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Thread: Reaching the end of the road

  1. #1
    mr funny is offline Any complaints please PM me
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    May 2006

    Default Reaching the end of the road

    Feb 13, 2010

    home & garden

    Reaching the end of the road

    The lease of these private homes in Upper Boon Keng expires in 10 years, but residents are not in a hurry to move

    By tay suan chiang

    In a day and age where home owners move house whenever possible for a variety of reasons - to be near schools and grandparents, to make their money work for them - retiree Yang Zheng Cai is a rarity.

    He may just outlive the house he has lived in for 50 years. At 73, he is hale and hearty, looking in better shape than the two-storey terrace house in Upper Boon Keng Road, where the lease will expire in about 10 years' time.

    His home is one of about 250 terrace houses in what is believed to be one of Singapore's cheapest private housing estate because the land, which had an original lease of 60 years, will return to the Government in 2020.

    The area, on which the decades clearly have taken its toll, has been zoned for residential use under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2008.

    Mr Eric Cheng, chief executive of ECG Property, says these homes with built-up areas of about 1,300 sq ft, cost only about $170,000 to $180,000 each.

    That amount cannot buy even a resale four-room HDB flat in many places.

    Should the area be turned into condominium homes, he says homes there can fetch from $900 to $1,050 per square foot because it is close to town and the Boon Keng MRT station. For units on higher floors, residents can enjoy unblocked views of the city. This estimate is based on the price of nearby condominiums such as The Waterina.

    Other residential areas with less than 40 years left on their leasehold include a stretch of homes near Rail Mall in Upper Bukit Timah, Jalan Chempaka Kuning in Bedok and in the Rifle Range Road area.

    A spokesman for the Singapore Land Authority says: 'The Government's policy is to allow leases to expire without extension. In land-scarce Singapore, we need to recover land upon lease expiry to re-allocate it to meet fast-changing socio-economic needs.'

    Is there any value at all in property in these places? Yes, says Mr Cheng.

    'Those with cash for investment can consider getting a unit in Upper Boon Keng as the rental yield is high,' he says. Given the short lease, banks are not likely to grant loans.

    Owners can rent out the units for about $3,000 a month, so they could make up to $360,000 in the remaining time before the lease expires.

    At its peak in 2007, a unit sold for $200,000.

    Mr Yang did not consider selling his house, even when it could have fetched such prices - not least because of his emotional attachment to it.

    The home owner, the fourth of six children, inherited the intermediate terrace property from his late father. He has two sisters living along the same street.

    Now he lives with his wife, a housewife who wants to be known only as Madam Chen, and their three grandchildren aged 13 to 21. Madam Chen, 72, moved in 50 years ago when the couple got married. They have three children.

    The area used to be a kampung and MrYang's family then lived in an attap house which his father rented.

    After a fire destroyed the kampung, the Government in 1960 built homes for the kampung residents and Mr Yang's family bought one for about $5,000 - a high price then but his businessman father could afford it when he made a tidy sum.

    Mr Yang, who used to own a timber company, recalls playing with his friends after school and catching crabs nearby.

    In the early days, most of the residents in the area were Chinese and they often looked out for one another. Front gates and doors were often left unlocked as the area was so safe.

    Today, most houses have been converted into temples or rented out to contractors to use as dormitories for foreign workers. High-rise HDB flats and flatted factories have also popped up.

    Only about 10 per cent of the homes are occupied by home owners, who are mostly retirees.

    To anyone walking through the estate, it is clear that most of the homes have seen better days, although owners have renovated them through the years, turning their backyards into bigger kitchens and front yards into porches.

    Mr Yang says it has been 20 years since he last renovated his home, and he cannot remember how much he spent and exactly what he did.

    The predominance of foreign workers in the area does not bother him. 'I have no problems with them living next door as they leave for work early and come back late. We do not get any disturbances and the area is peaceful and very safe.'

    Mr Cheong Hiong Yau, 92, a former coffee-shop owner, is another long-time resident in the estate.

    He has been living here for the past 75 years, currently with his wife, Mrs Cheong Siao Ngor, 83, and their maid in their double-storey terrace house.

