The ugliest hotel in Singapore

Built on the site of the former Midlink Plaza at 122 Middle Road, the Lian Beng-led consortium (Lian Beng Group, Centurion Properties, coffeeshop operator Chang Cheng Group and a vehicle controlled by K Box chain owner Jason Lee) acquired Midlink Plaza , which was a nine-storey strata office and retail building, through a collective sale in 2011, brokered by Credo Real Estate, now part of JLL. The building that now stands in its place is the new Mercure-branded 395 heritage inspired (?!?! – what is a heritage inspired room?!? Do they even know the history of Bugis area?) room hotels with some retail shops.

I happened to walk pass the bugis/middle road area and chanced upon this nearly completed building.

The picture on the left is the artist’s perspective (or rendering) and the picture on the right is the actual photo taken. And the problem is that it is not immediately apparent which is uglier… Just in case the above photo is too small, below is a bigger photo for your inspection.

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It looks like someone took a part each from three different drawings and put them together.

Of course, design is subjective and differing from people to people. Do let me know if you come across a uglier tourist-class hotel (new) that is uglier than this monstrosity.

Quotes of the Day – Property Advice

From BT interview:

Quotes late property tycoon Ng Teng Fong, who told him: “If you want to be in property, don’t look further, just stay in Hong Kong and Singapore”.

Land supply is limited and assuming a stable government, population growth in both places will help the property market

The other thing he remembered is how Mr Ng regarded the “buy low, sell high” advice in the property market.

“He said, ‘an idiot also knows that, lah. Let me ask you, when you want to buy low, who’s going to sell it to you low? When you want to sell high, who’s going to buy it from you? . . . I tell you, buy high, sell higher! When the market is shooting up, there’s no such thing as high’.”

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It is all in the name

Just read that the club/bar located on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Ku De Ta, will have its name changed to Ce La Vi after some legal tussle with the trademark owner in Bali (the REAL Ku De Ta)

The new name is apparently abbreviated from the French phrase, “c’est la vie”, or “this is life”, Ce La Vi aims to become “the international titan of lifestyle and sophisticated hedonism”.

I can just imagine how the new name is going to be slaughtered by some locals and Chinese. *giggle*

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Same same but different?

Extracted this from a report that I found extremely disconcerting – mainly due to the similarity to Singapore. Especially those in BOLD.

“SEOUL – Lee Sang-Kuk delivers meat during the day and drives drunk businessmen home at night, but even with two jobs he and millions of other South Koreans are struggling against a tide of household debt.

Mr Lee’s situation is increasingly common in South Korea where total household borrowing hit a record 937.5 trillion won (US$882.7 billion) in September last year, equivalent to more than 70 per cent of the country’s 2011 GDP.

Laid off from his job in a media company in 2000, Mr Lee opened a restaurant with a bank loan using his home as collateral. Within two years the business had collapsed forcing him to apply for personal bankruptcy.

Mr Lee sold his house to clear the bank loan but then took out a high-interest loan from private lenders to fund the education of his son and daughter.

“Since then, life has been miserable,” said the 59-year-old who confessed to contemplating suicide at one point.

“Everything I earn goes on debt repayment, and my wife works as a housemaid to meet our living expenses,” he told AFP.

Mr Lee’s evening job is for an agency which provides emergency drivers, mostly for businessmen who have had too much to drink and need someone to drive them, and their cars, home.

South Korea’s household debt mountain has its origins in financial reforms introduced after the 1997 Asian financial crisis that led the country’s banks to turn to consumers for asset growth.

A resulting surge in mortgage lending was fuelled by a long streak of low interest rates and a general belief that real estate was a guaranteed investment.

“While US households deleveraged, especially after the subprime mortgage crisis, loan demand for mortgages increased here thanks to rising property prices,” Hyundai Economic Research Institute analyst Lee Jun-Hyup said.

“There’s no serious threat to the banking system, but obviously it hurts domestic consumer demand,” Mr Lee said.

Once an economic juggernaut that grew nearly 7.0 per cent a year on average since the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea has, in recent years, entered a phase of more measured growth.

The property market has slumped and a slowing economy has resulted in job losses that have left single wage-earner families struggling to stay afloat.

Some government estimates have put the number of those at high default risk at more than 6.0 million – or more than 10 per cent of the population.

Those with children of school age have the added burden of the crippling costs of extra-curricular education which is considered a pre-requisite of college entry in a hyper-competitive system.

According to Korea University professor Lee Phil-Sang, the quality of household debt is deteriorating due to an increase in the debt servicing burden of self-employed people, who make up almost a third of the workforce.

At the same time, there has been a steady rise in low-income families who are borrowing just to meet living expenses.

“Household debt is like a cancer in our body,” Mr Lee said.

