Authentic Russian vodka bottle, early 20th cen...Image via WikipediaThis is needing no other comments than the news article itself...

Firm chided for touting vodka's 'health benefits'
A Russian company has been criticised after claiming that vodka helps cure everything from head colds to indigestion.

Russia's advertising watchdog, FAS, ruled that an online ad promoting leading vodka brands had overstepped the mark by suggesting that vodka was good for one's health and mood.

The advertiser, a company called Direct Line in Moscow, claimed the grain-based spirit was an instant cure for both fatigue and a bad mood, improved digestion and helped fight head colds, sore throats and headaches.

The FAS said it had banned the offending ad and opened an investigation that could result in a heavy fine for the company.

Taken from; source article is below:
Firm chided for touting vodka's 'health benefits'

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Is this just the present generation's status, or is this the beginning of the short lifespan generation? Again, a race issue?

Have we been doing many things, except live longer and fuller?

US life expectancy falls

WASHINGTON: Life expectancy has dropped slightly for all Americans except for black men, who gained around two and a half months in longevity, a report released Thursday found.

Data gathered by the National Centre for Health Statistics showed that life expectancy for most American men was 75.3 years in 2008, down by one-tenth of a year from 2007.

Women also saw a drop in the number of years they can expect to live, from 80.4 years to 80.3 years, the data show.

Black men, on the other hand, bucked the trend and reached a record-high life expectancy of 70.2 years in 2008, up by 0.2 years compared to 2007.

They were still the shortest-lived Americans, though, with life spans around 10 years less than white women, who have the highest life expectancy, followed by black women and white men.

The pattern of white women enjoying the longest lives and black men the shortest has held true for nearly three decades, but life expectancy for all groups has generally increased over those 30 years.

Arialdi Minino, a statistician who worked on the report, told the Washington Post that officials have no idea what may have caused the fall in longevity in 2008.

"I would take this with a grain of salt," he told the Post.

"These are preliminary numbers. You can never tell whether this is a little blip or some trend that will stay there and linger there for some time. You can't tell until you have more data points."

The best state to live in, in terms of mortality, was Hawaii, which had an age-adjusted death rate of 589 deaths per 100,000 people in 2008.

The worst state for mortality was West Virginia, where the age-adjusted death rate was more than one-and-a-half times greater than in Hawaii -- 958 per 100,000 people.

Heart disease remained the leading cause of death in the United States, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and accidental injury.

The sixth leading cause of death was Alzheimer's disease, one of six diseases or causes for which the age-adjusted death rate increased significantly, the study says.

A study released in October said the United States ranked 49th in the world for male and female life expectancy, a precipitous drop from the fifth place it held in 1950.


Taken from; source article is below:
US life expectancy falls

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A container filled with an Aids vaccine
UNITED NATIONS: Complacency among young people is causing a new surge of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and European nations like Britain and Germany, a top UN expert said ahead of World AIDS Day on Wednesday.

The worrying sexual behaviour of young adults, particularly men, in rich nations and a surge of the spread of AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia linked to drug use, officials said, has tainted positive signs such as dramatic cut in the number of infections passed from mothers to their newborn babies.

Agencies including the UN's HIV/AIDS program UNAIDS have cautiously highlighted a fall in the number of global infections in figures released ahead of World AIDS Day on Wednesday.

But Paul De Lay, deputy executive director of UNAIDS, said: "There seem to be secondary and tertiary waves of the epidemic, particularly the sexually transmitted side.

"You have a young people who don't know enough about AIDS, there is less of a fear factor about it."

He said it was a particular problem in Britain, Germany and the United States. Without giving specific figures, he said infection rates among young people are three times what they were in the early 2000s.

"We find that every five to seven years we need to go through a new re-energized education campaign. We are doing that in the UK and Germany. Here in the US we have had a huge resurgence of sexually transmitted AIDS."

According to the UNAIDS annual report released last week there were an estimated 54,000 new infections in the United States last year and 3,900 in Germany. There are an estimated 1.2 million AIDS sufferers in the United States, 85,000 in Britain and 67,000 in Germany.

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia "there has been been an explosion of young people who are experimenting with injected drugs," according to the UN expert.

This is "ripe" for spreading HIV/AIDS and pregnant addicts pass on the infection to their children extending "an ongoing transmission cycle," said De Lay.

