Reliable Internet Mobile Connection for Singapore Realtors – M1 Broadband, Singtel Broadband on Mobile or Starhub Maxmobile?

To fellow Realtors, have you met up with a situation where you’d really like to check on caveat prices or get a document from your Agency’s website really badly and have to travel all the way back to the office or home to get things done when you can close your deal in an instance if you have a laptop and a working internet connection in hand?

Let me paint the picture “Oh crap, I have to logon to e-Office to check on the recent transacted price. . Sigh wish I can logon to AgenTools now to arrange for viewings for my client in my car” I bet they’re familiar.

Sure you could just go to any Starbucks or Macdonalds or even anywhere near central to get a WIFI connection provided by Wireless@SG, but that means you have to travel to the particular place and it doesn’t mean that your connection would still be reliable. I had this problem in Starbucks recently even when Wireless@SG has two access points, connection is totally intermittent.

INTRODUCING YOUR UNLIMITED MOBILE CONNECTION FRIENDS (IN SINGAPORE ONLY OF COURSE)

Try using the solutions in other countries and pay for roaming charges, be warned. I have been a subscriber of these 3G sim card solutions ever since a year ago when M1 just introduced a flat fee plan for an unlimited plan (data cap, but anything more than 1 GB is more than enough if you don’t download stuffs with it).

M1M1 Broadband. It’s Anywhere

Cost (at the moment) – $22.42 per month for 1MBPS, no Data Cap, 6 months contract

What you get when you sign up: A Vodafone USB Modem or a Vodafone PCMCIA Modem or a Linksys Vodafone 3G/UTMS Router

Singtel Singtel Broadband on Mobile

Cost (at the moment) – $22.42 per month for 512KBPS, 50G Cap, 12 – 24 months contract

ps. I’ve signed up for 24 months contract, 12 months free subscription, which effectively cuts my subscription fee to $11.21 per month

What you get when you sign up: a Huawei USB Modem or a Samsung USB Modem (with free 1GB space). I opted for the Samsung one

StarhubMaxMobile

Cost (at the moment) – $72.76 (50% off for Starhub customers) per month for 7.2MBPS

ps. Apparently the most expensive one in town if you are not an existing Starhub customer to enjoy the 50% off (even with the 50% thrown in), but of course, good speed.

With these solutions, you can always use your laptop on the go in any parts of Singapore and have your work done. If you think carrying your laptop is a hassle, a dual sim card PDA phone could use your plan too. Just simply put this particular 3G sim card to the DATA slot of your dualsim phone to enjoy a reliable connection.

MY VOTE GOES TO…

Singtel's Broadband Man!
Photo credit: dpcafe

Singtel’s Broadband on Mobile. Probably because its basestations have better coverage in Singapore than the two other Telecommunication provider. I was even trying this connection on my friend’s cabin cruiser in Serimbun on the sea trying to email my client. Connection is smooth and flawless for even a 512KBPS connection.

M1 was ok, but the connection was somewhat weak/ and sometimes no connection at some parts of Singapore, namely the West area and especially Sentosa.

No chance to try Starhub’s. Too hefty for a non-Starhub customer to carry IMO. But I don’t really need a 7.2MBPS solution for my job. No multimedia intensive presentation required.

It seems that Singtel and M1 are having a price war on their mobile internet solutions. You can take the advantage now to sign up for any of their plans now, whoever is giving a better offer.

ps. Singtel’s naming convention of their mobile internet service would score much better in SEO on the internet. Smart.

ST701, PropertyGuru, iProperty Will Be Fighting For the Spot

After the recent major huge Google Pagerank and Alexa Internet traffic rank update, it seems that these three online classifieds, ST701, PropertyGuru and iProperty are gaining grounds and should be fighting for a really good spot for Singapore Realtors to reach out to our local community for real estate listing.

And as of recent Mocca changes if you didn’t notice, they have already started charging for property and car ads. Makes me wonder when are they starting to charge for everything else.

Wish there’s a Gumtree, Olx or a Craigtree version solely for Singapore which is totally free and is pretty effective for marketing.

I’ll be trying the premium service for the above mentioned for a year to see the effectiveness, coupled together with my own expertise in SEO for this domain to bring REM (Real Estate Marketing) in Singapore to a new height.

Watch out for my review.

Knight Frank Singapore Business Conference – We Are Real

Knight Frank - We're the Best

The conference in Fullerton Hotel was pleasant. Not a hit, but real pleasant.

Most of our Knight Frank Realtors were present, good colleagues Jimmy, Meng and Sean too. It’s a good gathering session which started off with a motivational talk from Nanz Chong, the founder of One.99 shop that went bust in 2003.

