iProperty Group Continuing The Momentum

What an exciting and busy week it has been!

We held our very first EXPO in Penang last weekend and what a tremendous success it was. Organised on behalf of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA) Penang, MAPEX Penang 2012, with the theme The Most Lau Juak Property Show, was certainly well received by Penangnites and foreigners alike.

The three day expo, launched by YB Chow Kon Yeow, State EXCO for Local Government and Traffic Control, who represented YAB Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, attracted over thousands of people from all walks of life who made their way to the Straits Quay Convention Centre to grab the best deals in town.

Here are some snap shots of the event:

YB Chow Kon Yeow Officially Launching MAPEX Penang 2012

Folks visiting the booths at the MAPEX PENANG 2012

After such an astounding success in Penang, all focus is now on delivering an equally successful iProperty.com International EXPO in Singapore, which will be held from the 20th – 22nd of April 2012 at the iconic Marina Bay Sands from 11am – 8pm.

Also present at the EXPO will be Howard, our friendly mascot in Singapore who is keen on letting people to be in the know not just about the latest in the property market, but to also provide them with the opportunity to discover the best deals in town.

From the peaks to the valleys, Howard is on ground to promote the EXPO.

So, do lock in the dates and we hope to see you there.

On a separate note, we are keeping to our promise to only deliver the best, fastest and easiest search experience for our consumers. We have recently made some changes to our website – iproperty.com.my, making download of information of property news and search faster. We are pleased to say that these changes will be implemented across our other three portals in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

So, brace yourself to have all the information you need to make an informed decision downloaded in a blink of an eye.

Another significant accomplishment on the innovation front is the Malaysian team winning at the recent Facebook Mobile Hack Day in Singapore. With a total of eight submission and only four winners to be selected, we are proud to win the Best Overall App for use of Facebook.

The team developed an app called the Property Friend Finder, which will enable users to find properties that are near their friends and family.

These are only some of the innovative things that we at the iProperty Group are working on. We assure you, there are more interesting things in store. So, do stay tuned!

Enjoy the week!

Resale HDB units in 2011 remain competitively priced, compared to condos

iProperty iNsights arms property buyers with handy information and market outlook for year 2012

While prices of HDB flats on the resale market have risen in the past few years, they continue to be more affordable than condominiums, according to a report on property transactions in 2011 registered on iProperty.com Singapore, the country’s No. 1 property website and part of the iProperty Group.

The iProperty iNsights 2011 consumer trends report reveals pertinent information on the state of the residential property market in Singapore, highlighting essential data such as average per square foot (PSF) prices for HDB apartments and condominium units across the island.

Additional data from the popular property portal emphasizes the disparity in average PSF prices among private (non-landed) and public housing (resale flats). In general, the average PSF for HDB flats across all room types have steadily increased – yet they remain at least half as costly when compared to the average PSF of condominiums.

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“We are proud to share our latest iProperty iNsights report, which serves as an enabler for property buyers in Singapore to make informed, timely choices. We maintain an expansive network of agents and partners whom we work with closely to obtain on-the-ground information and ensure accuracy on the property data which we publish. With this handy guide, we hope to smoothen the decision making process among buyers for all their property-related needs,” said Shaun Di Gregorio, CEO of the iProperty Group.

 
Key highlights of iProperty iNsights 2011 Report

Login and Download the iProperty iNsights Report 2011

1. Districts

The top three most popular districts, based on total unique searches, were 15 (Katong, Marine Parade, Siglap, Joo Chiat, Tanjong Rhu)19 (Serangoon, Hougang, Punggol, Sengkang) and 9 (Orchard, Cairnhill, Killiney, River Valley) while districts 10 and 16 continued to remain popular among buyers of private properties.

Please refer to page 3 of the iProperty iNsights 2011 report.

2. Condominiums

- Condominium projects completed in the last few years in general fetched higher PSF prices, and this is even higher for city-based developments such as Icon (S$1,846) and The Sail @ Marina Bay (S$1,952).

