Friday, September 21, 2007

For a few dollars more

MP Irene Ng waxed poetic in Parliament yesterday when she said that the sometimes very messy en bloc sales activities of late was a "tangled tale of greed, fear, love and betrayal".

I can understand there there was a lot of greed, fear and betrayal, but love in these very acrimonious times? What must the recently married Ms Irene Ng be thinking about? But of course she wasn't romanticising the whole en bloc sales phenomenon, which has been anything but. So what was she referring to? She must be talking about the love of money. Yes, yes, that's it, couldn't be anything else, not least anything to do with the Scottish Highlands. After all, isn't this the sole reason driving so many otherwise sane and sensible people to give up their apartments 'for a few dollars more' (Sergio Leone, 1967, starring Clint Eastwood), even when they have yet to secure an alternative accommodation? (Yeah, I can't help romanticising about that spaghetti western classic of a movie. It does show your age, though).

Well, yes, there are plenty of apartments in Singapore, but there is one caveat - you must be able to swallow the sky high price tags, especially when you plan to rent.

The Math is getting simpler nowadays:

sell high + (rent high|buy high) = (0 net benefit whatsoever) X (multiple grief),

i.e. you end up with nothing, zilch, numero zero, lingdan.

Unless you already have another spare apartment somewhere else. But not everyone is fortunate or rich enough to have spare apartments or spare cash. Even among the 80% or so of the people that agree to an en bloc sale, I would venture to guess that maybe 80% DO NOT have spare apartments nor enough spare cash. How then would an en bloc sale benefit the majority is a mystery to me. Perhaps that's where the romantic part comes in - you find yourself in a desert one day and you have to find that dream home all over again. This is going to be an adventure like no other. Along the way, you hope not to encounter too many mirages, but you need to be prepared, just like in the old wild west.

To these sojourners, my best wishes to you. Just don't let the rattlesnake bite. Unfortunately you won't have C. Eastwood for company. His last western, Unforgiven (1992), was done 15 years ago.

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