Posts Tagged ‘property’

A big fail of a story

In News Reports, Writing on December 4, 2014 at 1:59 am

This post is for those interested in journalism or those who fancy themselves “professional’’ readers. I am putting this up because I don’t understand how or why the story made it into the public domain.

This is the headline in BT yesterday: Spanish tycoon pays $4,100-plus psf for pair of Seven Palms Sentosa Cove units.


The overall Sentosa Cove condo market may be languishing, but SC Global Developments is understood to have sold two units at its Seven Palms Sentosa Cove at what could be a record price in the waterfront housing district: $4,100-plus per square foot. The overall lump sum works out to $28.55 million.

Now, it is the job of journalists to verify and confirm. The intro is an uncertain intro (understood/what could be a record), despite the impression given by the headline. It’s perfectly okay to say it is understood if you tell me “how’’ you understand and if requisite checks have been done. That is, was SC Global Developments contacted? Some way to check caveats? Who/what is the source? The story doesn’t even say “sources’’.

Spanish tycoon Ricardo Portabella Peralta is thought to be the buyer of two neighbouring units on the third-level of the four story condo, which is flanked by Tanjong beach on one side with the adjacent greens of the Sentosa Golf Course, and the South China Sea on the other. Mr Peralta is chairman of Groupe Ventos and inherited a huge fortune, especially related to Danone Spain.

Again, “thought to be’’? There is no way to confirm this? Who is giving  this info? A friend of Mr Peralta? A business associate? Was Mr Peralta contacted? If he’s such a big man, he would aides/PR agents who deal with queries. Again, no indication.

Seven Palms Sentosa Cove received the Temporary Occupation Permit in the first quarter of 2013. The low-rise project has only 41 luxuriously appointed beach-house apartments available in three, four and five-bedroom configuration ranging from around 2,700 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft. The units picked up by Peralta are believed to be around 3,400-plus sq ft each.

Hmmm….thank you for telling me about the layout and all. But what is this “believed to be around 3,400-plus sq ft’’? If it is “around’’, do you need a “plus’’? Small point, but it all adds to how this story is so iffy.

The project was designed by Kerry Hill Architects, which has designed many Aman resorts.

Again, thank you. But up till now, I still have no idea if the report is real. I am supposed to take it on faith with no sight of whether checks have been made – not even attempts at a check. After this comes backgrounding on how Aussie Gina Rinehart was “reported to have paid’’ $57.2 million for two units in 2012. Price “was thought to have crossed $4,000 psf’’. Sigh. Even old stories don’t have facts nailed down.

Then this follows:

While the news of Mr Peralta’s purchase of the two Seven Palms units is not expected to improve sentiment for Sentosa Cove properties in the short term, “the news will be a good highlight to a very quiet and dismal year for Sentosa Cove’’, said Century 21 CEO Ku Swee Yong.

Gosh! “News’’ of his purchase? I am not sure I would call something so iffy news. Why is this Century 21 person being quoted so lamely on this? It would be better if readers are given an overview of what is “quiet and dismal’’. How many Seven Palms condos sold? What about other Sentosa Cove properties? Oh! And is this guy the “source’’?

A little bit more interesting, the next paragraph:

Transactions of condos as well as bungalows have thinned drastically. A few months ago, two units in the Turqiose Condo, both mortgagee sales, transacted at around $1,400 psf – a record low since the 2006/7 luxury housing boom, noted Mr Ku.

But it still doesn’t give me overall numbers, just a “highlight’’. Wonder if this piece of news was reported during that very unspecific “a few months ago’’?

As to why Seven Palms still managed to set a record price, or at least a near record price, Mr Ku said: “This is the only beachfront condo, and probably the only beachfront resident in Singapore. Morever, SC Global’s products have a certain premium…’’

Goodness, tentativeness of the story displayed in all its glory: record or near record. And did SC Global pay Mr Ku to say nice things which it can’t say about itself. No sight or sound from SC Global at all.

The resort-style facilities of the project include concierge service, a Beach Club, a 45-metre infinity pool with Jacuzzi and barbecue terrace overlooking the sea.

