Singapore top 5 in Asian real estate investors’ list for 2013

Things may be looking up for Singapore next year, in the real estate market. Asian property investors are looking forward to the market picking up in 2013, and that means they might be looking for new areas to put their money. Up to 70 per cent of investors have indicated an interest in expanding their property portfolio within the region. They are looking for 20 per cent or more in returns, according to the Colliers 2013 Global Investor Sentiment survey.

Singapor aerial view

Singapore, together with Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing, will benefit from this renewed interest in Asia. Though it is uncertain if they are only looking at office developments, the residential market may benefit as well as previous reports have put the luxury property market at a lull. Depending on whether new cooling measures will be rolled out and how they may affect residential investors, there is still a possibility that investors are eyeing both commercial and residential properties.

It is interesting to note that issues once considered determining factors in investment are not necessarily top priorities. The euro zone crisis, and United States and China elections are not rated top in the investors’ checklist. As long as they consider real estate a good hedge against inflation, the money for high-end properties with good potential in a major Asian city will keep coming.

iProperty Group Continuing The Momentum

What an exciting and busy week it has been!

We held our very first EXPO in Penang last weekend and what a tremendous success it was. Organised on behalf of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA) Penang, MAPEX Penang 2012, with the theme The Most Lau Juak Property Show, was certainly well received by Penangnites and foreigners alike.

The three day expo, launched by YB Chow Kon Yeow, State EXCO for Local Government and Traffic Control, who represented YAB Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, attracted over thousands of people from all walks of life who made their way to the Straits Quay Convention Centre to grab the best deals in town.

Here are some snap shots of the event:

YB Chow Kon Yeow Officially Launching MAPEX Penang 2012

Folks visiting the booths at the MAPEX PENANG 2012

After such an astounding success in Penang, all focus is now on delivering an equally successful iProperty.com International EXPO in Singapore, which will be held from the 20th – 22nd of April 2012 at the iconic Marina Bay Sands from 11am – 8pm.

Also present at the EXPO will be Howard, our friendly mascot in Singapore who is keen on letting people to be in the know not just about the latest in the property market, but to also provide them with the opportunity to discover the best deals in town.

From the peaks to the valleys, Howard is on ground to promote the EXPO.

So, do lock in the dates and we hope to see you there.

On a separate note, we are keeping to our promise to only deliver the best, fastest and easiest search experience for our consumers. We have recently made some changes to our website – iproperty.com.my, making download of information of property news and search faster. We are pleased to say that these changes will be implemented across our other three portals in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

So, brace yourself to have all the information you need to make an informed decision downloaded in a blink of an eye.

Another significant accomplishment on the innovation front is the Malaysian team winning at the recent Facebook Mobile Hack Day in Singapore. With a total of eight submission and only four winners to be selected, we are proud to win the Best Overall App for use of Facebook.

The team developed an app called the Property Friend Finder, which will enable users to find properties that are near their friends and family.

These are only some of the innovative things that we at the iProperty Group are working on. We assure you, there are more interesting things in store. So, do stay tuned!

Enjoy the week!

iProperty.com EXPO Attracts Big Crowds

Following the success of the iProperty.com EXPO in March 2011, iProperty.com Singapore held their second exhibition of the year on October 30 & 31 2011, attracting a record 12,000+ attendees to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center. In the same measure of success, property exhibitors reported an astounding S$60 million worth of property sales within just 18 hours during the 2 days of EXPO.

An exhibitor at the iProperty.com Expo

With interest rates at historic lows, Singaporeans with high levels of cash deposits in bank accounts saw the iProperty.com Expo as a good chance to learn about the different ways of diversifying their portfolio into low-risk property investments. Although a number of attendees had limited experience in the world of real estate investing, as the only time they had invested in real estate was when they bought their own home in Singapore, the strong capital gains they had enjoyed from their home purchase prompted them to look for subsequent property investments with long-term growth potential.  By attending the educational seminars geared towards first-time investors, visitors to the Expo were able to learn how to watch out for opportunities in the property market and learn the strategies of top property experts.

Jennifer K, a home-maker and first-time visitor to the iProperty.com Expo, had this to say: “I have never heard of Mohamed Ismail Gafoor (PropNex CEO) before, but he gave a really good presentation and was able to explain his points really well.”

