Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Can't Get BTO Flat? What Are The Other Options Available?

Applying for a BTO may not be as easy as it seems with many couples trying many times and still can't get the flat they want. BTO stands for Build To Order where the government will launch new flats every 3 months for couples to try their luck in getting one of the units. The November 2016 BTO was especially hot with good areas such as Bedok, Kallang and Bidadari (Toa Payoh). All these locations were right beside the MRT and needless to say, all were oversubscribed with the highest at 9.7 times oversubscribed for Kallang Residences. The results of the BTO were out just last week.

Besides the difficulty to get a flat under the BTO scheme, couples still need to wait approximately 3-4 years for the flat to be completed. This seems like a long time and delays marriage plans for any couple. Taking into consideration the challenges, are there any other options which couples can go for besides getting a BTO? There are indeed some other options and we shall take a look at it in this article. 



Can't Get BTO Flat? What Are The Other Options Available?

I'm sure everyone will agree a flat is important for a couple to have their own private space. Some may say its ok to live together with parents or in laws but honestly, who doesn't want their own home when they get married? Yes, an option if you can't get the BTO, is to stay together with your parents or in laws. If both are fine, then this is a fuss free choice and the couple can then slowly apply for the BTO of their choice and have all the time to wait until they get the flat and for the flat to be completed. 

If staying at parents or in laws house doesn't work, the other option is to get a resale flat. Hold on... getting a resale flat does it mean I won't get the subsidies which BTO has? Will I forfeit my chance of getting a BTO if I buy a resale flat? What are the other considerations?


Buying a resale flat

The advantages of buying a resale flat is you can choose any locations you want. You can source for the best property and go house hunting to make better decisions for the purchase. Yes resale flats are definitely more expensive. A 4 room resale flat in Ang Mo Kio cost $600,000 to $750,000 while in Serangoon, it cost about $480,000 to $620,000. Of course we can also look at less centralised areas like Hougang which cost $380,000 to $520,000. All the properties are located near to MRT.

A BTO in similiar areas will cost about $50,000-$100,000 cheaper as they are subsidised flats. For resale flats, there are also subsidies for first time buyers but there are certain conditions to take note of. 

Do take note that if you're purchasing the resale flat under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, you must:
  • Register your marriage with the Registry of Civil Marriages or Registry of Muslim Marriages
  • Submit your marriage certificate to HDB within 3 months from resale completion date 
If applying for CPF Housing Grant:
  • You must submit your marriage certificate on or before the resale completion date

Subsidies for resale flats

With resale flats at higher prices, the government also provides subsidies for home buyers. Here are the subsidies for resale flats:

Family Grant

The grant available for this scheme is $30,000. To be eligible, your household income must not exceed $12,000 (revised from $10,000 before 24 August 2015). You must be a Singaporean and form a family nucleus with another Singaporean or PR. This grant is only available for first time home buyers.

Additional CPF housing Grants

Families who earn up to $5000 will be eligible for additional housing grants under this scheme. The maximum grant available is $40,000 for those with less than $1500 monthly household income and minimum $5000 for household earning $4,501 - $5,000.

Proximity Housing Grant

Under this scheme, you can receive $20,000 in grant.

The eligibility criteria is:

Your parents/ married child are:
  • living with you in the resale flat
  • living in an HDB flat in the same town or within 2km
  • owner-occupants of private property in the same town or within 2km
If you fulfil all the above 3 criteria, you can get as much as $55,000-$90,000 in grants to buy your resale flat. This is quite a lot of subsidies. 


Disadvantages of resale flats

Even though resale flats provide the flexibility to choose and don't need to wait a long time for it, there are also some disadvantages. Firstly, choosing a good location for a resale flat is important. This is in case you want to sell it in the future. Buying a resale flat in a bad location may mean it is harder to sell it in the future. 

Secondly, some of the resale flats may be very old and their lease may be left less than 50 years only. A short lease makes it harder for other buyers to take loan from the bank and thus affects the number of buyers who can purchase your flat. This makes it difficult for selling later too. 

If buying a resale flat, it is better to choose a good location and a flat which is not too old. 

Will buying resale affect my chances of getting BTO in the future? 

Some couples may think of buying a resale flat to stay first temporarily and then try for BTO again later. In this case, will it affect your chances of getting a BTO?

