Sunday, 6 April 2008

A Downgrader's Nightmare

Received this email over the weekend from a reader. I can fully empathise with him, since I'm pretty much going through the same nightmare myself. For all those who have a home that they are thinking of enblocking, please read this cautionary tale.

Reader, I feel for you.

In a few more weeks, my family will be kicked out of our home.

Yes. KICKED OUT because of a successful en bloc which we did not agree to.

A home that was renovated not more than a few years ago, from top to bottom including brand new marbled floors, new fixtures, new furniture, everything from scratch. We thought, naively, that it was to be our home for the next few decades.

Barely after we moved in, a pro-tem SC proudly announced the en bloc. Our estate was not old at that time. It now looks run down because EVERY upkeep and updating of the estate was put on hold. This just before they started the en bloc attempt.

My family refused to be subjected to en bloc again. We thought fine, let’s get ourselves a new condo, so that we can have at least 10 years of peace before some IDIOT decides to champion an en bloc at our new home. Because of the property market boom, we had no choice but to buy a property, downgrading from a 1800 sqf perfectly renovated and absolutely spacious home on a quiet road, to a 1200 sqf home near a main road with all sorts of useless corners designed by architects who looked like they have never tried living in an apartment.

Then the nightmare started. Almost all our furniture could not fit the new place. They have to be replaced with smaller versions. We have a tight schedule within which to move home, install new fixtures in the new home, get furniture, get quotations for movers, cancel utilities, transfer utilities, change of addresses, all these amidst our hectic lives.

We will make no profit by the end of our move when we factor in what we’d spent for our old home, and what we need to spend for our new one.

We are frustrated, upset, that this is happening to us. People who say “just move elsewhere” do not realize that it isn’t that convenient, practical nor even realistic to do so. SACRIFICES always have to be made when we move homes, and EVEN BIGGER SACRIFICES when we move from a cherished home.

People who are thinking of signing the Collective Sale Agreement, of that profit and windfall – think carefully, especially after you’ve factored in all the other costs. If you’re not losing your home, then that’s not a problem. But if you have to move, how often are you prepared to do so, and what’s the cost to you, your family, your finances, when you do so?

Those residents who eagerly signed for the en bloc in our estate, and who have to move now, are regretting it. We say to them, TOO LITTLE TOO LATE. They could have kept their homes and not have the hassle and trauma of moving, but they were BLINDED by what they thought was going to be profits.

Are we angry? Yes! For losing our home which we love and built, literally from the bare cement. For policy makers who do not CARE about the consequences of en blocs to people’s lives. For individuals who do not care about people who have valid reasons to STAY in a place they love. For a society that continues to NAIVELY think that en blocs are great.



Anonymous said...

tearing down and rebuilding are part of progress which also is a huge source of revenue for the government. apart from that, it also create lots of jobs and businesses for everyone. furthermore, this country is so small, the only way to retain its people is to build a first class beautiful and liveable city. if we keep all the old buildings, including residential buildings, how progressive and beautiful can this city be? even our national stadium gotta go, what more some of these outdated homes/commercial buildings?

now don't get me wrong. i am neutral when comes to homes because, everyone will have their reasons for staying or moving on. so to each his/her own. but if you are looking at the bigger picture, how can this tiny little island survive if we don't keep up with changes all around us?

yes, at the end of the day, the government is telling us that we don't have a choice. to cut the long story short, if there is no capital appreciation, rich investors won't come! obviously, the government wants to attract rich people here. rich people are usually associated with talent right? that's why successful lawyers, doctors, bankers, businessmen, scientists etc are rich. so if you want these talents here, build attractive homes that reflect their status. but how to build nice homes unless it is an asset and not a liability or a losing venture for the rich? rich people after all are not stupid with their money you know otherwise, how to be rich? if homes here have no investment value, you think they will put money in this country? how about accommodating foreigners? where do rental homes come from? from investors right? if the value of homes do not appreciate, who would want to invest? if no one invests, where would a quarter of our foreign talents gonna live?

our housing market is vulnerably predicated at this moment because this country has created a lot of speculative activities to generate wealth. because of that, we will sink longer than we rise if not carefully managed - attested by a decade long slump.

recently, the government has succumbed to home pressure and brought the market down. will it send a wrong signal to investors?

if i were them( the investors), i will stay away from this troubled and unstable city because the people and its government are fickle!!!

and oh yes, over building is not helping the situation either because it makes you wonder, who are they building for really??? without confronting a deeper philosophical question, i think it's best we retain the familiar and perhaps, the kampong laidback lifestyle is better than chasing after progress for the rich?

Anonymous said...

