Saturday, 28 June 2014

My vision for SERS came true!

9 years ago, after my 35th birthday, I started my journey to find a HDB 3 room flat under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme.

The first priority was to find a place to call my own. 

But at the back of my mind, I had a vision to find a place that could be an en-bloc potential many years down the road. No harm right?

Since I've lived in Queesnstown all my life, and would like to continue living in close proximity to my siblings and parents who are also living in Queenstown, it made my selection easier - just focus on Queenstown HDB resale flats.

My first criteria was to find an old HDB 3 room flat - the older the better! Mine was built in 1971. It's the early "Simplified" version of a HDB 3 room flat. The type where the toilet and bathroom were joined together as one. Yucks! Thankfully, when I bought it, it's already upgraded where we have a new extra bathroom attached. Phew!

Next was to find as low rise a block as possible. Mine was a 10 storey flat. Put yourself in the shoes of a developer - would it make more financial sense to tear down a 10 or 16 storey flat to rebuild into a 30-40 storey flat?

My HDB estate is located near One North. Just thought if one day One North needs more space for expansion... And by the way, if I need to rent out a room or the whole flat for income, I think those FTs working in One North would be interested? It's good to have options!

Also, opposite my flat are those black and white bungalows from our colonial days where there's huge development potential many years down the road. Only one catch - we were separated by the Malaysian railway track... I remember thinking we cannot let this "anomaly" continue where another sovereign country has a dagger that stabs right into our city center. Was cautiously optimistic that in 20 years time, we should be able to get the land back from Malaysia - especially with Mahatir out of the way. Was pleasantly surprised we got it back so much sooner! Now that's new Malaysia/Singapore relationship for you!

So location wise, wearing the lens of a city planner, the HDB estate where I bought my flat looks very likely to be in the way of future development.

Yesterday, I got a pleasant visit by HDB officials personally knocking on my door. It's to inform me that I just won the SERS lottery!

It was in the TV news yesterday. I'll be part of the New Beginning at Dawson en-bloc development.

The 5 new development sites are near Commonwealth Avenue and Margaret Drive. I know that area well. My old Hua Yi Primary School was torn down for this development.

It's always nice to exchange old for new. Especially when I remember being a bit sore that as a single, I can't buy a new BTO flat directly from HDB. I guess my turning a lemon to lemonade vision has panned out well. Now I will have a brand new HDB flat in Queenstown just like you all married couples.

Hmm. The new HDB flats got fight with Pinnacle - got roof top gardens and sky bridges.
As I've always said, I prefer to be lucky than smart!

P.S.  I'll explain in another post why it's a vision and not a plan or goal.


  1. Hi SMOL,

    Gong xi! Gong xi!

    HUAT ah!!! :D

    1. AK,


      I am very happy.

      All my life, I've been made to feel "2nd class".

      In a round about way, I finally get to have a brand new HDB flat - no more hand me downs!

      Lady luck has noticed me once again :)

      P.S. It gives me confidence and satisfaction that my long term vision for property has worked. Now let's see whether my core equities holdings do perform out as well in the next 10 to 20 years ;)

      Collecting star dust by standing still with out-reached hands.

    2. Hi SMOL,

      I also believe in luck. I always tell people whatever I have achieved is through 30% work and 70% luck. Honest. :)

      I will not tell people it is 100% foresight etc. Puh-lease lor. As if they are one step away from omniscience like that. -.-"

      What has happened for you is a fantastic outcome from a mixture of foresight, lots of patience and luck. Very happy for you. :)

      I will be getting my keys to my hut in the sky soon and I bought it when it was unloved. Now, with new developments which I kind of guessed could happen, it doesn't look so bad after all. But it boils down to luck too. Who knew when that covered walkway to the bus stop was going to be built at that time? Who knew that a neighbourhood shopping podium just 200m away was going to be built at that time?

      Buy an unloved property with potential and have patience to sit it out. You could end up with more than star dusts in your hands. You are the guy, SMOL! ;p

    3. AK,

      Now why would Lady Luck visit those who have everything all figured out?

      P.S. My mistake. Lead underwear bad idea. Sit down cannot get up. And the worst of all, cannot get "excited". Pain man! Forgot about making room for "future growth".

      But great immunity against those who hit below the belt though :)

    4. Hi SMOL,

      Now, I know my answer if someone asked if I would rather be Ironman or Spiderman. Kamsiah. ;p

  2. Hi SMOL,

    Congratulations! Happy for you!

