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Bit By Bit

Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 7th Mar 2014

Once upon a time, in the golden daze of rock and roll the late great T Rex thundered out the eponymous tune Bang A Gong. It was bold, dangerous, loud and sexy. What more could you ask for? Frontman Marc Bolan conjured up a magic potion which left all of us wanting just a little bit more.

The desire for more remains an intrinsic part of the human condition. This is why we have glamorous malls, boisterous brands and those slim little shoestring bikinis. All that glitters is not just gold and if you think real estate can't be sexy, just head down to South Beach or over to Cannes. Paging through those ultra villa glossy property advertisements there's a reason why that girl sipping a martini at sunset is luxuriating in the infinity pool. Or is it a passion pink cosmopolitan with a juicy red cheery about to slip over the edge? (I'm taking about the drink and not the girl in case you suddenly suffered a brain freeze).

In the year 2014, as we tout the Wolf of Wall Street, greed is once again seemingly in poll position. The gecko on the wall has evolved into near dinosaur proportions and the damned things are carnivorous. No veggies, raw food or vegans here. Money is the religion, and those who can't quite make it up into space on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic have to settle in as the aspirational set.

Technically, aspirational is sadly not a word, so what's left for aspiring movers and shakers, the B+ list, or better yet the great pretenders? A quick trip over to thesaurus town hits on the term 'aspire to', which brings up innocuous terms like fake, feign and counterfeit - there you go, the FFC is alive and well in tinsel town.

I can almost hear the imitation of a life half lived, frozen in time as the bartender shakes up yet another batch of those fabulous technicolor cosmopolitans.

We continue to live in strange times, and this is no better highlighted on our smartphones' now trending list than with the Bitcoin phenomenon. I've yet to meet one individual who can actually explain how virtual currency works or what the fundamental economics are, yet turn on CNBC, Bloomberg or read the financial section and Bitcoin is omnipresent. It's become the new dinosaur of our times, and it's ravaging the aspirational class (I don't give a damn if this is not a word, it should be).

Form has taken over from substance. Even in the real estate world there's been a shift from reliance on location, track record, supply and demand, into the stratosphere of hell and brand-nation, celebrity skin and uncontrolled buying frenzies.

A case in point would be to talk to one of Singapore's growing number of property gamblers, blinded by the glint of greed in their eyes. Bring on the Ray-Bans!

Developers and buyers are no longer satisfied with the overtly simple low trajectory world of capital appreciation and yieldom. Instead the focus is on the "big deal". Soar into the sky for a slam dunk or hurl yourself off the nearest skyscraper in abject failure. Hero or Martyr seem to be the only boxes left to tick, and if neither fits your profile, it's best to get out of town fast.

Rolling down the final straight, what's clearly evident is that the day and age of Bitcoin real estate is in full swing. We have yet to eat our young, but once the food chain diminishes, who knows what could happen? Little Alice might look pretty tasty when push comes to shove.

As most of us know the day of the dinosaur ended some 60 million years ago, hard on the heels of the Jurassic age. Personally, I don't rate the chances of Bitcoin real estate much, although a gong just sounded loud and clear outside my office which has my left my ears ringing off the hook.

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