Russia and Ukraine together account for almost 90 per cent of new HIV/AIDS infections in recent years, said the UNAIDS report. Ukraine now has the highest adult AIDS rate in Europe and Central Asia.

UNAIDS said "there is strong evidence of resurgent HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men" in North America and Western Europe, where there are now an estimated total of 2.7 million sufferers, up 30 per cent since 2001.

The 3,160 new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men in Britain in 2007 were the most ever reported. In the United States, new HIV infections attributed to unprotected sex between men increased by more than 50 per cent from 1991-1993 to 2003-2006.

Around the world there were an estimated 2.6 million new infections last year, down from about 3.3 million at the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1999, according to De Lay.

"It is a slow, steady decrease," said De Lay, who predicted that at the current rate it would take about 50 years to conquer Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The 370,00 babies a year born with AIDS is down from 500,000 a year at the start of the decade and a new UN report said it would be possible to eradicate mother-to-baby transmission of AIDS by 2015.

Virtually no babies are born with AIDS in Europe and North America now as wealthier countries launched aggressive screening and prevention programs in the the 1990s.

But in Africa, 1,000 babies a day are still infected with HIV/AIDS through mother-to-child transmission.

Anthony Lake, executive director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) called the figure "outrageous" and demanded greater efforts for "the hardest hit communities."

But, highlighting the greater use of anti-viral drugs and other treatments, World Health Organisation director general Margaret Chan said "we have strong evidence that elimination of mother-to-child transmission is achievable."


Taken from; source article is below:
Complacency fuels new AIDS surge in West: UN

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The Easy Way for Women to Stop Smoking: A Revolutionary Approach Using Allen Carr's Easyway MethodThe Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Join the Millions Who Have Become Non-smokers Using Allen Carr's Easy Way MethodHow to Stop Smoking and Stay Stopped for GoodI see news about second hand smoking, and even third hand smoking, and how it affects those who are not even smoking, even those who are too young to even know what would be killing them...

I am stumped by the very fact that while the authorities are putting up slogan and drafting campaigns and programs to quit smoking, it persists. And why not? cigars and cigarettes are available for the smokers, that is!

Here's my point. Why not stop smoking from the roots?

Stop producing, stop planting tobaccos. But this is something even harder to do than for a smoker to quit smoking, right?

Again, my 2-cents worth... think so?

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Vibrio cholerae: The bacterium that causes cho...Image via Wikipedia
Health experts have suspected for a while that Haiti's cholera epidemic, which has upset the nation's recovery after the Jan. 12 earthquake, came from a single source. Those suspicions have now been confirmed.

Ever since rumors circulated that the cholera infection was brought into the stricken nation by U.N. sanctioned Nepalese troops, many Haitians have held the U.N. presence in the country responsible. Indeed, there have been attacks on U.N. camps and hospitals by locals.

(See TIME's Top 10 Terrible Epidemics.)

While medical checks proved that it was not the Nepalese who carried the infection, DNA fingerprinting from a sample of Haitian sufferers revealed that the infection in every case was identical. This points to a single source and rules out the possibility of the dormant prevalence of cholera over there.

(See pictures from Haiti's Cholera Outbreak.)

This will not come as good news for Haitians as this still implies that rumors that the U.N. brought in cholera could be true. With over 10,000 different aid agencies employing a working presence in Haiti to provide humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of January's earthquake, it's improbable that the source itself will be identified. However, the result of the international presence does demonstrate the emergence of a catch-22 situation for the humanitarian effort. Bring in more aid and risk further spread of infection or cease the aid effort and risk Haiti devolving into chaos?

(See the Top 10 Deadliest Earthquakes.)

Now that the infection has showed its strength by spreading to the Dominican Republic, is it possible that the outbreak could become an international pandemic? (via Reuters)

Lifted from this article:
Haiti's Cholera Epidemic: Infection Came from 'Single Source'

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No choice but take bank loans

What can I say? This one from real-life experience: "I feel your pain..."

I REFER to reports that fewer households are defaulting on their HDB loan repayments and would like to applaud the Housing Board's efforts in helping Singaporeans resolve their HDB mortgage problems. The HDB has done a remarkable job in reducing the number of HDB loans in arrears from 33,670 in September 2008, to 26,000 in June 2010, even in the midst of Singapore's worst recession.

The HDB helped 2,000 home owners "right-size" their flats in order to clear their loan arrears and extended an extra loan to 2,700 between January 2008 and June this year to help them downgrade their flats, even though they had already enjoyed two concessionary loans.

