Monday, April 30, 2012

Median HDB flat rental prices as of Q1 2012

It seems like the continuous rally of HDB rental prices since the second quarter of 2009 is loosing its steam as the latest median rental data shows that rental price increase has slowed down for 5 room flats, at a plateau for 4 room flats and decreased for 2 room flats.

The rents for 3-room HDB flats has fell 2.4% in Q1 2012 compared to the previous quarter. The rents for 4-room flats have stayed relatively stable for a third quarter in row with only 0.4% increase in the last quarter. Rent increase for 5-room flats also came to a halt following sharp increases in the last few years.

Island wide median rental for 3-room flats decreased first time since third quarter of 2009 and is currently is about 1841 SGD per month. The rents of 4 room flats on the other hand slightly increased from 2229 SGD per month in Q4 2011 to 2238 SGD per month in Q1 2011. 5 room flat rentals continued to increase, albeit with a slower pace to 2476 SGD per month.

As we have written before median HDB rental prices in Singapore are published by HDB quarterly. Below chart shows the price trends for 3 most popular flat types, 3 room flats (2+1), 4 room flats (3+1) and 5 room flats.Median price means half of the sampled prices are below the median and half of the sampled prices are above the median.

As the price increases, more and more HDB flats are released for rent and as a result the number of Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats being sublet has more than tripled in the past five years:

"The reasons include the relaxation of subletting rules, and an increase in foreigners. With more HDB home-owners using their flats to earn rental income, some analysts are concerned this will lead to a shortage of supply in the resale market. The number of HDB flats on the rental market has shot up from about 12,500 in 2006 to 40,026 in 2011."[1]

The slowdown in price rise may be due to several factors such as increased supply, less foreigner demand for rental units and price resistance of tenants to further price increases.

[1] - More subletting HDB flats

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scoot adds flights from Singapore to Bangkok, competes with sister Tiger Airways

Surprise, surprise and surprise! Singapore Airlines' new low-cost long haul carrier Scoot has just announced  not so long-haul daily return flights to Bangkok from Singapore. This is interesting since the route is already served by Singapore Airlines itself and its budget arm Tiger Airways. Scoots founding CEO  Campbell Wilson has previously announced that the new airliner will not fly on the existing routes covered by SIA and will not compete with SIA's other budget venture, short haul player Tiger Airways[1]. But now it is rivaling Tiger Airways as well as Jetstar and Airasia which are serving budget flights daily from Singapore to Bangkok.

Scoot is offering return tickets for 88 SGD as a promotion. Scoot has previously announced long-haul budget flights from Singapore to Sydney,  from Singapore to Gold Coast and from Singapore to Tianjin China.

Scoot is offering different flight options so you pay only for what you want, meaning you are not
subsidising the choices of others. Basic option Fly buys you just a seat while FlyBag buys a seat plus 15kg of checked baggage allowance, all for less than buying them separately. FlyBagEat is essentially FlyBag + one meal.  And at the top end, Scoot offers ScootBiz, which is basically a business class on a budget flight.[2]

[1] - Singapore Airlines announces its new budget airline: Scoot
[2] - Save on the frills. Spend on the thrills.

The house always wins

Every day, tens of thousands of visitors go to casinos to gamble. Among all, a few leaves “the house” with a smiling face while many leaves the house with a lighter bank account. This is the way it is, scientifically.

Consider a simple bet on the red of a roulette wheel that has 18 red, 18 black, and 2 green slots. This bet is at even money so a $10 wager on red has an expected profit of

Expected Profit = (10) x (18/38) + (-10) x (20/38) = -.526

The negative expected profit says we expect to lose an average of 52.6 cents on every $10 bet. Over a long series of bets, the relative frequency of winning will approach the probability (18/38) and that of losing will approach (20/38) so a player will lose a substantial amount of money.

All other bets against the house have a similar negative expected profit. Or how else could a casino stay in business? Haven't you heard what they say about it : “the house always wins”?[1]

MBS - Source : Relax
And one of the two houses here, Marina Bay Sands, explodes this negative expected profit against many rich punters and countless not so rich gamblers successfully so that MBS' first-quarter operating profits is up 66 per cent compared to the same period last year.

During the soft opening of Marina Bay Sands,Las Vegas Sands CEO Mr Sheldon Adelson has said he expects the Marina IR casino to break even in just five years[3]. Looking back from now, it looks like he was very conservative about the gambling craze in this part of the world.

