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Be a real estate owner the easy way (3).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

As a follow up to my last blog post which questioned "Am I trying to be the most popular blogger in Singapore", I decided to Google "Singapore Investment Blogs" to see just how popular my blog might be. Curious, you know.

Well, I saw a link with a pretty face on the first page and, in case you are wondering, no, the face was not mine. Anyway, thanks to that link, this blog post was born. Unexpected, really.

The hyperlink says "Wendy Kwek Official Blog" and, apparently, she is a savvy and well known Singaporean property investor. Well known? I should know her but I don't. I should read up about her and I did.

The first line of the third paragraph in the "About me" section gels with me:

"I like to speak with people to engage and inspire them."

I like that although I am more a writer than a speaker.

"My mission is to help average people create extraordinary wealth through property investments."

Now, this sounds powerful. Pretty attractive too, no doubt.


The archives of her blog show that the blog started in August 2012 but I guess Wendy must have been reaching out to people long before that. She runs the "Property Riches Program" and her last blog post dated 9 April 2013 stated that the program saw its 14th batch of graduates and it was a big group, going by the photograph taken of the class!

Personally, I have not attended any program like this before and decided to do a bit more research online to find out more. I found this:

"Learn How To Own Properties With Little Or NO Money Down From Ms Wendy Kwek"

It was part of an ad on a property related website.

OK, this sounds familiar and I think I blogged about this before.
Read: Be a real estate owner the easy way (2).

Is the claim bona fide? Maybe, I don't know. I have not attended the course by Ms. Wendy Kwek before. So, I have nothing definite to say about it other than the fact that the claim sounds too amazing to be true.

Searching the internet to see if there are ways we can own properties with little or no money down, I came across 4 ways:

1. Borrow money to pay the down-payment
2. Co-Invest with other investors
3. Co-Invest with other investors using Central Provident Fund (CPF)
4. Buy overseas property with no money or little money down

Read the full article at Mr. Propwise: 4 ways to buy properties with no money down.

With even previously sceptical people now thinking that there is only one way for property prices to go which is up because of inflation, it is perhaps no wonder that Ms. Wendy Kwek et. al. are highly sought after by investors.

I took the following from the Facebook of Drizzt, the blogmaster of "Investment Moats":

"A condominium in a good location in Singapore can cost at least a million dollars and with the buyer having to fork out some 30% of the total purchase price, the upfront deposit can be a minimum of $300,000 excluding other miscellaneous charges. $300,000 is a figure that can take quite some time for a person on the street to save up to...

"But with property clubs, with a group of common-minded investors, together pooling a sum of monies for property purchases, the sum of monies an investor needs to fork out will be reduced. Take for example, the same $1 million property, with 20 investors, each investor would just need to fork out $50,000. Should the property price ascend to say $3 million, the $2 million profits would be shared among the 20 investors, this will translate to a profit of $100,000 for each investor! To maximise profits, some of these property clubs will ... purchase overseas properties with prices depressed due to the economic cycle."
 
When I commented that people should consider the possible downside, Drizzt said: "Think there is no downside with inflation the name of the game" which, in his opinion, is what the general public is thinking.
 
If you have owned properties with little or no money down before, perhaps, you could share with us your experience here. I am interested in hearing your experience and I am sure other readers would be interested too especially if we could own an investment property (or a few) with no money down in Singapore.

Related posts:
1. Leverage up and buy investment properties now?
2. Selling a private property just got harder.
3. More cooling measures on the way?
4. Buying a piece of real estate within your means.
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: 2 are better than 1.

31 comments:

B said...

Hi AK

I will tend to go with a bit of both yourself and Drizzt's opinions. While I do think that downside of property prices in Singapore is limited, we should never take it for granted that it will never drop.

Property play is a leverage play in most cases, so the catch is the potential capital appreciation. Rental yield is probably only in the 3-4% range and we have not even deducted the interests we paid for the mortgage yet.

Just my 2 cents. Hehe

AK71 said...

Hi B,

I keep hearing that there is limited downside to Singapore's property prices from so many people that I really feel like going out there to buy another investment property! ;p

A 3-4% gross yield is not too bad in a low interest rate environment, I guess. I have heard of some high end properties with yields of 2% or less too.

So, I guess you are all for getting an investment property in Singapore even now?

seefei said...

