This 27-year-old accountant wants more than just a fixed salary in her working life and property investment offers a way to financial security.
Sat, Mar 24, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network
By Daniel Sim
Singapore-based accountant Melissa Low, 27, wants more than just a fixed salary in her working life and property investment offers a way to financial security.
While many professionals in her age-group are enjoying life, Low spends her weekends visiting showrooms, properties for re-sale and seminars to enhance her knowledge.
Growing up in Malaysia, Low has always been a go-getter. She was a scholar, an avid chess player and also a valedictorian in school. Despite being employed full time, she still finds time to follow in her father's footsteps in business ventures and property investment.
Melissa graduated with a degree in accounting and finance from Nilai International College with the help of a scholarship from the Star Education Fund in 2003.
One of her latest property purchases is a 37sq m (400sq ft) studio apartment in Johor Baru. Her investment acumen has been honed by previous business ventures.
"I started with selling bags online but the market was too competitive. I also started a bubble tea business with a partner that I met online. But things didn't work out, so we closed it after six months," recalls Melissa. " I began reading property investment books by Milan Doshi and Ho Chin Soon. I was attracted to the idea of earning passive income from investing in property.
"What's more interesting, is the fact that it offers me flexibility and time to focus on my work in Singapore while enjoying good rental returns with my properties in Malaysia," points out Melissa.
The young landlady bought her first property two years ago. It was a 115sq m (1,200sq ft) condominium unit in Mont' Kiara in Kuala Lumpur. The property value has since appreciated more than 20%.
Stock vs property
"When I explored the possibility of investing in something that would give me a stable rate of returns over the long run, many people told me to invest in the stock market. I did that once but it was not my cup of tea," says Melissa.
"Unlike the stock market where shares are traded through a piece of paper and prices fluctuate - and hard to predict - property is tangible and would not suddenly lose its value overnight. If the company goes bust, the shares would be worthless. On the other hand, if you can't sell your property, you can always rent it out while waiting for the property price to appreciate.
"Buying property allows you to leverage on money borrowed from the bank where you can borrow up to 90% of the purchase price. This multiplies the buying power of your investment and makes your money work harder. Investing in shares usually involves little or no leverage at all, hence, it is more difficult for your capital to grow.
"Investing in property is more focused on location. Based on your budget, you can choose to invest in high-end property or mid-range property. Then zoom in on the location with the property type you want, either with the help of a real estate agent or, in my case, I would Google property portals, such as www.starproperty.my.
"But investing in property has its downside too, as it is not as liquid when compared to shares. A property buyer needs to be able to hold the property to generate a profit on a greater scale before selling it. "This is particularly true in times of an economic downturn and there is an oversupply in a particular location that you have invested."
It is generally hard for some people to take the first step in property investment because they lack practical guidance and the willingness to take a calculated risk.
"The difference between successful people and average people is that besides having ideas that are larger than life, successful people make things happen."
For example, one investor would take up personal loans to invest in four units of a particular property development, if he thought the project was a good buy, reveals Melissa.
"It is true that you can learn a lot on property investment through books and seminars. But it is different to have someone who not only recommends good properties but also invests with you.
"Fortunately, I met Roy Teo who became not only my mortgage broker, real estate agent but also my mentor," says Melissa.
According to her, Roy who has five years experience in property investment, changed her perception about studio apartments. Through Roy, she realised how profitable it was if she chose the right studio apartment to invest.
To date, she has invested in four properties, one of which, is a commercial unit located near the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
Besides being an accountant and property investor, Melissa has also ventured into event management.
In 2010, she started a club called Malaysia Investors in Singapore (MISS).
She uses the social media such as Facebook to network with other Malaysians working in Singapore. They all share a common interest in property investment.
MISS was formed by Melissa to leverage on group investment power where members can share their knowledge and pool their resources to get better deals.
Currently, the group has about 260 online members who meet every three to four months. Millionaire property investors such as Juanita Chin and map-maker Ho Chin Soon are among the personalities invited to share their insight with MISS members.