She was okay. At least she had an edge with failures that made her stronger, which I think her words actually made sense. I’ve heard better motivational speakers but hers was relevant and concise enough.

The best speaker of the day was Dr Billy Kueek, a real motivational speaker who knows how to catch your attention. Pointers were derived from experience and he made his studies before coming to give a presentation. He deserves the thumbs up of the day even ask compared to Dr Tan Tee Koon, runner-up. It’s always a knack when your presenters actually don’t make use of any paper references when they’re talking about their stuffs.

They know what they’re talking about. At least they come prepared.

Tony unleashed the new potential web 2.0 stuffs that he has made out for all Knight Frank agents. In all honesty, at this virgin stage, we wouldn’t exactly know how Google Adwords targeting niche words, buying multiple domains and engaging Mondarlezo for listing would help much. I’m seeing it from a point as an ex-Internet marketeer when I have experience some form of success in recognition and internet traffic rankings. The effort where I can see is placed mostly would be placing all the new and existing projects, this would definitely be a tough nut to crack.

It takes more than that to bring your site up to be a leading Realtor tool. Sorry for the flaming, but I don’t see the point of blogging your products. A particular agent mentioned about blogging her listings in her blogs, but again, it shouldn’t work this way.

I’ve seen Fred Teo’s Serangoon Garden blog, blogging about the area, the history and the culture. That’s a good line we can start off with. With additional help from REAL/ SEAL web, adding a huge big link on the blog portal to his listings would be probably the correct way since it’s aesthetically clean and should attract different kinds of guests when he’s blogging about the area which he has a niche in.

A site can only be successful with its usefulness relevancy, a huge multiple relevant backlinks, and optimized for SEO. Knight Frank is edging its way towards it.

I’ll be transforming this little space as soon as I can in the next few days to what I think a Realtor’s site should look like with Realweb so I don’t have to engage my programmer to custom the site dynamically for property listing.

It wasn’t a bad seminar experience indeed.

January 2008 CEHA Papers for Download

I’ve taken the liberty to scan all the January 2008 CEHA papers for fellow Realtors to download for reference.

Try not to take reference from what I’ve scribbled as they probably won’t be accurate.

I’ve lent all my notes and books to Joanne from Global. Perhaps anyone who needs them can contact me for to link up.

Cheers and good luck for the April paper. I’ll blog about what to prepare for materials and the settings so on and so forth on the next few entries.

A Helping Hand to 2008 July CEHA Intake

I’ve received a surprise call on my mobile from Emily, a fellow Realtor from DTZ asking for notes I have as she’s taking this upcoming intake CEHA course and has self enrolled for the papers instead of taking any courses from available CEHA courses on the market.

I suppose you can do so if you’re an experience agent who keeps yourself updated almost all time and are familiar with government policies, HDB especially; and calculations herein and out.

Over this weekend, I’m going to scan all 3 papers to share with every agents here; and whatever I could. If you’re interested in the notes, you can actually email me at benson@chocomedia.com to request the stuffs that I have prepared for Emily.

Now good luck to your CEHA accredition and break me the good news if you’ve gotten yourself cert-in!

ps. Even though most experienced agents will find sitting for the papers bothersome, try going for it. You’ll be amused by some tiny little details you don’t really know. Really.

Calculating Stamp Duty for Sale of Property in Singapore

So you’re about to purchase a property in Singapore, you’ve probably heard about Stamp Duty, a tax which the Inland Revenue of Singapore (IRAS) collects upon a new sale or tenancy of a real estate.

Stamp duty is a tax on documents relating to properties or shares.

How do you actually calculate your stamp duty for sale of property? Let’s find out.

Stamp Duty for Sale of Property

I’m referring to the IRAS website on Stamp Duty and you’re suppose to pay this tax if:

  • You have purchased a HDB Flat
  • You have purchased a completed property issued with Temporary Occupation Permit
  • You have purchased a property under construction
  • You have purchased a property by way of a sub-sale
  • You have acquired properties an enbloc purchase

The Formula

For Realtors, we simply use the formula of (Sale Price multiply by 3%) minus $5,400.0 for a quick guide, but if the price of the property falls below $360,000, this would be inaccurate. Remember we also have to round up to the nearest hundred dollar before calculating.

Example

Peter bought a walk up apartment at the price of $500,000.00, his stamp duty fees will be [($500,000 x 3%) – $5400] = $9,600

The real formula would be,

1% of the first $180,000, 2% of the next $180,000 and 3% of the remaining amount balance.

Let’s use the same formula for the above mentioned property Peter bought.

