IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Young man with a knack for making money

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 7, 2013

At the ripe old age of 25, Mr Aaron Wan is already a proud property owner.

While most people his age might be scouting around for their first property to live in, the bachelor bought an investment property last year.

Mr Wan, a tax associate at PwC Singapore, took about a year to do his homework - reading up on the market and visiting many showflats. He eventually zoomed in on a shoebox apartment near Serangoon MRT station.

He made the choice because it is freehold, bite-sized but not in Geylang, next to a mall and just a few bus stops away from the upcoming Paya Lebar hub. These factors mean the unit will likely be easy to rent out or sell.

After this experience, Mr Wan's advice to potential property investors is: Do not let your emotions cloud your investment decisions.

It is something that many people do not heed, he says.

An investment property is different from one where you intend to live, he says.

"People always think they should buy a bigger unit. They will think: What if I want to live in it in the future?

"But when you buy an investment property, you should think about what the tenant wants and what the next buyer wants."

Q: Are you a spender or saver?

A saver. I save most of my monthly salary and plan to invest some of it in the stock market.

My main aim, though, is to save enough to buy another property.

I spend very little on myself and will always look for the best deal in town before spending my money.

When I was at Temasek Polytechnic, I was consciously saving for an overseas education. The plan was to study in Australia with my then girlfriend.

Looking back, I must thank her for breaking my heart. In the end, I took up a part-time degree while serving my national service. My savings then went into the downpayment for my property.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

About $1,000. I usually pay for big- ticket items with my Standard Chartered Bank's Manhattan card as it offers a 5 per cent cash rebate, capped at $200 quarterly.

I have credit cards from almost every bank so that I can take advantage of the various perks and promotions.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

I have health, accident and life insurance. I did put some money into blue chips but have since sold off most of them.

I prefer to invest in property. I bought my first property last year and am looking to rent it out. I will then work towards owning another property.

Many people have asked me why I gave up the opportunity to own an HDB flat.

When I made my purchase last year, marriage was not on the cards. Besides, new flats take about three to five years to build and have a five-year minimum occupation period. It may take time to get one as I have friends who balloted several times before securing a flat.

I don't want to wait till I'm in my mid-30s or 40 to buy my first investment property.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

I started performing as an acrobat at the age of four and picked up the art of face changing at 17.

My parents would give me a small token for every performance I did. I would always put it into my bank account.

My dad is a ventriloquist and magician who has a chain of magic shops in Singapore. My mum assists him in his business.

They came from poor families and are the thrifty sort. My dad started out as an electrical engineer before becoming a full-time performer.

He started a retail shop selling magic tricks with his savings. The business has now evolved into selling party items and other gifts as well.

My dad helped to develop my entrepreneurial mindset from a young age. When I was in secondary school, he would encourage me to help out at his shop and push me to do sales. It taught me skills like marketing, bargaining and, importantly, to speak and sell well.

I played a lot of online games when I was in secondary school. I would buy the best equipment for my virtual character as well as virtual currencies, and had a flair for sussing out the best deals.

One day, it struck me that with the prices I was getting from the suppliers, I could easily resell the equipment and virtual currencies to other gamers at a higher price.

Sometimes, when I was out with my friends or even in class, I would be busy checking my BlackBerry and organising a deal through MSN and ibanking.

When business was good during the school holidays, I could make a low five-figure sum in a month. My biggest client was a guy in his 50s, who bought $7,000 worth of virtual currencies for his wife and kid. I was 18 then.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

I like to grow my wealth and the idea of generating passive income.

Once, I invested a few thousand dollars in men's clothing to sell and made about four times more.

I was checking around for the cheapest source of clothing for myself online. That's when I found this guy who told me to go down to his warehouse to check out his clearance sale.

I called my mum and we bought all their stock on the spot. I sold everything online and at flea markets within a few months.

Q: What property do you own?

A 409 sq ft one-bedroom freehold shoebox apartment near Serangoon MRT station, which I bought last year for about $500,000.

I did my research, and procrastinated for a year and saw prices just rise and rise.

The seller's stamp duty was already in place so I wanted something that could give me a rental income while I wait four years to sell it off without incurring the duty.

I did my calculations carefully and even assumed a 5 per cent interest rate to make sure I can pay the mortgage.

Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

I used to splurge on virtual equipment and currencies, and would have easily spent several thousands on these during my secondary school days.

The most expensive item was a belt I bought for my virtual character in Dark Ages when I was 13. It cost US$700 (S$870). My parents didn't know about it. They would have been very upset.

Q: What's your retirement plan?

I'm too young to think about retiring. But I guess when I do retire, I hope to have multiple properties that can generate enough rental income to take care of the mortgage. You don't do anything and yet get the money every month.

Q: Home is now....

My parents' HUDC apartment in Potong Pasir.

Q: I drive ...

A Toyota Sienta.

joyceteo@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 7, 2013

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