My Property Journey: Determination kept me going, says Raphael Wong, one of M'sia's top agents

24 June 2016

 

My Humble Beginnings

 

It is said that there is a point in your life where everything changes. For me it was when I asked my Taekwondo instructor the question! Yes, that was the turning point in my life which inspired me to become a property investor at a very young age.

I was a kid when my parents wanted me to give them a better life. They motivated me since the beginning to succeed. But for me it was a burden. I was just a kid at that time.

In those days, we were staying in Ipoh – a small half wooden and half brick house attached to a large parcel of land. Those were the happy days, even when there were sixteen of us squished into one small house. We lived together, my grandparents, my family and my relatives, and I was the first child, the one to carry the burden of the family responsibility.

 

Me & My Sister

 

An Unexpected Inspiration

 

So it was a typical weekend when I attended my routine Taekwondo class. My Taekwondo instructor is a modest Chinese man in his 50s, a man that I always look up to. So one fine day, I decided to ask him;

“Sifu, how do you survive with such low earnings? How do you manage your monthly expenses with the small amount you earn from these Taekwondo classes??”

Honestly, this was a question I always wanted to ask him. And I’m glad I did on that day.

He looked at my puzzled expression and answered me with a smile, “Son, I own properties! I make tons of money on rental.”

It was honestly an answer I never expected, it didn’t even occur to me that people can make a living out of property investments.

 

Hence, the Journey Began

 

That day changed the course of my life. I decided that property investment would be my life goal and nothing was standing in my way, except for one thing. I was just a teenager!

So to kickstart my property journey, I decided to enrol in Imperia Institute of Technology and was awarded BSC (Hons) Real Estate Management and Development.

 

msa23

 

During my final year (before graduation), I worked as a valuation officer. I loved the job, but I was only earning RM1,200 per month. I could barely survive. But my determination kept me going! I knew I needed a change in my career. So I left my job as a real estate valuator and became a real estate agent instead. I received zero income for six months, and was using up my savings.

But I endured, and after much ups and downs, things finally started to get better for me three years later. Along the way, my friends and I started up our own real estate agency, Real Estate Finders.

 

Mayfair Service Apartment

 

And finally after some time, I laid my hands on my first dream property at the age of 23. I was a specialised agent in the area of Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara, and when I saw a property below market value, I just knew that I had to have it. It was a 400 sq ft home, and the cheapest unit at that time.

Not long after that (four months later), came another deal. But this time it was a commercial property, located in the city centre. It came as a surprise for me when this flatted factory unit (1,000 sq ft) was selling for just RM200,000. Again I grabbed it, and I am quite fortunate as it is still being rented by the same tenant for all these years.

 

Anzen Business Park

 

Since my second property was not a residential property, I was still able to get a 90% bank loan for my third property – which is a 3-storey landed residence in Kampar, next to Univerity Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). This 10-room house is currently being rented out to the university students, and is being managed by the developer themselves.

At that time, my motive was to just get a residence where the rental can cover my monthly instalment, but I was not really focusing on getting a positive cash flow.

So after investing on my third property, I froze!

 

Kampar Westlake

 

Freemen to the Rescue

 

Three years passed by. My real estate business was doing good, but my property investments just stopped. I was stuck, unable to get a bank loan. After the third year, I realised that I was just wasting my time. Hence, I started attending property related courses to get a clue and to learn how to begin again.

At one point I joined Freemen and Michael Tan came to my rescue. After meeting him was when I decided that it was time to start investing again. After listening to Michael, I formed a group. A group of likeminded investors. And so, my property journey continued.

 

Vista Alam

 

I Just Kept Going on and On

 

Now at the age of 27, I own three personal properties and co-own another three properties with my team. My property agency business is going great, and I received the MIEA National Real Estate Award 2015. I was also appointed as the youth chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Real Estate Agents (MIEA).

 

IMG_8773

 

As for my family, from a humble beginning in Ipoh, they have now migrated to the United States. With my determination, I have achieved what I want in life. Yet this is nothing but a beginning. My property journey continues and if I can do this, so can you!

 

This story was originally published on PropertyGuru Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading property site.