Like many Singaporeans, real estate industry executive Wendeline Goh has a love affair with property. But unlike most of us, she bought her first private apartment at the tender age of 26.
Ms Goh, 42, a division director at ERA, believes property is an asset that can appreciate over time and is a good hedge for inflation.
“Take property as a form of savings, as the instalments you pay each month will eventually come back to you,” she notes.
“Buy your first property when you’re young rather than renting, and you would have an asset to convert to cash when you retire. To me, property investment is the safest investment instrument among all the others.”
Ms Goh graduated with an honours degree in civil engineering from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1997 and joined ERA Realty Network in 2015.
Last year, she was handpicked as one of 100 agents out of ERA’s 6,500-strong network to join Plush, believed to be the industry’s first realty service here to solely target high-net-worth individuals.
“Only agents who have transacted a high-end property with a minimum value of $5 million in 2018 are selected for this by invitation,” she said. Another criterion included earning minimum commission of $200,000 a year.
Before joining ERA, Ms Goh was a marketing manager in an international paint company.
She is a single mum with two children – Brandon, 11, and Amelia, seven.
Q Please describe your home.
A My home is a three-bedroom, 1,011 sq ft apartment at Skysuites@Anson. I bought it in September 2017 at $2.375 million.
It was love at first sight! The panoramic view of the city blending into the sea is breathtaking from the 68th floor. There is a lot of natural light in the house, illuminating the stunning apartment from all angles.
The apartment has an excellent layout with intelligent use of space. It has great finishes and built-in appliances. For such an immaculate apartment, the price was really attractive.
I did my homework to understand that Tanjong Pagar will be developed into three times the size of Marina Bay – and is also dubbed the Greater Southern Waterfront area – in the next few years to become Asia’s No. 1 business and financial hub. That will mean great potential capital appreciation for properties in this area.
At the time of my purchase, properties with a similar floor level and view in Tanjong Pagar were starting from at least $3,000 per square foot (psf). Skysuites@Anson was offered at $2,300 psf; I decided that it would be a safe investment as the prices would still continue to appreciate.
I also did some comparison of previous transactions for similar units in this area and found the purchase price here to be about $500,000 lower. With such insights, I knew it was a great choice for both residential and investment purposes.
This apartment is in a prime central location, and there is a wide range of amenities that are easily accessible here. It’s an ideal location for the family as my kids can easily commute via Tanjong Pagar MRT, and there is a great variety of food choices in this area.
Driving is also a breeze, and my travelling time has been reduced by 50 percent from where I was staying previously.
Q Which is your favourite part of the home?
A The living room is my favourite place to hang out because it’s where I work, and where I spend the most time with my family while we enjoy the spectacular sea view.
I am proud of the many hidden storage units in my house that function as storerooms in our cosy apartment. Even though it didn’t come with a utility room, it wasn’t a problem for us at all.
Q What’s in your property portfolio?
A I bought my first property at age 26 as I believe property investment should start as early as possible, so we can benefit from asset appreciation as we mature into the next phase of our life.
I bought my Parc Vista two-bedroom apartment (1,055 sq ft) for $410,000 in 2002 and sold it in 2009 for $660,000 at a profit of $250,000. At the time, my family was growing bigger, so I purchased a three-bedroom unit (1,270 sq ft) at $930,000 in Botannia in 2010.
I sold it in 2014 at $1.65 million and bought a three-bedroom unit (1,001 sq ft) for $1.212 million at Panorama. I sold the unit in 2017 at $1.31 million and upgraded to my current home at Skysuites@Anson in 2017.
Q Describe your property investing strategy.
A As ERA provides a wide array of training, as well as consumer and market intelligence seminars on property investment, I have sum marised my investing strategy into four key factors:
Q Are you planning to buy property in the next three to five years?
A My past few purchases have mostly been made based on capital gains while residing in them. I am planning to buy an investment unit, which will be a condominium in a good central location.
Of course, it must pass my stringent tests of identifying a good undervalued property. No matter how good the location or yield, it will still not be considered a good investment if it is overpriced. It is important to arm yourself with facts and knowledge to make a sound investment choice.
Q What’s your view of the property market?
A In the mid to long term, the Singapore property market has lots of potential for growth, especially with the Government’s initiatives to propel Singapore to be the No. 1 financial hub in Asia, the most liveable city, and so on.