[1] - No Casino Game Has a Positive Expected Profit, Statistics Principles & Methods Sixth Edition
[2] - Marina Bay Sands rings up record profits last quarter
[3] - Marina Bay Sands Inside the casino

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Backpacker Savings Guide: Southeast Asia E-book

South East Asia is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. It is reputed as a cheap destination for many westerners; accommodation, travel and food costs much cheaper in many South East Asian countries compared to Europe and USA.

But the region can depart you from more of your money you may have planned initially. Throughout your backpacker trip you can lose a lot of money by not knowing the best option available in flights, travel and food. Most of the backpackers fall into a rich variety of scams designed to depart them with their money. These scams range from ones costing you a few extra dollars to ones which can basically live you without a single penny in your pocket in the middle of nowhere. Many of these are avoidable if you know the best option you have and where scams are very likely. For example, it is very likely that you will encounter a scam if you take taxi from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City or Kuala Lumpur airport. Knowing which taxis to take, which taxis to avoid and where to take airport bus/train can save you a lot of money and headache. There are also very dangerous and costly scams out there, for example ‘Jet Ski scam’ off Pattaya & Phuket. If you are not warned to never rent a jet ski in Thailand, you will fall into this scam 80% of the time and say goodbye to thousands of dollars you have.

Backpacker Savings Guide: Southeast Asia E-book is compiled by one of many backpackers to help others not to make financial mistakes and fall into scams which would cost a lot ans short-cut a dream trip with a nightmare. Southeast Asia Savings Guide has over 35 tips that totaled hundreds of dollars in savings. Author says if he had had this list before leaving, he could have spent at least two more weeks in Southeast Asia:

The guide has country by country breakdown of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos with 36 highly practical tips that can save you hundreds of dollars. General Tips section that apply regardless of where you are. The guide shows ways to save money when doing transport between highly popular locations, free access to further editions.

Discover Singapore: All You Ever Need To Know About The Lion City

Discover Singapore is a book where businessman, footballer, actor/model and authorNelson Tan  introduce all you need to know about Singapore. The book covers topics such as business and economy, entertainment, wine & dine, shopping and travel, places of interests and lifestyle.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Luxurious suites in Asia

Here are some luxurious suites, including the ultra high flyer presidential suites, of Asia:

Presidential Suite, Banyan Tree Macau

This 888 sq meter 11,000+ USD per night suite in Banyan Tree Macau comes with a private gambling room and a dazzling view of the Cotai strip from 31st floor of the hotel. Other luxuries of the suite includes a 5.7x2.5 meter relaxation pool, a marble island style bath tube in the master bedroom and a sauna room and a treatment area with massage beds.

Presidential Suite, World Summit Wing, Beijing

No, this is not a conference venue, World Summit Wing is a luxury hotel in Beijing and is a part of Shangri-La hotel chain. Presidential Suite offers China World Summit Wing's most impressive and luxurious accommodation. It comes with a separate sitting room, master bedroom and master bathroom and a spacious dining room to entertain guests. The floor-to-ceiling windows of this 14,000+ USD per night suite overlooks the Forbidden City.

Ritz-Carlton Suite, Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

The Ritz-Carlton Suite, located at the 117th floor of The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, is 468 meters above the sea level and it is the highest hotel suite in the world. And the breathtaking panoramic views Victoria Harbour and Island views from this 365 sq meter suite is around 13,000 USD per night before taxes which will also get you a private chef and a 24 hours butler.

Tropical Oasis Suite, W Retreat Koh Samui

With its own 11x2.5 meter private pool, this 557 USD (before taxes) per night suite in W Retreat Koh Samui is ideal for a luxurious tropical island escape. There is a huge wooden deck, complete with oversized day-bed, two sun lounge chairs, a wooden dining table for two in its large garden.

Tropical Oasis Suite, W Retreat Koh Samui
La Residence, Intercontinental Hua Hin Resort

This is a two storey beach front house with a garden and parking. La Residence at Intercontinental Hua Hin Resort (Thailand) comes with an infinity pool, marble bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. The rate to stay here is 3,500 USD per night and the price also includes a 24-hour live in personal butler.

Maharajah's Pavilion, The Raj Palace Grand Heritage Hotel

This was a residence of an Indian king. This suite is actually a four storey apartment in The Raj Palace Grand Heritage Hotel with its own entrance and can take 8 guests. And with the price tag of 15,000 USD per night comes a panoramic view of the city, a private spa, a private rooftop terrace and a library.