Story 1
Just offered a vignette of what can go wrong in property investment. This experience I am sharing happened between 2004 and 2007. I bought a built property in 1996 without even looking at the internal cos the market was so hot then. The repayment was $3200 and rental initially was $3800. The rental dropped to $1300 over a period of 16 years. Initially, make a few hundreds buck a month from rental. But for the 36 months between 2004/7 I lost $36,000 and I had to change the kitchen cabinet due to old age and the air-conditioning unit too and that set me back another $10,000.

So, for these three years I had to fork out $46,000 to keep the bank and my tenant happy.

Story 2
This is the story that started my property investment. I bought my first property in my 20s. I took a $5000 OD to pay for the downpayment. So Ms Wendy Quek is right but applicable to a different era in my case. Furthermore, you must be young to enjoy this privilege. My loan was like 95% of the property price because I was a first time house buyer and the bank was super good to me. I used the rental deposit to pay back the OD. I hold the property for one year and sold it for a $180,000 profit.

My take...
Property is a long term investment and subjected to the up and down of the economy and our personal financial situation. Do not over leverage, make sure you have some money to maintain the property if you want to hold for 10-20 years. Personal property also got AEI initiative, hahaha...

AK71 said...

Hi seefei,

Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience here. Much appreciated.

I like the last bit about AEI. Hahaha... Personally, I have so far only bought new and sold them before they became too old. No AEI required. ;p

EY said...

Hi AK,

Getting 80-90% loan and paying only 10-20% upfront with cash and CPF money still isn't considered 'little' money down?!?This logic escapes me entirely. If people want to pool funds together to reduce the intial outlay, they better know the risk. I don't think the 20 names are put into the title deed. It's probably just signing some 10 or even 50 pages of convoluted legal documents that state the individual's stake in that property. I don't know much about such get-rich-quick schemes and won't be interested too. :)

I remember many years back working for an SME, the boss dished out really sound advice on property investment which resonated. He was a multi-millionaire and own properties in Singapore and Shanghai. He said he would never want to take more than 50% loan on a property and he would only buy freehold, at sought after locations.

Well my take is, there are many ways to riches. But there is only one way to debt - overgearing.

Endrene

B said...

Hi AK

My dad bought 7 District 9/10 properties when it was at its low in 2009. The yield for his cost now is probably around 8%.

I am not so lucky unfortunately :(. I have only recently granted the SPR status, so I have one chance to make it big in properties and will be waiting in 2015 when many properties goes TOP (hopefully prices do follow).

AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

I agree that people who gear up to the max at the wrong time are setting themselves up for trouble. What is the wrong time? Ah! That is difficult to answer.

Sensibly gearing up could enhance returns but what is sensible gearing? 50% sounds sensible. Of course, in case of a market crash, the capital loss would still be painful but at least we wouldn't have to worry about lenders knocking on our doors.

As for buying only freehold, that could be a problem. Unfortunately for me, the preference for freehold meant that I didn't look at many good offers with 99 years leases when they were launched years ago (e.g. The Sail). Oh well. We all have our own demons. :(

AK71 said...

Hi B,

7? Wow! You are definitely born with a silver spoon! I think you will have a nice inheritance eventually. :)

I really don't know if 2015 will see a meaningful correction in real estate prices in Singapore. It could just flat-line and if income levels keep increasing till then, prices might be well supported.

It is really hard to tell. So, although I sold my properties bought 10 years ago, I have hedged my position by buying another which I felt was undervalued last year.

Time will tell, I guess. :)

temperament said...

Hi AK,
Sound like another America Housing Loan bubbles. Only this time it seems like going to happen in our backyard.

AK71 said...

Hi temperament,

Well, thankfully, the cooling measures implemented by our government has injected some sanity here. Without these measures, many would be happily buying many more investment properties with LTV of 80%, I don't doubt.

How will things turn out? 2015 is probably the year everyone is watching. We can only wait and see.

ivan said...

Hi AK,

I have invested in profitable properties myself and attended paid courses like these. But I have yet to actually buy any through my property networks (will explain later). I have just signed on with one course and am now preparing to evaluate, purchase at least one such properties in the next couple of months. So if you may (and pardon the lengthy, somewhat random discourse here), what i can share is my own limited experiences, thoughts and observations, having gone through these courses and the interactions with the networks I participate in.