- Projects located in the suburban areas continued to be more attractive for buyers, such as Melville Park (S$709) and Northvale (S$736).

Please refer to page 15 of the iProperty iNsights 2011 report.

3. HDB

- Based on total unique searches, the top three most popular HDB estates were BedokBishan and Woodlands, while estates like Tampines and Yishun continued to remain popular among buyers of public housing.

Please refer to page 17 of the iProperty iNsights 2011 report.

4. Most popular keywords

The highest portion of visitors to iProperty searched for the keyword ‘studio’, a reflection of continued interest in compact-sized apartments. This could be linked to the higher price tags attached to apartments of higher floor area, and to investors who are looking at reaping attractive rental income.

Please refer to page 29 of the iProperty iNsights 2011 report.

Conclusion

In general, resale HDB flats remained affordable for many Singaporeans, especially when compared with more established condominiums that tend to fetch lower prices. This gap can be seen when we compare the average PSF for older condominiums, which was at least twice those of HDB flats in general.

For more information, please login and download the iProperty iNsights 2011 Report here for free.

Design with safety in mind

Whether you live a high-rise HDB apartment or a sprawling piece of landed property, chances are that you would be with one common feature while glancing across your row of neighbours: window grills.

In Singapore, safety grills are commonly installed on the windows of many homes to keep burglars and prying eyes at bay. However I can’t help but find it ironic that as Singapore becomes a safer country, more of such grills seem to be popping up.

I’ve noticed that it is when we start introducing safety features into our homes—whether to protect ourselves, or keep our children and elderly parents safe from harm—that our homes’ aesthetics become compromised. Now, I’m not against putting safety measures in place to protect the ones we love. But as home-proud owners, we have the choice to make these features more pleasing to the eye without compromising on safety.

Without further ado, I would like to share with you some tips and ideas for incorporating design and aesthetics into safety features at home.

For windows:

  1. Consider replacing unsightly safety grills with sliding windows that have key locks. Your designer, architect or contractor should be able to provide you with more options.
  2. If privacy from neighbours or passers-by is your concern, invest in window treatments like roman blinds or timber venetians. They add some softness and colour to your interior while maintaining privacy in your home.
Window treatment for kid’s room. Image courtesy of Cameron Woo Design.

Window treatment for kid’s room. Image courtesy of Cameron Woo Design.

For children:

  1. Ready-made children safety gates and bed safety guards may not be very visually appealing, but they get the job done when it comes to keeping our children safe. Show off your flair for design by having them painted or dressed with your little ones’ favourite cartoon characters.
  2. To prevent little fingers from being slammed on by doors or drawers, ask your cabinetmaker or contractor for ‘soft closing’ hinges, drawer glides, and other options. These soft closing mechanisms shut slowly and cannot be slammed, eliminating one household hazard.

For elderly parents:

  1. If you have elderly at home, fit out your bathroom with stainless steel handles and bars near the washbasin and bathtub to assist them with mobility and stability.
  2. Falls are among the biggest safety concerns when it comes to the elderly. When choosing floor finishes, select ones that have a good grip, or a rating of at least R11. This means the floor finish is able to maintain grip and reduce chances of slipping even when an area is wet, making it suitable for walk-in shower areas.
Handle fitted on a bathroom wall. Image courtesy of Thinkstock.

Handle fitted on a bathroom wall. Image courtesy of Thinkstock.

Unfortunately for most, it is only after an accident has occurred that we start to seriously think about the safety measures in our homes. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure; I hope we will all take a second look at our homes and assess if any small safety improvements can be made to better protect the people we care for, while maintaining a good standard for aesthetics.

How to Know You Are Ready to Buy A HDB BTO Flat

Are you and your partner planning to apply for a HDB BTO (Build-To-Order) flat this year? If so, you are not alone – for many Singaporeans, a BTO flat is their number one choice of first home, mostly due to its lower price tag as compared to homes on the open market, as well as the various grants and subsidized pricing offered. However, as a first-time homebuyer, you may find that applying for and selecting a new HDB flat can be an intimidating experience. Below are some helpful tips to help you successfully select the right BTO HDB flat and come out a winner.

