Stories

Why We Do What We Do

A little insight of why we do what we do at The Listing Colony.

Hi!

To our readers who happen to chance upon our humble space in this part of the internet, we welcome you to The Listing Colony (TLC). Here at TLC, we are a bunch of like-minded individuals with the common belief that knowledge can help people to make better decisions; and in this context, better property related decisions. I am also known as the Fire Rabbit around here and this post is a little bit about me as an editor at TLC.
Feel the bern.

I get inspired by people or certain manifestations at different intervals during the day or night that constantly drive my purpose of being a writer at TLC. Having pursued a different path of being in the pipeline for education in past career choices, it made it clearer to me that what I wanted for others and for my own self-fulfilling prophecy, can be achieved through this mode of passing information and educating people in the process. As with a lot of things in life, writing is never easy. Penning down ones’ thoughts (or typing in today’s context) can be looked upon as individualistic works of art, a form of expression, a belief or a way of life. There is a fine line between opinionated views and writing with purpose that it is so often mistaken for open criticism. Even simple sentences can be interpreted out of context by inferring in the wrong state of mind. In other words, how anyone reacts to anything can be more or less be influenced by their current emotional state of mind, or attachment to different things.

I get that every human beings’ contentment in life differs from every individual. As we constantly look to better our standards of living and our ways of life, many of us bite the bullet and grind out long hours for compensation of our time. But what we tend to forget in this long and arduous process is, time. The time spent after grueling hours of repetition, day by day, month on month and year after year is not one that does not come with any benefits. This in fact increases the value of one’s ability to bring home the dough.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

Our pursuit to increase our ability to perform tasks is the same as many others. In exchange, we have to give enough time to practice our craft to make things closer and closer to perfection. However, not everything we pursue with the purest of heart and effort ends up with the right result. In reality, good intentions and hard work will all be wasted with the wrong approach, materials and mentality. Slowly but surely, time becomes devalued in this blindsided process that we often think that we can afford to have this time spent and eventually make up for it in the future or possibly make something good out of it.

“Our time on earth is honestly too short to be chasing the wrong things in life. Have I not chosen the path I did today, I would not be able to meet new people, experience new things and travel the way I did.”

I come from a family with 3 other siblings, a father to a humble profession and a mother to a household. As we all edge towards earning our own keep, our conversational exchanges led from playtime and toys when we were much younger to investment, real world issues, work-life balance and family. We were fortunate enough to be put through a good educational process to be able to make something out of ourselves. But I would consider myself being the runt of the litter.

I left my stable job of 7 years in the beginning of 2020 to pursue something I never thought I would have the courage to attempt. I worked long hours throughout 7 days a week on certain occasions and I did not find any sort of happiness or meaning other than fulfilling the obligation of having to be present, and putting out fires after fires at work.

Don't worry, I'm fine.

My sibling have stable jobs in robust industries and have advanced in different stages of their personal lives and professional careers. I have gone through and survived many life events that moulded me to what I am today and I am grateful because it helped me to decide and take this step towards doing what I want to; not because of what I have to.

Really tho?

Many may call it a mid-life crisis or filling a void, but I dare say that not many are willing to venture into uncharted territories especially in times of a pandemic. The pandemic offered what we feel is a long overdue correction to the world’s economy, living pace and environmental stresses. Many have labelled 2020 to be an invalid year or the spawn more tragedies.

Moving towards the final quarter of this year, the pandemic presented itself as an opportunity and was probably the exact amount of push required to kickstart this journey.

I have held countless conversations with different people from all walks of life and I recount 3 stories in particular which reiterated our desire to get helpful information out there, readily available for anyone, and everyone. We begin to realise a knowledge gap in different groups of people especially on how well they knew the property market in Singapore; given they were homeowners or not. This came as fuel for us where we draw inspiration from individuals and especially people who are closest to us. The following stories derive from actual conversations that were carried out with actual individuals. If you can relate to any one of the following stories, I hope that our work at TLC can help broaden your perspective about the property market in Singapore.

 

Young & Prime

I recently met up with a friend of mine whom I have not seen for more than 2 years. She is young and successful, is at a prime age and looking in a very good position to reach her financial milestone by her target age. Although her well-paying day job gave her a ton of freedom and complete ownership of her role, she felt that grinding out like this was not the only way to reach her financial goals. We slowly moved on and shared with one another different channels to attain financial freedom from investing in the stock market, entrepreneurship and finally the property market. It was appalling how much she knew about owning a property even though she had close friends who were property agents whom have shared similar views on investing in property with her before.

“As young and first-time home owners, I fully understand the excitement about owning your first property and designing the place to create a home out of a house.”

I vividly remember the home concept that I fully embraced for my first property. She too, shared with me some of her home concepts and I felt her excitement through the tone of her voice. She was financially in a very good position to be owning her own property but had no clue about the mechanics and how to evaluate the up and down sides of properties as an investment vessel.

Many people have common misconceptions about owning a property especially when it comes to affordability and this is exceptionally prevalent for young adults looking to invest or to live in one. While it is normal to be concerned about the affordability of owning a property at any age, it is also equally important to understand the facts and underlying numbers for potential growth, upkeep, and holding time before making an informed decision to dive in the property market. Like her, most young adults which I have spoken to, are uncertain, unclear or simply do not know anything about owning a property in Singapore. The most common answer I received from young adults are “I will buy when the time is right for me”. More than often, many of them would always return and say “I wished I had known earlier than I could have afforded one years before!”. But like all forms of investments, don’t we all wished the same?

