The lady who delved deep into the soul of property is living proof that you can make a difference when you stand up for your beliefs.

p35-36Vina Ip, the alter ego of Property Soul, has broken many stereotypes. In 2002, when she bought her first property in Singapore, little did she know that it would plant the seed of her passion for all things property so much so that she took to the blog to express her heartfelt opinions. Her refreshing candour and acute observations resonated greatly with many which catapulted her blog, Property Soul, into inarguably the top property investor blog in Singapore. This gutsy lady followed that up with a no-holdsbarred guide to investing in the republic. Aptly entitled “No B.S. Guide to Property Investment”, it quickly shot up to the bestseller charts in Singapore by exposing the real goings-on in the industry.

Asian Property Review caught up with her in an exclusive interview:

APR: You have brought a fresh perspective to property investment in Singapore. How did this come about?

VI: I am a property enthusiast from young. I have always enjoyed flat or house viewing in my spare time. The more I learn, the more I became interested in property investing. And the more I know, the more I realise that I don’t know. That gives me the drive to dig deeper into the subject to learn the ins and outs of it.

APR: What publications do you devour to increase your knowledge of property investing?

VI: When I first started buying properties in the early 2000s, the economy was in the doldrums and there was a lack of public interest and media coverage of property investing. It was difficult to find any good and updated books about real estate investing. When the property market recovered however, there were more publications on the subject.

APR: Name five qualities needed to be a successful property investor

VI: Burning passion, hard work, persistence, patience and the ability to take timely actions.

APR: Your views on property gurus?

VI: There are many experienced investors and analysts in the industry. However, we have to look at their background and listen to their comments with a pinch of salt. Many with vested interests are eager to reveal their ‘investment secret’ to the media in order to make use of the latter to gain free publicity. The truth is that no savvy investor will share with others what they are buying right now. On the other hand, a lot of socalled property experts make more money from organising seminars than investing in properties.

APR: Reason for your property club?

VI: Property Club Singapore is a neutral platform to provide learning and networking opportunities for buyers, investors and owners of private properties. We organise talks and workshops on topics of common interest for like-minded people.

We are an unbiased club with no vested interest in any propertyrelated industry. We do not source, market, or mark-up and resell Singapore or overseas properties to members. Instead, the club promotes ‘save and invest’, due diligence, market timing and value investing.

APR: Have you bought any property outside of Singapore?

VI: I am not buying overseas properties now due to all the risks and uncertainties in foreign markets. I will only buy overseas if the return is much higher than what I can get at home.

APR: We regularly read of foreign HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) buying expensive properties in Singapore. In your opinion, how will this impact property prices in Singapore?

VI: I think the snapping up of Singapore’s precious land and residential properties by rich foreigners is more psychological than real. The imposition of Additional Buyer Stamp Duty for foreign buyers is one of the measures that has worked to keep purchases of private residential properties by foreigners to well below 10% of the total number of units sold.

APR: Your book, “No B.S. Guide to Property Investment” – purports to reveal “dirty truths and profitable secrets to building wealth”. Give some examples.

VI: Beware of the tricks in new property launches. Avoid buying on impulse at showflats. Get-richquick programmes are never as straight-forward as they sound.

Excerpt from Vina’s book

Common tricks seen in a sales gallery

On a Sunday afternoon, Thomas decided to visit the sales gallery of a new launch. Inside it was jam-packed! A sales chart placed at a conspicuous spot showed that most units were sold. Thomas was greeted by a sales representative from the developer’s marketing agent. She quickly ran through her monotonous script on the project details, the building model and the flashy showflat.

Then she wasted no time to test her client’s intention to buy. “Units with better layout and facing are mostly taken up by buyers. How many bedrooms are you looking for?”

“Three bedrooms are good… maybe unit 02 or 03.”

“Sorry, these are the popular blocks and they are all sold out,” she replied with a look of regret on her face.

“Hmm … what about unit 01 or 04?”

“I think we may have 04 left. Wait, let me check with my manager again.”

She came back a short while later.

“We only have two units left: one on the fourth floor and the other on the fourteenth floor.”

“Err… but they are inauspicious numbers. And the block is too close to the opposite one. There’s no view and no privacy…”

“These are only minor things. Nowadays, people don’t care about them anymore.”

The saleslady suddenly lowered her voice. “To be frank, these two units were originally booked by someone else. But for some reason they had to return them. We have a few parties considering them right now.

If you don’t want to miss the last two units, you’d better be fast.”

“How much is it?”

“$1.8 and $1.83 million after discount. That is the best price I can give you.” \

“That’s $1,800 or $1,830 per square foot. I thought you advertised for $1,600 in the papers?”

“Yes, but those units were sold long ago.”

The saleslady suddenly gestured at a group of buyers seated around one discussion table, “See, they are ready to submit a cheque. If you can make up your mind now, I can still try for you, but no guarantee…”

“I need more time …”

“How long do you need?”

Her tone of voice suddenly changed from impatience to accommodating. “Tell you what, I can hold one unit for you latest by 5pm today. After that, I have to release it to other buyers.”

At that moment, a property agent sitting at one of the discussion tables unexpectedly raised his voice to congratulate a buyer. The voiceover from the speaker announced two more units that had just been sold.

The overwhelming excitement immediately gave the rest of the undecided buyers like Thomas an adrenaline rush.

Forget about meeting the budget, watching the bottom-line or bargaining for a good deal. With so many eager buyers and so few units left, anyone would just be lucky to grab any unit.

Thomas told himself that he couldn’t walk out of the sales gallery empty-handed. It was now or never!

“Give me #04-04 then.”

The above tricks are played out everyday by sales representatives in a property sales gallery. They make good use of three common human instincts:

1. To follow the herd;

2. To win the jackpot; and

3. To avoid losing.

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