HDB Cash Over Valuation prices down in Q1 2012

Good news potential resale HDB flat buyers are waiting for is coming: Cash Over Valuation (COV) has dived 17-18 % across all categories of resale HDB flats. The largest drop was registered by three-room flats. There the COV dropped some 18 per cent:

"For example, the median COV for a three-room flat in Toa Payoh was S$22,000 in the first quarter of this year, down from S$30,000 in the previous quarter. Property watchers say the ramp up in supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, have given home buyers more options. 
Lee Sze Teck, senior research manager at DWG, said: "Lower-income families have another option of buying a BTO so they do not actually need to go into the resale market. They have a bit more bargaining power, if they choose to buy in the resale market, or choose to buy in the BTO market."
Source :  HDB resale prices up 0.6% in Q1
 Cash-over-valuation (COV) is the cash amount paid upfront by a buyer over a flat’s valuation by the Housing Board[1]. This portion is not covered by bank loan and needs to be paid by cash so greatly effects the affordability of resale HDB flats. Recently, due to a great supply crunch of resale HDB flats, the COV values came up to the roof.

Although HDB also has a primary market where couples can buy directly from HDB with subsidized prices, there is an earning ceiling to do so. So if a couple is making more than 12,000 SGD per month combined, they need to buy from resale market or a very very expensive private property.

[1] - COV

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Best rated hotels in Singapore

According to, Singapore's best (guest) rated hotel is Conrad Centennial Singapore near Suntec City. Conrad Centennial Singapore is rated as fantastic with a score of 9.4 and scores high on all criteria such as cleanliness, facilities, dining, location, rooms and services. Hotels Combined collects the verified guest reviews from popular online hotel booking companies such as, Expedia, Agoda and Hotelopia.

Conrad Centennial Singapore is a 500+ room luxury business hotel located near Singapore's Central Business District (CBD). The hotel room prices hover around 270++ SGD per night and Singapore is a 25-minute drive from the Changi International Airport. The location, service and the large rooms it offers are factors carrying this hotel to the top. The third in the best rated hotels list, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, is owned by the same owner with Conrad Centennial Singapore, Pontiac Land (founded by the Kwee family).

Raffles Hotel Singapore, Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and The St. Regis Singapore are also rated as fantastic.

Raffles Hotel Singapore one of the world's most famous hotels. This colonial-style hotel was established by the famous Armenian Sarkies Brothers and opened in 1887. It is named after Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles and currently managed by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. The hotel is known for its luxurious accommodation and superb restaurants. The hotel houses a tropical garden courtyard, museum and Victorian-style theatre.

S/N Singapore Hotel Address Rating
1 Conrad Centennial Singapore Two Temasek Boulevard Fantastic 9.4
2 Raffles Hotel Singapore 1 Beach Road Fantastic 9.3
3 Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore 7 Raffles Avenue Fantastic 9.2
4 The St. Regis Singapore 29 Tanglin Road Fantastic 9.2
5 Fairmont Singapore 80 Bras Basah Road Great 9.1
6 Shangri La Hotel Singapore 22 Orange Grove Road Great 9.1
7 Mandarin Oriental, Singapore 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square Great 9.1
8 Keong Saik Hotel 69 Keong Saik Road Great 9.0
9 Quincy Hotel 22 Mount Elizabeth Great 9.0
10 Pan Pacific Singapore 7 Raffles Boulevard Marina Square Great 9.0

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boeing 787 flights from Singapore to Tokyo by September 2012

Just less than a year after Boeing's new bird, Boeing 787, flew first time over Singapore, Japan Airlines (JAL) will fly this aircraft between Singapore Changi Airport and Tokyo (Narita/Haneda). According to JAL's own website, Tokyo - Singapore B 787 flights will start by September 2012 and there will be more flights added to this route by late October.

JAL took its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on March 25 this year. By April 22 2012, JAL Boeing 787 will fly this new 787 Dreamliner on a first ever non-stop flight connecting Asia (Tokyo Narita) and Boston. By late April 2012, B 787 Tokyo - Beijing, Tokyo - Delhi and Tokyo - Moscow flights will start. JAL also plans B 787 services to San Diego and Helsinki by December 2012.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner, is Boeing'smost fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized 767. The plane comes very timely since all airliners are currently struggling with rising pressure of high fuels costs.[1]

JAL Boeing 787 Dreamliner Route Map
JAL's 787 Dreamliner will be equipped with a new in-flight entertainment option, Sky Manga, offering more than 30 titles of Japanese comics in electronic versions with expansion to English versions in the near future. Other features include electronically dimmable windows, higher ceilings and lower cabin pressure.[2]

Japan Airlines has ordered 45 Boeing 787 Dreamliner in total and has received 2 aircraft till today. 8 Boeing 787 has been delivered so far with the other 6 delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) which is the launch customer for the plane. ANA is currently flying B 787 between Tokyo and Frankfurt.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

With foreign talent leaving asking rental prices are falling

Singapore rental market is mostly driven by foreigners since most of the Singaporeans have their own flats and do not rent. This is especially true for the private property rentals. In private property, there is hardly any Singaporean in rental so this segment is almost completely dependent on foreigners and Singapore Permanent Residents.

