According to the California Association of Realtors, California’s housing market accelerated in April 2015 as the spring home-buying season kicked off with both higher home sales and prices for the third straight month.

Home sales rose above the 400,000 mark in April for the first time since October 2013 to post the highest level since August 2013. Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 427,620 units in April, according to information collected by C.A.R.

The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the April pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The April figure was 9.2 percent higher than the revised 391,440 homes sold in March. Home sales were up 9.3 percent from a revised 391,330 in April a year ago, and the increase was the highest year-over-year change since May 2012. Read more >>

Houston homeowner hosts essay contest to sell bungalow for $150

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TEXAS, USA – A Houston homeowner is selling his bungalow for just $150 and 200 choice words.

Michael Wachs is hosting an essay contest to sell his 1920s Houston Heights pad, valued at $400,000. Hopefuls must pay $150 to enter and submit 200 words or less on why they want the house.

Wachs, who is a realtor, said he loves the home, but he and his wife want to move closer to his daughter’s school. The couple decided on the untraditional selling method as a way to give more people a shot at the two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, he told KTRK.

“This is the only method that we can think of that we could get our money back and also give a chance to someone to start a new life or build a home right in the city,” he said.

Wachs will accept entries until June 13. The best-written essay wins the 1,056-square-foot house and its appliances, but the winner must pay the closing costs.

The Texas real estate agent said he needs to collect 3,000 entries to walk away from the deal with the house’s market value. If he doesn’t get enough, he’ll refund applicants’ fees and list the house the old-fashioned way.

But there’s already a lot of interest in the contest, he said: Hours after the contest website went live, it crashed because of too much traffic.

Earlier this month, an Alabama couple announced an essay contest to win their goat cheese farm.

Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/houston-homeowner-sell-house-150-essay-contest-article-1.2223311

How I went from being homeless to making real estate deals worth millions

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By Kemi Egan, businessinsider.sg

I’m mixed race, from a single parent family in London, England that polite company like to call “of modest means” (I call it broke — think using tape as a vacuum!).

According to statistics I should at best, be in jail, and at worst, be dead.

But I was the first person in my family to go to college and graduated with honors. I graduated in 2007 as a physical therapist and I was really good — it just so happened that it came naturally to me.

Quickly, I was traveling internationally and working with top sports teams. I had made a commitment to making a difference and helping people so I set up a private health care practice in 2010, after three years in the field. I wanted to reduce wait times for the public accessing affordable health care.

In the first year or so it was awesome: hundreds of happy clients, cash was flowing and my shoe collection was growing. I thought I was on top of the world, and complacency came knocking.

I was young and naive. Things were good, so I assumed they would always be good. Rather than save up and create financial walls around my family for security and stability, I spent and reinvested every penny I made, which left me vulnerable when things began to slide.

What happened next hit me so hard.

Businesses need leaders, strategic thinkers, and great planning. In the middle of a global economic crisis they need this more than ever, and back then, I didn’t have any of that.

A lot of our revenue came from insurance companies dealing with work injuries or car accidents. As the recession took hold these companies went under, not only taking large portion of our turnover with them, but also owing us tens of thousands of pounds.

Quickly, patients dried up. In a recession, who needs a back massage, right?

It spiraled out of control and before I could blink I was selling cars, shoes, books, CD’s, everything I had to pay my rent, bills, tax, and put food on the table. It got so bad that, because of personal guarantees, to close the business would have cost around $25,000. I felt like the only person in the world too broke to fail!

Eventually there was nothing left to sell and I was forced to move into the office in August 2011 with the one bag of clothes I had left and a blow up bed that always went down in the middle of the night.

The next few months were ugly. I cried constantly, ate garbage comfort food, and drank too much alcohol.

About four months into my meltdown, the next light bulb moment happened. I realized that right then in that very moment there were successful people in the world making money, creating wealth, and having a great lifestyle. Recession or not, people were making money and I was going to figure out how.

Egan in Hungary with the English basketball team, during her time as a physical therapist.

Egan in Hungary with the English basketball team, during her time as a physical therapist.

Over the next few months I read hundreds of books, listened to hundreds of audio programs, went on seminars and conferences and spent thousands on credit cards I couldn’t afford to pay educating myself.