Visitors to the Expo were also spoiled for choice, with more than 100 booths set up with by developers promoting the newest residential and commercial property launches from all over the world, ranging from 2nd homes in nearby Iskandar Malaysia, all the way to resort hotels in exotic Brazil.

The various seminar sessions also addressed the different needs of beginning investors as well as seasoned real estate agents, with topics geared toward agents scheduled during the morning, and seminars catering for the general public taking place during the afternoons on both days.

A visitor checks out the exhibitor and seminar listings at the iProperty.com expo

Mike C, an IT manager and seasoned real estate agent, shared his views: “The agent seminars were very interesting for learning and for keeping up with the latest property investment offerings in the local market”.

Visitors who spent most of the day at the Expo and who were experiencing hunger pangs were also not forgotten: a special area within the Expo was set aside for catering, providing a wide variety of affordable food choices, from Indian curries, Chinese roasted pork dishes, to simple wraps and salads, with something for everyone. With its comfortable chairs and roomy tables, the catering area also doubled as an impromptu location for one-on-one meetings with visitors who wanted to have more in-depth conversations over coffee with the exhibitors they met with.

A retired couple in their 60s, the Tans, remarked: “We attended the iProperty.com Expo last year and decided to come back again this year because it is always a very worthwhile use of our time. With our savings in bank deposits and earning low interest, we came to talk to a number of exhibitors and to learn more about how we can increase our investment returns. For us, the free seminars and lucky draws are also the main attractions”.

With exhibitors at the Expo reporting over S$60 million worth of properties sold over 2 days, it is clear that despite daily news of the European financial crisis, many Singaporeans still consider property an attractive investment option, particularly as a safe alternative to volatile stock markets.

Record-breaking S$60 million in sales registered at iProperty.com EXPO

Expo drew overwhelming response with over 12,000 attendees and sell-out seminars

iProperty.com Singapore has once again reinforced its position as the country’s No. 1 property website, attracting a record of 12,000 attendees and registering over S$60 million in sales for the 3rd signature iProperty.com EXPO International Collection held over the weekend on 29 and 30 October 2011.

iProperty.com EXPO International Collection featured prominent international properties, the most prestigious property brands, real estate experts and property buyers in Singapore under one roof at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands. The two-day programme saw impressive exhibits from 56 participating companies, showcasing the most exciting developments in established as well as up-and-coming territories in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the USA, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Japan. Investors were also treated to a comprehensive series of insightful seminars where industry experts shared tips and tricks on property investing.

The Expo received overwhelming response from the investing community, as evidenced by the more than 20% increase in visitorship, and almost double the sales volume as compared to the Expo’s previous edition in March this year.

Active discussions and exchange of ideas also took place during the seminars, which saw a robust turn out with some sessions generously over-subscribed. Topics presented touched on issues surrounding maximising rental yield, spotting prime property below market value, need-to-know tips for foreign markets and the power of leverage – presented by experts such as Alfred Chia, Chief Executive Officer of SingCapital, Clara Tan, Managing Director of CTL Group and Kelvin Fong, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Trainer of Zest Academy Group.

“The Expo has once again reinforced its position as the leading property exhibition with more than S$80 million worth of potential sales discussed. We are confident that the Expo will continue to grow in tandem with the developments in the real estate industry, both locally and internationally. Investors are becoming more astute in making sound decisions when it comes to investing in local and overseas properties, especially with the state of the economy and stock markets worldwide. iProperty.com is proud to leverage on our network of partners in the region, to drive greater awareness and understanding of key property markets through this Expo – which I believe has a very receptive audience among Singaporeans,” says Shaun Di Gregorio, iProperty Group CEO.

Several exhibitors and industry leaders expressed satisfaction with the outcome of their participation in the event, with many citing the right target group of attendees and the relevant networking opportunities as the event’s key selling points.

“We have been participating in this Expo since its 2010 edition, and we are impressed with the ever-increasing amount of sales that we clinched at each subsequent event. This time, we saw how popular our projects are with investors, having sold 13 units worth 13 million in total. The iProperty.com Expo has proven to be a worthwhile platform for us to showcase our exciting offerings to investors in Singapore, and we look forward to another successful event,” said Patrick Choi, Deputy Senior Manager, UEM Land Holdings Bhd, developer for various projects including the highly anticipated Puteri Harbour and Kota Iskandar in Putrajaya.

