Singapore Shows Vigilance Capabilities on the Hunt for Jemaah Islamiyah

A MMS from ‘SPF’ came yesterday at 4pm.

You would think you’re getting another mobile virus from some anonymous bastard who wants to fry your phone. As Channel News Asia flashes across me with the JI terrorist hunt still on, I opened the MMS with my Dopod.

Mmn, so this is how Jemaah Islamiyah look like. It would seem so weird that he could possibly escape, but Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Armed Forces have been securing most of the key installations and possible escape perimeters very vigilantly. A good friend of mine, Nicholas who’s in the fish chartering business notice a lot more coast guard petrols on the sea lately.

I would say SPF and SAF is taking this operation as a way to show off their capabilities. First off, the main mobile networks volunteered and allow SPF to tap the 5.5 million mobile phones (M1, Singtel and Starhub). I received another email coming from Singnet, it looks alot like a phishing email than a warning one though, but its not too hard to recognise.

Posters of Jemaah Islamiyah is all over the island, and with the public working diligently with the government forces, it’s only a matter of time before he gets back behind bars.

Strength Finder 2.0 – The Online Test

Lincoln lent me his book, Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

Strength Finder

This book actually came with an online test (a set of unique codes behind for a unique user) to test your 5 most matched unique strengths on your results with 34 different themes to match from. Since Lincoln has used his code, I was contemplating of getting a new book myself just to test out what kind of results would I have.

Google is your friend, they say.

Indeed, I manage to save the trees and my pocket by purchasing a brand new access code online just to take the test. Interested parties can purchase a code which would be sent to you in 24 hours at $17.50 USD (You don’t really save much since the cost of the book is about $20.50USD, but there’s no point of keeping the physical stuff, why not just save the pdf that the test gives you)

The test takes 30 minutes or so, with no time for you to think of the answer. “When you take the assessment, you have just 20 seconds to respond to each item. It’s quick because we found that instinctual, top-of-mind responses are more revealing than those you’d give if you sat around and debated each question…” as quoted by Tom in the book.

Here’s my 5 traits if anyone of you are interested:

Futuristic

People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

Activator

People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

Relator

People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Focus

People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

Maximizer

People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

Basically if you find reading the whole book to read all the different 34 themes a chore, just take the online test, the results are given with explanation, insights and even action plan which are laid exactly in the book. (Your 5, except missing out the rest of the 29 themes)

It’s a good read and a good way to start knowing yourself if you’re feeling lost on what kind of strengths do you have.

The Singapore Property Search – Review, Myoochi

Our first Singapore Property Search shootout focuses on Myoochi, an aesthetically beautiful Singapore Property search portal.

Myoochi - A Singapore Property Search Portal

I’ll review all these sites base on my understanding of the previous factors which I’ve mentioned about.

Ease of Listing

Registration as an agent is fairly simple, fill up some forms, no sensitive data asked. There’s a problem with my signing up previously as I didn’t receive the verification email from the system. A kind lady from Myoochi’s office actually gave me a call and resent the verification to settle the issue.

Most of the real estate consultancy companies are there for you to choose which firm are you from, and they allow you to add a photo of yourself (So your face, handphone number and even your real estate company’s address appears next to your listing).

How a Platinum Listing Looks
Platinum Listing Looks Really Nice with the correct amount of information

Two types of listing are available, General Listing & Platinum Listing

General Listing basically allows simple text descriptions, with options to choose from like Property Type, For Sale or Rental and many more options. A plus point is to allow you to just simply key in the postal code of your property so you do not have to key in the full address.

Platinum Listing allows unlimited uploading of photos (apparently since I don’t see the limit stopping when I click on the plus signs of the uploading section), has a property location map to show you exactly where your property is located with other projects nearby.

Searching for a Property

Easy, just key in your minimum sum, maximum sum and rent or sale in which area, most of the listings are tastefully shown up with a summary. Thumbs up for this.

Plus Points of Listing

+ The listing is tastefully displayed and you’re allowed to edit it if its a platinum listing (check out my Sanctuary Green Penthouse listing to see how it looks)
+ Allow people to click to offer, bookmark and add alert service to update you of any changes (Though usually the case, potential clients will just call your mobile
+ Per Square Foot pricing of rental or sale is up for easy reference so you don’t have to do your calculation.

Minus Points

– If they do allow a click to the existing photos to enlarge to allow potential customers to see the picture clearly, it’ll be fantastic.
– If only they have a video option for linking Youtube or Metacafe videos for a video tour of the place.
Generally it is easy to list your properties with Myoochi, I’ll give this a thumbs up to the aesthetic, the ergonomics of the site, and the functions. You get a help desk to call if you have problems with the site.

