5 properties in 4 years = 100% profits
SHE went for over 60 apartment viewings before deciding to buy her first property in 2002 - a one-room condominium unit in Mandarin Gardens. Even then, she was not satisfied.
"I made a mistake, I really think I should have seen at least 100," said former marketing professional Vina Ip.
The 41-year-old thinks she should have waited longer and checked with more sources, instead of solely tracking past transactions. Shortly after she had made her purchase, a similar unit with a better view, level and price came onto the market.
Still, she persisted. Over a span of 41/2 years, she added four more properties to her name.
All were funded by her own savings. She was saving 70 per cent of her salary during this period, and she could get generous bank loans in those days.
"Life became a catch-up game to save hard for my next purchase. Whenever my savings reached the $100,000 mark, I would add another property to my portfolio," she said.
From 2010 to 2011, she sold them all, except for her current residence in Verde Avenue. She managed to chalk up a net profit of between 80 and 120 per cent.
She admits that cooling measures such as the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework make it harder for an investor to follow in her footsteps - especially if one is not cash-rich. But she believes the real challenge is to somehow acquire that first investment property and rent it out. Positive returns from this can have a rollover effect, she said.
That's how she funded her later property investments.
Next to that would be a good understanding of the market. To share her insights with budding investors - a move her friends labelled "crazy" - Ms Ip went on to start a blog, Property Soul, in 2011 and amassed a following of over 500.
Now, she has written a book, titled No B.S. Guide To Property Investment, and started a property club, with its first session taking place last weekend.
When making a property investment, she looks for a good location, a well-maintained project and a favourable tenant profile.
For an investor, a good location does not simply mean one close to an MRT station, school or shopping centre. "That is a good location in the eyes of a Singaporean, not an expatriate, whom we are targeting, she said.
"Also, birds of a feather flock together, so knowing who lives in the estate will help you predict how attractive the property will be to tenants."
It is also key to differentiate between a home and an investment. "Some think, 'I will just rent it out first and, then, if it becomes unprofitable, I will move in,' but it is never that straightforward," she said.
"It is about packing up and moving your entire family, and getting used to a whole new location."
Ms Ip noted that this is a mistake many first-time property investors make, along with buying on impulse at sales launches and trusting an incompetent agent.
One rule which she follows is to bid at a price at least 15 per cent lower than the last sales transaction for a similar unit, along with entering the market at its lowest point and escaping once she notices a surge in buyers.
People will say, "Wah, so daring," which will make you think twice, but you have to pluck up the courage to strike when the economy is in the doldrums, said Ms Ip.
So, is it a buyers' market now? Not quite yet, although it has indeed changed course, she said.
"When you call up an agent and he asks you for a time convenient for you, or if you go for flat viewings and notice that you are the only one, then it might be the time to strike," she said.