    He says he likes living here because of its convenient location. The Upper Boon Keng wet market is a five-minute walk away and there is a supermarket nearby too. He often takes his dog for walks around the quiet neighbourhood.

    In previous years, he says there would be lion dances in the neighbourhood during Chinese New Year. 'There still are now, but not as many troupes come by.'

    Although he does not like heights, he will 'move in to live with one of my sons in his apartment in Jalan Besar' when the lease on his current home ends.

    Mr Yang's plans are similar, insofar as he has made any at all. He takes comfort in knowing that his son is living in an HDB flat a three-minute walk away. 'Perhaps I will move in with him so it feels as if I have not left this place,' he says.

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    Quiet and convenient

    The residential estate surrounding the popular Bedok Shopping Complex is another area with a short lease left on the homes.

    There are about 110 homes, a mix of semi-detached and terrace houses in Bedok Road, Jalan Chempaka Kuning and Jalan Chempaka Puteh that have 26 years remaining on the lease of the land.

    The land belonged to the late Koh Sek Lim, a property owner, after whom a road off Upper Changi is named.

    It was reported that he sold a 70- year lease for the land in the 1960s to developers who built and marketed houses. He reportedly made HSBC bank the trustee of the land before his death.

    The home owners here are a mix of middle-aged families and retirees. Among them is Mr Jesson Ong, 51, who owns a renovation company and counts the residents as his clients.

    He has been living in a two-storey semi-detached home in Bedok Road for the last 20 years with his wife and their three school-going children.

    It did not bother him then that when he bought the house, it had only 47 years left on its lease.

    'The area is peaceful with good neighbours. It was a good deal, I would not be able to own such a home elsewhere,' he says, declining to reveal how much he paid for the home which sits on 4,000 sq ft of land.

    Among other things, he appreciates being within walking distance of Bedok Shopping Complex, where his office is located. There is also a food centre and a supermarket nearby.

    Another resident, a 70-year-old retiree who wants to be known only as Mr Loh, moved into his semi-detached home about eight years ago, paying about $280,000 for it.

    The low price made up for the limited leasehold. Moreover, he likes the area for its convenience, with the expressways, such as Pan Island Expressway and East Coast Parkway nearby. It is also just a 10-minute walk to the Tanah Merah MRT station.

    Mr Loh, who lives with his home- maker wife, says he was recently offered $600,000 for his home.

    But he rejected the offer and has no plans to move. 'Where would we move to?' he asks.

    Property experts say such homes, with about 26 years lease left on them, can fetch about $370,000 each.

    Other residents that Life! spoke to say they have not made plans for when the lease expires.

    One resident, who declined to be named, would say only that he 'hopes for the best'. Another is adopting a 'wait-and-see' approach.

    Mr Ong says he likes the neighbourhood and will live there till the lease expires. He says: 'Only the bank will know what will happen to the land when the lease expires. The fate of the property and land is in the good hands of the beneficiary.'

    Tay Suan Chiang

  2. #2
    xebay11 is offline New Launch Project Specialist
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by mr funny

    A spokesman for the Singapore Land Authority says: 'The Government's policy is to allow leases to expire without extension. In land-scarce Singapore, we need to recover land upon lease expiry to re-allocate it to meet fast-changing socio-economic needs.'.......In other words, forget the "meet fast-changing socio-economic needs" is all about money $$$ and it is very clear that the intention is so that the PAP can make more money from land....and not the small fry 99 yr LH owners.

    Tay Suan Chiang
    99 year LH property owners take note, it is a very clear warning that in future the Govt may not grant lease top ups to developers at all, killing off any chance of any en bloc sales, so 99 LH property owners may end up with worthless properties after 30 to 40 years. That is why I NEVER take chances with 99 yr LH properties.
    Last edited by xebay11; 21-02-10 at 00:45.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    The government said may.. u know what it means?

    Anyway things are never so certain in future, what makes you think that the government will be the same government? Look at US... Nothing is for sure man...

    Live the current day and enjoy it while you live, who knows ur time is up tomorrow... FH good for grave.

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