By Property Soul (Guest Contributor)

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I have to admit that Prime Minister Lee HsienLoong’srecent 10th National Day Rally speech failed to get my attention the whole time. But the moment when I heard our PM say“I thought tonight I should show … Jurong Lake – at sunset”, my heart immediately skipped a beat.

He devoted a big part of his speech to paint a heavenly picture of the Jurong Lake District, followed by all the possibilities for future development of the area, before he ended his speech with a sentimental note on “believing in Singapore.”

Wow, as property-obsessed Singaporeans, how could our imaginations not run wild with the potential upside of properties in the west?

The future roadmap of Jurong Lake District

The ‘Jurong Lake Story’ was first introduced as part of the draft Master Plan 2008. It is the ‘remaking our heartland’ plan to shift business activities from the CBD to the west by building a commercial and residential hub in Jurong for both business and leisure.

Five years on, the Jurong Gateway area was almost there – with office buildings, a training centre, three shopping malls in three years, as well as a hospital and a condominium on the way.

The Jurong Lake Gardens area will also undergo a facelift for the housing estates and waterfront living. There will be a new cycling network, cycling trails in Taman Jurong along the town to town boulevard, Bukit Batok to Jurong Gateway, as well as the community boulevard to bring residents to the lakes. The heartland corridor will link up estates and the green spine will connect Teban and Pandan Gardens.

When completed, the Jurong Lake Gardens will be a family-friendly residential district close to nature, watersports and outdoor activities.

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Should buyers take the plunge in the west?

A strategic coverage of Jurong Lake District at the National Day Rally can stimulate interest from developers to bid for new sites released in that area. But I am not from a developer or a property agency who can’t wait to sell you the J Gateway, Lakeville, Jurong West Condo or Vision Exchange.

I still recall vividly the day (29 June 2013) when 1,400 blank cheques were submitted to MCL Land to ballot for the 738-unit J Gateway. Successful buyers paid $1,400 to $1,800 psf for their units, only to find out later in the evening that the government just announced the TDSR framework with effect from the very same day.

What signal do you think the government was sending to the market?

What hardcore property investors and landlords want

As a hardcore property investor, I only want to buy value-for-money and good quality properties minus all the market hype. The moment I buy I have to be sure that I can make a profit, and not have to “hope” that prices will go up.

As a sophisticated landlord, I only want to buy properties that attract expatriates with good budgets, preferably on company leases. I don’t want to deal with difficult tenants, late or no payment, etc.

I am not sure what you are looking for as a buyer or a landlord, but ask yourself four questions before you take the plunge:

1. Are you buying the hotspot area at the peak or bottom of the market?

2. How long are you prepared for the hotspot area to realize its full potential?

3. Do your ‘dream tenants’ like to stay in exclusive or heartland districts?

4. Will your tenants like to have the terminal of Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail at their doorstep?

Jurong Lake District – the next East Coast or Punggol?

“Where do you stay?” It is a casual question commonly asked by Singaporeans. But you can be sized up by your answer. Because in Singapore, many judge your financial status from the area where you live.

1. East Coast

East Coast in the Katong area has been inhabited by the wealthy elite from the late nineteenth century. It was where the privileged class of Caucasians or prominent local families built their seaside villas and mansions. With the prestigious status and rich heritage of the location, it is no doubt that East Coast continues to be the preferred choice for many expatriates and middle class families.

2. Punggol

Punggol was traditionally a rural area with animal and vegetable farms. With urbanization and government planning, it has been completely transformed into a new town under the Punggol 21 initiative. Punggol has changed from dotted farmhouses to crowded HDB blocks and condominium projects popular with young families.

3. Jurong

Jurong was planned to be an industrial area for big factories from heavy industries. Jurong Island was constructed for oil, petrochemical and chemical plants. HDB flats were built to house workers and their families working in nearby factories. The working class is thus the foundation of the Jurong community, especially in the Jurong West area. That is why Jurong often gives the impression of having factory pollution and traffic congestion.

The three shopping malls at Jurong Gateway are frequented by heartlanders in flip flops and short pants. The upscale Robinsons and Isetan have their regional branches there. They don’t attract many customers like their main stores in Orchard. For some reason I still prefer to patronize the latter.

There is going to be a new hotel. It is absurd that you don’t see tourists in the Jurong Lake area, the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. We make every effort to visit an outlet mall in a foreign country. Yet tourists here only flock to the two integrated resorts but not IMM with 55 outlets and which is just 30 minutes’ drive from town.

Is Jurong Lake District a property gem?

Well, it is too early to tell.

Will the transformation of Jurong make it the next East Coast?

Wait, we are not there yet. We have a long way to go.

By guest contributor Property Soul, a successful property investor, blogger, and author of the No B.S. Guide to Property Investment. Posted courtesy of www.Propwise.sg, a Singapore property blog dedicated to helping you understand the real estate market and make better decisions. Click here to get your free Property Beginner’s and Buyer’s Guide.

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