Said Mohammed Ismail Gafoor, PropNex Realty, “As a leading real estate company with footprints in Singapore and the region, we are very pleased with the level of interest shown by visitors at the event. It is heartening to know that while investors in Singapore are getting more financially savvy and knowledgeable, they are nonetheless also cautious and careful about property investments – especially with regards to overseas projects. We are pleased to share our expertise with them through this platform, and look forward to seeing them at the next edition.”

iProperty.com Expo visitors were also impressed with the diverse range of property investment options on showcase, well-presented through sophisticated, intricately-designed scale models, with experts on hand to dish out valuable tips and advice.

“The Expo is definitely a high-calibre event, featuring leading international property brands and industry leaders – all with a wealth of expertise to share with visitors like me. The seminars were very enriching and speakers were able to address all the concerns and queries that I had,” said Ms Josephine Chew, who attended seminar sessions on both days of the Expo.

“There was a host of attractive investment options presented at the iProperty.com Expo, in exciting places like Australia. I look forward to seeing more of such options in the next event,” said Ms Wong, a property investor who visited the Expo on 29 October.

The iProperty.com EXPO International Collection will return for its 4th edition in 2012. For more information on the next edition of the iProperty.com EXPO International Collection, please visit http://www.iproperty.com/expo.

Meet the Man Behind HSR Property Group

When Patrick Liew first started out in his career, he climbed the corporate ladder at a breakneck speed, quickly working his way up from a salesman’s role to eventually becoming a member of the company’s management committee. However, like the many real estate salespersons before him who chose to leave their full-time jobs to become their own bosses, Liew realized along the way that despite doing well as an employee, he was spending the best part of his life at work, and that it was time to make the change if he wanted to build something of his own.

Patrick Liew, CEO of HSR

Liew, now the CEO of HSR Property Group, attributes much of the reason for his success in building up HSR to learning the real estate business starting from the basics. He told iProperty.com Singapore that the critical factor for a new property agent’s success boils down to the level of support given to him by the team he joins, and that the “most important consideration (for a new agent) is to join an agency that provides comprehensive training and coaching to help them succeed in the market”. Given the fierce competition among real estate agencies in recruiting new agents, Liew believes that what makes an agency stand out from the rest is when “the agency has the capabilities to provide strong marketing tools to help them differentiate themselves from the other agents”. Elaborating on what specific marketing tools worked best for HSR agents, Liew said: “In the new economy, the company must provide a leading-edge suite of infocommunication tools. There must also be a strong infrastructure for support and services to help them compete in the market.”

As HSR has expanded its product offerings to include overseas property in recent years, one of the most popular questions that investors have for Liew is: What should a first-time investor look out for when looking for a bargain in overseas property? Although a strong believer in the “softer” aspects of doing business, including often citing “love” as the reason why HSR stands out from the competition, Liew takes a hard-headed approach to investing, and urges investors to research and analyze the macroeconomic perspective of the country, so as to “ensure that it is economically, politically and socially stable and secure, and that your investment is protected and will be able to deliver the projected returns on investments”. Liew also believes that studying the market is key, so as to “ensure that the investment’s upsurge potential is supported by positive and justifiable forces, both in the short as well as the long term basis.”

An agent promoting overseas property investment at the iProperty.com Expo

While HSR has allocated a good amount of its resources into expanding the reach of its overseas property unit, Liew still believes that there is ample opportunity for an investor to enjoy strong capital returns from the Singapore market, saying: “ Singapore will continue to entrench itself as a global city, a place to live, work, learn, and play in. The high end residential market which has softened in recent times has upturn potential.” Echoing the views of many property experts on the current “hot” market trends of commercial and industrial property investment, Liew adds: “Properties within the vicinity of the new Paya Lebar and Jurong business hubs will enjoy a healthy demand and positive profit potential.”

With many new HDB blocks being constructed at 40 stories high, Liew has the following advice for first-time home buyers who are grappling with the decision of whether or not to cough up extra funds to purchase a more expensive unit on a higher floor: “Buying a flat is not just for asset appreciation; it should also be a base for well-being. Buyers should consider these two factors and decide on the appropriate equilibrium.”

Although a number of property experts advocate taking a more cautious approach by choosing a lower entry point (by going for a cheaper unit on a lower floor)  to minimize the risks of buying at a higher price, Liew is of the different opinion: “It is better to choose the higher floors which will generally enjoy better capital appreciation”, he says. However, Liew to quick to add that “the market is dynamic and continues to evolve”, and reminds buyers to “study the fine prints in the contract to ensure that the conditions fit their risk/return profile.”