HDB Flat Launch. Image courtesy of HDB.

Understand latest HDB Policies & Developments

For those who have not been actively following local property news, it is very important that you start now.  Recent policy changes such as the extension of the MOP (minimum occupancy period) from 3 to 5 years may have significant implications on your decision to apply for a BTO flat. Also remember that the loan term for HDB flats can be significantly shorter than that for private properties: private banks can offer loan terms of up to 40 years, while the HDB concessionary loan is only available for 65 years minus the buyer’s age or 30 years, whichever is shorter. Also, although you may not be thinking of buying a 2nd residential property now, do bear in mind that HDB flats cannot be used for getting a 2nd mortgage to leverage or “cash-out” for financing another property purchase – unlike private homes.

Timing Your Application for A BTO Flat

If after considering all the factors involved with buying a BTO flat, and you still decide to go ahead and apply, bear in mind one of the most critical factors: your timing. To give some background, prior to around May 2011, HDB would usually release smaller batches of BTO units on a monthly basis, a process which would result in a frantic rush where everyone would apply for the next consecutive month’s BTO release, without even knowing if they had been successful in the previous exercise. The good news HDB has since revised the system to put up flats in bigger, less frequent releases, meaning that the applicant to flat ratio has been much improved. This is good to know of course, but how can you use this to your advantage?

Maximizing Your Chances of Getting a Good ‘Q’ Number

While luck certainly matters, there are steps you can take to maximize your odds of getting the best queue number. Although the tangible cost of submitting a BTO application is only S$10, and HDB does not limit the number of BTO exercises you can participate in, the larger, less implicit cost lies in how multiple applications will be used “against” you. In a move to discourage buyers from being “picky”, HDB has programmed its balloting system to place applicants who have rejected an invitation to select a flat more than twice at the back of the queue. Because of this, it may not be advisable to apply for a neighborhood which has been oversubscribed over 10 times for a popular release, as your chances of being able to get a good queue number are very small.  You might be better off applying for another neighborhood to increase your odds of getting a better queue number instead.  Bear in mind that HDB’s offer to you to select a 2nd floor, rubbish-dump facing unit also counts as an invitation, making it even more important you use your application chances wisely.

Use the Tools at Your Disposal

HDB InfoWeb. Image courtesy of HDB.

With over 25,000 BTO flats slated to be released in 2012, make sure you don’t miss out on any of them by signing up for HDB alerts on the HDB website. HDB will send you an SMS or email prior to the release of a new BTO launch, when full details of the units, including indicative pricing, are available.  Keeping abreast of latest releases is even more critical now that the time frame for submitting your application online has been reduced to one week. Many have missed the deadline for a BTO launch by not keeping track of when applications close – make sure you are not one of them.

Your Patience Will Be Rewarded

In your desire to quickly ‘secure’ a new home for you and your partner, the urge to quickly apply for every BTO exercise there is can be overwhelming. However, do bear in mind your goal is to maximize your chances of getting a good flat, not just any flat – which means it pays to wait for the right launch at the right time. In particular, those eyeing popular areas such as Clementi and Bedok might want to wait for new flats in these areas to be released rather than simply applying for every launch and being invited to select a flat for an area you don’t actually want.

The SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) Exercise (Or HDB’s Special “Bonus” Exercise)

Kim Tian Green, Sep 2011 SBF Exercise. Image courtesy of HDB.

For those with a little more patience (and time on their side), it may be well worth your while to wait for the announcement of the SBF exercise. This may be conducted on an annual basis, but really depends on the number of ‘surplus’ flats HDB has built up in its reserve. The key benefit of the SBF exercise is the absence of the 2-3 year construction period, as SBF flats are typically already completed or near completion. The September 2011 SBF exercise was a good example of how good things come to those to wait: units in highly sought-after areas such as Queenstown and Tiong Bahru were released to 1st-timers, who were able to collect their keys to these completed units within 6 months after applying. With the hot competition for SBF completed flats, it becomes even more apparent why it is important that you ‘conserve’ your chances so you can use them at a time when it really matters.