I think this letter might be a tad too biased. How about opinions from those who have voted for the enbloc and apart from reasons of greed like wanting more than originally promised, regretted making that decision.

Anonymous said...

the latest is that the rental market has cooled. apparently, more foreigners are turning to owning than renting. that's understandable. this again has its good and bad. the propagandists hope that more will become 'citizens' when they own properties here. some will but most won't. here comes the bad news. as the government continues to build more homes, the speculative bubble will grow especially when rental is driven upwards. with more turning to buying less renting( benefiting the developers of course), rental will fall eventually. when that happens, the value of your homes will fall in tandem. at its worst, home prices have gone down to as low as 50% of its original value. enbloc or not, this is bad news for EVERY home owners( non investors) who has a stake in this land because when recession hits, you will find it is extremely difficult to monetize your home! many who can't maintain their expensive homes will go bankrupt or bleed financially plus many other social ills.

to cut the long story short, MANY homes are not salable in today's market - not at market price.

unless you are prepared to sell at a GREAT lost - if you have bought at the peak - you will not find buyers.

this over invested land bubble is getting much bigger with more 'speculative buying' from foreigners - since they find it unprofitable to rent.

plus our government continue to build more homes...we are in for a big blasting 'good time' ahead!

worse scenario is your home is really worthless because...many other reasons i shall spare you with!

Anonymous said...

geeze. you people complain about embloc when there is much bigger issues looming in the housing market.

nobody is stopping your fight for a piece of old property. but what's the point when your property loses its worth...old or new regardless?

if you win( which kills the enbloc drive), because you calculated its not worth your while ( incidentally, i am sure many others who opted to cash in on their old properties don't share your loss) it only bolster my argument that this country is seriously caught between progress and digression!

in which case, this piece of tiny land is very unstable!

and the sooner our government realized that we are unlike hk, london, new york, tokyo, shanghai the better!

Anonymous said...

Shall we send everyone to the slaughterhouse just so the "rich", "talented" get richer? Shall we create more hardship for the middle aged, who have finished a housing loan, to force them into another new one, so that his "old" property can be torn down to make the island more "liveable" for rich foreigners? Do "majorities" regret? The question is answered by the so many law suits which involved majority home owners who signed enbloc deals who are trying to rescind their sale. Some are encouraging the minority stayers to do so.

Anonymous said...

Actually why don't we enbloc some GCBs. Many of them are very old, sitting on very large plot of land and almost all in very prestigious addresses. Tear these old properties down and build high end, modern condos. Surely the rich, "talented" foreigners would love a piece of that. It is such a waste of land.

Anonymous said...

I feel for this family- especially since they did not agree to the enbloc. What is sorry is that I can hear of families being disappointed with their decision of voting for the enbloc- since they realized they cannot find places as big and spacious. I call that pure stupidity to begin with. They signed because they were pressurized to do so. Or they signed because they felt it was not going to happen. Sheer stupidity. Now and only now they realize their mistake- when the only place they will move to will be an HDB. How can they think that way? It's insane.

Anonymous said...

"if we keep all the old buildings, including residential buildings, how progressive and beautiful can this city be? even our national stadium gotta go, what more some of these outdated homes/commercial buildings?"

Are you talking about HDB buildings? Because those are far more older than some of the estates going en bloc now. And last I checked, this progressive and beautiful city is largely populate by old HDB buildings. Those are not torn down except as part of SERS, and they are 30 years old at the least.

My estate is barely 15 when it went enbloc. So let's try to think hard about what 'old' means, and in what context - private or public housing, since both have different standards applied to them in terms of 'urban renewal'.

"that's why successful lawyers, doctors, bankers, businessmen, scientists etc are rich. so if you want these talents here, build attractive homes that reflect their status." Totally agree - let's tear down 80% of HDB estates and build up private attractive condos to reflect their status. After all, doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen, scientists do not stay or want to stay in HDBs.

Why have so many HDB estates? Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the original email that was sent to Dr Minority. I've just been told by the developer that I CANNOT remove all fixtures and airconditioning from my home. So my brand new lights, which I'd like to strip and bring to the new home, my nice (and expensive) oven, cooker, hob, Hans Grohe shower units, all cannot be removed.

I'm extremely frustrated on why this should be the case, and can looking through the Sale and Purchase Agreement, found that it was agreed upon by the SC and the developer. Why should I leave behind what is rightfully mine?

I understand from 'recycling firms' that specialises in en bloc disposal of items, that our estate is strange in requiring that fixtures and aircons cannot be removed. Well, I can only URGE readers to check carefully your Sale and Purchase Agreement, and try as hard as you can to ensure, especially if you have just renovated your unit, that you get suitable compensation for your losses.

Mr K