Thank you for telling me what the brochure says.

As if lack of attribution, verification and sourcing in the text isn’t enough, there is a photograph published of a family looking out to the sea with a caption on how Seven Palms has only 41 luxuriously appointed beach-house apartments available in three, four and five-bedroom configurations. The picture looks like a brochure picture and is NOT credited.

This story is a big fail.


Building on numbers

In Money, News Reports, Writing on December 15, 2012 at 8:06 am

All those building numbers are making me dizzy. You know, the number of BTO flats to be built, private homes, EC sites and land sales…What I know is that we are building like crazy.

So I had a good look at the private housing numbers that are coming up, depending of course on whether developers buy and build on those sites that the G is releasing as reported today.

Actually, I am not sure I care. Isn’t the problem whether or not people can afford to buy property? Does a bigger supply of homes translate to lower property prices? I had to plough through half of the ST P1 story to find out that it won’t.
I went to BT and found that the land releases for private homes are represented as “joyous tidings’’. I wonder for whom? Private developers? Or home buyers? (you would think that plenty of people are unhoused at the moment)

I am not sure what to think after reading the stories although I’m sure the real estate types would make more of it. BT had a chart on number of homes to be built while ST had maps of plum sites. I wish one paper would have BOTH so I don’t have to read so much text.

What I was interested in was that ECs will form 45 per cent or 3,110 of supply in the “confirmed’’ list in the first half of next year. I guess we’ll see more penthouses for the sandwiched class soon. Isn’t it time we took a look at the sky-high EC prices and see if the policy still holds? I mean, ECs are classified as “private housing’’ even though they are subsidised and subject to some HDB-like rulings. Are EC developers making a killing on taxpayers’ money? I want to be enlightened.

Another numbers story that left me in a fog was over how we spent a record $7.4b on R&D last year. According to ST, it was by both private and public sectors, although it didn’t say who was responsible for how much. Reading the article though, you would think this was all G largesse, courtesy of A*Star. Especially when it mentioned that $16b had been set aside for the next R&D five-year plan – 20 per cent more than over the previous five years.

I had to turn to BT for the full picture. And that is: Private sector research, especially by foreign companies, out-paced that of the public sector. Local companies still lag behind, not a good sign given the productivity push Singapore is embarking on.

Also, here’s an interesting case of how numbers can look good or bad:
ST said that last year’s research spending of 2.3 per cent of GDP brings Singapore “closer’’ to other countries famed for research, such as Denmark.
It added that the Republic’s target is to get it up to 3.5 per cent in 2015, which would put it on par with the top research countries such as Israel and Japan.

BT, on the hand, did not refer to the levels of research in other countries. Instead it pitted Singapore’s achievement against its own target: Despite a red-letter year, the country’s research intensiveness is 2.3 per cent of the economy, still some way off its 2015 goal of spending 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D.
Amazing what sort of spin you can give to numbers. Also shows why you have to read more than just one media for a full picture.

Home sweet EC home

In Money, News Reports on December 6, 2012 at 1:08 am

I am turning green. With envy. Jealousy. CityLife@Tampines is oversubscribed three times, with many many people interested in those 4,300 sqf penthouses.  And here’s my rant: How can those people who earn less than $12,000 a month afford this? Neither ST nor BT published the price that those luxury homes or sky suites in CityLife@Tampines  is going for (How can? Basic info!) And I am too lazy to go check on past articles which others paid to do the job should have done.

Something must be terribly wrong with the executive condo scheme  if homes are going for a million bucks or so, whether new or resale. . Even the restrictions on sale of the unit aren’t deterring people going by the interest showed.

Minister Khaw Boon Wan sent out this intriguing message earlier reminding developers of the objectives of the EC – to cater to those who can’t meet HDB income ceiling requirements and can’t afford private property. Well, seems like a lot of people can…go for private property I mean.

So I am wondering what Mr Khaw meant by his reminder: That ECs should be priced cheaper? Less luxurious? But if those with $12,000 a month can afford it, why not? Or should the G really be looking at that income ceiling instead and re-examining the original concept of ECs?