    I had a similar plan in the early 2000s. I was eyeing the 3 room flat at Tanglin Halt which was selling between $120K-$140K at that time. I faced objection from my hubby who thought that my money making ideas must not compromise the comfort of the family. With 2 in-laws, 2 kids, a domestic helper and us, it would be impossible for the whole family to squeeze into the teeny weeny 3 room flat to serve out the MOP before leasing it out. I told him my long term plan is to aim for en-bloc and get a place close to town. If that plan could take shape, I would be in the earlier SERS and be given a unit next to Commonwealth MRT!

    Anyway, life has been pretty good to me. I shouldn't be complaining. :D

    1. BTW, I used the word 'plan' rather than vision is because I was pretty sure that it would happen. I used to live in a shophouse in Chinatown and we were relocated due to urban redevelopment. My early lesson on urban planning.

      Then at Uni, I studied urban development and had some inkling how the old areas will see rejuvenation as part of Master planning. I noticed that some blocks in Tanglin Halt had gone en-bloc at that time and it would be very likely the neighbouring blocks will follow suit.

      In this way, I would also say that yours was a plan too. A plan that is built on the vision of the urban planners. :)

    2. Endrene,

      1) I too missed the Pinnacle project due to my Single status. And like you, things have turned out pretty good too. We are the glass half-full people :)

      2) I guess we have turned out the way we are due to one common denominator - we can "see through" the "words" of others ;)

      I used the word "vision" due to my intention to link a future post to this post.

      You are right. I could have easily substitute "vision" with:


      And it would fit just as well. A rose by any other name is still a rose ;)

      Pretty and smart. I envy your husband. Wait! I take that back. I envy you more instead! Most men are not confident enough to handle smart women ;)

      You lucky girl! Good catch!!!

  3. Vision without execution your "plan" is quite useless. No?

    1. CW,

      Thanks for being a real life case study on the power of words :)

      The word "vision" on my headline is enough to germinate in your consciousness that it consumes you. Got read my post or not?

      Some other readers may read my post different from you using an investing metaphor:

      1) I did my homework first.

      2) I am able to articulate my investment thesis for reasons to buy.

      3) I pulled the trigger.

      4) I don't control the market. If my reasons to buy did not change, I continue to stand patiently with out-stretched arms. (Did someone say money is made in the sitting?)

      5) If star dust falls, it falls. If doesn't, it doesn't.

      And no, I am not going to answer your rhetorical question.

      I don't feel like biting tonight.


  4. "Now let's see whether my core equities holdings do perform out as well in the next 10 to 20 years ;) Collecting star dust by standing still with out-reached hands."


    When people start asking Uncle SMOL how you find those multi-baggers?

    Can you share with us?

    Your vision come true like this SERS!


    1. Striking ToTo JackPot may be forever Vision for me :-(

    2. Congratulation!
      i suggest you choose a bigger flat if given a choice.

    3. CW,

      If I don't want people to ask me "what stocks to buy?" and "is this price OK to buy?"; make a wild guess why I don't talk about my core holdings or trading positions in specifics?

      (OK, some trading positions I do reveal when bantering with coconut - and that's only in the comments section where less harm is done to the general public - only regulars read my comments sections; they know where the real gems are)

      I'm a cheerleader of making our own mistakes.

      I only blog about how I feel, what I think - I never talk with a "wah kali kong" tone insisting my way is the ONLY way :)

      Let a thousand flowers bloom!

    4. CW,

      Got buy Toto; got hope,

      No buy dream only; even if heavens want to help us we have to do our bit too mah!

      I buy ToTo every week. If strike; strike. No strike my life carries on; not as if I will turn bankrupt or anything ;)

    5. temperament,


      I am eligible to apply for a replacement 4 room flat, but space is not my priority. I am quite happy with 3 room.

      I am hoping for a lucky ballot number so I can choose the RIGHT orientation. I better don't spell it out wait other lucky bastards crowd me out!

      I do understand why you prefer a bigger place since you have shared in the past about your property moves and why.

      I can't have this context and understanding with an anonymous nick ;)

  5. get a bigger flat then can rent out a room for extra income.


    1. Money Honey,

      Thanks! My happiness is frrom getting a brand new flat at mature estate Queenstown.

      Renting out a room is plan Z. When I "bo pian".

      I value my privacy at home more than the extra income. But it's always good to have options - hence I buying a 3 room instead of 2 room flat ;)

      Buying a 4 room flat to rent out 2 rooms will make me outright depressed...

