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A big fail of a story

This post is for those interested in journalism or those who fancy themselves “professional’’ readers. I am putting this up because I don’t understand how or why the story made it into the public domain.

This is the headline in BT yesterday: Spanish tycoon pays $4,100-plus psf for pair of Seven Palms Sentosa Cove units.


The overall Sentosa Cove condo market may be languishing, but SC Global Developments is understood to have sold two units at its Seven Palms Sentosa Cove at what could be a record price in the waterfront housing district: $4,100-plus per square foot. The overall lump sum works out to $28.55 million.

Now, it is the job of journalists to verify and confirm. The intro is an uncertain intro (understood/what could be a record), despite the impression given by the headline. It’s perfectly okay to say it is understood if you tell me “how’’ you understand and if requisite checks have been done. That is, was SC Global Developments contacted? Some way to check caveats? Who/what is the source? The story doesn’t even say “sources’’.

Spanish tycoon Ricardo Portabella Peralta is thought to be the buyer of two neighbouring units on the third-level of the four story condo, which is flanked by Tanjong beach on one side with the adjacent greens of the Sentosa Golf Course, and the South China Sea on the other. Mr Peralta is chairman of Groupe Ventos and inherited a huge fortune, especially related to Danone Spain.

Again, “thought to be’’? There is no way to confirm this? Who is giving  this info? A friend of Mr Peralta? A business associate? Was Mr Peralta contacted? If he’s such a big man, he would aides/PR agents who deal with queries. Again, no indication.

Seven Palms Sentosa Cove received the Temporary Occupation Permit in the first quarter of 2013. The low-rise project has only 41 luxuriously appointed beach-house apartments available in three, four and five-bedroom configuration ranging from around 2,700 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft. The units picked up by Peralta are believed to be around 3,400-plus sq ft each.

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Hmmm….thank you for telling me about the layout and all. But what is this “believed to be around 3,400-plus sq ft’’? If it is “around’’, do you need a “plus’’? Small point, but it all adds to how this story is so iffy.

The project was designed by Kerry Hill Architects, which has designed many Aman resorts.

Again, thank you. But up till now, I still have no idea if the report is real. I am supposed to take it on faith with no sight of whether checks have been made – not even attempts at a check. After this comes backgrounding on how Aussie Gina Rinehart was “reported to have paid’’ $57.2 million for two units in 2012. Price “was thought to have crossed $4,000 psf’’. Sigh. Even old stories don’t have facts nailed down.

Then this follows:

While the news of Mr Peralta’s purchase of the two Seven Palms units is not expected to improve sentiment for Sentosa Cove properties in the short term, “the news will be a good highlight to a very quiet and dismal year for Sentosa Cove’’, said Century 21 CEO Ku Swee Yong.

Gosh! “News’’ of his purchase? I am not sure I would call something so iffy news. Why is this Century 21 person being quoted so lamely on this? It would be better if readers are given an overview of what is “quiet and dismal’’. How many Seven Palms condos sold? What about other Sentosa Cove properties? Oh! And is this guy the “source’’?

A little bit more interesting, the next paragraph:

Transactions of condos as well as bungalows have thinned drastically. A few months ago, two units in the Turqiose Condo, both mortgagee sales, transacted at around $1,400 psf – a record low since the 2006/7 luxury housing boom, noted Mr Ku.

But it still doesn’t give me overall numbers, just a “highlight’’. Wonder if this piece of news was reported during that very unspecific “a few months ago’’?

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As to why Seven Palms still managed to set a record price, or at least a near record price, Mr Ku said: “This is the only beachfront condo, and probably the only beachfront resident in Singapore. Morever, SC Global’s products have a certain premium…’’

Goodness, tentativeness of the story displayed in all its glory: record or near record. And did SC Global pay Mr Ku to say nice things which it can’t say about itself. No sight or sound from SC Global at all.

The resort-style facilities of the project include concierge service, a Beach Club, a 45-metre infinity pool with Jacuzzi and barbecue terrace overlooking the sea.

Thank you for telling me what the brochure says.

As if lack of attribution, verification and sourcing in the text isn’t enough, there is a photograph published of a family looking out to the sea with a caption on how Seven Palms has only 41 luxuriously appointed beach-house apartments available in three, four and five-bedroom configurations. The picture looks like a brochure picture and is NOT credited.

This story is a big fail.

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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