Keeping An Eye on the Competition

Once you have decided you are interested in a particular launch, watch the live updates on the HDB InfoWEB website like a hawk once HDB starts accepting applications. Do not submit your own application yet. Why? Very simple: By identifying the neighborhoods which have the least number of applicants, you maximize your chances of getting a good queue number. Checking the number of applications versus the number of units available on the day before applications close will give you a good idea of what your likelihood of drawing a good queue number is, and help you decide if you should use one of your precious first-timer ‘chances’ during this particular launch.

Scoping Out the Site

Buying a property off-plan, while having the benefit of ensuring you get a brand-new unit, does mean that the buyer has to do additional due diligence because they will not have the benefit of inspecting the actual unit. For example, you will have to rely on materials such as floor plans and the SLA (Singapore Land Authority) announced plans for the next several years to figure out if a 40-storey high-rise will be built on the plot directly in front of a BTO site, or if an MRT or Chinese temple will be constructed near-by. Tip: going over to the nearly existing blocks in the neighborhood and taking the lift up to the highest floors will give you an idea of the view the new flats will have when they are finally constructed.

Choosing Your Unit: Balance Out Your Must-Haves vs. Nice-to- Have

So you have submitted your BTO application – and lucky you – have received a good queue number. What to do next? Before breaking out the champagne to celebrate, bear in mind that your work has just started at this point. Preparing for your selection date involves doing your homework by understanding the features on the different units offered, including potential negatives such as the amount of afternoon sun the bedrooms will face as well as the extent of street noise that will travel up. While going over the pricing list, if the main reason for your preference for a unit on a high floor is for the view, bear in mind that you may be able to choose a unit on the 20th floor vs. one on the 40th floor and yet still be able to enjoy the view you desire. As HDB charges a substantial incremental for higher floors, the money you save may be better used toward other expenses such as paying for your granite kitchen countertops or customized floor-to-ceiling shoe cabinets -  or any ‘what-ifs’ that may come up during the 30 years you will be financing your flat for.

What To Do on Selection Day

As there may be around 8-10 couples selecting their flat that day, be mentally prepared for the possibility that your choice flat may already be taken up by the time you get to the front of the queue. To mitigate the anxiousness you will feel when sitting in front of HDB sales officers and not knowing which remaining unit to select, make sure you show up early for your selection appointment slot, and more importantly, fall in love with 15 units instead of just one or two beforehand. Also bring detailed reference information and photos of each site you’re interested in to avoid panic because the units you had your eye on are all already taken up.

Do you have other tips for first-time BTO flat buyers? We encourage and welcome any tips you may have to add in the “comments” section below.

Let’s Meet, Spot, Snap and WIN with Howard!

“From the Peaks to the Valleys, Know where gems can be discovered. From the North to the South, We’ve got Singapore covered.”

Does this poem sound or look familiar? Have you seen this at any particular train station? Have you seen our new mascot? You must be wondering by now what this is all about!

Meet Howard, our newest addition to the iProperty.com family!

Spot Howard Facebook Photo Contest

Follow Howard, as he endeavours to let you Be iN the Know with the latest property insights and hottest property news!

We’re excited to introduce Howard, and to celebrate that, we’ll like to share our joy with you!

What that means for you is that you can stand a chance to win S$100 worth of cash weekly just by following 3 simple steps!

Step 1: SPOT Howard, and SNAP a picture together! (that’s simple)

Step 2: LIKE our Facebook page! (just 1 click)

Step 3: Post your picture under “Spot Howard”on our Facebook page! (and you’re done)

You will then stand a chance to be one of the lucky winners of $100 cash weekly!

What you then need to do is to look out for your email (if you are one of the lucky weekly winner) to be informed on details to collect your prize!

For more details on this exciting contest, hop on down to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ipropertysg!

We want you to be one of our winners! So join us in this photo contest!