Some rules which we need to take note of is when we buy a resale flat, we have to fulfil a minimum occupation period (MOP) of 5 years. This means we can only sell the house after 5 years. 

If you do not want your chances of getting a BTO to be affected, you should buy a resale flat without taking the CPF housing grants. It is stated clearly on HDB website that your BTO will be treated as a first-timer application if you and any of the other listed owners and essential occupiers meet the following criteria:
  • Not the owner of a flat bought from HDB, or an EC/ DBSS flat bought from a developer
  • Not sold a flat bought from HDB, or an EC/ DBSS flat bought from a developer
  • Not received any CPF Housing Grant for the purchase of an HDB resale flat
  • Not taken any form of housing subsidy (e.g. benefitted under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) or HUDC estate privatisation)
It is clear that if we have received any CPF housing grants for the purchase of a resale flat, we will not be considered as a first time applicants for a BTO later on.

The Next Steps

Discussing with your partner is important if you didn't manage to get the BTO in the last exercise. There are certainly other options available which we can go for. The important thing is to plan long term as buying a house is a long term commitment. 

Looking to buy a property? Here's Your Complete Guide To Buying A Property In Singapore

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016 and Hello 2017

I thought of just writing some thoughts down before the year 2016 comes to an end. This year has been a year of breakthrough with my new job starting on 3rd January next year. It will be a total change in industry and job scope which I'm both excited and worried about.

For this year, I had 2 overseas trips, one to Taiwan with my girlfriend and her family and another one in Hong Kong with my girlfriend also but with my family. In terms of health, I've been exercising more, going to the gym at least once a week but however, I've also been falling sick more. Even right now while writing this, I'm still having a very bad sore throat and flu.

I've been working very hard this year, sometimes late till the night and on weekends too. It seems like work doesn't end for me and endless of emails to reply and tasks to do. Nevertheless, I had the rewards of working harder and manage to save more even though expenses doubled again this year.

For investments, I've accumulated more companies such as Telcos like Singtel, banks like DBS, REITs like Capitaland Mall Trust, Frasers Centrepoint trust, CDL Hospitality Trust all which have been beaten down to attractive valuations. I'm looking forward to accumulating more in 2017 when the market starts in the new year. 2016 has been a relatively good investing year with my XIRR at 9.78%, an improvement from the 6.10% in 2015. Dividends collected this year was around $2000+.

I will be writing another post on my review of my financial goals in 2016 in detailed and also my goals for 2017. Stay tune for the next post in 2017. The new year will be full of great plans and reaching the next milestone of my life. It is stressful but I am prepared to face it positively. Life will definitely be better.

Here's wishing all readers a wonderful Happy New Year in 2017! Let's bid 2016 goodbye and start the new year afresh.


Woods Square Offices - The first office development in Woodlands Regional Centre


New Launch!


The first office development in Woodlands Regional Centre


  • Integrated office development with retail, F&B and childcare centre
  • Located in the center of Woodlands' transformation - a Singapore government-led initiative
  • Connected to two MRT lines - North-South Line and Thomson-East Coast Line
  • Only 1 MRT Station ride to upcoming Singapore-Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System (RTS)
  • No ABSD. No SSD.

* This is a sponsored post 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Japan Rail Cafe @ Tanjong Pagar Centre - Unique Place For Japanese food

I've always been interested in Japan, both as an investment choice and also their culture and food. Me and my girlfriend went down to this new cafe called Japan rail café. We have always been a fan of Japanese food from sushi to sashimi and ramen. There are so many Japanese food to choose from in Singapore but I would say Japan Rail Café is the most unique of them all.

Japan Rail café has an interesting concept. It is not your normal neighbourhood Japanese restaurant. Firstly, they don't have sushi. Secondly, they don't have ramen. You might be thinking what kind of Japanese Café is this without all the mainstream Japanese dishes?

Here is a sneak peak of their menu:



As you can see, the menu consist of mostly Japan western style of food such as burgers. They also have rice bowls which is eaten quite uniquely. I've never eaten a Jap rice bowl like this before. I will elaborate on this in awhile.

Before I go into the details of the food, let me give you some details of Japan Rail Cafe. This cafe is actually opened by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). The new travel themed café is located on the level 1 of Tanjong Pagar Centre, the tallest building connected to Tanjong Pagar MRT Station.