According to property guru, asking rental prices are falling as a growing number of senior executives from the expatriate community leaving Singapore:

"Based on data compiled by The PropertyGuru, the most notable fall in median asking rental prices was seen in District 4 (Harbourfront / Telok Blangah), recording a significant 15 percent decline from a median price of S$7,900 in Q4 2011 to a median price of S$6,700 in Q1 2012. Coming in second is District 19 (Hougang / Punggol / Sengkang), which saw a 13 percent fall from a median price of S$4,000 at the end of last year to a median price of S$3,500 in Q1 2012. 
In addition, asking rental prices in Districts 2 (Chinatown / Tanjong Pagar) and 18 (Pasir Ris / Tampines) both declined by eight percent while Districts 22 (Boon Lay / Jurong / Tuas) and 25 (Admiralty / Woodlands) were down seven and six percent respectively. 
While the data is solely based on asking rental prices (PropertyGuru does not track actual transacted prices), the subdued expectations regarding rentals is an indication that global economic concerns are taking their toll on the market. According to a source, companies are either hesitant to hire or are holding back on employment packages for their existing foreign staff. "[1]
There are mainly 3 winds blowing against rental price rice:

[1] - Expatriate packages are shrinking as a part of cost cutting measures. Housing allowances par of these expatriate packages are one of the major drivers of Singapore’s rental market, especially in the luxury segment. Since last year both number of expats who earn enough to rent a private property and the number of expats on housing allowance is declining.

[2] - Hiring, especially hiring of foreigners is slowing down due to economic uncertainty and strict immigration policies implemented by the government last year.

[3] - And there is a flood of private property, bought for investment, is entering the rental market 2012 onward.

Moving forward, Sherman predicts that if expats continue to lose their jobs and are repatriated back home, “the rental market will be negatively impacted”. 
“The same goes for the decline in the numbers of expatriates being sent on assignment to Singapore,” she added.[1]

[1] - Loss of foreign talent affecting private property rentals

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What is perpetual bond?

On Monday, Genting Singapore has announced that it is offering $500 million worth of perpetual bonds to retail investors, which created quite a fuzz in Singapore investment spheres. Just last month the same company has raised something like $1.8 billion from sophisticated investors which had an overwhelming demand and made retail investors jealous. Since Genting name is seen as a sure bet in Singapore, this bond issue will probably have a large demand.

So what is perpetual bond? Why is it so popular? Perpetual bond is an investment instrument something between bond and equity. It is like a bond because it pays coupons like bonds until maturity but unlike normal bonds these do not have a defined maturity (so they may have infinite maturity). This means there is no fixed date for you to get back your money. You can sell these bonds in the secondary market but their value goes down if the interest rates goes up. The issuer can also defer coupon payments but has to pay cumulative unpaid coupons later.

Genting Singapore offers 5.125 per cent yield per year which is quite attractive in a time fixed deposit accounts basically yield near-zero yields. And since the traditional asset investments like property look very much like they are at their peak values, it offers a very attractive investment and diversification alternative to property which do not also yield that much rental income.

But where there is high yield, there is always a danger if you are not one of those big bankers who can always transfer the danger part to taxpayers.

Since perpetual bonds do not have a maturity date, you may not get back your initial investment any time soon. Although you can sell it in the secondary market, their value goes significantly down when interest rates goes up. And since current near zero level interest rates has nowhere to go but up, you can be sure that a perpetual bond bought today will have a lower value in the future. Second, if the issuer bankrupts, you are at the behind row to get your money. In fact you may not even get your money back at all.

Currently, analysts think the Genting being unable to make its regular payments are low since its Resort World Sentosa made $1.6 billion in operating profit last year. But every company can go belly up so when investing in a perpetual bonds, try not to tie  very large percentage of your savings to these instruments with higher risks.

The popularity of perpetual bonds are unprecedented. According to Reuters more perpetual bonds were sold in Singapore in the first three months of 2012 than in the previous decade and a half! This popularity, especially the interest of retail buyers, has caught the attention of The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently:

"MAS's focus, however, has sharpened since Genting Singapore offered S$500m to the public, giving the retail public the chance to invest via the automated teller machines of the city's local banks. The retail offering was only the second such offering of perpetuals, with Hyflux being the first to do so when it launched the first corporate perpetual issue in April last year.