[3% of ( $500,000 – $180,000 – $180,000)] + (2% of $180,000) + 1% of ($180,000) = ( 3% of remaining $140,000 ) + (2% of 180,000) + (1% of 180,000) = $4,200 + $3,600 + $1,800 = $9,600

Who To Pay?

Most of the time, the purchaser will be responsible for paying the stamp duty fees unless otherwise stated on the Sales & Purchase or Option to Purchase terms and conditions.

The persons liable to pay stamp duty will be in accordance to the terms of the document. If the terms of the document are silent on this, under the Stamp Duties Act (Cap 312), the transferee or grantee has to pay stamp duty.

When To Pay?

Please take note that upon execution of Sales and Purchase agreement in most cases, you’ll have to get your documents stamped within 14 days or within 30 days if you are overseas. Late stamping would be subjected to penalties for violating the Stamp Duties Act (Cap. 312)

Penalties will be imposed on documents that are stamped late or for which stamp duty is underpaid.

If the delay does not exceed 3 months, the penalty is $10 or equal to the amount of the deficient duty, whichever is higher.

If the delay exceeds 3 months, the penalty is $25 or 4 times the amount of deficient duty, whichever is the higher.

Now that’s pretty hefty, so please make sure your Realtor gets this properly done up upon a sale of your new home or property!

SISV CEHA Course – April 2008 Intake

And I do believe in returning the favor whenever you receive something.

SISV is having it’s next course running for Common Examinations for Housing Agents (CEHA) in April for the July 2008 Examinations (7th, 8th and 9th July). If you’re a full time Realtor (Property Agent), you’ll have to rush and get your papers before the 2009 axe.

The objective of this SAEA Pre-CEHA course is to train estate agents to undertake agency work in Singapore. In particular, it is designed to prepare practising agents to take the CEHA examination. A pass in the CEHA is now a pre-requisite for those wishing to apply for a House Agent’s Licence under the Appraisers & House Agents Act. Under the SAEA’s requirement, all agents under the accredited agency must possess a pass in CEHA and be accredited by 1 January 2009.

Unfortunately, my agency is accredited.

The Files

The venue for all lessons from SISV are conducted in Toa Payoh Community Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays (from 2 to 5pm for this season). Cost is SG$365 nett for all 3 papers.

Honest Review

I like the lecturers, they’re knowledgeable on their subjects, professionals to the real estate market scene. I actually like Sam Gian’s 10-year series, though some of the information have to be reviewed because of changing policies. He’s a funny man.

If you’re worried that you can’t pass your papers, I suggest enrolling with SISV and attend all the classes, it should put you in good shape before attending your papers.

The Singapore Property Search – Review, PropertyGuru

We continue our Singapore Property Search shootout on the next website, PropertyGuru.

PropertyGuru, Singapore

Ease of Listing

Registration process is okay. It would be better if there’s a registration tab on top just for agents, especially the logging in for their “AgentNet“. Bookmarking it would seem to be the only easiest way to access the listing area since I can’t find the link to it on the index.

The AgentNet index is fancy. You can promote yourself by answering questions. I think Howard Teo (Dennis Wee) is doing pretty well as compared to the rest of the Singapore Realtors in this segment. Agents who’re knowledgeable can score well with queries coming from the public and leaving their contact behind so that they can clinch some new leads.

Property Guru AgentNet - Q&A Time ;)
Are you a Property Guru? ;)

Options to list a property are comprehensive, but you can’t seem to expire a listing. Also, some properties do have more than 3 bathrooms, I suppose they’ve added the + sign after people had feedback on it, but it would be nicer to add bathroom numbers to “4” or “5”. It would be nice if people can add more than 3 photos to showcase.

Searching for a Property

Uh Uh. I’d be bashed, but it isn’t user friendly to me. I’d rather much prefer Myoochi‘s way of searching, at least with street or for a development. To each its own, but I wouldn’t be stereotyped or bogged by budget, the area, or the exact maximum price for rental or sale. To improve, maybe they would like to list down the areas in the districts rather than the district numbers (North/ West).

Plus Points of Listing

How it looks when you list with PropertyGuru
This is how it looks when you list it with PropertyGuru

+ Very clean listing, development details are listed as well (good for condominium listings, with the developer name and TOP date)
+ Allows potential clients to submit a form to contact you, with their email/ contact and their preference of contact.
+ Location map with amenities are listed by the sidebar. Great for potential buyers who’re interested in the particular development

Minus Points

– 3 photos limit isn’t good
– Premium listing are REALLY focused than normal listings. I understand when you pay you’ll get better features, but I suppose it shouldn’t be made so obvious. All the premium listing gets in front. My Sanctuary Green listing gets hidden in the pile of premiums without photos.
– Adding a video tour option would be good (though impractical at the moment)

Traffic/ Viewership

PropertyGuru’s Alexa Ranking
It’s doing better than Myoochi. One reason I can think of is it’s advertisements on the television. But is it the number one Property Search portal in Singapore as claimed by someone who actually gave me a call to register for the premium member (from PropertyGuru’s office) yet? Let’s see. *Compares.