      Money enough can oredi :)

    2. Some people held strongly to this believe.

      "A man's home is his castle"

      "a man can be a nobody at work, last in line for everything, etc but he is still king at home. he comes first in his castle"

      Some people treasure privacy@home (freedom @ home) more than anything. Money included.
      i agree unless, "Yeow Cher Chiat Ah Pian"
      Pardon me for my poor Hanye Pingin.

    3. temperament,

      Aye, matey!

      For my own "castle", I use the word "vision".

      If I have a 2nd investment or rental apartment, I would use "plan"or "goal" in my consciousness.

      Words are interesting!

      Words both obscure and illuminate at the same time ;)

  6. But a temporary shelter for next of kin & family who had seen the worse of time is tolerable (on compassionate ground).
    Or wife's cousin on visit from China.
    Boh Pian - KAKI LANG MA!

    1. temperament,

      Of course! That's call hospitality ;)

      TEMPORARY is the key word here. If guests not "auto", then it's abuse...

      Hey! In a few words, we have encapsulated the essence of Welfarism!?

  7. Hi SMOL,

    First of all, congratulations! A new BTO with a fresh 99 year lease, some subsidies thrown in, and priority in selection of flats. What's not to like. =)

    SERs doesn't come by that often but one can make good guesses. My late uncle bought a Tanglin Halt flat and was "rewarded" too.

    Like EY, I think you had a "plan" too. Although SERs isn't within your control, I am pretty sure you weighed the probabilities before buying your current flat.

    To be honest, I though about buying those flats in 09/10 too. But too bad prices didn't come down during the recession. =p

    1. 15 HWW,

      Thanks! I am indeed happy :)

      Yes, it's definitely NOT PASSIVE.

      I could have gone for conventional wisdom like going for higher floor (Tanglin Halt 16 storey blocks?) or look for a newer 3 room flat in Queenstown (pay same price with longer lease remaining more value?).

      Stay tuned for my next post on Vision ;)

      I like to mind-fxxx myself - say a rose is the same in any other words, yet counter with shades of grey differences in my next post...


    2. 15 HWW,

      On a serious note. Your LATE uncle was "rewarded".

      Your decision to quit without a job was pooh-poohed by a blogger. I guess that blogger is living in fear of the future.

      While some don't have a future to look forward to as they are living in the past.

      Life don't always work out in accordance to what we've planned.

      Sometimes I feel we OVER plan to death as if we have total control over our destiny.

      I am happy so I shared my joy today, Tomorrow something bad may happen. Who knows?

      Or I may strike Toto and buy a 2nd investment property under my sibling's name? Now great timing or what? That would piss-off those who say buying Toto is stupid. Stupid as stupid does! I happy what!?

      At least you and I get to enjoy TODAY :)

      Let's handle tomorrow when it comes.

    3. Hi SMOL,

      It's been a couple of weeks as an unemployed and I have to admit that I am enjoying this period.

      Although the days are somewhat less "planned" than previously, it is no less fulfilling.

      The irony is that the best planners seem to be the ones who are most worried about the future. I am learning how to be confident of my "plans" and let it take care of tomorrow while I enjoy TODAY as much as possible.

      Cheers to our good fortune!

  8. Should get a 5 rooms flat instead and sell it next time for S$1mil ++ .

    1. JK Holdings,

      1) Eh... I Single.

      My main joy is that I am able to get a NEW HDB 3 room in a mature estate at subsidised prices just like any other married couples. I got my closure on being treated "2nd class" just because I choose to be Single.

      Like Kermit the frog, it's not easy being green (different) - I lack papers, I left-handed, I Pes C, I can't recite the times tables, etc....

      2) You can't find anywhere in my post where I mentioned money ;)
      Another word for vision is dream. I don't dream with $ in front and .00 behind.

      I dream in warm soft pastel shades. Never black and white; always in technicolour.

      I visualise what I am doing in the new flat, who I am with, and how I am feeling in the dream :)

    2. Hi SMOL,
      Have you think of opting for a 4 room now then after MOP, downgrade to 3 room. Nobody can guarantee you make money this way.
      But i did from a 5 room to 4 room. i think if i downgrade to 3 room now, i will still make a little.
      You can consider as a long term investment just like in stock. But i think this is a safer asset as far as Singapore Corporation is concerned.
      And who said you have to let out your spare 2 rooms, if you opt for 4 room now.
      But to think of it if we had let out our spare rooms since day one, we would have been richer by now with more than 200K to 250K in the bank?
      Alas, this proves money is not everything to everyone.
      i still have a spare room for 18 years already.
      Take 4 room leh. You should be O. K. after MOP.
      Take 4 room leh, i will pay you a visit and treat me to a copi o, O. K.
      I think you will not regret to making some money this way.

