Protecting Our Home Investments
Since the worst global financial disaster in recent times, experts have questioned the wisdom of property ventures. Some still believe it is a sure-fire gamble that both inflation and an increasing population would easily dilute the risks. Yet many financial agencies have cited negative returns as the reason to reduce its influence in their investment portfolios.
While much of the financial world continues to tread carefully on the idea of property investments, prices here in Singapore have propelled such where the government had to introduce cooling measures forcibly to slow down its rate of increase. What does this mean to the average homeowner in Singapore? Does this help secure the investment to which we committed our lives? Or are we heading for another financial apocalypse?
Perhaps, it would help us better understand the situation by looking at Singapore from a macro level and the role this country plays in the game of global family planning. Why would people be willing to pay a premium for the same “bird-hole” located here than elsewhere on this planet?
For many Singaporeans, the home we purchase would be one of our most valued investments. It is an endowment we will spend many years working hard to pay for. Our parents painstakingly endured this ritual and probably, a ritual our own children might perform in the future. While taking this Singapore rite of passage, we do not simply buy the first available apartment but rather seriously consider locations that we find best suit our main routine. For example, those of us relying on public transportation to move around are likely to locate our investments near MRT stations or a well-serviced bus route. If we spend more time on the Internet than in our kitchens, it would not be surprising if we choose to buy a flat near a good hawker centre. Just as a young couple may choose to live near a good school because they are preparing to start a family, the matured buyer may look instead at homes near familiar places because that is where we feel the most secure.
Thus, many people around the world understandably make similar judgment when choosing their home. Being a non-ethnic multiracial society, our playgrounds welcome children of various races and religions without prejudice - an element of security that parents universally value. Our judicial system is fair and transparent and promotes business growth. Our infrastructure is both modern and maintained well - a luxury many migrants look forward to and we oftentimes may take for granted. Coupled with banking laws and financial institutions outfitted to protect wealth, this country is a haven for many. For people who are tired of living in fear or sub-standard conditions, ours is a cleanly kept little city where people can move freely anytime regardless of their origin or background. This alone is worth the extra value that prices of our homes command.
Should we then sign on that thirty-year mortgage or should someone buy the risk while we simply rent a home on a period basis? The answer is within us. Where we strongly believe in the appeal that is Singapore, we then would naturally buy into that investment. This would remain so as long as this country remains a safe haven and the better value for that same box-in-the-air here versus elsewhere. As such, there is little reason why property prices will not hold their value. Despite the social unrest during our early nationhood, our parents still earned on their investments an average gain of a thousand percent. What our homes will do for today’s generation would depend largely on how we manage ourselves over the next fifty years. Policies may favour racial harmony but until we practise these policies on a person-to-person basis, these policies are nearly impractically effective as laws on jaywalking.
Many of us look at our homes as more than just a mere roof over our heads. It may be that golden nest egg nurtured to feather our retirement or as a legacy of love, something we want to leave for our children and future generations. Whatever that vision is, we must realize that we have a role to play in making sure it materialises. How appealing it is to live in Singapore would depend on how the world views Singapore. That depends ultimately, on no one else but we, Singaporeans.