I met up with a property investor, Spencer Ngui, last month to ask him what he thought about EcoHouse, Profitable Plots and the like, among other questions about property investments.
A former MINDEF officer, Spencer now spends his time securing property contracts for MegaMax Global and helping other investors pick the best overseas properties for their portfolios.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone more passionate about property investment. Spencer bought his first HDB flat during his first year of study in NUS under his grandfather’s name! I can honestly say that property was the last thing on my mind when I was studying in NUS.😀
Spencer shared with me that real estate’s draw for him is that unlike shares, property prices cannot go to “0”. And unlike forex, there is no need to keep your eyes fixed on a screen.
1) We have read about EcoHouse’s closure in Singapore, leaving investors stranded. What’s your take on this and how should investors protect themselves from falling prey to such investment schemes?
This is about selling investors a dream, with beautiful brochures and buntings, without being licensed by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), and therefore having little responsibility towards investors.
Investors should ask the developer for his license to sell, which is granted by the government. Go online to check if the project is registered with the government too!
If it is a sizeable investment amount, do your own due diligence; read up about the country, fly there, take a walk around the area, look into the track record of the developer.
2) Your best property investment thus far?
It’s hard to say, really. I don’t want to ‘kill’ the geese by selling them off.
For instance, I own a unit in City Square Residences, which I bought for about 700K. It is now worth S$1.7 to $1.8 million. My monthly installments are about $2K while rental brings in around $5K. It pays for itself, and more, so why would I want to sell it?
3) Some practical tips for Singaporean property investors who want to invest in overseas properties for the very first time?
Be mindful of properties near beaches, such as in Phuket, Bali and Tioman.
There is a new Thai policy whereby any building near the coast must be set in by 150 metres. Look for condos built before the law. It’ll be a good investment.
I’d pick Pattaya over Bangkok where the Thai Chinese are more conservative.
Take calculated risks. Be extremely careful not to buy the wrong units or you’ll have them empty for many years!
Look at: Location, Price, Value, and whether there will be Good rental yield even if one is unable to flip the property.
There are many good investments in Asia; no need to go too far. You can start with places you can fly to within 4 hours, to look for foreclosure property, etc.
Check the country’s track record over the last 3-4 years. Does the macroeconomic information support your investment? Do institutional funds want to enter? Has it gotten the green light from rating agencies?
4) What are some upcoming hot markets that you’ll be bringing your investors to?
We’ve just signed some contracts for Philippines and Thailand properties. It’s interesting for us as it’s a different culture, with different legal systems, and many issues to take note of. We had to translate those Thai contracts into English, for example.
5) As the local market cools further, and more and more Singaporean investors head to Malaysia for property investment, is it a wise or foolish decision to follow their lead and invest in Malaysia?
The Iskandar market? I went in 2 years ago. It is hard to flip now as the market there is slowing down too.
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