Among his many achievements, Ismail holds, as an NSman, the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is currently the Deputy Brigade Commander of one of the SAF's infantry brigades.
This is notable especially because of his race. It's an open secret that the SAF is biased against the ideas of Malays holding senior appointments in the military.
(Actually, that's not even a secret. Lee Kuan Yew has spoken publicly about it before).
Anyway, I digress. What I really want to talk about is Ismail Gafoor's new book, "The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Investment in Singapore".
I bought the book ($34.99 at Popular Bookstore), even though I don't expect to be buying or selling any properties in the next two or three years. The book is informative and well-written, and I feel that its useful shelf life will extend beyond a 2 or 3-year period.
At 337 pages, the book provides quite comprehensive coverage of its topic. There are chapters about HDB flats; landed properties; condominiums; property auctions; bargaining strategies; being a landlord; obtaining a home loan; understanding the URA Master Plan; evaluating a property's location; planning your budget, and more.
Highly recommended, if you're interested in real estate in Singapore.
Anyway, here's one interesting nugget from the book.
If you're interested in private property, you probably know that on a per square foot (psf) basis, landed property is usually much cheaper than condominiums. The question is - why?
I have always assumed that it's because Singaporeans are willing to pay the extra premium for the condo facilities. Typically, that means the swimming pool; the tennis courts; the gym; the barbecue pits; the clubhouse; the children's playground; and so on.
In contrast, a house is, well, just a house.
However, when Ismail discusses the question, he doesn't even mention condo facilities at all. (I take it that this means he would consider my view to be either irrelevant or wrong). Instead, here's what Ismail says:
"How is it possible that a space in the sky is actually more expensive than land on the ground?So according to Ismail, you pay more for your condo, because you're competing with the foreigners. All these years, they've been jacking up your price.
The answer basically lies in the rules of land ownership. In Singapore, foreigners are generally not allowed to buy landed homes, unlike condominiums. Foreigners who desire to own a piece of land must fulfil the criteria and submit an application to the authorities, which will only be approved based on its merits."
In contrast, landed properties are cheaper (on a psf basis) because the foreigners are still kept out (not entirely, but largely) by the laws and regulations. Foreigners can buy landed properties, only if they first succeed in getting government approval.