The name of the game is to teach one how to fish and create a network to profit from transacting in various classes of real estate. All of the lead presenters are excellent communicators and appeared to have done it, making very decent returns on their portfolio. The networks source for investable properties (residential, commercial, arable farmland, conservation buildings, etc.) and present to those within the circle. It helps if the potential bulk purchase from the network can also get good discounts from developers, owners. Coupled with creative financing (legal but not normally done in Sg), it can be compelling, even more so given yield compression, cooling measures and inflation in Sg. But eventually you need to pull the trigger yourself, so to speak.

Many Sg'eans (1 in 10 is a millionaire here no doubt) already have 100's of thousands of strong S$ to invest especially if they know how to unlock their resources. Hence for the last few years many of these networks have focused attention on foreign countries, e.g. My, U.S., UK, EU, Ph, where there are arbitrage opportunities and/or local situations. The name of the game is primarily to generate cashflow using as little down as possible, by buying into tenanted, sometimes distressed units in high growth locales with favorable demographics. Many tie up with property mgmt agencies to offer a hands-free investment packages with net return of >6% cash on cash - more when it's leveraged using various schemes that use bank's or seller's financing, etc., hence achieving no or little money down - and admin, advisory, tax support. It's attractive to locals (financial freedom wannabes, retirees, etc.) given the little upfront commitment, current global and local environments, and the potential to build a self-compounding vehicle. For people who can afford a larger portfolio of diversified, income streaming assets across currencies and jurisdictions, it's a natural currency and inflation hedge.

My feel is for many it is a leap of faith as it requires a certain mindset and heart to do such investments, i.e. investments that you potentially will not physically see. Hence a good course will teach how to filter, mitigate risks and how to change one's conditioning. Hence for me, i think it's relatively a little-risk investment (course fee), time and energy (as is, i am already doing active research outside of working hours looking for under-/mis-valued assets, so I figure it's complementary); I am willing to take some risks when it comes to money. What I really look forward to is to be able to interact, learn and invest with like-minded people.

AK71 said...

Hi ivan,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. Lots for us to think about. :)

Sounds like something worth considering if we have the money and the risk appetite. You are right about a leap of faith being necessary.

It is not just the course fee, it is also psyching ourselves to trust our co-investors and the people who are arranging the investments in foreign countries.

I look forward to any updates which you might be comfortable with sharing in the near future. Thanks again. :)

Jay said...

"You can also get rich in properties, even without any starting capital"

Hmm, to me that sounds very much like what everybody did in the subprime crisis...

AK71 said...

Hi Jay,

Without more details, it certainly sounds very speculative and even risky. I hope this is not the precursor of some impending disaster.

SC said...

AK,

In fact, all the trainers, gurus or teachers actually learnt the technique from the one real master himself who wrote the original book many years ago, and is still holding the world record on Real Estate book till today.

It is by New York Times best selling author, Robert G. Allen.

the book is called Nothing Down, and updated about 10 years back Nothing Down for the 2000s.

There are 50 techniques and tips on it, I believe.

I've put the links from Amazon over here (which, of course, you can always buy from elsewhere):

Nothing Down: How to Buy Real Estate With Little or No Money Down
http://amzn.to/18a2fEb

Nothing Down for the 2000s: Dynamic New Wealth Strategies in Real Estate
http://amzn.to/12mQNRy


SC said...

Maybe, those interested can attend Robert Allen's seminar when he is here in Singapore soon.

I believe he will be talking about Multiple Streams of Income, which includes Real Estate.

AK71 said...

Hi SC,

Hey, thanks for sharing this. I didn't know this.

I searched and found some pre-owned hardcover copies going cheap:8 Million Used Books.
"Nothing Down for the 2000s" @ US$8.48 each. :D

I will probably get a copy of the book but I don't know about attending the course. ;p

Derek said...

Thanks AK for the article and the many people who shared their stories.

I'm also on the look out for a property but I have to take care of my own back yard. I have a HDB which I will probably inherit from my parents one day and although I'm single now, plans may change if I get married. I just spoke to a HDB officer on the various scenarios and I have to crystallize my thoughts.

In the meantime, I will continue to read up and maybe even attend courses meant for property agents.

Cheers!
Thanks AK for the article and the many people who shared their stories.

I'm also on the look out for a property but I have to take care of my own back yard. I have a HDB which I will probably inherit from my parents one day and although I'm single now, plans may change if I get married. I just spoke to a HDB officer on the various scenarios and I have to crystallize my thoughts.

In the meantime, I will continue to read up and maybe even attend courses meant for property agents.