The Serious Business of Training Property Investors

We caught up with Kelvin Fong, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of  Zest Academy Group at the iProperty.com Expo  just before he was due up on stage for his talk on the latest trends in the Singapore property market.

Kelvin Fong, Chief Trainer at Zest Academy

As the Chief Trainer for the Millionaire Property System (MPS) program run by his professional training school, the impeccably-dressed Fong has become the go-to adviser for aspiring property investors looking to tap into the strategies of successful investors who have made their millions from the property market. After all, who better to train property investors than a record-breaking team leader who has made a name for himself  by giving sound investment advice  to his many high net-worth clients?

His opinion, which he expressed in an exclusive interview with iProperty.com, on the best way to find a bargain in the Singapore property market: “One needs to understand the pricing in the market in the chosen area of investment, as there are many factors to consider before investing”, he said, adding, “Most importantly, when it comes to investing, we must be able to determine the two most important investment rules: the potential upside and the risk based on current market condition – rather than based on hopes about the future developments of the particular investment location.”

Indeed, Fong’s remarkable career path has been marked by calculated risk-taking and the pushing of boundaries. Instead of being content with achieving top producer status at PropNex, he made a riskier, but potentially big growth opportunity move into the business of grooming top real estate salespersons. His advice for aspiring real estate agents: “Today’s market has changed, anyone who is keen to embark in this career needs to learn how to put themselves in the buyers and sellers position.  Do not just focus on just being a real estate agent, one need to learn how to help your clients achieved their desired goals, and not just think about transacting the deal”.

What distinguishes one real estate salesperson from another? “I believe in adding value to our customers. Once the trust has been created, the relationship between the client will be just like friends, and the result is that you will have more deals with your clients.  Treat them like yourself – you will know what they want and you will give them the best that they need”. Fong’s own lesson learnt: “This principle has helped me achieved my result as a champion salesperson”.

And what should we as home buyers look for when deciding whether to give our real estate agents exclusivity? “One needs to consider whether the agents care for your next purchase, what kind of financial planning they have done for you, and if they have done the proper planning for you to shift to the next property”.

Fong also advises home buyers to look out for real estate agents who are able to outline a detailed financial plan for their next purchase. “The next thing you need to know is what kind of marketing effort they can do for the owner, as well as looking at their track records and the outline of their marketing plan”, he says.  “It will be better to work with an agent who has a strong personal network”.

With experts predicting a slowdown in the growth of property prices in 2012 and beyond, Fong says that first-time homebuyers should take a conservative approach to their finances, and keep renovation costs under control. “Price appreciation (of a property) is dependent on market sentiment – if the market is not good, a home with extensive renovation will not necessarily fetch a higher price.  We have seen owners with extensive renovation sell at a loss before during a down market. Renovation is very subjective and the design might be outdated as years goes by.”  Speaking from the position of one who has been though it before: “A simple renovation will be good enough – it’s better to focus on getting a right price unit instead”.

When asked for one final tip that first-time investors should always remember: “Make sure to do your homework on the prices transacted around the surrounding projects before investing, do not be the guinea pig to test the market!”

Investment Advice from One of Singapore’s Most Successful Property Entrepreneurs

As I made my way up to the side of the front stage at the iProperty.com Expo to catch Dato Eric Cheng at the end of his very well-received one-hour seminar, I was impressed by his high energy level – pausing only long enough to take a quick sip of water from a nearby bottle, he gave us a friendly smile, and was ready immediately for the rolling camera.

Eric Cheng speaking at the iProperty.com Expo at Marina Bay Sands Convention Center

It should be no surprise then, to find out that Cheng is not a man who takes life slowly – after he founded ECG Realty in 2003, his company was entered into the Singapore Book of Records as the “Fastest Growing Real Estate Agency in Singapore”.

As one of Singapore’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winners, Cheng certainly knows all about the cyclical nature of the property market:“After the implementation of the seller’s stamp duty measures, the market went flat. In my opinion, the first half of 2012 will not see much property market activities”.

However, he is optimistic on the later part of the year, adding: “Prices will stabilize in the 2nd half of 2012 and there will be a slight increase of property prices. He attributes this to the resilience of the domestic economy, because “Singapore will continue to be a property haven for investors”.