The problem with ATM machines is that, unlike stocks or other structured investment products sold over the counter, investors have no access to advisory services that can point out risks. Retail investors are supposed to read the prospectus, but in practical terms no arranger can guarantee that they have done so."
Source : Perp rush causes alarm in Singapore

This blog article is to provide general information only and should not be treated as an invitation to buy or sell any property or as sales material.  Users of this report should consider this report as a one of the many factors in making their investment decision. Users should make reference to other sources of information and specific investment advice to obtain a more objective view of the property market. Asia Singapore shall not be responsible for losses suffered.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why Shoebox Apartments Remain Popular in Singapore

By  in Featured PostHousing & PropertyMar 23, 2012

Shoebox apartments are still selling, which can only mean one thing: Generations of crowded MRT trains and overloaded buses are finally taking effect. Singaporeans are being conditioned to tolerate spaces that, in any other country, would be considered too inhumane for hamster cages. Why else would we consider 500 square feet to be not only suitable living space, but a good investment? What twisted psychological illness afflicts this country? I take a look in this article:

Tiny room
"Assuming I stand on it, there's room for a chair."
 What Are Shoebox Apartments?
A way for real estate developers to rip you off. Also, apartments up to 500 square feet. Many shoebox apartments are considerably smaller, for people who don’t mind bedrooms with the spaciousness of a choked sewer pipe. Shoebox units are intended for short-term tenants; they aren’t designed for family living, unless you consider claustrophobia a desirable trait in your children.
Despite the lack of space, shoebox apartments can cost up to 20% more per square foot.

Pigeon nest on the window ledge
Bad property decisions: When you can see a better home right out the window.

And These Things Actually Sell?

 Stranger things have happened. The Straits Times reports that, as of 2011, one in seven homes sold was a shoebox apartment. That’s around 2,400 units. This is a volume seven times greater than in 2008, and a 20% increase from 2010.
The trend seems to be continuing, with developers offering shoebox units at Euhabitat, The Tennery, and Seastrand.  But what keeps Singaporeans interested in these properties?

"Common sense, common sense…nope, don't see it on the list."

1. Lower Quantum

Although shoebox apartments are more expensive per square foot, their overall cost is lower. This makes them attractive to investors who can’t afford bigger property.
This shouldn’t be interpreted as a budgetary move; it’s more like someone sneaking into a high-stakes game which they don’t have the capital to play. In all frankness, someone who can’t afford the property shouldn’t be gambling on the property market. But if they’re desperate to break in, a shoebox apartment puts their foot in the door.
And if the rental yields aren’t what they expect, that door will slam shut and take their foot off with it. Speaking of which, another reason is…

Signboard for property buyers
"You have a shoebox apartment. I have a kilo of lychees. Trade?"

2. Rising Rental Yields

A lot of shoebox apartments aren’t bought to be lived in. Because, you know, living spaces should be larger than your high school locker room. These buyers are just looking to rent.
In 2011, when property prices went more ballistic than a pop star without Prozac, some foreigners decided renting is more affordable. The new additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) only added to this, eventually raising rental costs by 5-10%. Some people wanted in on that rental income, but couldn’t afford to buy a real house. Hence, the shoebox apartment.
These would-be landlords are doing a spot of gambling. More apartments are becoming available for rent, and rental prices might be creeping toward unsustainable levels. With high end shoebox apartments, there’s a chance that  future rental income might not keep up with loan repayments.

"I'm not subletting or anything…I'm the only one here. Psst, turn the lights out guys."

3. Increased Availability

Shoebox apartments are also a favourite amongst property developers. Think about it: it’s more dollars per square foot. A property developer doesn’t care that the overall cost per unit is smaller; they’re selling the entire condo, so price per square foot counts the most.
When developers discovered the market willingly pays more for smaller units, they probably started pre-ordering their yachts. Right now, property developers are more than happy to encourage market demand for shoebox apartments. And they do that by cranking them out faster than Melanine in a Chinese milk factory.

Thick books
"Want to see our brochures? I'll hire the truck."

4. Growing Number of Single Young Professionals

You know who tolerates shoebox apartments? Singles who intend to stay that way. When your idea of romance is a midnight power meeting, you may as well get a vasectomy.
Singaporeans aren’t big on family these days, and few yuppies see the need for a semi-D or bungalow (unless it’s to show off). This is a sociological issue; the demand for shoebox apartments may correspond to a shrinking native population, and a crowded influx of foreigners.

"More yuppie flats please" stencilled onto a wall
Some developers have problems with the way I phrase my requests.

