By Property Soul (guest contributor)
Did you watch the recent 2017 National Day Rally?No, our Prime Minister didn’t mention the master plan or the property market. Nor did he cover any schedule to relax the cooling measures. As expected, there’s no mention of the MRT either.
He only talked about e-payments, diabetes and pre-school education.Tay KahPoh, Executive Director & Head of Residential Services at Knight Frank, told me this recently:“In Singapore, there are only three things that people really care: education, wealth and health. And we talk about them all the time.”I couldn’t agree with him more.
Education, wealth and health are all that matters – nearby schools, PSLE, overseas education, stocks, properties, CPF, retirement, diseases, diet, etc.When we are below 20, we talk about our grades in schools.When we are in our 20s, we talk about our salaries at work.When we are in our 30s, we talk about our homes and cars.When we are in our 40s, we talk about our children’s grades, our homes and cars.When we are in our 50s, we talk about our savings and retirement plan.When we are in our 60s, we talk about how many pills we take every day.When we are over 70, we talk about how many grandchildren we have and which schools they go to.
You see, our whole life revolves around education, wealth and health.That’s why our PM talked about pre-school education, e-payments and diabetes.And don’t be disappointed that he didn’t mention properties in his speech. I can always relate anything to our favorite topic.
Below are three very important lessons I picked up from our PM’s speech:
Lesson #1 – It is precisely because you are not worried that I am worried
The average life expectancy of Singaporeans is 82, but we have an average of 8 years of ill health in our final years. Above all, 3 in 10 Singaporeans over the age of 60 have diabetes.Despite this, we continue to top up our meals with sugary drinks whenever we eat outside … until we eventually become diabetic or pre-diabetic.
The problem is: Most Singaporeans are not worried about diabetes. This is exactly why the government is worried. Last year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it has declared war on diabetes – one of the biggest drains on Singapore’s healthcare system.
Isn’t the government doing the same for properties?
From 2009, buyers and investors continued to snap up properties despite spiraling prices. Despite repeated warnings from the government to buy or invest prudently, property-obsessed Singaporeans still rushed to upgrade their homes or buy their second property.
According to the Ascendant Assets’ Property Investor Profile Survey, a typical Singapore property investor is 46 years old, married and has an average of $100,000 to $400,000 spare cash.Can the family’s breadwinner with school-going kids continue to service his mortgage if he loses his job? Does he have enough spare cash to top up the difference if the value of his property drops below his outstanding loan?
It is precisely because the buyers are not worried, that the government is worried.To ensure that the property market is sustainable, the government introduced eight rounds of cooling measures from 2009 to 2013 to slowdown an overheated market.
Lesson #2 – It’s not what you know; It’s what you don’t know that costs you the most
The PM suggested that the solution for the high diabetes rate is to make it mandatory for soft drink manufacturers to reduce the sugar level in all their drinks being sold in Singapore.But from a young age, we have been brainwashed by all the advertisements marketing different types of sugary drinks. The celebrities all look cool and healthy in the ads.
Similarly, the newspaper and TV ads of a new launch are all projecting a middle-class lifestyle with loving couples and blissful families. They are selling us the Singapore dream. Who will think of toiling for a 30-year mortgage when we submit the cheque?
The project brochure shows ‘artist’s impressions’ of infinite blue skies, lush greenery, beautiful beaches or a breathtaking seaview. The showflat displays modern renovation and designer fittings. Who will think, after collecting the key to your new home, that the flyover is right outside your bare unit, which has countless developer defects waiting to be fixed?
American writer Josh Billings said it best:“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”
Lesson #3 – Those who care the least are the ones who need help the most
From next month onwards, for those above the age of 40, MOH will offer them S$100 health check-ups at S$5 only.Unless the government makes it compulsory, even if it is free of charge, how many will go?
People go for health check-ups for three reasons: 1) they are very health conscious; 2) they are required to do so for employment; or 3) they are asked by their doctors to do so to confirm the bad news.
Many years ago, NKF came to our office to do free health check-ups. Those who signed up were all young and healthy ones. The “overweight and never exercise” colleagues put up all sorts of excuses not to go.What for? To confirm that they have high cholesterol or pre-diabetes?
Do you notice most joggers passing by you look really fit? And most people in the gym don’t look like they need to work out?
That reminds me of the National Steps Challenge organized by Health Promotion Board. After the campaign ends, many are still using the pedometer to ensure that they walk 10,000 steps a day, even if they are no longer rewarded with shopping vouchers.Are they health conscious and physically active people in the first place?
So please don’t ask me what you should do now with your poor purchased property that you are filled with regret over buying. Sorry, I am not a doctor. I can only play my part on the prevention, not the cure.