Tuesday 6 August 2013

Honeyed words by insurance agents- Beware!

Recently, metup with an Independent Financial Advisor ("IFA") and a tied agent from Manulife to buy life insurance critical illness policy and medical insurance for my new born. For critical illness life policy, the IFA came up with 4 products from 4 different insurance companies whereas the Manulife agent came up with only the Protector 20 plan. I compared the protection value, cash value and lifetime premiums and finally decided on the Vivolife policy from NTUC Income. The policy from NTUC Income is a balanced one in terms of protection and extremely high guaranteed cash value.

The Manulife agent was pretty upset. She persistently ring up to try to change my mind. Now, she mentioned that she has another better product called the Ultimate Protector series that can beat Vivolife and that Manulife has one of the best annual investment return out of all the insurance companies. Also, she told me that IFA also sold products that give them the highest commission and begin her pitch that IFA and tied agents are the same. Also she insisted another meetup face to face and did not want to send the soft copy of the proposal over. So, in the end, gave the agent another chance. Was almost swung by her sales pitch but due to my previous bad experience with insurance agents, my internal alarm rang non stop and I  told her I will need to take time to relook the detailed proposal.

Ultimately, I discovered that the Ultimate Protector policy from Manulife has very poor cash value upfront. The guaranteed portion is just too pathetic. If one can assume that the investment returns from Manulife is spectacular every year, then it will be unbeatable. I still prefer guaranteed portion. Also disullionised with the bad mouthing by one agent against another agent...it's pretty much a dog eat dog world it seems. The moral of the story is to be extremely skeptical when dealing with any insurance agents lest one become the ultimate fool.
Honey Honey Words.....Yummy!

Monday 5 August 2013

REITS Correction in June'13

The sharp fall in prices of many Straits Times Index ("STI") Stocks was unnerving. REITS market value slided down on fears that interest rates will rise when Ferderal Reserve Chairman Bernake announced the winding down of money printing in future due to improvement in the US economy. I sold off close to 50% of my portfolio in order to preserve my capital and unrealized profits. 

Luckily, the slide in the STI was only temporary. Market regain most of its confidence and investors went back. REITS prices corrected to a more decent footing to reflect rising interest rate risk which presented excellent opportunities for one to re-allocate their portfolio. I also offloaded the Genting Perpetual Bonds which will devalue in face of rising interest rates and use the proceeds to invest in Suntec REITS which will complete it's Asset Enhancement initiative next year. This in turn will boost rental income and I am expecting at least a 20% capital appreciation.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Jewel @ Buangkok (North East District) Review

Name:Jewel at Buangkok 
Developer: White Haven Properties Pte Ltd (City Developments Limited)
Location:Buangkok Drive / Sengkang Central       
Land Tenure:99 years from 12 September 2012
Expected T.O.P: 13 June 2017
No of Blks: 6
No of Units: 616Levels:15/16/17Site
Site Area: 18,340.7sqm (197,419sqft)
Carpark lots: 616 lots for residents comprising of the following:

  • Normal Lots – 610 Lots
  • Family Lot – 1 Lot
  • Electrical Car Lots – 3 Lots
  • Washing Bays – 2 Lots
In addition:
  • Handicap Lots – 7 Lots
  • Visitor Bays – 10 Lots
Total 633 lots.

This is the much anticipated launch that is just a mere 3 minutes walk to Buangkok MRT. The Jewel at Buangkok is just opposite The Quartz condominium and besides the EC Esparina.

The completed Esparina EC just besides Jewels

Dual Level Waterscape

Spa Cabin

Gardeners' Cabin

Pet's Lovers' Cabin

Gourmet Cabin

Adventurers' Cabin

Nature Cabin- Camping Ground!

Master Bedroom with balcony for premium 3 bedder 1195sqft

General Review:
The landscaping is just incredibly awesome for Jewel @ Buangkok. The main attraction is the unique dual-level waterscape comprising of panoply of pools and water features. Equally interesting is the Six Thematic Outdoor Cabins spread throughout the development.
Location wise, it is just a short 3 mins walk to the North East MRT Station of Buangkok which accounts for it's high pricing by CDL of around SS1,150psf on average. In terms of basic amenities, there is also a 24 hours NTUC supermarket, retail shops and food centre. Personally, I like Buangkok more than Seng Kang as it is not too congested. The many empty land around Buangkok MRT also means that those investors who dare to plunge in to get a unit will benefit in future. In Singapore, land is scarce and limited. Even if there are property market downturn, the land prices will eventually go back up. Interestingly, just 2 years back, no one thought that properties in the sub-urban areas will sell for over S$1,000psf....a simply unfathomable prospect in the eyes of mortal at that juncture.
Anyway, to make it affordable, City Development ("CDL") actually shrink the typical size of all the different bedrooms to ensure the units remain within the reach of the prospective buyers. For example, 3 bedroom sizes come in 2 main types of 81sqm (872sqft), 87 sqm (936sqft) and 100sqm (1,076sqft). For those who can afford S$1.25Mil, one would be able to get the bigger 3 bedroom premium at 1,195sqft (another 3 bedder premium at 1,152sqft). However, even then, this will only get you a unit at the low floors. That is how crazy CDL priced them. I highly recommend buyers to go for the smaller 1152sqft premium 3 bedder as the difference for the 1195sqft is they added in a balcony at the Masterbedroom.
Units Layout and fittings:
The architect of Jewel has designed it such that the living and dining areas are extremely spacious. This thus means smaller bedroom sizes. The Masterbedroom in the 3 bedder premium is a tad too small for my liking. Saying that, there are many people who prefers the extra space to be in the living and dining area. For fittings, a very special item given by CDL is the Hyflux Purified Water System to all units at Kitchen. The Purifier will be installed at the kitchen sink with a separate tap. Homogeneous tiles at Living and Dining area and laminated flooring for bedrooms.
Points to Note:
As mentioned previously, the landscape is awesome but that means that maintenance is going to very very expensive as warned by the property agent. The expect monthly maintenance fees for a normal 3 bedder is expected at be at least S$380 per month and S$400 over for the 3 bedroom premiums type. One can't have all the cake and eat it.
Overall, this CDL project look set to turn into a magnificent development. The prices slightly on the high side but then you get the MRT at your doorstep.