5. Economic Uncertainty

Did I hear a clucking sound? Oh right, it’s that group of over-cautious investors. Can’t fully blame them though; in 2011, the global economy looked more terminal than bathing naked in the Fukushima reactor.
Risk-averse investors wanted smaller loans, but without losing their rental income. Shoebox apartments were ideal: A tenant in a high end shoebox unit still pays high rent, but the landlord’s loan repayments are smaller. Of course, as the global situation improves, this sentiment may change.

Time magazine cover: The economy is back, the economy stinks
At this point, stock traders are using method called "Visiting Bomohs".

Want to Buy One?

I discussed the viability of shoebox apartments in another article. But if you still want to buy one, make sure you get the cheapest possible loan.
Visit, a free-to-use websites that compiles home loan packages from all local banks. Just enter the property type and your desired loan amount, and the site will find you the best loan package. You can also speak to the site’s mortgage specialist, who will advise you further.

This article was first published on

Visit for more personal finance tips and tricks.

Click to Compare Singapore Housing LoansCar Insurance and Credit Cards on MoneySmart's other sites. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Luxury Cruise from Singapore with Voyage of The Seas in May - June 2012

This summer, luxury cruising experience will come to Singapore as a 137,276-gross registered ton liner in school holiday period as MS Voyager of the Seas, the Voyager-class cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International, will be serving luxury cruises from Singapore by this May 2012 thanks to the new International Cruise Terminal in Singapore. Voyager of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever berthed in Singapore. She is a real giant; it can handle up to 3114 guests, and, along with its sisters in the Voyager class (Adventure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas), is one of the largest passenger ships in the world; currently, only the Cunard Line Queen Mary 2, Norwegian Epic and the Royal Caribbean International Freedom class and Oasis class are larger.[1]

Voyager of The Seas will offer short cruises (three to five nights to Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, as well as an 8-night cruise to Shanghai that features Ho Chi Minh, Xiamen and an overnight in Hong Kong) and longer 14- to 18-night cruises in the South Pacific to New Zealand and Australia from May to June which is Singapore’s school holiday period.

Voyager Of The Seas
The 137,276-gross registered ton Voyager of the Seas will be one of the largest and most innovative ships to ever homeport in Asia. Her arrival will give cruise enthusiasts here a chance to experience directly from Singapore her wide choice of onboard activities and entertainment, such as the ice-skating rink, a boulevard of shops and cafes located along the Royal Promenade and a full-sized sports court. 
Other onboard innovations include the in-line skating track, water slide, rock-climbing wall, mini-golf course and golf simulator. In addition, there is a three-tier theatre, themed bars and lounges as well as a mezzanine split level nightclub. 
There are numerous dining options onboard including the 3-tier dining room and specialty restaurants namely Portofino Italian restaurant and Johnny Rockets 50s’ style diner. The choice of accommodation is also wide-ranging with over 40% more staterooms and five more categories than today’s offerings in the region, ranging from luxurious Royal Suites to unique Promenade staterooms with views overlooking the Royal Promenade.
Source :  Voyager of the Seas to Cruise from Singapore in 2012

[1] - MS Voyager of the Seas

Last Flight of Megatop

I was standing in the large square looking towards the twin engine plane burning and falling from the sky. Strange enough, I was shouting at the people to run and hide as plane was falling toward us but no one in that busy square was listening. They were not aware of the plane and they were not aware of me! I also strangely was not hiding, just watching. The plane fell all the way down to the large Christian cemetery right next to the square and crashed with a loud bang and before the firewall consumed me I have jumped out of the bed!

This was not the best dream to have in the day I was taking a long haul flight with Singapore Airlines from Istanbul to Singapore. And when I realized that due to the traffic I may miss the plane, I was unconsciously not rushing to the gate and thinking really stupid things : "The plane in my dream was a Boeing 777 and Singapore Airlines always uses Boeing 777 on this route. Oh come on, the belly of the aircraft in my dream was yellow, I am pretty sure". I have even stupidly thought about Jaswant Basuta, who was checked in for Pan Am Flight 103, but arrived at the boarding gate too late and saved his life from one of the worst air disasters of the aviation history.

All these stupid things just puffed away from my mind when I have seen the beautiful shape of a large mega-top of Singapore Airlines at the gate! This is a Boeing 747 man, it is 4 engine not 2 like the one in my dream! Actually just moments after I have seen it, I completely forgot what I was thinking a few seconds ago. I have never flew with a Boeing 747 before, and now I will have the chance to fly with the queen of the skies, with whom I dreamed to fly since I was a kid.