 

The Avid Investor

The second story that I am about to share with you is with an old friend who had a knack for investing in the stock market. While he was constantly looking for newer ways to invest, it was always within his comfort zone as with most people.

He would spend immense amounts of time researching on several companies before making an informed decision, and based on his findings, whether or not to invest in them. This, of course, involves a whole different set of valuation metrics and is often considered more of an art than science. The sheer amount of diligence and discipline with the way he manages his finances and life decisions to achieve his ultimate financial goal is admirable in many sense.

Even Sir Patrick Stewart approves.

“There is always so much hype about the property market, I fear that it may become a bubble.”

As an investor, the way he manages risk is that he will not touch anything that he has not done research on. His approach for picking a stock is perhaps the same way I approach a property; through facts that will eventually persuade us to give it a perceived present and future value. One major worry in which he was reluctant to invest in the property market was his concern of how consistent the market was in terms of its trends and growth; which I respected because these are facts in which cannot be changed. There will always be two sides of a fence even in good times.

And rightly so, our conversations usually revolved around our investment portfolios, stock picks and the property market. He acknowledges the property market in Singapore was one way he had considered to increase his wealth as the return on investment look very healthy on paper. However, he has his reservations about the initial outlay of cash and CPF prior to owning one in addition to the average holding period for some properties before he can actually cash out on his investments. Apart from that, he feels the loss in opportunity costs while having a bulk of his cash locked in on a property.

He went ahead to breakdown his finances in percentages to explain further and I understood where he is coming from. Although he aims to purchase a property for stay and investment in the near future, he recognises that he has in fact a lot to learn about the property market before committing to a purchase as he is unsure about the mechanics of getting to own one. Given how he has approached the stock market all these years, I am sure that he will try to fully understand it before committing to a purchase. And I hope TLC would be one of the ways that he can find what he needs!


Kinship

Well, before I start off with the last story, here’s a little background on TLC.  What started off initially as an idea shared by like-minded individuals who feel that the public can educate themselves with information of the property market, is now readily made available on our website. We started this journey with a relatively low profile and have kept it that way thus far. Therefore, neither my friends or family members know exactly what I am doing for a living…

Shot to the heart.

Right. Let’s get on by saying that this last story struck me the most because it came from blood. And since my family did not know what I was doing with my time, it was not particularly easy to take when they thought I knew lesser about the property market than they did (Lol, yes I know, it’s my fault for not letting them know. But still, it pain). I will not disclose the details of our conversation but it was recently made known to me that my brother wanted to upgrade from his current HDB flat to a resale private property.

I proceeded to find out more about his decision and thought process. My brother who currently owns a newly MOP-ed BTO HDB, has a very stable and well paying job and is in his mid 30s. Given his scenario, he could make the best out of his age, combined household income to comfortably upgrade to his next property. He gave me his consideration of a freehold property being close to a school for his kid, his budget, number of bedrooms, a private lift and a few of the resale properties that they were looking to consider. They didn’t mind if their next property would make them any money at all.

“While it is fair to sometimes consider ones wants above needs, it is foolish to assume that property prices will remain constant with time.”

Granted that while freehold properties on paper is a tangible asset that lasts “forever”, it is still susceptible to wear and tear and other factors as the years go by. There is no guarantee that any property will make you money but I can say that an aging property is guaranteed to give you future problems. The process of aging can be beautiful and graceful, but this is not cheese or wine we are talking about here.

Yes, it is common for people to consider resale properties because it fits their current financial or living circumstances. However, if it is well within the buyers’ control to evaluate the defensiveness of the property’s future market value, I find it rather silly to simply accept the short end of a stick!

It was then I realise that many people whom I spoke to do not really have a plan for making their property “work” for them, but would rather “work” for a property. Soon, it became clearer and clearer to me that I cannot let other people, let alone my own brother, make decisions without realising the full potential of owning a property.

Agree to Disagree

The toughest challenge that we face when discussing property related matters with anyone including friends and family is having to free their mind from what they presume the market to be. While we are not directly challenging the traditional way of thinking, what we are doing here is to try to offer additional perspectives of how you can make your property serve you better. It is normal that different individuals have different perceived value of things. Many a times people buy a property due to affordability, square area, location and many more. But what if you knew that you could do more with the money invested whether the sum was large or not? On top of that, what if you knew that there will always be a property available that will suit your needs/wants and at the same time, give you adequate returns in the future?

As the saying goes, advisers run no risks. In other words, it is always easy to give advice but it is always the hardest to act. We understand the difficulty and reservations that homeowners have before they decide to buy a property of their own. What we would like to do is to break the barrier of scepticism that people have about the property market, and also to broaden their horizons of the options available for them.

There are plenty of solutions that can cater to different scenarios of homeowners or future homeowners looking to upgrade, downgrade, buy, sell, rent and invest. Nobody loves a failing investment. But if you could apply and execute a curated plan while combining your living and investment needs, wouldn’t that be the perfect?