Aiming to promote travel to Japan, JAPAN RAIL CAFE will provide Japan lovers with a one stop Japan-like experience including the latest Japanese products such as trendy items and convenient rail ticketing service for Japan rail passes. It will also serve as a platform to communicate unique information to Singaporeans on the less known travel destinations in Japan.




The cafe is quite cosy and not too big. It is really ideal for couples on a date as well as family and friends hanging out. I manage to talk to the owner of this cafe and found out the concept behind it. The unique point of the cafe is the menu changes every month with different theme for each month. For the month of December, they featured the place in Japan called Tohoku. Never heard it before? That was the purpose for Japan Rail Cafe to introduce less known places in Japan to promote travelling to these places.


The menu is designed in newspaper format. In it are interesting facts of the featured place in Japan such as the popular foods, the scenery and sights which can be seen there. I looked through the newspaper menu and found quite a lot of scenic places in Tohoku to visit. You can find the place on Google and see how beautiful the place is. Tohoku is actually between Tokyo and Sapporo (Hokkaido).

Now, for the food, I ordered their recommended "The Ultimate ABC burger" while my girlfriend got the Twin Flavoured Crispy Chicken Don. A.B.C in the burger stands for Avocado, Bacon and cheddar cheese.

The Ultimate ABC burger

The Ultimate ABC burger

The burger's patty is actually 160g of juicy Wagyu beef. To me, the burger paid attention to details and was cooked near to perfection. Wagyu beef is known to be very soft and it is different from normal beef. I've tried other Wagyu beef before and sadly this was not the best Wagyu beef I've tried but overall, it tasted really good with the cheese, avocado and bacon.

The bread was very special and one of the best bread I've every eaten before. See how soft the bun is in the picture. I was wondering why the bread tasted so good and I realised they used Asanoya's original soft buns. This is a 80+ year old Japanese bakery which is known to make one of the finest bread in the world.

The portion was really big and I couldn't finish the wedges which were the sides for the dish. They probably had about 15 pieces of wedges on the plate which was too filling after eating the burger. The sides can be customised and you can choose from other sides such as fries, or soup. If wedges is too filling for you, maybe the soup will go along well with the huge burger.

Twin Flavoured Crispy Chicken Don

For my girlfriend. she had this Crispy chicken dish which was also very huge! She is a fan of fried chicken especially KFC popcorn chicken so this dish appealed to her. The whole chicken on the plate covered all the rice below. I manage to try some and the chicken was fried nicely and not dry at all. The rice was of very good quality Japanese rice too.

The dish is no ordinary fried chicken dish. If you see in my picture, there is a tea pot behind the bowl. This tea port is not for drinking tea but to go along with the rice bowl. In it is some rich soup which was quite tasty when poured into the rice. The right way to eat is to only pour the soup into the rice after eating halfway so we get to try the rice with and without soup.

Soup in the tea pot

My girlfriend was impressed with the elegance of the dish with the presentation and special way to eat it. They also had a small plate of sesame seeds, seaweed and fish roe to go with the rice. Delicious!!



Pouring the soup into the rice bowl

Mixing the small plate in
Our dishes for the night

For drinks, my girlfriend had the Kuromitsu Kinako Latte and I had the Uji-Maccha Latte. The Kuromitsu Kinako Latte as described in the menu is a transformation of Japanese sweets into latte using Kuromitsu (black honey) and Kinako (soybean powder). For the Uji-Maccha latte, it is basically maccha tea or green tea which we more commonly know it as. I tried the tea and it had a very rich flavour which I really like a lot.

Uji-Maccha Latte
Kuromitsu Kinako Latte

After having a nice meal, me and girlfriend headed to the front section of the cafe to see the retail stuff on sale and I also noticed they do sell various Japan travel tickets there such as the Japan rail pass (JR pass) and even Disneyland Tokyo tickets are sold there.


Japan Rail models

Japan Food and drinks for sale

Some unique bags for sale. Don't be deceived by the traditional looks of it. As what I heard, some Japanese woman have to wait a few months just to get the bag

Interesting cloths which can be framed up in a photo frame. You can buy different cloths to change the it in the frame

Japan railway line in the cafe

Here's where you can buy your Japan rail pass

Some clothes for sale. Look ordinary but costs hundreds of dollars per piece

Cloths in photo frame again

Some gifts for sale

Tourist brochures for Japan

Explaining which pass to get if you're travelling in Japan

Tokyo Disneyland tickets are sold here as well

Application forms for JR pass
Overall, it was a good experience with friendly staff and good environment in the cafe. I felt they paid close attention to details and make sure guests have an enjoyable time in the cafe with good food and ambience. Thanks to Japan Rail Café for inviting us to try out their food.