This is my short memory about these beautiful planes Singapore Airlines retired yesterday. Just 11 years ago in 2001, Singapore Airlines has the largest number of Boeing 747 in its fleet but now they are all retired after 40 years of service in Singapore Airlines. SIA is currently going with Airbus 380 and I think since their passenger share is bleeding out to competition from full service carriers of Middle East and budget airliners in short distance, they have retired these large planes very fast:

"Retiring the Boeing 747 fleet could be good for Singapore Airline's (SIA) bottom line, according to analysts who said newer and more efficient models could help steer the airline away from current cost pressures.

Rising fuel costs, a decline in premium passenger numbers and competition pressures have placed a heavy squeeze on SIA's yields."
Source : Retiring 747 fleet could benefit SIA's bottom line: analysts

Boeing 747 -400 series airliners were introduced to SIA fleet in 1983 and were called Megatops. 

Singapore home prices may already be sharply falling

Property developers are dangling freebies and other enticements to tempt buyers amid an increasingly competitive market awash with new launches according to the Straits Times article:

"The offerings range from steep developer discounts and stamp duty reimbursements to rebate incentives for people living in the vicinity of the new project.

A check on seven upcoming condominiums found that total discounts could slice about 20 per cent off a unit's listed price."
Source : Firms dangle perks to draw condo buyers

All property indexes including the URA's are based on the caveats lodged and these freebies and discounts do not affect this number. So although the property may be bought with lets say 20 percent effective discount, the lodged price of the unit will still be with the original list price.

An example is given by the same article:

"At Tuan Sing's Seletar Park Residence in Seletar Road, there is a three-tier discount of 10 per cent plus 3 per cent plus 3 per cent" off the gross price. The average price after discount would be about $1,200 psf, pricing 969 sq ft two-bedder at around $1.2 million, down from $1.55 million."

This translates into a 22 per cent fall in the price but it will not be reflected to any property price index because the caveat will be lodged on 1.55 million although the buyer effectively pays 22 percent less. So although indexes are not reflecting it, the property prices may already be sharply falling due to this small trick by developers.

Developers will go to these tricks because Singapore property market is driven half buy fundamentals and half buy sentiment and beliefs. The strong belief of "whatever happens Singapore property prices do not go down" is one of the main driver pulling people to the market to buy before it is too late(!). Price declines in the indexes will be something developers will do their best to avoid.

This blog article is to provide general information only and should not be treated as an invitation to buy or sell any property or as sales material.  Users of this report should consider this report as a one of the many factors in making their investment decision. Users should make reference to other sources of information and specific investment advice to obtain a more objective view of the property market. Asia Singapore shall not be responsible for losses suffered.

Superyacht Sea Bear will be available for luxury yacht charter in Singapore

Superyacht Sea Bear, a 39.6m Westport 130 motor-yacht from Wesport Yachts, is making Singapore its permanent home and will serve public luxury yacht charters from Singapore within next two to three months. The superyacht will be managed by Aqua Voyage, a luxury yacht operator in Singapore. The superyacht will also be the  star attraction at the Boat Asia 2012 event from April 12 to 15 at Marina@Keppel Bay:

"A luxury yacht that once belonged to golf legend Jack Nicklaus is making Singapore its permanent home, joining a growing handful of superyachts berthed here. The US$11.8-million (S$14.8-million) luxury boat, which houses a museum that pays tribute to the American's phenomenal golfing career, is docked at the One Degree 15 Marina Club. 
Named the Sea Bear, after Nicklaus' golf moniker Golden Bear, the 130-foot (40m) long, 50-foot (15m) tall superyacht is set to be a star attraction at the Boat Asia 2012 event from April 12 to 15 at Marina@Keppel Bay."
Source : Superyacht once owned by Nicklaus in Singapore
The yacht is a tri-decker with five-stateroom arrangement. There are two VIP staterooms and two guest staterooms located on the lower deck, each themed after four major golf championships. The main deck has a large saloon, dining room and equipped galley with adjoining casual dining alcove and the spacious master stateroom with tub, separate shower with double shower heads and two WCs. Outdoors on the aft deck is an expansive space including a wet bar and generous seating arrangement.

'SEA BEAR' WESTPORT 130 - Source Aqua Voyage
The pilothouse is located on the upper deck, along with the skylounge which is ideal for casual entertainment.  Outdoors there is a Jacuzzi that can accommodate six to eight persons and a sun lounge at the fore. The flybridge offers 360 degree view and has a sun pad, moulded seating with cushions,  a wet bar and  counter with built in barbeque grill, sink, refrigerator and icemaker. The yacht is also fully equipped with entertainments systems throughout, offering full audio-visual connectivity for presentations etc.[1]

The destinations listed in Aqua Voyage includes tiny Lazarus Island (Singapore), Kelong off Pulau Ubin (Singapore), Southern Islands (Singapore), Nongsa, Batam (Indonesia), Nikoi Island (Indonesia), Bintan (Indonesia), Tioman Island (Malaysia), Phi Phi Island,  Phuket (Thailand). Customised itinerary is also possible.

