May 2007

May 27, 2007

No roof for expats

With HDB ( public housing ) in great demand, those without housing allowance find high rents hard to bear
Renting a home is becoming near impossible for many expatriates. Spikes in property rentals – especially for government housing  – have mostly affected those who do not receive housing allowance and generally make less than $5000 a month. It does not seem to matter if units are in far-flung locations, nowhere near amenities, and far from MRT stations.

The situation has got to such a point that it is driving some such as Indian national Yogesh Powale, to give up altogether and send his family back to India. Mr Powale spent three months searching for a rental flat when he arrived in November last year. He hound a three-room HDB flat in Bishan, which he rented for $1500 in January.

But after four months of living there, the 37 year old IT consultant has found cost too high. " I’m earning $4000 and paying $1500 for rent alone. It’s not feasible," he explained. Now without his wife and one young daughter, he has moved to another Bishan three room HDB flat, which he shares with two other friends and pays $450 of the $1350 monthly rent.

Like Mr Powale, others too are having problems finding rentals within their means. Property agents say they are mostly from China, India and the Philippines, and are usually here with their families. The problem is supply. Last year alone, the<strong> expat population here grew by 9.7 per cent from 798000 to 875000. Not all can afford to rent private properties, which are in abundance, because rental options can cost more than their wages.

A 760 sq ft apartment ( like a 1 room or studio ) in the East Coast – puny for families – can start at about $2500, while a two bedroom Jurong ( a not so popular part of Singapore )apartment can easily cost $3000 a month.

As many as 20 property agents reported that demand for HDB is now so high, they sometimes have trouble coping with calls, which can number as many as 30 in an hour. Units are snapped up within two days of being advertised in The Straits Times ( Singapore main newspaper ) and interested parties start calling as early as sunrise.

Property agent S.C Ong said: "Even when the flats is in Jurong, my phone can start ringing from as early as 7.30am". Singaporeans themselves are competing for HDB rental units, many sold their private property to make a quick buck from the boom and are looking for a place to live, said Ms May Tan, a rental specialist. They are waiting for prices to dip before buying a new house. While waiting, they rent HDB flats, she explained.

Until more flats come up for rental, finding a place to stay will remain tough. Indian national Raj Ragavan, a project manager, spent two months searching before landing himself a three room flat in Bedok. Said the 42 year old, "Whenever I viewed flats, there would be at least 10 other expats viewing the same unit at the same time."

(extracted from the Sunday times 27 May 2007)
By: Nur Dianah SUhaimi and Cheryl Tan

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May 22, 2007

Internet Security

Ever experience the pain of discovering that your laptop is infected with VIRUS? When you try to retrieve or save some important information in your database like contacts, emails and pictures etc…. but its too late?

It happens to me once, and its really a very painful experience. If you are currently not protected by a INTERNET SECURITY software, may I suggest you quickly do so. Having an anti virus is good but is not enough to block out all the spam, worms, trojans, spywares etc… especially if you are into MSN messenger or social bookmark sites like MYSPACE, YOUTUBE …etc.

If you find your PC slowing down gradually in its performance, chances are very high that some form of unwanted spywares, trojans has enter your system and is slowing down its performance.

Your chance of being infected is much higher if you are using a broadband connection. Get protected only with the best in the market, I’m using the latest Norton 360, comes with features such as :

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  • Antispyware
  • Antiphishing
  • Online identity protection
  • Web site authentication
  • Two Way Firewall
  • 2GB secure online storage

I especially likes the 2gb online storage, which means even if my pc crashes and is beyond repair, my critical data is still safe and can be retrieve from the norton’s server. Click on the link below to get a copy today, its the best insurance you can buy to ensure happy and safe online surfing.

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May 15, 2007

Rental Boom – Pay up or get out!

This article was extracted from the Sunday times on 13 May 2007.

Hopefully, it will help you to understand why your landlord is asking for

more rent this year. And gives you an idea of how much new tenants are

paying for their rentals.

_________________________

Rental boom allows landlords to jack up prices and demand :" Pay more or

get out ". Tenants feel the heat, with some forced to downgrade, as rents

of private units spike.

When the lease on her River Valley apartment came up for renewal, 31

year old operations manager Jordan Brumby was told her rent was going

up by $1000 a month – an increase of 55 per cent from the $1800 she

used to pay.

It was appalling, but the Australian, who now pays $2800 a month for a

three bedroom unit at Nathanville, felt she had no choice because

"everything else was much dearer and not as attractive"

After about eight years of stagnation, the rental market has been picking

up steadlily in recent months. Bad new for tenants, good news for

owners. Urban Redevelopment Authority ( URA ) figures show that private

residential property rents rose 7.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year

compared with a 5.3 per cent increase in the last quarter of last year.

Property agents said that since last year, rents have gone up by at least

20 per cent to 30 per cent across the island, and not just in the prime

central districts such as Orchard, Newton and Tanglin.

According to figures from property agency ERA, rents in the western parts

of Singapore such as Bukit Batok and West Coast have increased 28 per

cent, while rents in eastern areas like Tampines and Pasir Ris have risen

23 per cent. Although rental prices have surpassed the last high in 2000,

they have yet to break the 1998 records.

But ERA assistant vice president Eugene Lim predicts that "at the rate we

are going, there may be a new record high this year". Mr Lim said the

buoyant rental market is due to strong demand from foreigners. And

generally, when the economy is good, as with other bustling cities like

Hong Kong and London, "there are more expatriates who need homes"

said Mr Mohamed Ismail, CEO of property agency PropNex.

High demand is clashing with limited supply, due to the " fall in stock of

property available for lease due to collective sales ", said Mr Lim. He

added that the market has lost about 6000 units in the past two years. In

contrast, the nunber of foreigners coming to Singapore grew by 9.7 per

cent last year to 875000, the biggest leap in six years.

While tenants feel the squeeze, landlord like Madam Jenny Khoo are

celebrating. Madam Khoo rented out her 1340 sq ft apartment at Tanglin

Park for $3100 a month last year. This year, a new tenant was willing to

pay $5200, an increase of nearly 70 per cent. "We were expecting more

rent, but we didn’t expect it to be so high", said the housewife.

Suddenly, it is no longer a buyer’s market and landlords have the luxury of

adopting a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, forcing many tenants to

downgrade. "About a third of my pay now goes to rent and it’s burning a

hole in my pocket," said Miss Brumby. "I’m really startig to regret it."

Aritcle by Melissa Sim

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