Myoochi Ranking on Alexa

Traffic/ Viewership

This is something Myoochi could improve on. A ranking of 448,200 on Alexa means it hasn’t really reach a good viewership as compared to big guns like Mocca, Gum Tree, and Craiglist (classified ads). We could say with 440,000 odd ranking, there’s a viewership of about 30 – 50 daily uniques (I know, I’ve a few sites running)

Also, to improve viewer ship, they could focus on SEO, permlinks settings and advertising if they have the time and budget to do so.

Bonus to sign up as a Member

You’ll also get a weekly wrap up of the real estate happenings in Singapore via email, which I think is pretty useful for a Realtor. It basically could sum up most of the new news mentioned in Business Times/ Straits Times.

Rating: 3.0/ 5.0 (With viewer ship lacking, I don’t see anything else is missing much)

Sign up as a Realtor on Myoochi to list your properties here | or as a member to receive updates

Next…

We’ll be looking at PropertyGuru, another search portal that has gained popularity from TV media lately.

Factors for Realtors to Consider when Using Online Property Searches

Suddenly, there’s an influx of property websites that’s bursting in the scene lately; (Yes and you’ll even get phone calls from operators to paste your listing in their website, let’s not mention names). The competition is that stiff.

Is there an exact winner to all the Realtor’s marketing needs? Just one that fits all? Currently in Singapore, there are a few that are vying for the top spot with one another. Some aren’t even just doing real estate (sites like ST701, Mocca), but they’re being really aggressive in promoting their viewer ship and advertisers with them.

Indefinitely, there’ll be one ultimate winner that will be charging for listing any properties with them. What’s my concern when I pick a website to list my listings? Before we begin the shootout reviews for the properties site, let’s take a look at some of the factors we’re considering.

Ease of Listing

The steps needed to list my property. The steps should be pretty self explanatory and we shouldn’t need to refer to their FAQ to add my listing in. Standard procedures like registration, email validation and then adding the property should be easy.

Additional steps or validation from operators before use is wasting of precious time.

Cost of Placing Advertisement

Currently most of the property sites allow advertising to be free as most are trying to boost their readership/ viewer ship and traffic. Once the dogfight ends between the sites, I’ll like to know would it be expensive to put in ads to push my properties.

With such competition at this moment, Realtors should take this advantage to try out all the sites and see which is effective for their marketing needs.

Functions and Aesthetics

Are there extra functions in the property search site? Say maybe after I add my listing, it displays a map and shows the location, shows the nearest MRT, restaurants and amenities nearby. Or maybe even an sms function for you to contact the Owner or Agent of the prospective property? These are bonus functions that a listing site could have.

Also important is the aesthetics of the website, whether is it attractive and ergonomically easy for people to browse and find what they want.

Traffic/ Viewer ship

This, everyone would agree would be the most important element to anything else. Sure you could argue that if you use every property search websites available to list, you’ll get the maximum exposure. I’d say as long as you have good viewership and have a niche over any other property search website, you stand to gain the most market share, just like SgCarmart for used cars in Singapore.

We’ll review to see which is topping up the traffic chart in the shootout issues that I have in mind.

Authenticity of Target Audience

Ah, please don’t get some people to call us when we list somewhere. No names, but I’ve heard of cases where Realtors actually paid for some online listings, and towards the expiry of the list, the company actually got someone to give them a call to ‘generate interest’.

The authenticity of the general target is important.

Speed / Server Load

If a site loads slow, it’ll be out of the question to use them if the database is massive. Though this is really a secondary issue, we’d generally prefer a fast loading site.

Support

Is there a number for us to call if we face account issues? Email support? Ticket support? How about when we list something wrongly and would like to edit them? Is it easy? Or is there someone waiting to solve any of our problems?

We’ll begin the shootout with Myoochi, a Singapore Property Search site.

Myoochi, How will you Fair?
Myoochi, how will you fair? ;)

Citibank Credit Cards Changes Interest Rate (Singapore)

Citibank

Noticing some fine prints behind my Citibank credit card, I scanned through the changes in terms of service with regards to interest rate pretty quickly.

Citibank has joined the ranks of Standard Chartered and Amex offering clients with good paying records to lower their interest rates; and penalising those who aren’t responsible paymasters.

Known as tier pricing, Citibank credit card customers with good paying habits would be rewarded in terms of lowered interest if they have been paying their bills regularly. We’re looking at the due date with at least the minimum sum payable; Should you miss paying at least twice, your interest rate could hit as high as 27% per annum, which means 2.25% compounding interest, 0.25% higher than of the old 2% which works out to be 24% per annum.

And for customers who honor their bills regularly, it’s 1.5% per month, 18% per annum, which means massive savings. I happen to fall in this category, hopefully yours too!

Singapore Wins Youth Olympic Bid

Woohoo, it seems that Singapore is on a row with events. First F1 Formula racing, then you get the ever first in the world’s night racing and now Youth Olympics to be hosted in our heartland Singapore in 2010!