If you love Japan too, why not drop by this place to experience it yourself. The menu and theme changes every month so do check out their Facebook page here to see what new things they have in store.

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat: 11am to 9pm
Sun & PH: 11am to 8pm

Japan Rail Pass Counter: 11am-8pm daily

Address:
Tanjong Pagar Centre, Level 1
5 Wallich Street, #01-20 Tanjong Pagar Centre,
Singapore 078883

Directions: Alight at Tanjong Pagar MRT Station (Green Line EW15) and enter Tanjong Pagar Centre B2 directly in front of the fare gate. Take the escalator up to level 1 and the cafe is located just outside the building on your left.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Days Trip In Hong Kong and Macau - Day 2

Day 2 of Hong Kong was all about Disneyland. Disneyland is located in Lantau Island which is near to the airport. To get there, Simply take the MTR and transfer at sunny bay station to the Disney resort line. There is a special Disney themed train to take you straight to Disneyland.

Before heading to Disneyland, we went for breakfast at the famous Australian Diary company. As Disneyland only opens at 10:30am, we had quite a lot of time in the morning.





As expected, Australian Diary company had a queue outside. But, do not be deceived by the queue and think that the waiting time will be very long. We went in after about 5 minutes wait only even though there were about 15 people in front of us. This place is also famous for the lousy service which I already prepared myself for it. When we went it, the place was cramp and then someone came to order. They kept rushing us and asking us to hurry up to say our orders. Luckily my mum knows some Cantonese so she could help us to talk to the waiter there.

Food wise, we ordered their famous scrambled egg with bread and also their macaroni plus their tea. Another thing we tried was the steam milk with egg white. It was good but after eating too much it can get quite disgusting because of the strong taste. Recommended are the scrambled eggs and just order 1 bowl of the steam milk to share. It will be better this way.

Disneyland was the main place for today. After buying some breads from a bakery shop, we headed to Disneyland and reached just before 1030am.


On the way to Disneyland



Disneyland entrance. It was starting to get crowded even before it opens






Main Street USA





The icon of Disneyland, the sleeping beauty castle just like in the fairy tale

There are 7 themed lands in Hong Kong Disneyland:
  1. Main street USA
  2. Adventureland
  3. Grizzly Gulch
  4. Mystic Point
  5. Toy Story Land
  6. Fantasyland
  7. Tomorrowland
An up and coming attraction, Iron man, is still under construction. Everyone becomes a child in Disneyland. I was very impressed with how well run the place is and how beautifully decorated it is. The rides are pretty mild there which is definitely suitable for children. There are some thrill rides which adults can take too. 

I grew up watching Disney shows so it was like going back to childhood. I even played Toy story PC games last time.

Look how beautiful Toy Story land is

Oh yes, I forgot to mention inside Disneyland there are some theatre shows too. I only manage to catch the Lion king one which was quite nice and a good break from all the walking. There are also Micky mouse and star wars shows.

Lion King Show


Then we went to took some ride called its a small world. I believe all of us heard the its a small world song when we were young. Its known as the happiest ride in Disneyland.


There is also this buzz lightyear ride we took. Its an interactive ride where we have to shoot on some targets. My girlfriend got so much points which I don't know how she did it.


There was a Christmas evening program as it was near Christmas already. After Mickey and team did some waving and dancing, the whole place snowed. Yes it literally snowed although its man made.



After the Christmas light up, we went for dinner. This must be one of the most costliest dinner. It cost about $130 for 5 of us with just 4 dishes. Nevertheless, its quite good food with big portions. The place is called Plaza Inn which is just right at the end of Main Street USA. Try it if you're there.



After dinner, its the much awaited "Disney Paint the Night" Nighttime Spectacular. This parade is definitely a must watch. It is so beautiful and one of the best parades I've every watched.













To end off Disneyland, the "Disney In The Stars" Fireworks is not to be missed. Really beautiful with the Disney Music and fireworks over the sleeping beauty castle.




I think we took most of the rides in Disneyland throughout the day but I didn't took photos of all the rides so did not mention in my post. Disneyland closed at 8:30pm and we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the next day which will be spent in Macau. Stay tuned!