Eastern promise

Ex-accountant sees room for growth in the east, eyes dream home there with a sea view

Mr Aaron Wan's dream home is one in the east that captures the sea breeze.

The associate director in a property firm is keen to snag a freehold four-bedroom apartment in District 15 - which covers areas like Marina Parade and Meyer Road - which is where he plans to raise a family.

Mr Wan, 29, is married to a tax manager and has no children yet. He says: "With the Thomson-East Coast MRT line, I believe properties in District 15 will have better connectivity in future, when it comes to travelling. There is definitely room for growth as well, in terms of prices."

The former PwC Singapore tax consultant - who, as a teenager, made a low five-figure sum in a month dealing with virtual currencies - believes in the idea of generating passive income.

His love for property began early, and he was a collective sale committee member when his previous home in Potong Pasir was sold en bloc. Raintree Gardens - a former HUDC estate - was sold for $334.2 million last year.

Besides building his career in property, Mr Wan tends to invest his time in other areas, too.

"I believe that whatever we have are blessings from God, and I must never neglect my loved ones, who are constantly supporting me in my career. It is also important that after I have taken care of my own needs, I try and give back to society."

Mr Aaron Wan, 29, an associate director in a property firm, is married to a tax manager and has no children yet. The former tax consultant prefers freehold properties in Districts 9, 10 and 15, and is keen to snag a freehold four-bedroom apartment in District 15, which covers areas such as Marina Parade and Meyer Road, as his wife loves the eastern part of Singapore. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG

Q What's your property like?

Mr Wan and his wife bought their matrimonial home in the Watermark in Robertson Quay after a long search. They bought the freehold two-bedroom unit at the
condo in 2015 for $1.5 million.

A My matrimonial home is a freehold two-bedroom unit, about 900 sq ft, in Robertson Quay, which I bought in 2015 for $1.5 million.

We were looking for a home for a long time before we found this unit.

I managed to convince my wife that property prices in the prime districts were correcting, and we started looking.

It takes us five minutes to come home from her workplace when there is no traffic.

Mr Wan and his wife bought their matrimonial home in the Watermark in Robertson Quay after a long search. They bought the freehold two-bedroom unit at the
condo in 2015 for $1.5 million.

Q Tell us about your property portfolio.

A I bought a freehold 409 sq ft one-bedroom apartment, for about $500,000, near Serangoon MRT station in 2011. My choices were limited based on affordability.


Proper investment of one's time is more important than money.

'' MR AARON WAN, on exercising discipline in dividing his time among his religious activities, family, career and other interests.

There weren't any good resale private properties selling at such a low price, so I could look at only new projects.

As a former accountant, I calculated my expected return on investment (ROI), based on when I could start leasing out my property, and the expected rental. Eventually, it made sense for me to buy only something that would get a temporary occupation permit quickly.

I studied developers' track records and bought from one with a good reputation for quickly completing properties that are also of good quality.

I sold it in 2014 for $640,000 and had to pay the seller's stamp duty. It did not seem like I made a lot from the sale, based on ROI calculations, after paying off the duty and collecting only one year of rental income.

However, looking at my return on equity, the returns were good, considering that I forked out only about $100,000 upfront and held it for only about two years.

Q Describe your property investing strategy and market view.

A I prefer freehold properties in Districts 9, 10 and 15. I avoid District 11 as it is near the Balestier area, where prices have been pretty stagnant.

My wife loves the east but my main criterion for District 15 properties would be a sea view. Otherwise, there is little incentive and motivation to pay the same per sq ft (psf) price as I would for properties in District 9. There is no fixed system or hidden metrics. I just camp out and wait for good deals to come by.

I consider things like the location, such as whether it is near MRT stations or malls, and also the value - does the asking price make sense compared with what has been recently transacted.

I also take into account the Government's future plans, as well as liquidity. Believe it or not, not all properties are illiquid, as there are some projects that are highly sought after by investors.

We are at the stage where sellers are waiting for the market to correct and buyers are still waiting for prices to fall further.

There are many freehold properties around the Cairnhill and Hullet Road areas transacting at even below $2,000 psf. Affordability has to improve for the market to start climbing up again.

Q What's your financing strategy?

A Several seasoned property investors have told me: "A mortgage loan is the cheapest loan in one's lifetime." Rates pegged to fixed deposits are very popular now but experience tells me it is sometimes good to consider fixed rates.

I took a loan with DBS Bank, pegged to its fixed deposit home rate (FHR). The rate increased from 1.67 per cent to 1.945 per cent less than two weeks after I signed the agreement, and even before they disbursed the loan in 2015.

I chose DBS' 1.67 per cent FHR over OCBC Bank's fixed rates, which were at 1.68 per cent at the time. I am waiting for the lock-in period to end at the end of this year, to reprice my loan with DBS or refinance with another bank.

Q What's your overall investing strategy?

A I believe proper investment of one's time is more important than money. It takes constant discipline to prioritise my time among God, my family, career and the Chung Shan Association, where I am deputy secretary.

In terms of money, a large percentage goes back into building my property business.

I plan to gain a bigger market share in the Robertson Quay and River Valley areas by helping people buy undervalued properties.

Q My dream home is...

A A home that is big and comfortable enough for my family, loved ones and future children to live happily in, ideally in an area that my wife likes, for instance, in the east, and with a nice sea view.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Eastern promise'. Print Edition | Subscribe