With the roots of his entrepreneurial career in property, Cheng has the following advice for those aspiring to join the ranks of real estate professionals and follow in his footsteps: “A real estate agent should not have an employee’s mindset as they command their own pay cheque – and is thus more of an entrepreneur.” Citing the high dropout rates in this field, he says: “On average, only 2 out of every 10 real estate agents remain in the industry in the long-run. This career path is not for the short-term, and the candidate must be willing to be hardworking, have focus, discipline, and have strong organization and service skills”.

Eric Cheng, Founder of the ECG Group of Companies

As the author of the best-selling book, “Get Rich Through Property Investment”, Cheng also has some valuable advice for those looking to invest in overseas property: “Location is very important. A first-time overseas investor should ensure that he is eligible to buy the property, meets the finance requirements and is able to sell it in the future.” He also points out the importance of external indicators: “Other factors to consider include the stability of the government in the country, the economy and property prices.”

As far as timing the market goes, Cheng believes that “there will never be a right time to invest in the overseas property market. The right time is when the investor has the right cash cow to make decisions”.

Cheng is also keeping a close eye on property markets close to home: “I believe that the undervalued overseas markets in Asia are Malaysia and Thailand.” Taking an experienced investor’s mindset, he says: “To the layman, rental yields are the most important. However, after following property trends, I consider capital gains to be more important”.

Even as an experienced businessman with the stomach for taking risks, Cheng knows that the key pillar to a successful investment strategy is in portfolio diversification, and has one valuable piece of advice for over-eager investors: “Make decisions. Never invest 100% into the property market”.

Feng Shui: The Basics

By Daniel Seifert (This article first appeared on iProperty.com.sg)

It may be thousands of years old, but the Chinese art of feng shui is showing no signs of becoming outdated. On the contrary, it’s more popular around the world than ever. Feng shui, which literally means ‘wind water’ in Chinese, aims to incorporate natural elements and create harmony to actively encourage good fortune and dispel bad luck in a home.

Feng Shui is not merely mysticism, it can add a touch of aesthetics to your home as well.

There are many principles of feng shui, but one of its main tenets is polarity, or balance. The yin yang symbol is an excellent representation of equilibrium to bear in mind. In practical terms, this means having both relaxing, calm and passive (yin) and active, strong and vibrant (yang) elements. Ideas for yin features include a tranquil photo or painting and soft music, whereas bright colours and strong lights can add yang energy.

Whether or not you believe in the mystic benefits of feng shui, this art form can still breathe life into the layout, design and general feel of your home. Its basic tenets, which advocate placing five natural elements (wood, fire, metal, earth and water) into your home, can create a soothing atmosphere thanks to fountains with running water and potted plants.

In any residence, the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen form the vital backbone of a house. Feng shui is no different, and it recognises the importance of these three fundamental rooms. You will want your sleeping and washing areas to be filled with calm energy, and your eating area to be energised for hearty cooking and dinner parties.

In general, the way you decorate these rooms should be dictated by common sense. Trust your senses – if your kitchen is a hectic sensory overload of colours and sounds, your bedroom needs to be even more restful; a haven of tranquility to which you can retreat from noise and stress. Ideally, when considering your house room by room as well as in totality, it should seem like a stable, well-composed unit, with no room hogging the limelight.

Another tenet of feng shui is the flow of qi, or energy. Again, while there are elements of mysticism here there is a grounding of common sense. ‘Blocking’ the energy of your house can lead to a palpable sense of claustrophobia or oppression. Consider the entrance of your home, for example. Is that where you dump all your shoes and damp umbrellas? If so, your home forms a weak impression before you’ve even stepped through your door. A house with good feng shui will have a strong, clear flow of energy at the entrance.

And it’s not just small homes that stand by this blend of aesthetics and mysticism. Massive and influential international companies such as HSBC, and even Marina Bay Sands here in Singapore, do consult feng shui masters when designing new office headquarters or buildings.

Whichever way you look at it, feng shui has something to offer to any home owner. Yet there is obviously a lot more to learn about this simple yet intricate art.


To hear more, you can head to the iProperty.com EXPO for a talk by Joey Yap, founder of Joey Yap Consulting Group. On October 29 at Marina Bay Sands Singapore, he will be discussing practical feng shui for property buyers. Visit www.iproperty.com/expo/ for more details.