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Property news? Always question what they tell you

Have you read this week’s property news about sales of JadeScape on the first weekend?

It is interesting to see an unanimous celebratory mood in the headlines and content across similar articles in The Straits Times, Business Times, The New Paper, PropertyGuru, iProperty, EdgeProp and Yahoo News.

Strong sales, encouraging results, market confidence and new benchmark are positive words shared by the journalists and property agencies.

It is not surprising to see all the print media under SPH coming up with indistinguishable news stories for convenience. But the online media also reach a consensus to show the developer that their advertising dollars spent on them over the past few weeks is worth it.

What a peculiar media scene in this Little Red Dot!

The hard truth shows a different picture

The truth is: Qingjian Realty only sold 330 units out of a total of 1,206 in the new project.

Isn’t it confusing for the readers with the overly-upbeat tone in the articles which are contradictory to the disappointing result?

1) Strong first weekend sales?

Is 27 percent (330 out of 1,206) of units sold on the first launch weekend considered as strong sales?

What about new projects launched in the past few months that were easily 70 to 80 percent sold on the first weekend?

What about Hundred Palms Residences, The HIlford, Alexandra Central and J Gateway that were all fully sold out on the first day?

Wow, they must be overachievers.

Wait, have they lowered the standard from 100 percent to 30 percent? Then JadeScape’s result of 27 percent sold should quite encouraging, right?

2) Where have all the cheques gone?

The EdgeProp article mentioned that, “over the past two weeks, more than 800 cheques were received as expressions of interest, which means a conversion rate of 41.5%.”

What a novel and interesting concept of balloting! In fact, JadeScape has given a completely new meaning to the word “balloting”.

We have the activity of balloting because there is overwhelming demand over limited supply. So we draw lots to ensure everybody has an equal chance of getting it.

Take the example of J Gateway. On 28 June 2013, eager buyers submitted a total of 1,400 blank cheques to their property agent for the balloting of 738 units.

But over the last weekend, a total of 800 cheques were collected to ballot for 1,206 units, out of which 330 units were sold at the end.

Why did we still have to ballot if there are only 800 buyers of 1,206 units?

Why was the “conversion rate” not 100 percent but 41.5 percent? Does that mean 58.5 percent of buyers decided to back out after passing their cheque to the property agents?

3) Why we need so many to sell?

Another innovative way of marketing JadeScape is the opening of the project to marketing by five property agencies, including ERA, Huttons, PropNex, Savills and SLP International. (To be honest, after all the mergers, how many large property agencies are left in Singapore?)

This is an unusual practice since most new launch projects are either marketed by an exclusive property agency or at most two to three to protect the interest (and commission) of the property agents.

By opening the project to the five largest agencies, it can’t help giving the market the impression that the developer is desperate to reach the limited pool of buyers in the current market.

Similarly, the property agents of the five agencies are exposed to the highest level of competition because almost any property agent can bring their customer to the sales gallery.

Do agents have to be so desperate if they really believe in the strong buyer confidence and market resilience claimed by their companies’ spokespersons?

4) How many are actual buyers?

Two weeks ago, another article from EdgeProp said JadeScape drew a crowd of 9,000 people to its sales gallery on the preview weekend on September 8 and 9.

Why did the project only manage to move 330 units out of the 9,000 who turned up at the preview? Were there 8,670 property agents visiting the showflat the other day?

I don’t know whether Qingjian Realty is a good developer or not. But it is definitely the most generous one to spend a whopping six million dollars on Singapore’s biggest two-storey showflat, with 2,000 sq ft space to host the big party for 8,670 property agents.

Rather than treating readers like fools, is it a problem for the media and industry stakeholders to say the truth, and admit that sales has slowed down after the introduction of new cooling measures?

It is far more convincing to explain that there are far less property investors and speculators in the market now. But these days buyers are all genuine home seekers who have the real need and financial means to own a reasonably-priced condo unit in a good neighborhood.

Afterall, what is the point of the REDAS President telling the public that the Singapore property market is facing many challenges, hoping that the government can take it easy on cooling measures; when the media keep faking successes with new launch results and property data interpretations on the other side?

How to read property news from the media

When we put our savings into a home or an investment, be it local or overseas, we expect prices to go up and worth more in the future.

Why is the outcome often the opposite?

It is because too many home buyers and property investors took the misleading property news and advice from their property agents or so-called industry experts, made a bad decision and got burnt.

What people fail to realize is that these industry stakeholders have vested interests. They are paid to say what they say. They don’t stand behind their words and we can’t hold them responsible for anything.

These people only care about their business, their sales, their job, their pay and their commission. They don’t care whether we lose money or not.

If the industry stakeholders don’t care about our well-being, why do we care what they say?

I am a fan of Japanese blogger and writer Chikirin who has 70 million followers in Japan.

In a new book “Don’t use your brain the wrong way again: Japanese famous blogger Chikirin’s 11 principles of thinking” (别再用错你的脑 : 日本超人气部落客Chikirin的思考11法则), Chikirin shares how we can avoid being misled by the wrong parties.

“Think about the issue first, before reading the comments from the so-called experts in the media, or listening to other peoples’ opinions.”

For example, there is an article in Monday’s Straits Times titled “JadeScape sees strong sales on launch weekend”. Before you read the content, ask yourself the following questions first:

  1. What do I expect the sales of JadeScape on the first weekend?
  2. What are the logical consequences of the new cooling measures in the new sale market?
  3. Why the headline of the property news article says the opposite? Do I agree with it?
  4. What kind of comments do I expect from the “experts”? Do I agree with them? In which ways are they vested in this matter?

If you think before you read the property news articles, you can train yourself to think independently and practise using your individual judgement.

Above all, you can avoid believing in fake news, biased comments or illogical conclusions, and repeating them like parrots to the others later.

If you are a Property buyer for investment, an aspiring property investor, first time landlord or an existing landlord looking to sharpen skills, you can sign up for a paid-course this coming 28 October. You can read more about the course in this link here.