Cheers!
Derek

AK71 said...

Hi Derek,

You are welcome to share your findings and your thoughts with us here. I am sure I am not the only curious one. ;)

SC said...

AK,

I don't think Robert Allen conducts courses here in Singapore, but I may be wrong, more like a seminar on how to generate Multiple Streams of Income, which is another of his best selling books.

He is best known as America's No. 1 Millionaire Maker, because he coaches and teaches many millionaires in the US. Heard it is like $10k or $25k personalized coaching over there.

No harm listening to his seminar here in SG, since he doesn't comes here all the time, and he was the one who came up with the strategy of putting nothing down or very little money in buying real estates. Maybe you can even have a personalized meal with him, who knows.

I'll probably be attending it if I do know the details of it.

AK71 said...

Hi SC,

A one day seminar, perhaps? Even so, I doubt it is going to be $100 or less. ;p

Anyway, I have always been comfortable with reading books. So, that is the way for me. :)

Recruit Ong said...

wah AK, u bought a property recently ah? i also want to buy a property leh, can share share what u bought? so many to choose now, thanx!

AK71 said...

Hi Recruit Ong,

Well, it was early last year. So, I don't think it counts as a recent purchase. ;p

I call it a hut in the sky because it is a studio apartment on level 20+. It is an almost FH RCR project and I got it for about $1,200 psf which I thought was pretty good value for money.

Important thing is to look for good value and this is something that is seriously hard to find these days. :(

Recruit Ong said...

hi AK, what do u mean by almost FH ah. RCR is Rest of Central Region rite? means where exactly... Enlighten a bit leh. my agent friend says don't buy all the new launch ones, what do u think?

AK71 said...

Hi Recruit Ong,

I consider 999 years leasehold as almost FH. ;)

You are right about RCR. It refers to city-fringe areas. These are areas sandwiched between the CCR (D9, 10, 11, Sentosa and the Central Business District) and OCR.

RCR includes Paya Lebar, Potong Pasie, Geylang, Lavender, Toa Payoh, Tiong Bahru and Telok Blangah.

I am sure your agent friend has reasons for saying what he said but I would say buy as long as you see good value. ;)

SC said...

AK,

Yes, I recall last year the 1 day seminar is about $60 for the seminar itself, and about $280 for seminar, cum personalized meal with him, and some Implementation Workshop.

It is definitely cheaper than most of the usual seminars out there.

I believe it is definitely value for money.

Have you read before his book on Multiple Streams of Income?

AK71 said...

Hi SC,

$60 sounds OK. $280? I need to chew on this. Hahaha... ;p

I think I will just read his books first. I found pre-owned copies of "Multiple Streams of Income" for US$ 9.98 each.

Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Matthew said...

Hi AK,

I have a mentor who invests in properties. It appears he is a sourcing partner for Wendy Kwek. What he does is to find foreclosed properties in US and buys them at auctions by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The auctions are for HIGH-NETWORTH investors with a minimum starting bid of US$1mil. So what you will get is a list of properties (usually 60-100 properties in a bundle).So after winning a bid, you get the entire bundle of properties under your name.

After that what do you do? You go evaluate the properties individually with the help of property management companies. My mentor engaged the help of Vista Property Management for that. So after evaluation, he will then get a report on the valuation, expected gross rental, expected insurance (different areas in the state are more prone to certain claims, so the premiums are different. I.e. Florida is more prone to hurricane, while Texas is more prone to tornados, Idaho to *ehem* burglary, etc), etc on the individual properties. The better yielding properties, he will keep for himself, managed by Vista. The rest will be sold to Wendy Kwek for a quick 50% markup (Due to the properties bought at severely depressed price, a 50% markup is possible). So I believe Wendy Qwek would then sell these properties using her programme.

P.s. My mentor is no longer looking for foreclosures in US as the foreclosure market has dried up and such deals are less rewarding in terms of returns. As such he is now look at PH properties for investing.

AK71 said...

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for sharing this. Useful insight. :)

So, the properties that Wendy Kwek sells in her program are already marked up 50% by the seller (i.e. your mentor). Very good profit for a quick flip. :)

What are PH properties?

Matthew said...

Hi AK,

PH = Phillippines

AK71 said...

Hi Matthew,

Oh, I was watching a documentary on CNA about properties in Manila. Real estate market there is hot!

If we want to make big bucks, we must look all over the place and not restrict ourselves to Singapore, it seems. :)

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