“If unchecked, it’s going to become a serious drag on the economy because loan repayments will worsen rapidly during a time of economic stress,” Mr Lee said.

The lack of disposable income among highly indebted households is hampering government efforts to spur domestic demand and wean the national economy off its over-reliance on exports.

Like Lee Sang-Kuk, many middle-aged South Koreans laid off by corporations take out personal and mortgage loans to start a new business.

But commercial banks favour high-income retail consumers, pushing poorer borrowers to lenders such as savings banks and credit card firms that charge punitively high interest rates.

Mr Lee is among an estimated group of three million people who have been blacklisted by banks or cannot get extra loans because of low credit ratings.

As part of her election pledge to expand social welfare spending, president-elect Park Geun-Hye proposed a 18 trillion won (US$16.9 billion) public fund to help low-income earners like Mr Lee reduce debts.

Opposition politicians and some experts say such a fund would be little more that a stop-gap policy and have urged Ms Park to look at a longer-term solution.

Others like financial services commission chief Kim Seok-Dong, have voiced reluctance at the message that would be sent by using taxpayers money to rescue indebted households. – AFP”

The Gravity Defying Market

We sold our place recently… it is our first home and even though we are quite sentimental about it, we are well aware that the current place will be too small for us in the future. So with a bit of regret, some courage and lots of hope for the future, we made the decision to sell the first home that we built together. And immediately, we are busy with the new house hunting. I must say it is not a easy task. We already have prior experience in home ownership hence we know exactly what we like and what we don’t.

For example, some common stuff that we like big kitchen, big toilet and big master bedroom ( for a king size bed). Stuff that we don’t like, open concept kitchen, no yard, facing swimming pool etc.

After visiting lot of showflats and some resale units, I have also grown attune to some of the phases used in the marketing/advertising (*roll eye*). For example:

Suite – I totally hate this word. ‘Suite’ to me connote small. Suite used in residential marketing is totally different from the ‘suite’ used in hotel marketing.

Lifestyle – Huh? what lifestyle? Lifestyle mean you cannot afford a bigger place and just afford a 400 sq ft house that you have to console yourself you are living the LIFE. Note. Lifestyle living, modern lifestyle means the same to me. It is what it is , a lifestyle, not a home.

Selling fast – I don’t think buying a house is equivalent to buying some clothes on sale. I cannot make decision on million dollar property on the spot. Hell, I spent more time considering to buy a pair of shoes, let alone a house.

We are taking our househunting slow as we are staying with my in laws for the time being. Hopefully, we can take advantage of the cooling measures to find a home that both of us will like!

Xiao eh!

It is official… Singapore’s property market has gone mad. HDB just sold a executive condomium (EC) site in Tampines to Sim Lian for $392per sq foot per plot ratio.

And what does that means for lay person? A typical EC will costs the buyer at least $800psf which roughly translate to $800,000 for a 1,000 sq ft unit. Bear in mind this buyer has to have a household income of less than $10k per month.

First – $160,000 downpayment in both cash and cpf. I dont know many young couple will have this kind of money neither in their combine CPF nor cash.

Second – Loan of $640,000 over 30 years works out to monthly payment of approximately $2,200 assuming the interest rate remains at the flat rate of 1.5% (this is going to change pretty soon, believe me. The government is only able to suppress the inflation by strenghtening of Sing dollar but this is not going to be the case forever, the interest rate will going up eventually)

Gone were the days where if you work hard and save dilligently, you will be to afford a nice home for your family. To put things into perspective, a EC back in 2006 cost $400psf or less. Today, it is a staggering 100% more compared to mere 5 years ago. The EC scheme was introduced to bridge the gap for the raising aspiration of young couples want to stay private housing but cannot afford it.  Today, it seems that the EC scheme has lost its way and is redefining itself in a property market that has gone absolutely xiao liao

Lifestyle

Driving around our neighbourhood with a bit of spare time before our next appointment, The Girl and I decided to pop in to one of the many showflats that sprouted out recently just for the fun of it. I mean, free aircon , drinks and entertainment. Did I mentioned entertainment?

The Girl and I was very much entertained indeed.

The Girl was roaming around the showflat doing her own viewing while the agent in attendence was serving me. I casually remarked that the unit is very small at 400sq ft and how does two persons stay in this kind of unit. I honestly wasn’t expecting a reply but the agent seems to be very well prepared to answer this. He smirkly remarked, ” Sir , we are not selling the space; we are selling a lifestyle here.” The person who taught him to sell the unit this way should be shot.

I looked at him…. have to  processed his reply for a while… and with my straightest face… nodded back politely. And at the corner of my eyes, I saw The Girl quickly darted into the other room.

The Girl later told me that she had overhead the same remark and had to run into the other room to prevent herself from bursting out laughing.

We are a very polite family you know.