However, I would like to know the statistics for HDB bank loans as well, as I understand that there are more than 100,000 outstanding HDB bank loans.

The data appears to suggest that more people are taking HDB bank loans, as the number of outstanding HDB loans has declined from 426,270 in September 2008 to 393,000 in June this year, despite an increase of 50,000 in the number of new and resale HDB flat sales each year on average.

More people may have no choice but to take bank loans because of present and past policies that makes them ineligible for HDB loans.

After the HDB changed its policy on the maximum loan tenure to one based on the average age of the owners instead of the youngest applicant, some many also have opted for bank loans in order to enjoy longer loan tenures and lower monthly repayments. Also, since bank loans interest rates have generally been lower than HDB's 2.6 per cent in recent years, in the first three years, some may also have opted for or switched to bank loans.

The latest policy change allows a second HDB loan for downgraders and those who are not buying a bigger sized flat, provided all the CPF plus accrued interest and half of the cash profits from their previous flat sale are utilised in purchasing the second flat. This may result in the second loan quantum is not sufficient, because the previous flat was sold many years ago with the CPF plus accrued interest already utilised or cash profits already spent. Flat buyers in this situation may also have no choice but to take HDB bank loans.

So, how many HDB bank loans are in arrears over three months and how many flats have been foreclosed since
banks were allowed to do HDB loans on Jan 1, 2003?

As for compulsory acquisitions being "very rare" at slightly more than 1,480 since January 2008, this may just be part of the picture, as most who could not pay would have sold in the open market, with cash-over-valuation, instead of disposal by compulsory acquisition at only 90 per cent of valuation by the HDB.

How many have been forced to sell their homes, with cash and/or CPF losses?

From TODAY, Voices - Thursday, 23-Sep-2010
No choice but take bank loans

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Monday, October 11, 2010

My journey to the new flat

IMG_2048Image by JP Canada via Flickr It seems that my occupation of the new flat is not an easy case after all. I’m now in a transitory abode, a flat which we are renting, so I’m spending a monthly rental, for 2 months at most (or so for what we estimated).

Anyway, there are issues that would make it seem harder every time. Now owner wants to vacate by end of October, when initially it was said to be 3rd week of October.

Anyway, I know that these problems would simply make the occupation and takeover a more cherished event.

So till then.


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As mentioned, here is the other article that debunked the previous one that says after 55, you'll die early if you continue working.

I have watched a documentary many years ago about this one, where is says that we reach a certain age where our body becomes very fragile, and at the same time, sensitive to changes. This means that much of our muscles tend to get more painful with each use. But the less we use them, the more they get tight and tough - and becomes harder to use the next time.

That is our old-age problem. And we live with it so long and as long as we live.

Read on...

No truth to retirement-lifespan link

Letter from Larry Haverkamp

I REFER to the letter “Retire early, live longer” by Tan Kok Tim (Aug 3). It refers to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comments in “I don’t think there should be a retirement age: MM” (July 29).

The author claims Mr Lee is wrong to say people should keep working. He argues that people will live longer if they retire early and cites a study by Boeing Aerospace retirees which found that staff who retired at 50 had an average lifespan of 86, and that those who retired at 65 lived to an average age of only 66.8 years.

He says the study found that “for every year a person works beyond age 55, he lives an average of two years less”.
Mr Tan is not correct. Boeing Corporation has put out a one-page paper on its webpage titled: “Let’s retire the rumour about life expectancy.” It explains that the graphs and study attributed to Boeing are a hoax.

The first sentence of the paper is: “An incorrect but alarming chart that claims to show the life expectancy of Boeing retirees has been circulating on the Internet.

“It is not based on fact. There is no correlation between age at retirement and the life expectancy of Boeing retirees.
“We examine data regularly for trends. Our data shows that life expectancy of a Boeing retiree does not depend on age at retirement ... (This analysis) is based on 4,699 random samples over thirty years.”

According to Ms Julie Curtis, an actuary at Boeing: “The idea that working longer will shorten a Boeing employee’s life expectancy simply isn’t true.

“I’ve been looking at the data since 1983, and the length of a retiree’s life is unrelated to the age at his or her retirement. Our retirees tend to live a long time no matter how old they are when they retire.”

Boeing adds: “The first inaccurate life expectancy chart surfaced in the early ’80s, and versions of it have been floating around for years — almost as an ‘urban myth’.”

