Below is an abstract from a recent interview by BigFatPurse.com, a reputable Singapore financial website that provides sound stock investing advice to retail investors.
Why the name Property Soul? I wouldn’t expect “Soul” to be related to property.
I am an idealist. I wish all stakeholders in the property industry – including the developers, agents, marketers, lawyers, bankers, sellers and landlords – will ‘have a soul’ in their undertakings in property matters.
What got you started in property investing?
I am a property enthusiast. From a young age, I have been dreaming about owning my own place one day. I also enjoy doing research on the property market and going for flat or house viewings.
It was a natural thing for me to start investing in properties in 2002 when the market timing was right and I had saved enough for the downpayment.
When is the best time to buy a property?
The developer, agent and marketer will tell you that “any time is a good time to buy”. But I will only buy when no one shows any interest in properties, or things are so depressed you can see ‘blood all over the streets’.
What edge does the retail property investor have over others?
None. If you are buying at a new launch, you are only one out of a few hundred buyers. To the developer, your bargaining power is low. You have a better edge if you are buying a resale property. Because to the seller, you are the only buyer who submits an offer, provided that there are no other interested buyers in the background.
Do you observe any commonality among the property investors who have lost money?
People who follow the crowd blindly, buy out of impulse, believe that property prices will always go up, or want to get-rich-quick through buying properties.
What was the most memorable lesson in your property investment experience?
When the property market was at its doldrums between 2002 and 2005, I went for hundreds of flat viewings. Each time I would ask the reason why the owner was selling the property. Many gave the answer of downgrading, cutting loss, over-commitment, loss of employment or failing business.
Some planned to downgrade to an HDB flat. Although the market was bad at that time, prices of HDBs were still strong due to big demand from buyers downgrading from condominiums. For these downgrading sellers, they had suffered losses from selling their condominium units, yet still had to bear the high prices of HDB flats.
Frankly, the downgrading part was not too bad. The saddest part was viewing the flat of a bankrupt or a person close to bankruptcy.
I could never forget the miserable looks on the face of the owners and their families as I walked through the house with the agent, with the Official Assignee in the background at times. Obviously, these poor owners are forced to sell their homes at any price.
What do you think was the biggest factor that attributed to your success in property investments?
Hardwork, hardwork and hardwork (not location, location, location).
What was the motivation behind this book? What do you wish to achieve?
When I first started buying properties twelve years ago, there was a lack of public interest and media coverage of properties. It was difficult to find any good and updated book about investing in the property market.
When the property market picks up again, we hear people from the industry speaking in the media, almost always with an interest in their own business. But seldom do we have neutral advice from experts in the field who genuinely put the interests of buyers and investors over their self-interest.
I want to write a book with a neutral stance from a property investor’s point of view. I hope the book can provide a useful source of information for property buyers at different stages — be they potential buyers, people buying for the first time, aspiring property investors, or savvy investors with many years of experience.
What do your thoughts on investing in overseas properties (especially now with many promising more than 10 percent returns)?
My advice are:
- Only invest in what you are familiar with, not in markets that you know very little about.
- It is only justified to invest overseas when the cashflow and profit are much better than at home.
- Don’t just listen to the marketers. Do your own research.
(Read two articles in my book: ‘Four must-ask questions before you buy that overseas property’ and ‘Three biggest risks buying overseas properties’.)
What is your ideal property?
My ideal property is a high quality property situated in a good location bought at the bottom price that generates high rental return for me.
(Read this article in my book: ‘Four factors that make a good property’.)
Read the original interview here.
1. Watch the book trailer video at youtube.
2. Check out the free preview of the book.