Keep those pictures coming! We’re waiting!

iProperty.com Singapore on TODAY Newspapers – How to Read a QR Code

Have you seen iProperty.com Singapore’s property classified ads on TODAY, the nation’s most-read free newspaper? If you have not, grab your copy every Friday before you head to work for the morning edition, or when you are heading out to lunch for the afternoon edition.

If you didn’t get your hands on one of the 300,000 copies in the MRT stations, below your condominium or landed property, in selected petrol kiosks and convenience stores, fret not! We’ve made it easy for you with a downloadable version. Download a copy now before you head out house-hunting over the weekend.

You must wondering what that black little square at the corner of each property classified ad is. It’s called a QR Code (or Quick Response Code).  It is a type of matrix barcode, which can direct you to virtually any type of data – and of course, websites.

For smartphone users, the reading and scanning of the QR code is made simple, fast and convenient. Below are some suggested free iPhone, iPad and Android apps that can help you to read those codes we have included to make your property search seamless and easy. Simply launch the app, hold your phone camera over the QR code and see these apps go to work!

iPhone & iPad

QR Reader for iPhone

Auto-detect scanning. Simply hold and point. You can even share the results of the QR scan on Facebook, Twitter or FourSquare. Gone are the days when you have to remember long URLs. 

Android Phones & Tablets

QR Droid

Similar to QR Reader for iPhone, this app allows your Android camera to scan the code before giving you a preview of the webpage. You can also share across social media channels.

 Enjoy! And good luck with the house-hunting this weekend!

iProperty Group PAVING the way in LEADS

Early this year, I wrote about how innovation has and will always be a key fundamental to the iProperty Group. In this ever growing industry, success of any business is constantly measured. Being in the online industry, our metrics are measured by the number of leads we generate for our customers, amongst the many other factors.

So, in order to deliver only the best to our customers, we have put in a lot of effort in finding avenues to innovatively generate more leads for customers. At the same time, we wanted to focus on building relationships with our customers and look for ways to engage more creatively with our consumers and make property search easy.

Here’s what we have embarked on over the last two months:

Singapore

I would like to introduce you to Howard, our friendly mascot in Singapore. He is a patient, wise owl with a keen sense of hearing and listening. Howard is inviting consumers to Be iN The Know about the property market and not be left behind.

Enthusiast property buyers know the importance of being in the know about the latest development in the property market before embarking on a purchase. As such, with Howard, we have made getting this information much easier and more exciting!

So, you will not only be seeing Howard on the iproperty.com.sg website but also on taxis in Singapore. Do drop by and say hi to Howard.

Another buzz of exciting news that has recently taken place in Singapore is our partnership with MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper, the country’s largest free newspaper. The paper will be publishing a dedicated property classifieds section in full colour, which will be sold to our agent customers. These classifieds will appear every Friday.

We see this collaboration as a way of maintaining and improving our pole position in the online property market, while enabling our customers to reach and engage with a wider market and at the same time offer our consumers a another avenue to look for their dream home or next property investment.

Malaysia

REACH, ENGAGE and CONVERT! That’s what the Malaysian team is focusing on doing in 2012!

The Reach, Engage and Convert programme, or REC for short, has been put together as a platform to provide customers the opportunity to reach a wider target market and engage these consumers into learning more about their property developments with the hope of converting them into buyers.

The team kick-started thier first event recently and had the opportunity to meet, mix and mingle with major clients. All with the objective of building rapport and develop a buy-in on new opportunities.

On a separate note, if you are looking at investing in property in Penang, then do join us for the MAPEX 2012, The Most LAU JUAK Property Expo in Penang!

Held from the 23rd to the 25th March at Straits Quay Convention Centre, MAPEX 2012 will be bringing you THE REAL PROPERTY DEALS in town! You will get huge discounts on properties by property developers and even stand a chance to win prizes valued at over RM 700,000!

Lock in the dates in your calendars, iPad, iPhone, Tablets, Androids and etc Today!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Indonesia

To complement our business in Indonesia, I am extremely happy to announce that we have rolled out our very first property ads tabloid in Indonesia. Named Rumah123.com Property Ads, the publication will serve as a form of media information for the property seekers.

