Sunday, April 04, 2010

Speculation driving up costs.

There are lots of things driving up prices of everything in Singapore nowadays. A few people are profiting while a lot are bearing the consequences.

1) COE trading.

On which country do you buy a piece a paper to allow you to own a vehicle? Yes, you guessed it -- in Singapore. This paper is sometimes worth 4 times the market value of the car, and without it, you cannot drive your car on the road.

Who benefits at the end. The government. By allowing people to speculate and buy these pieces of papers, releasing news and rules which people do not understand, many who are uninformed will inevitably fall into this trap of "buying a car now" or the price will go up.

I've talked to a speculator, who claimed to have bought more than 50 COE (Certificate of entitlement) in February and March, claimed to have made more than $500,000 thus far as the prices of these COE skyrocketed from about $20,000 to about $40,000 now. ($20k for each COE, he could have made more than $1MM)

What has LTA (Land Transport Authority) done to stop this? Absolutely nothing. It seem that as prices of this paper goes up, they are to gain from the high COE prices. Does this in return give us a better public transport system in Singapore or better roads? -- Not really. Where does all the extra revenue go?

The COE system, the OPC (Off Peak Car) and many other mind boggling rules set by the LTA is generally not understood by the public, and people actually do hire consultants to understand this better. When buying a car or choosing which scheme to get is so complex, the public lose.

Tip: Take a bus or a train.

2) Housing Speculation

Whenever there is a new condominium released in Singapore, there are a lot of speculators snapping up the demand. As more immigrants and foreign workers, students come into Singapore, they inevitably drive up housing cost.

When HDB (Housing and Development Board) decides that public housing are subjected to market prices and new public housing or leased hold flats are being offered to the public, they cost $600,000. There is never enough housing, hence prices have no where to go but up.

For those who are married and need to buy a home. Good luck. Live with your parents or in Far Far Away land. Say hi to the Gingerbreadman for me. When HDB prices hit $900,000, it is time to pack up and leave.

3) Retail Space Sub-Subletting

I've heard many rumors about this and I am starting to believe it. When a company like Sheng Siong leases a Market from the government, they subsequently do little renovation and increase the rent -- significantly.

Just think of all the local coffee shops, food courts that you see. There is often renovation and prices of the food goes up. Are these renovations really necessary? For the hawker centers, markets and food courts. Really, does it change anything?

Yes, rent. When rent goes up, food prices goes up.

The problem is when there is a market value for a store, say $6,000 a month, when someone rents it for $1,500, they would then sub-lease it again for $3,000 and they would not work and earn $1,500 a month. Then this person may then sublease it for another $2,000 profit, making it to be about $5,000 a month.

As many Singaporean are being displaced from their jobs by "foreign talents" some become hawkers, and they would have to sell a lot just to pay the rent. Unless they own the place. Otherwise, rent become the significant part of their expenses.

Hey its just market price to some, but in the end, food prices are rising, while income remains stagnant.

All in all, in this top down society, nothing much can be done. You cannot protest, you cannot gather to talk in public. If it benefits the government, nothing will be done as the people who are suffering either don't know about it, or feel too powerless and have given up.

I guess when prices go up, the government would say our standard of living has increased. This is a good thing right?

-- Iron Bowl


COE System not working to plan

Property buyers not deterred by speculation curbs

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