According to TodayOnline, Sea Bear can accommodate up to 30 guests, and costs more than S$20,000 for a four-hour day cruise.


Warhol, Pettibone and The Art of Appropriation exhibition in Singapore till May 2012

Collectors Contemporary, a gallery specialising in the exhibition and sale of important works of modern and contemporary art in Singapore, brings two groundbreaking artists,  Andy Warhol and Richard Pettibone, together at Warhol, Pettibone and The Art of Appropriation from March 29th till May 11. The exhibition explores concerns in contemporary art, from notions of originality and consumerism to mass media and celebrity.

46 works of Richard Pettibone will be exhibited together with 27 of Warhol's art works including Electric Chairs of 1976.  Collectors Contemporary is situated at Petro Centre, 5 Jalan Kilang Barat, off Jalan Bukit Merah in Singapore. The elegant environment of 3000 square feet features an extra-high ceiling and manoeuvrable hanging walls. This amorphous exhibition space is primed for a series of breathtaking shows that reflect and explore the artistic issues of the era, affirming the importance of contemporary art and its artists.[1]

It is Andy Warhol year on the small red dot this year as ArtScience Museum also features Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal Exhibition till August 2012.

[1] - Collectors Contemporary

Singapore's second Imax screen opens in the west at JCube at Jurong East

Residents who live in the far far west of Singapore do not need to travel all the way to the town to watch movies on Imax screen. New shopping mall JCube in the Jurong East Regional Centre, next to Jurong East Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station and bus interchange will host Singapore's second Imax screen.  19m x 9.5 m Imax screen at the seven hall Lido cineplex  is the second Imax theater after the Imax screen at Lido Theatres on Orchard Road. This one came earlier than planned thanks to the huge success of the Lido's first Imax screen in the centre and if a screen like this also becomes a success in the heartland, we can expect more Imax screens around the island in the next few years.

Although Imax tickets are significantly more expensive than normal 3D screens, the experience is unique and 200,000 people have visited Lido Imax Theater since it was opened on May 2011. According to Shaw Theatres, 461 seat hall operated at full capacity for the first two to three weeks of any blockbuster movie and the top three highest grossing Imax films in Singapore were Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol, Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

JCube Imax Theatre is much smaller than the one at the city centre: it has only 160 seats but the screen sizes of these 2 theatres are same. Also JCube Imax ticket prices will be same with Orchard Road one; from $17 to $22 per person. Jurong Imax theatre will first screen James Cameron's 1997 epic romance-adventure Titanic. Singapore Imax goers can also enjoy the Wrath of The Titans, Battleship, The Avengers (3-D) and Man In Black (3D).

Shaw has signed an exclusive 10 years deal with Imax in 2010 so no other cinema chain will be able to introduce the technology until 2010. According to the Straits Times, Shaw plans to open a third Imax screen at Waterway Point in Punggol in 2014.

JCube, the brand new shopping mall in Singapore's Jurong East, also offers another unique experience : Singapore's first ice scating rink.

See also Singapore IMAX movie schedule 2012 and IMAX Movie Theater In Singapore

 Singapore Entertaintment

New mall JCube offers Singapore's first ice scating rink

There is a very good news for the people in Singapore who are looking forward to do something different and unique : JCube mall (J stands for Jurong), located in the Jurong East Regional Centre, next to Jurong East Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station and bus interchange will host a special attraction: Singapore's first Olympic-size ice skating rink! The ice scating rink measures 60 x 30 meters and can host recreational skating, figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey.

Singapore may be the least expected country to have a winter sport activity but actually Singapore has an Ice Skating Association's(SISA) which is a member of  the International Skating Union and a Singapore Ice Hockey Association. More Singapore plans to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics!

The rink also offers Singapore's first rink side dining experience and comes with a 460-seat gallery and is managed by CapitaLand Retail Management.

Singapore's first Olympic-size ice skating rink at JCube

JCube is located in the middle of Jurong transportation hub, at the intersection of Jurong East Central 1 and Jurong Gateway Road (former Jurong East Street 13). The mall is minutes from the Jurong East MRT Station and bus interchange. Jurong Lake District has been envisioned as a unique lakeside destination for business and leisure. It will feature two distinct but complementary precincts: Jurong Gateway, a vibrant commercial hub; and Lakeside, a waterfront leisure destination.[1]

[1] - JCube! - The New Chic Hangout!