We believe that this 32 page full colored monthly publication will take Rumah123.com to greater heights as property hunters now have another avenue to search for properties and obtain the latest news in the property market aside from the Rumah123.com website. It will also serve to provide agents and developers another platform to reach out to consumer and to generate more leads.

Officially launched this month, this publication will be one of the flagship publications in Indonesia to contain information on the Ten Most Wanted property location in Greater Jakarta.

So, if you are in Jakarta, do grab a copy for free or click here for a copy!

The Outcome – BIG LEADS! The Love Affair for Property Continues

Overall, these initiatives undertaken by the respective teams have paid off immensely. Since January this year, data generated from across our four portals showed a surge in the number property buyers searching for property, hence increasing the number of leads generated for agents.

In Malaysia, we saw a 45% increase, that’s over 291,000 leads generated for our agents from the month of January to February alone. In Indonesia, while the property market is slowly picking up pace, we have seen an increase in the number of real estate agents advertising on the site has increased by 112%, bringing the total of agents to 3, 463. The number of listings has also increased by 90% to 87,000.

In Hong Kong, the market sentiment also reflected a market rebound. Data gathered from GoHome.com.hk showed a significant increase of 38% in the number of leads recorded in February compared to the month of January.

In Singapore, data from email and SMS leads alone, generated by the portal, have shown a substantial 60% year‐on‐year jump in February 2012 as compared to February 2011,even as the market comes to terms with recent property cooling measures introduced in December 2011.

Our CommercialAsia.com portal also saw a 82% increase in the number of unique visitors to site, with a majority of visitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong Hong.

Looks like a very positive and healthy property market!

Have a great week!

iProperty Group – Delivering Record Breaking Results

A philosopher by the name of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.

I concur that with passion, topped with determination, we can achieve anything we set out to do. As such, we have embodied this into our core values, where we ensure that we remain passionate in our words and actions while aiming for excellence.

This success was evidenced by the fact that in 2011, we helped millions of property buyers across our four portals search for their dream home or next property investment, be it locally or internationally. This phenomenal success was also seen with our agents who have successfully grown and taken their business to greater heights. Aside from that, the iProperty Group has been instrumental in providing a highly effective platform for hundreds of developers across the region promote their developments.

So, in 2012, you can be assured that we will continue to focus on providing consumers with the best experience when searching for property on either one of our four portals. We are also committed to being long term partners with the real estate industry in successfully growing their businesses while we increase our focus on providing integrated digital marketing solutions to the ever burgeoning property developer market across the region.

In lieu of that, in Hong Kong, the team held their annual dinner for customers and the event was well attended.

A Group Picture – The Hong Kong Team With Agents

On a separate note, in my previous blog, I stated that we recently released the findings of our iProperty.com Asia Property Market Sentiment Report 2012. The survey, conducted across our four portals in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore, revealed that Asians were very keen on investing in properties overseas, with many citing migration, favorable currency rates and economic slowdown as reasons for their interest.

The findings of the survey further reinforced our desire to provide property buyers with a platform to search for properties overseas with greater ease and accessibility. With that, we launched an International section on each of the portals that we have. This new channel will not only serve the needs of local property buyers but will also provide property developers and agents, outside of the Group’s core markets easy access to investors in Asia.

With our unrivaled reach to Asia’s largest online property audience, the new channel will set the benchmark for the way property developers and agents reach their potential investors. It will also offer them a platform to engage with Asian investors in the most cost effective and highly efficient manner.

So if you are on the hunt for properties overseas, do visit http://www.iproperty.com.sg/international/

On a more fun note, today marks Employee Appreciation Day across the globe, which occurs annually on the first Friday of the month of March.

So to all employees across the iProperty Group, I would like to thank you for your passion, determination, commitment and dedication in taking the Group to higher levels. It’s because of you, we have achieved many milestones.

Enjoy the weekend!