So, it looks like Minister Mentor’s intuition about working longer to live longer might not be so far off after all. Other research backs it up.

A study published in the British Medical Journal looked at 3,500 workers in the petrochemical industry who retired at ages 55, 60 and 65. It found that employees who retired at 55 had a significantly increased mortality compared with those who retired at 65. It noted, however, that some workers may have taken early retirement for health reasons.

An expert on ageing, Ms Sally Greengross, is chief executive of the International Longevity Centre in Britain, and claims that greater social engagement and involvement is key to improving the health of older people. “Work is a huge part of this equation, and provides mental and physical activity, self-esteem, social interaction and income for many of us. Sudden retirement may not be the honeymoon we expect it to be,” she said.

The director-general of Age Concern, Mr Gordon Lishman, has a similar view. He said: “After stopping work, it is vital for older people to stay mentally and physically active to enjoy a fulfilling retirement.”

My two cents: A worthwhile pastime is writing letters to Today. After completing this one, I feel rejuvenated already.

From TODAY, Voices - Thursday, 05-Aug-2010

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I came upon this article in TODAY daily, and I wasn't paying attention to it, until I saw another article that is actually debunking the 'myth' stated here, or, to be exact, clarified the so-called 'hoax' that this article was based on.

It wouldn't be fun and interesting if you immediately read the other article, so read this one first.

Retire early, live longer
Studies show that you die two years earlier for every year you work beyond 55

Letter from Tan Kok Tim

I REFER to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comments in “I don’t think there should be a retirement age: MM” (July 29).

Japanese Nobel Laureate Dr Leo Esaki once spoke on the relationship between longevity and retirement age. He revealed that the pension funds in many large companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Lockheed, Lucent, and so on, are overfunded as many who retire at the age of 65, usually die within two years of retirement.

Separately, Dr Ephrem Cheng of the University of Alberta did an actuarial study of lifespan versus age at retirement, based on the number of pension cheques sent to Boeing Aerospace retirees. It found that staff who retire at the age of 50 had an average lifespan of 86. Those who retire at the age of 65 live to an average age of just 66.8.

This study concludes that for every year a person works beyond the age of 55, he lives an average of two years less.

In other words, Boeing employees who retire at the age of 65 receive pension cheques for only 18 months, on average, before dying. Lockheed, similarly, found that employees retiring at the age of 65 take only an average of 17 months of pension prior to death.

People who retire at the age of 65 or older probably put too much stress on their ageing bodies and minds, such that they develop serious health problems that ultimately force them to retire. With such long-term stress-related problems, they die within two years after they retire.

On the flipside, people who retire early might either be richer or better able to plan and manage the various aspects of their life, health and career well, such that they can afford to retire early and comfortably.

Many of these early retirees still continue doing some work, but on a part-time or project basis, at a more leisurely pace, without the stress of the daily grind.

Most Japanese workers retire at the age of 60 or under. One wonders if this is a factor contributing to the long average lifespan the Japanese enjoy.

The lesson here: As you get older, you should consider planning your career path and financial matters so that you can retire comfortably at an early age, and enjoy a long and happy life in retirement.

On the other hand, if we are encouraged to stay in the pressure-cooker corporate world until the age of 65 or older, it could impact our health and lifespan.

I hope Singaporeans will factor in how stressful their jobs are at work when contemplating at what age to retire. There are hidden costs to not having a retirement age that may not be obvious until it is too late.

So are you retiring early?

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I saw the news the first time it appeared: a Citibank female employee filing a suit against her former company because she was fired due to her attractiveness.

I was amused...

I have heard of similar stories here in our local scene, and the most that was done was tell off the female subordinate to dress up - and appropriately. Very much unlike Ms Lorenzana's case of getting fired.

Anyway, I saw this news article, about two weeks ago today, and I am quite interested on how it was related here by the author.

What could be our supposed 'ace' turns out to be a bad card after all. Or is it?

Read on...

Dressed to distract

by Maureen Dowd
It's hard to feel sorry for a woman who frets about being too beautiful.

Ordinarily in life, extraordinary good looks are an advantage for men and women - and even babies. Not only do babies gaze longer at more comely adult faces, research tells us, but parents may gaze longer at more comely babies.