Singapore Youth Olympic 2010 Host
(photo: yahoo)

With 53 votes to 44, Singapore aced Moscow and will be the first Southeast Asia country to light up the Olympic torch in 2010. Singapore will be spending 75.5 million on hosting the inaugaral event, with 24 venues, 4 venues will be staged up just for the Youth Olympics. We’ll be expecting over 3,500 althetes from age 14 – 18, competing in 26 sports.

Wow, now that calls for a good beer and cheers to everyone around me. It’s great when the nation excels and moves a step towards world recognition in the sporting arena.

Geylang Remains as a Residential Area

Some SHophouses in Geylang
Nice photos of Geylang conserved shophouses (photo: Matthias)

I live in a red-light district area for almost 10 years and never had problems with it. We haven’t seen any reports of men sexually harass girls here for a long time too.

Minister Mah Bow Tan was responding to a query from a Marine Parade MP on tightening the security of Lorong 22 – 44 Geylang (I live in lor 36) to control the vice activities that might spread from the smaller numbered lorongs (Lorong 10 – 20 are more tyrant on red light activities)

Personally, I never find prostitutes walking around a problem, and to be honest, the situation isn’t as bad as what the Marine Parade MP Fatimah thinks. From time to time, we’ll see illegal freelancers from China walking around to solicite their services, but rarely do any man responded to them. The numbers aren’t as frightening as those in Lorong 10 – 14. Probably 3 – 4 a night on the stretch of Sims Drive?

I’d wish the zoning could change for the higher lorongs of Geylang though, it’ll bring more robust and entertainment to the already very vibrant and colorful Geylang. We’ll see more and more developments coming up with Paya Lebar converting into a business hub and new mall springing up around the area.

Shop houses around these higher lorong numbers should benefit from the new changes in the near future.

The proximity location from Geylang to town in my opinion is one of the best too. With Nicoll Highway just around the corner. Zipping to Suntec City can take as fast as 10 minutes from here.

Singapore Real Estate News – Estate (Death) Duty Abolished

The long awaited budget day for 2008 was released today by the new Finance Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. With 6.4 billion surplus in revenue at the closing of 2007, the parliament decides to reward citizens, giving rebates. For the important part of realtors (estate agents) and people who invests in real estate in Singapore, you might be interested to know that the estate duty tax has been abolished.

Previously, if you die and have assets of dwelling houses of more than 9 million dollars and CPF/ other tangible assets of more than $600,000, you’re liable for estate duty (death) tax before your properties are distributed to your family/heir.

For the every dollars of your 1st 12 million dollars, you’re previously liable for 5% tax and anything more than 12 million, it’s 10%. With this law abolished, it’s big savings to wealthy individuals.

This probably would attract more high net worth individuals and professionals to be a Permanent Resident in Singapore in the future.

Singaporeans Average Life Span At 80 – CPF Life Introduced

Even I’m pretty skeptical at how old I could live till, but our Government now expect a typical Singaporean life expectancy to be at 80. With that, the Government introduces a new scheme, CPF Life

We can live more than 80 years old!
We can still pak tor when we’re 80! (photo: magictoast)

With 12 types of annuity plans to choose from, Singaporeans who are aged 50 and below for now are set to get a steady retirement income till death. Payouts can start from as early as 65 or as late as 90 (my god, that’s a little ridiculous). And if you do not choose a option, the default for payout to start will be set at age 80.

CPF will be the sole Financial Institution and Government Board to manage CPF Life.

The scheme will be rolled out in 2013, 5 years from now.

What it means to us:

Social security during old age is a plus point, but that probably means setting more aside for the existing CPF minimum sum component where the premiums will be deducted from.

Psychologically, I’m not too sure about setting an age an an option which is not changeable once you’ve set it. Like with the refund or non-refund option to family, would we because of CPF Life target to live longer just to care about the payouts?

This is bewildering.

Everyone should probably get a copy of Straits Times and read on the 10 FAQs covering most questions that a typical citizen would ask. Also, this PDF file from Channel News Asia would probably cover your doubts with scenarios and explanations.

Well Maintained Yishun HDB For Rental

A beautifully maintained, fully furnished, 4 room HDB apartment in Yishun is available for rental. The owner did a great job maintaining this cosy place.

The Living Room, Well-lit and Cosy
A very clean and well maintained flat

I have posted this out for rental at Myoochi, PropertyGuru, Singapore Property Exchange, ST701 (That’s a number of sites we’re going to review soon!)

The Living Room, Well-lit and Cosy
The Living Room, cosy and definitely well lit. Furnishing with a 32″ Samsung LCD TV, Surround Sound.

Well Maintained Kitchen, Clean and Spacious
Well Maintained and Very Spacious Kitchen

One of the Common Room
One of the Common Room

Another Common Room
Another Common Room

Interested parties can give my mobile a call at 91253045, or even drop me an email at benson.koh@kf.com.sg for a no obligation discussion and viewing too. Cheers!