    3. temperament,

      Home is like emergency fund - it's plan Z. That's why if my flat not en-bloc, I also happy to stay here until I move on to happy land, That's why it's a vision. Imagine if I have an en-bloc goal - wouldn't I get disappointed and depressed EVERY single passing year?

      If property prices drop into a zone where it's more attractive versus equities, I have no problem rotating out from equities into a 2nd private investment property - that's the realm of opportunity fund and asset rebalancing.

      I think most people get into trouble by mixing opportunity with emergency funds. Forced to sell at the worst time due to lack of cash or opportunity knocks but funds locked up elsewhere...

      To opt for 4 room I would have to tap some of my cash from my opportunity fund. CPF money is the best source of opportunity fund :)

      First of all, there's this 5 year occupancy rule. To speculate with strings attached is not very attractive to me...

      Secondly, I prefer to have the cash just in case the other shoe drops - equities or property - whichever comes first. I don't care. I'm a speculation man-whore; I'm not one of those who prefer equities over property or vice versa. Money is money.

      Thirdly, if I speculate in property, a 2nd investment unit makes more sense. I can flip it in 6 months or a year. Rent it out and let the tenant pay my mortgage while I wait for the next longer term cyclical up swing, etc.

      Test yourself temperament!

      If for whatever reason you need to raise a lot of cash quickly, I think you would sell your shoe-box private apartment FIRST even before considering downgrading again with your wife to a HDB studio apartment ;)

      See? One we can be resolute and emotionless; while the other we may hesitate due to feelings of love, guilt, shame, regret, etc.

      Home is home (reservoir of joint memories); investment property is investment property (that bronze smelly thing).

      Perhaps that's why many older Singaporeans have mourned the lost of our memory markers due to rapid modernisation and growth?

      Glad big daddy realised it now - hence the preservation of the Queenstown library and the Commonwealth Market so the new residents of Dawson can have some markers to relate to the old Queenstown I knew since young :)

  9. You have some reservations over your cash flow, just in case. Silly me for asking you to think of investing in a 4 room than downgrade to a 3 room later after MOP. Of course you will think of it if money is no problem.
    But i think if cash flow is no problem, it's a viable investment idea. Maybe even go for 5 room if eligible then after MOP to a 3 room.
    Well we all have to live according to our means and needs.

  10. I hv considered buying an old flat and waiting for en bloc. However, I would be sad for my interior design to be destroyed after few short years. Also not willing to spend cash on renovation too many times in my life. I'll be going for a newer resale flat.

    I won't feel less of 2nd class citizen as a single if I were in your situation. Coz it wld be same thing given to families. So, I'll think of some other way to be treated right! ;)

    1. pf,

      It's good to have options. More options mean we are "more equal" than those with less options.

      You CHOOSE to buy resale. I have NO OPTION but to buy resale (HDB rule at my time)

      It's OK. I am treated right by Lady Luck. I have my closure :)

      Some prefer buying a BTO and save money than buying a comparable resale unit in the same area. It's all based on balloting luck. You risk buying a unit you don't really like...

      Some like you prefer to pay up for the right to CHOOSE a unit you have "feelings" for - no balloting bullshit. You would understand when I say home is not the same as investment property. It's more about feelings ;)

  11. I also hv no choice. Single, income above 2rm bto ceiling, not so much money to buy condo.

    But nvm lah...agreed. its better to think of what choices I hv. :)

  12. Hi SMOL, is 'Vision' part II out yet? (I like blog posts that makes me feel like catching movie sequels LOL)

    1. Rainbow girl,


      Thanks for the heads-up!

      I'll do something about it.

      Stay tuned ;)

  13. hi SMOL,

    interesting blog you got there.. not many singles out there blogging about HDB's! hah

    need your insight here: i am the same status as you, single and eligible for singles scheme.

    if you could rewind, would you go for the BTO (now that singles are eligible for BTO) or resale, and why? considering that resale is priced much higher for the similar sized and same area. (non- mature estate in the west)

    i know BTO will probably have to wait 2 years, maybe more. but would the opportunity cost be worth the wait? or, just plonk down stash the resale unit?

    i am still deciding between which option is better.

    1. foolish chameleon,

      Ah! A biker! Now that's cool!

      1) First things first, BTO for singles is only limited to 2 rooms in non mature estates; while for resale, we can choose from 2 to 5 rooms and anywhere in Singapore.

      So its not apples to apples comparison.