So it was unusual when a knockout in New York, Ms Debrahlee Lorenzana, a 33-year-old single mother, filed a suit against Citigroup, claiming that she was fired in August from the Citibank branch at the Chrysler Centre for looking too sexy.

"Plaintiff was advised that as a result of the shape of her figure," her lawsuit reads, "such clothes were purportedly 'too distracting' for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear".

The media have had a field day. Last week's Village Voice cover profile of Ms Lorenzana - who grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to New York when she was 21 - raved about the bank officer's charms: "At five-foot-six and 125 pounds, (167cm and 57kg) with soft eyes and flawless bronze skin, she is J Lo curves meets Jessica Simpson rack meets Audrey Hepburn elegance."

Television and tabloids ran pictures, taken by a photographer who works with her lawyer, showing Ms Lorenzana in the pencil skirts, turtlenecks, tailored jackets and stilettos that she says made her bosses at the bank concentrate on the wrong kind of figures.

"She has to manage her wardrobe so these men can manage their libidos?" said her lawyer Jack Tuckner, adding that her bosses acted as immaturely as the boys on Wayne's World.

As she prepared to appear on the Monday morning shows, Ms Lorenzana recalled that her supervisors obsessed over what she was wearing "saying things are too tight, you cannot wear turtlenecks. Well, guess what? When you say my pants are too tight when they're not, then you must have been staring at me.

"The reality is, I'm a size 32 DD. I'm very skinny, and then I have curves. So, of course, on my body, the turtleneck is going to make it more noticeable. But I'm not showing cleavage. We wear jackets."

She said a co-worker who shopped with her and bought the same styles and designer brands never got in trouble, and neither did some tellers who wore low-cut tops, snug pants and hot boots.

"I said: 'You are discriminating against me because of my body type'," she said with a slight accent and a breathy voice. "This is genetic. What am I supposed to do?"

Citigroup didn't return calls for comment on Friday. Ms Lorenzana's lawsuit says that her bosses told her that her female colleagues could wear what they liked because their "general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices".

Her well-tailored clothes, on the other hand, emphasised what her lawyer calls her "hour-glass figure".

An opposite reaction

This case has caused such fascination because usually it's the other way around.

Attractive professors get better evaluations from their students, according to one study. A 2005 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis confirmed what seems apparent, from presidential races to executive boardrooms: Good-looking people and tall people get a "beauty premium" - an extra 5 per cent an hour - while there is a "plainness penalty" of 9 per cent in wages.

A study that looked at men's height as teenagers and their salaries later found they made US$789 ($1,115) more a year for every extra inch of height. Meanwhile, obese women tend to get substantially lower wages than women of average weight.

Although people laugh at the idea of a babe in the office being as maddening as Tantalus' out-of-reach fruit, women do get penalised this way sometimes.

A male friend once told me he was looking for an unattractive personal assistant so he wouldn't be tempted. And when I was hiring a Grace Kelly blonde as a researcher a few years ago, a male colleague asked me not to because it would be "too distracting" to him; two girlfriends cautioned me not to because it would be depressing - and therefore, distracting - for me to work with someone so good looking. (It wasn't.)

"Sometimes, honestly, I wish I didn't look the way I did," Ms Lorenzana says, "because people judge you right away. Other women have their guards up, they automatically categorise you as being conceited. I have to work three times as hard to prove that I earned this through my hard work.

"My life has been hard my entire life. People have this misconception that, 'Oh, you do well in your life because of your looks.' No, I am harassed." The New York Times

The writer is a New York Times columnist who won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1999.

From TODAY, Commentary - Monday, 07-June-2010
Dressed to distract

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Well, if this study points out that the stock exchange is ruled by men, would you trust your stocks trading to a female trader?

Just asking.

Read on...

Testosterone an elixir for stock market success

WASHINGTON - The most successful stock traders have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, providing a dramatic boost to their confidence and drive, according to a British study published Monday.

Researchers at Cambridge University found that testosterone also appears to increase traders' appetite for risk-taking a quality likely to enhance the performance of those who earn a living in the high-stakes world of the stock market.

"Market traders, like some other occupations (such as air traffic controllers), work under extreme pressure and the consequences of the rapid decisions they have to make can have profound consequences for them, and for the market as a whole," said Professor Joe Herbert, Cambridge Center for Brain Repair, one of the researchers on the study, which was to be published Monday in the Annals of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Complete Guide to Investing in Short Term Trading: How to Earn High Rates of Returns SafelyThe researchers also noted that success fueled by testosterone feeds itself, in part because it leads to the production of even more testosterone.