Quickly I noticed a trend: A whole lot of people had made a whole heap of cash investing in real estate. I had no interest in reinventing the wheel, so that’s what I decided to do.

Having no money or experience wasn’t about to stop me, so I went networking as often as I could to real estate and investing meetings, which is where I learned my first lesson: Build your network before you need it.

I started building relationships and adding value where I could, expecting nothing in return.

Before long I had offers of investment and joint ventures. In December 2011, my first investor gave me $200,000. I’ll never forget the feeling of pride, when I realized of all the places he could choose to invest, he chose me.

Lesson No. 2: People buy from people. The investment opportunities I’d found were good, but not amazing. However, that didn’t matter. The investor had bought into and believed in me. I was educated, smart, hard working, and worthy of investment.

From there, my investments and portfolio snowballed. Within 12 months I’d raised $1 million in investments and bought a real estate portfolio of $2 million. Along the way I also paid off the majority of my credit card debt I spent educating myself (I could have paid the rest but was too busy reinvesting every penny) and moved into a stunning flat in central London.

At the time I wasn’t sure what it was that made investors believe in me, realtors want to work with me, and vendors sell their houses to me, but now I get it, because I now get to see it in others.

I was hungry for success and security, I had educated myself and taken action, but most importantly I was authentic and acted with integrity.

Whatever situation you are in, the chances are you are better off than I was. I had no money, no confidence and no clue. Of course there have been challenges and it wasn’t all smooth sailing, but if you are willing to work for it, financial freedom and security is possible.

Kemi Egan is co-founder of Freedom Academies, Freedom Investments & Freedom Homes. She is a real estate investor, mentor, wealth strategist, and author of the #1 bestseller “The Power of Real Estate Investing.”

Source : http://www.businessinsider.sg/homeless-to-making-millions-2015-5/#.VVK_AvkirjI

Property Update (13 May 2015)

Non-landed private residential prices down 0.7% in April: SRX Property | channelnewsasia.com

Year-on-year, resale prices dropped 4 per cent from April 2014, and compared to the peak in January 2014, prices have fallen 6.9 per cent.

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Resale condo market stays weak as prices, volumes drop | todayonline.com

SINGAPORE : The non-landed private residential resale market continued to weaken last month as loan curbs and cooling measures weighed on sentiment, with analysts saying the status quo will remain unless the government tweaks its policies.

Non-landed private residential resale prices dipped 0.7 per cent last month from March, showed advance estimates from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) Property yesterday, deepening from the revised 0.4 per cent drop in the previous month. Compared with a year earlier, resale prices fell by 4 per cent.

Transaction volumes remained low amid a continued stand-off between sellers and buyers.

A total of 440 non-landed private residential units were resold last month, a 2.7 per cent drop from the 452 units in March, SRX data showed. Read more >>


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Philippines to open construction sector to foreign companies | asiaone.com

PHILIPPINES : The Philippines is opening up the local construction and related industries to enable foreign companies to secure construction permits as regular contractors, and participate in local projects with full equity.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said at the 2nd EU-Philippines Business Dialogue on Tuesday that they expected the Department of Trade and Industry, which chairs the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP), to issue in a month’s time the guidelines for a new license category called Quadruple A.

“The Philippines needs more foreign contractors. We are opening the Quadruple A category for foreigners so they can be granted construction permits not only on a per-project basis but so they can be registered as regular contractors. Read more >>


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With Manhattan Luxury Property Hitting Highs, Some Fear Air Is Getting Thin | wsj.com

NEW YORK, USA : It’s getting crowded at the top of Manhattan’s apartment market.

As condo developers chase billion-dollar paydays through the construction of luxury dwellings, the cranes dotting the city are sparking fears of a supply glut.

Builders are plowing ahead with scores of condominiums priced above $20 million in skinny glass towers throughout Manhattan.

One building, the 66-story tower at 220 Central Park South, is listing more than 60 apartments above $20 million, according to filings made with the New York attorney general’s office. By comparison, in 2008, just 29 new condos sold for $20 million or more across all of Manhattan, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Read more >>