      If you can "only" afford a BTO 2 room financially speaking, then no need to think. You have only 1 option.

      Having options is a good problem to have! Wink.

      2) The good thing about property is we can see, touch, and smell. Don't listen to others. Go experience it yourself before committing ;)

      a. Can you live in a 45 sqm 2 room? Find a friend or relative living in one and go see see. Even better if can bunk over for a few days.

      b. I not sure where you currently living in. Do the same if you are currently living in a mature estate. Go see if you can "survive" in an the "ulu" fringes of non-mature estates ;)

      3) Me? If HDB allows singles to apply for BTO 3 room in mature estates I may consider - you know, tikum tikum in case can get good ballot queue number.

      So no, I'll stick with resale as its important to me that I look forward to returning to my den each night - no matter how small.

      Location is important to me. For resale, I'll have more "influence" on my selections than depending on a lucky queue number ;)

      4) Once again, listen to your heart.

    2. Yes. U really need to go and see. Environment is also very important. Downstairs hv food, ntuc, near mrt really makes a diff to quality of life.

      Layout of the flat, interior design, all adds up to your own comfort level.

      Nowadays I take leave to have stay cation at home. ;)

    3. pf,

      My current place if no en-bloc I happy to live till the end of days :)

      For a live-in property, "what I want" is the most important criteria :)

      For the 2nd rental or investment property, then "what others want" will be the most important criteria ;)

    4. SMOL,

      thanks for the awesome input!
      my bad, maybe i should have included more background info. currently live in the constituency that is going to have a by-election soon (should be quite obvious by now =)

      i am considering 2 (BTO/resale) or 3 BR, max 4BR units. (resale)
      i want to be in the same area to be near by parents (i am actually hoping to get a resale unit in the same block as my parents). i lived in the area my entire life, so i know the area very well. I dont really intend to live in the unit. (at the moment, but things may change)
      i like having the option of having 2x living areas. since i am not in Sgp most of the time, so my primary intention is to rent out the Master BR or one of the room (since i cannot rent out the entire unit -legally)

      i have "lived" in 40+ sqm apt before overseas. so i kinda have an idea the "smallness" of it. still liveable la, single anyway, dont need much space.

      also for the fact , that i want to exercise my "right" to buy a subsidised HDB. haha. not sure if this is considered a valid reason at all

    5. foolish chameleon,

      Let me summarise what you have just said:

      1) I WANT to be in the same area near parents.

      2) I would LIKE to have the option to rent out one room.

      3) I WANT to have a bite into the HDB cherry too (my words).

      You yourself will know which one is the MOST priority in your heart. Don't need to tell us. You already have your answer ;)

      How's my "coaching"? No "wah kali gong" right? I'm not the Indian Chief. LOL!

      P.S. By the way, if rental income triumphs all, you may want to research whether its easier to find a tenant in a mature or non-mature estate? And what kind of rent can you command in each area ;)

  14. haha SMOL,
    you are funny indeed. bo la, bo wah kali gong..

    you know, sometimes the answer is staring right in our face, but we cant see it, coz we are busying looking at some thing else..

    thing is, last i checked, there was a BTO in my area. which is like really close to where i currently stay. think its over though, might have a sale of balance units (have to check though)

    for sure mature estate is easier to find a tenant, but i am pretty confident to get a tenant in my non-mature estate too. obviously, at a lesser rental than the former.

    1. foolish chameleon,

      There you go!

      If you ever near Queenstown and need someone to help you drink your coffee... Ahem.

      Well, I'll do anything for a drink! (I'm cheaper than Desker road!)

    2. SMOL,

      hah! coffee anytime man!
      i dont know about desker road, but i do go the QW area when i am back in Sgp, coz of the bikeshops at the industrial area.. do my regular servicing there.

      btw, mind if i add you to my blog list?

    3. foolish chameleon,

      Sure! Add away! It will be my pleasure ;)

      Leng Kee area got Harley and lots of makes of automobiles. Too bad Piaggio not here. I'm more a scooter kind of guy:

      Me and my scooter

    4. well, i am not a harley guy, havent reach the mid-age crisis (well, at least not yet!)

      since you show hao lian your scoot, i need to hao lian mine too!

    5. You win liao!

      Your scooter got phallic torpedo (or dildo) on the side!?


  15. Haha....I didn't consider what other ppl want other than the location. But after stying at my current place for 6 months, I realized what other ppl want is good for me too.

    Anyways I hv an investment angle when I purchased my resale flat. In the event need to sell, can sell fast and at not bad price.


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