In male athletes, for example, testosterone levels rise prior to competition, and rise even further in a winning athlete, but decrease in a losing one.

The phenomenon called the "winner effect," can increase confidence and risk-taking and improve chances of winning yet again, in a positive feedback loop.

"Hormones may also be important for determining how well an individual trader performs in the highly stressful and competitive world of the market. We are now exploring this in much more detail," the researchers wrote.

The study followed 17 male traders in the City of London for eight consecutive business days.

Trend Trading for a Living: Learn the Skills and Gain the Confidence to Trade for a LivingTo measure the traders' hormones, they took saliva samples twice per day at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, times that fell before and after the bulk of the days trading. At each sampling time, traders recorded the traders' profits and losses for the day.

They found that daily testosterone levels were significantly higher on days when traders had a higher than customary daily average.

On the down side however elevated testosterone may explain why stock traders sometimes make irrational choices that lead to bubbles and crashes.

Researchers speculated that if testosterone levels continued to rise or became chronically elevated, it could prompt traders to engage in reckless risk-taking and undermine their profitability.

They noted that earlier studies have linked administered testosterone to impulsivity, sensation-seeking and harmful risk-taking.

High Probability tradingDr. John Coates, lead author of the study said: "If testosterone reaches physiological limits, as it might during a market bubble, it can turn risk-taking into a form of addiction."

Coates, himself a former trader, added: "At times like these economics has to consider the physiology of investors, not just their rationality." - AFP/ar

From; source article is below:Testosterone an elixir for stock market success

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When we finally decided to sell our current flat, with the primary purpose of "cashing-in", in order to have some money to close out some loans and still have some savings left, my wife took a long time getting the thought to sink in. She vacillated between yes and no, ok and why, what if and what if not, etc., etc. I understand. I didn't go through the same emotional roller coaster. I'm a man. She's a woman. And women tend to have more chance of getting attached. And a house that becomes a home is one thing that is sure to forge an emotional attachment to our spouses, especially when they are not working and they put a lot of energy in beatifying the home.

Cutting it all short, 2 weeks or so later, she settled. But a day or two of waiting for prospect buyers to come, I also found myself experiencing - well, that is what is even more torturous - quite an energy-sapping process: waiting. We did feel that there'd be nobody coming to even view the flat, much less to buy it!

Our agent was on the opposite pole, and she was quite confident of closing a deal, and doing the sale. We engaged her service last day of April, and she made it a point that by end of the next month, which is May, the resale is a closed and done deal. That’s what she said.

We talked about the schedule of the flat viewing; evening is ok, and even on some late night schedules, we agreed – if the buyer is serious. You see, she explained that it is not always the one who bids the highest who will end up as the final buyer who will close the deal with you. Not even at a time when the competition is so fierce, where the law of Supply and Demand* is very prevalent and very much in effect – both sides. Buyers tend to offer higher than the LO+ so that the Seller usually asks for a sky-high COV+. If many buyers would like to buy your flat, they would naturally offer more, and the COV goes higher and higher. Sounds good, right?


There is usually a paper that will be signed by both parties to initiate the resale, and it is called The Option. It carries a provision to lock-in the pre-supposed sale within 14 days, so that both Seller and Buyer cannot engage in any other transactions. It is legal and binding, and breaches will be legally dealt with. So what now? You see, at the end of the day, the one who shells out a thousand dollar and signs the Option form is not always the one who will finalize the flat resale. People can get pumped up and excited when in a heated bidding state, and what usually happens is that when they come home, cool down and realize what they’ve done, they’d simply let the grand be forfeited, instead of ‘really coughing up’ the very high COV. That is the point that our agent is always making. And, even they they do finalize the flat resale, they’re no longer happy – right from the start.

That is one very good lesson that I have learned from our flat resale.

She’s right. She has the right confidence, and she has the right motivation. She always talk about selling the flat at a ‘reasonable’ price, to the party who ‘needs a roof’ over their head – which usually means a lower COV, but a happier experience for both seller and buyer.

I agree.