True to some extend (those that I’m more familiar with), but very close fight with one which I will be reviewing soon. With such page views, you’ll get 200 – 300 unique visitors daily. From what I can see on the charts, their traffic is improving as well.

To hit expatriates or overseas market, I think SingaporeExpats is doing fantastic as compared to the search portals that I’ve seen. (In fact, the best).

Extra Features

The estate market data seems interesting. Also, the online valuation function is pretty accurate to how much a particular project cost now. Information about the different condominium projects and photos are here.

The site is tastefully done, but I’d say if it could improve on not focusing too much on Realtors that pay for their premium listing, it would fair better. (Not that I don’t want to pay to list, but with that kind of uniques in terms of traffic, it’s not worth my $50 per month just yet). Register here as an Agent to advertise your listing.

Rating: 2.5 /5.0 (Better viewer ship, but not worth the money to spend for membership for now)

Next…

iProperty will be next in the shootout.

Google’s Way of Countering MSN/ Yahoo Search

Just tried to install the new version of MSN Live Messenger and accidentally clicked on most of the default options to have MSN Search set as default when I was pleasantly surprised with some Google dialogue box coming out from nowhere.

Google’s way of countering

Well, since I’m not so much of a Microsoft fan in terms of search, it saved me the time to switch Google back to default, but don’t you ever wonder why programs gets bigger in size in terms of megabytes when you install them with new upgrades?

Privacy will be the next big issue in the future as with our most common used programs studying our online habits. Pfft. Not that I’m not happy with Google axing MSN search in this way. It’s another whole big issue with ‘Legal Spyware’.

Property Legal Woes – Seperated Spouse Unwilling to Sell House (HDB)

MY HUSBAND and I have been separated for a year. In the past, he has refused to pay for all household bills and refused to sell our HDB flat. He refused to do anything at all. What should I do if there is a buyer for the house and my husband refuses to sign the documents? What procedures can I take to make him sign?

Since I have been paying most of the household bills, can I fight for a bigger share of the sale proceeds from the house? As legal fees are very high, do you think it is worth doing that? Can I fight for alimony?

We have no children and I am earning slightly more than him. How much can I claim? If he does not pay for the alimony, what do I need to do? I am earning $2,500 monthly and have heavy financial commitments. Am I entitled to any government legal aid?

Answer from Lim Choi Meng, a lawyer from TM Hoon and Company

I ASSUME more than three years have passed since you got married, so you are now able to get a divorce.

I also assume that you are seeking a divorce and basing it either on grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

A year’s separation is not sufficient to get a divorce on those grounds, though. A minimum of three years (with his agreement) or four years of separation is required.

If the flat is sold pursuant to a court order made under the divorce, a time limit for selling it is usually stated.

In any event, the HDB will not allow a divorced couple to hold on to a flat jointly.

If a prospective sale fails because your husband unreasonably refuses to sign his agreement to the sale, it is possible for you to get an order in which the court is empowered to sign on your husband’s behalf.

On your question of your husband seeking a buyer, both of you have an equal right to sell the flat.

You can jointly appoint a housing agent, or else, if the court order specifies what price level the flat shall be sold at, the first spouse to get a successful buyer gets to sell the flat.

Your paying the house bills does not entitle you automatically to a greater share of the flat. This is an ‘indirect contribution’.

The first benchmark for arriving at the percentage of division is your respective direct contribution to the purchase price of the flat.

In deciding how much each party’s indirect contributions are, the court will look at factors such as who has been paying the household bills, and caring for the family and home.

Whether it is worth fighting the case in court depends on how much the profit on the flat is.

If there is a net profit of, say, only $10,000 which is to be shared between both of you, it makes no sense to go to trial to fight for an additional $1,000 or $2,000, as the money will easily be used up for your legal fees.

On alimony, the law provides an avenue for a wife to claim maintenance from her husband.

The amount depends on many factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial circumstances of the parties, their lifestyle, and whether there are children.

If you have been married less than five years with no children, chances are the maintenance that you will get will not be significant.

The court is likely to give you a lump sum (represented by a larger share of the net profit of the flat) rather than continuing maintenance.

If there is a court order for maintenance and he does not pay, you can enforce the court order yourself at the Family Court (Maintenance Section) in person – that is, without hiring a lawyer.

On your last question, your income is above the ceiling to qualify for legal aid.