REC weekly #0118: En-bloc owners will make the Worst Decision of their lifes…

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Firstly, to all en-bloc owners whose apartment(s) had completed the en-bloc process before the latest 5th July cooling measures,

Congratulations!!

They struck a windfall that many envy, before the en-bloc market slowed down (or “crashed”).

There are currently more than 5000 en-bloc owners, and they will be making the worst decision of their lives… IF

  1. THEY DO NOT EXERCISE FINANCIAL PRUDENCE

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Getting en-bloc is like striking the lottery (think TOTO or 4D) or hitting a multi-bagger stock investment. Often, en-bloc owners get about double for their unit compared to what they could get if they sold on the open market. For example, Florence Regency was selling for around $900k in 2017 before the successful en-bloc and each owner received about $1.8mil. That’s a good 100% extra profit. With that much cash on hand, there is a possibility to over-commit on their next housing plan. 

‘Easy come easy go’ as people say, happens. I’m sure you have heard about people selling 2 condos to buy that dream Semi-detached house, only to sell it 5 years later due to having a serious health issue or due to loss of jobs during a financial crisis. This was exactly what happened to one of my client’s family during the 2003 SARS period. Exercising financial prudence and not being over leveraged can help prevent such events from happening to you. 

En-bloc owners who decide to buy a property that cost much more than the money they received will be faced with risk from over leveraging. Often, parents also buy properties for their children with the proceeds from the en-bloc. It is crucial to exercise financial prudence in those purchases as the debt obligation, if any, would rest on their children who are most likely young adults between 24-30 years old.

We will be reviewing a real case study that happened in after the Gigantic 2007 en-bloc wave in another article. Stay tuned for that. 

  1. THEY DO NOT SELECT THE RIGHT PROPERTY

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Selecting the right property is a whole topic by itself, and particularly a topic that I am passionate about and do research on a daily basis. Property investment today is a different ball game from the past, where you could close yours eyes, buy a property and probably make a fortune later (remember that $300k freehold landed). We need to understand that those days are over. If you want your property to at least appreciate with 2.5% inflation, property selection is more than just buying beside amenities like a MRT station,etc.

Mr Tam, a seller I served in 2013 whom needed to sell off his condo urgently, asked me why his brand new condo, Foresque Residences did not see capital gains while his friend who bought a unit at Waterfront Waves during the same period saw their property appreciate by more than 15%. This proves that 2 properties bought at the same time in different location can have totally different outcomes. Buying a property that performs badly can be detrimental to a property owner if there is a need to urgently sell off the unit.

As most en-bloc owners today are at or near retirement age, the “last” home they buy will be VERY important. At this stage in life, the search for an investment grade home diminishes, en-bloc owners will want a house that they love and comfortably retire in. Unless these en-bloc owners do not intend to pass the property down to the next generation, then, the investment value of the property will not be a priority. The key factor to keep in mind is, when selecting a property, one needs to consider who will be the buyers buying their unit when they need to sell the property years or decades later because what you like may not be what someone else likes. If you purchased a property that may have low demand in the future, you or your children will find it either difficult to sell off your property or the property will not see much price appreciation (if any). This consideration is very often overlooked by both buyers, as well as their advising realtors.

Over the last 18 months, I have met and advised more than 30 property buyers at their retirement age. Out of these property buyers, majority said they wished that their property still would appreciate in value over the long term so that they can pass on a valuable property to their children. Therefore, depending on one’s property purchase goals, property selection is critical.

  1. THEY RUSH TO BUY THEIR REPLACEMENT HOME

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The above two points are related to this. Often, armed with suitcases of cash (sales proceeds) en-bloc owners are eager to look for a replacement property because en-bloc owners usually need to move out of their home within 3-6 months notice. They may not be patient enough while looking for a good house, and sometimes succumb to time pressure if they are not able to find that dream house. In 2019, there will be a tsunami of new launches from both Government land sales (GLS) and En-bloc redevelopment.

I have heard and personally know some elderly who bought houses in a rush only to regret 6 months later. In today’s market, a property is almost illiquid in the first few years due to Sellers’ stamp duty payable, therefore it is extremely important to take time to make a informed decision especially if this is going to be one’s final home (I assume that many en-bloc owners in this wave are retirees).

OUR VIEWS

The largest en-bloc wave from 2005-2007 made many property owners wealthy and some not so wealthy. What en-bloc owners do with their proceeds from the en-bloc sale is crucial in determining their future wealth and retirement lifestyles.

Even before I became a broker, I am happy to have been able to assist my family, relatives and even family friends with re-investment suggestions that tremendously benefited them after they received their en-bloc sales proceeds. They bought a good property, diversified their wealth and are today living a comfortable lifestyle. Everyone is different, but if you want to retiree happily, live in a good property that you look forward to go back to after every long holiday, your children and your grand children look forward to gather at every weekend, then taking care of your financial health after an en-bloc is very important. When your financial health takes care of itself, you can focus on your physical health and spending quality time with your loved ones, because we all know – life is short.

Don’t allow yourself or people you care that had their property en-bloc make the worst decision of their life! Share this article with them so that more people are aware. As long as one person benefitted from this article, this article has reached its objective.

Once a development gets en-bloc, there will be people who come by with ideas for property, insurance, investments, etc, all targeting en-bloc owners. Instead of getting swept off with their promises, it is crucial to take time to reconsider and seek third party opinions, and do an overall financial health check and risk scenario assessment. Then revisit these proposals and see if these are suitable.

I hope that Part I of this en-bloc mini-series is informational for you. If you like to find out what you can do with your en-bloc sales proceeds whether or not you already have a house to stay, or have other investments, stay tuned for PART II of the mini-series about “What every en-bloc owner MUST know about the property market”. Click here to read!

 

 

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