For if there would come prospective buyers, and one who has more money bids higher than the one who needs the flat, and as in the case mentioned above where they don’t exercise their option and don’t finalize the resale, you end up:
  1. Getting a thousand dollars for free (since buyer didn’t exercise option to purchase, the initial deposit is forfeited. Indicated in the guideline)
  2. Losing 14 days in the process
  3. Losing ‘real’ buyers

Our flat value has increased by $100k in a matter of 2 years, and since we didn’t need any renovation when we moved in, we saved a lot then. What’s more, we were able to occupy the flat prior to the resale process completion date. Mid Nov 2007, we submitted the resale application, mid Dec 2007, the owner already gave us the key to the flat – 3 months prior to the resale completion date. These past events helped us to decide to do the same good deed done to us.

In all, there were only 3 batches of buyers who came and viewed our flat: 15-May team, 22-May team, and 23-May team. We have a 3-bedroom flat, but one common room was hacked and merged with the master bedroom, in effect making ours a 2-bedroom flat, 1 common room and a master bedroom becoming a huge bedroom with its walk-in wardrobe and air-con unit and all, very suitable for a young couple (as were the previous owners) and couples having small kids. Currently, we have 3 queen-size beds in the master bedroom, where we all sleep, and the common room is the study room for the kids. If you are the type of parent who’d wake up several times during the night and check on your kids, especially when they are infirm and you’d have to monitor their temperature or wake them up for their medication, this bedroom size and build is very suitable for you. It is for us. It was - then.

The kids are growing, and they would need a room of their own. This is another factor which we considered in the selling of our current flat: to buy a flat with 3 bedrooms, at least. And in the process, we’d have to pass down the flat to a couple or a family that had the same need as us – back then.

So true enough, the tradition lives on. From the 3rd batch was a young couple, starting off, and just like us in many ways: just been PRed+, much around our age back then, and for their case, will be marrying (ceremonially) at about the time the resale’s completion date is scheduled. So it is just right for them to have a flat of their own, to entertain friends, relatives and guests in. They came around 3pm 16-June Sunday, and returned 6.30pm to ink the deal. We’re not sure if they’ve seen other flats, but the even stricter and harder ruling makes you think fast and deal quick. That’s what they did.

And while they didn’t measure up to what we were asking (we’re not making a killing here), they did make a reasonable offer. We thought, we’re not going to be rich with that amount, but we counted our blessings, and with a little more hesitation and haggling, we settled down. While COV figures are rising up to about $58k in our area, we settled with $26k. No, it’s not heroic or modesty. The good deed that was done to us, we are simply paying it forward. We are continuing the tradition. As I said to the young couple, “This is a house of beginnings.” And they got the idea, and we all laughed.

What amused me is that during the time we were negotiating the price, they were staying by the kitchen, beside the toilet, while we were at the living room. Quite an odd team, the couple and their agent, I mused. But look at the pictures, and you’d understand why they weren’t fussy a bit standing around that area. As what our agent said, "4 kids and a big flat, ‘Your wife is a super girl!’"

Our 8-month old baby was helping out in the selling process. She’s actually making a fuss whenever there are people coming and she’s kept inside. So what happened is that we brought her out, put her in her crib in the living room, and she was ‘entertaining’ the guests. She did so all the while there are buyers coming. Or whenever the agent is around the house. Or when an inspector is checking our flat. Quite a trait for a baby, my wife said. She knows how to entertain people.

Our flat is now sold. Resale application has been submitted. First appointment date is marked. Flat inspection is done, and we are clear to proceed. The huge work is up: packing our things and getting ready for the big move.

But before that, we’d have to pick our new flat, and this time, we will be the buyers. May the good deed done return a hundredfold.


* The Law of Supply and Demand, in my connotation here, is this: ‘He who supplies makes the demands.’
+ LO stands for Last Offer, where buyers offer a sum when negotiating to purchase the flat. This is referred to as the Cash-Over-Value amount. And usually, the LO is an amount that the Seller didn't agree to. So would-be buyers will check on the LO, and if they are thinking of offering less, they don't proceed, but if more, they go in right ahead. And the Value is the ‘true value’ of the flat being sold, as determined by an independent, third-party valuer authorized by the government body handling matters about public flats. Nonetheless, since the valuer is a person, the Value figure becomes a subjective matter, but not much. How much difference, I should say around $10k.
+ PR means permanent resident, which is quite a similar term in many countries in the world. You are a foreigner, and if you like to staying in the country, you apply for residency. PR status is halfway between a foreigner and a citizen. You have the choice of applying for a citizenship, or revoking your residency altogether. It’s all your own choice.

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