Me & My Property

Buying where there’s chance of a future boom

Mr Jackson Heng, director of Camford International College - in his 4-room flat at Marsiling Lane. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Business owner Jackson Heng graduated from the school of hard knocks.

His parents divorced when he was eight. His mother, a hairstylist, remarried but was unable to keep her three children together as her second husband had difficulty holding down a stable job.

"When I was around 14, I told myself that I wanted to be rich... I wanted to earn a lot of money so that my mum could relax," he said.

During the school holidays, he took on jobs that required him to learn how to shampoo and colour customers' hair. He recalled a time when the family had no home and were forced to sleep in the salon where his mother worked. He and his siblings lived with different relatives for several years until his mother was able to get her own flat when he was 14. She retired about three years ago when she was 60.

Mr Heng, now 38, is director of Camford International College, which offers online programmes.

He was in the pioneer batch of employees at Camford when it was founded in 2000, and he worked his way up from course consultant to marketing manager and then to regional marketing director.

When his boss retired in 2012, Mr Heng and two partners acquired the business.

The business has affiliations with Briton Language School, Perfect International Beauty & Cosmetology Academy and CES Group. Last year, Camford and Briton - which together have nearly 2,000 students - achieved a turnover of $4.3 million.

In addition, Mr Heng is a shareholder of language school Pusat Bahasa Titian Jaya, which has nine outlets in Malaysia.

He is married and has two sons, aged seven and 10.

Describe your residential property.

It is a four-room Housing Board BTO (Build-To-Order) flat in Woodlands which I successfully balloted for in 2007, and I obtained the keys in 2011. I bought it for about $240,000 and it is fully paid up. I got married in 2006.

I like my flat as it is near my parents who live in Yishun and my in-laws who live in Woodlands.

From my home on the 26th floor, I get to enjoy nice views of the Customs as well as the sea. I can see whether there is a jam along the Causeway before I decide to drive to Malaysia.

What is in your property portfolio?

I bought my first private property in April last year for $883,000. It is a 99-year leasehold, two-bedroom, 710 sq ft condominium in the West Coast area and the project is called Parc Riviera. It will obtain its temporary occupation permit (TOP) in 2020. I plan to rent it out.

I'm hoping to capitalise on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), which is estimated to be ready in 2026. My condo will be near the International Business Park and the HSR station. There is almost 48ha of land for future mixed developments in the area, turning Jurong into Singapore's second Central Business District. This will hopefully mean good appreciation for my property. I estimate I can rent it out at $2,300 to $2,600 a month.

I also bought a 226 sq ft retail unit in The Bridge in Cambodia in April last year for US$125,000 (S$166,000) from the Oxley Group. It is expected to obtain its TOP in the first quarter of this year. It is fully paid up. I want to tap the potential high-growth economy in an emerging country in South-east Asia. The Bridge is located in one of the best locations in Phnom Penh and close to tourism spots such as NagaWorld 1 & 2.

In 2020, Shangri-La Hotel will be ready and operate next to The Bridge. This will potentially add value to my property because of the high human traffic and higher level of commercial activities.

A Cambodian firm will manage my retail space for 10 years and provide good stable income yield of up to 6 per cent a year for the first five years and 8 per cent net returns a year for the next five years.

Describe your property investing strategy.

I tend to look out for opportunities where there's higher potential capital growth in the future. For example, if the area has upcoming plans for commercial and transport development, they will boost future rental and capital growth. I also look for stable rental income.

What's your view of the property market?

What goes down will eventually come up, but I don't expect a sharp rise as seen about nine years ago in 2009. The third quarter of last year saw the first property price rise in nearly four years and a new record was set for land sales last year, crossing the $1 billion mark. I believe we will see slow growth in the property market. For those looking to buy, affordability is an important factor.

What's your financing strategy?

I took a $700,000 bank loan for Parc Riviera. It comes with a 1.6 per cent fixed deposit-linked rate and has a 27-year tenure.

Do you have insurance cover for your property and contents?

I bought a basic home insurance, which offers cover against fire and other perils such as accidental water damage. It's necessary to buy such insurance to provide peace of mind.

What are your money habits?

Because of my family background, I consider myself thrifty. I don't pamper myself and will prefer to spend on holidays with family and loved ones.

What's your overall investing strategy?

I invested in a few investment-linked insurance policies (ILPs), which provide $1.1 million of term life cover. Through these ILPs, I invested in unit trusts that focus on stable growth. I have 15 insurance policies that cover me against death, critical illness ($400,000), travel, personal accident ($1 million), as well as my children's hospitalisation. I like reading books by Robert Kiyosaki and I attend talks by Anthony Robbins.

My dream home is...

A bungalow or landed property in a good neighbourhood in Singapore. I don't like cramped spaces, so I will enjoy having a big home where my dogs can run around. My dream home will have separate rooms for leisure such as reading, games and for watching football matches with my friends.

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