There are mega projects in progress, such as the expansion of MRT lines, project Jewel at Changi Airport and port transformation, to take liveability in Singapore to the next level.
The recent cooling measures have also proven to be necessary for the property market to stay healthy and sustainable, and for prices to remain affordable for Singaporeans.
While local demand was curtailed for several months after the cooling measures were rolled out,corecen. tral region transactions have remained encouraging.
From July to November last year, $2 million-and-above buyers rose to 64 percent, up from 50 percent in 2017. Based on the latest URA figures, 2018 was the best year for core central region transactions above $2,000 psf with close to $10 billion sales volume.
Q What’s your financing strategy?
A I am servicing a home loan pegged to the fixed deposit rate as it is relatively constant and doesn’t fluctuate easily. Once the lock-in period is over, I would be looking at refinancing if the interest rates get lower.
I took a loan of 80 percent of the purchase price of my apartment, and it comes with an interest rate of 1.6 percent and a tenure of 24 years. I prefer to take up the maximum loan so that my funds are freed up for future investments. I can choose to do a partial repayment if interest rates rise. Also, it made sense to take advantage of the low interest rates then.
Q Do you have insurance cover for property and contents?
A I have insurance to fully cover the home contents as well as for the entire home loan.
Q What’s your overall investing strategy?
A Only invest in instruments that you truly understand. For myself, I live and breathe real estate, so it is only natural that I invest only in real estate.
I invested in stocks and shares previously, but they didn’t work out for me because I have absolutely no knowledge or the time to monitor them.
Q My dream home is…
A A penthouse on a very high floor with a beautiful sea and city view, as well as a big balcony for enjoying afternoon tea overlooking the sunset and the horizon. It should be in the city centre overlooking the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.
I would say my current home is my dream home, but in the future, I would love to have a bigger workspace, and more rooms for my kids to have their own music and reading rooms.
As ERA Realty Network (ERA) ends the year with a strengthened market position, it is set to become the ultimate home to the real estate salespersons in Singapore and beyond.
Numerous milestones were highlighted during its recent Q4’18 Career Advancement Day Conference.
ERA is the only listed real estate agency in Singapore that organises fully subsidised quarterly conferences and top achievers’ congratulatory press advertisements for its salespersons.
There are strategic collaborations, numerous project appointments and prestigious award attainments, as well as the unveiling of new initiatives, innovative technology tools and training programmes that greatly enhance its position as the market leader.
A REAL ESTATE MARVEL BUILT ON TRUST
Since 1982, ERA has weathered all sorts of challenges to emerge as the leading real estate brand in Singapore.
From establishing the largest real estate agency network in the Asia-Pacific region to becoming the first real estate agency listed on the Singapore Exchange, ERA’s success story is anchored on one thing: building trust that is based on establishing the highest professional values in its 6,100-strong agent network. Its achievements have not gone unnoticed.
This year alone, it has received numerous awards, including Top Property Agency by Influential Brands; Most Innovative Real Estate Agency by SBR Listed Companies Awards; Favourite Real Estate Agent (Gold) Award by Expat Living Readers’ Choice Awards; and the Marketing Agency Excellence Award by EdgeProp Singapore – an award that is based on votes from real estate developers.
PREFERRED AGENCY IN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
Through strategic collaborations with CBRE Realty Associatesand HSR International Realtors, ERA has managed to add about 500 real estate salespersons to its agent count.
Buoyed by the addition of these experienced salespersons, the company has secured even more project appointments, in turn creating a plethora of opportunities for its network.
As of this year, the ERA portfolio comprises 66 projects. There were 35 project appointments this year, accounting for more than 14,700 units. Next year, 28 projects are already in the pipeline.
STRATEGIC INITIATIVES THAT ADD REAL VALUE
ERA has also announced an exclusive collaboration model with leading energy group Sembcorp Power at the conference.
This partnership allows ERA salespersons to share Sembcorp Power’s electricity price plan in the Open Electricity Market to residential consumers, which greatly increases ERA’s value to its customers.
In addition, ERA salespersons and staff can enjoy rebates off their electricity bills and other benefits through a corporate incentive plan on top of the published rate*.
To better serve the increasing number of high net worth individuals in Singapore, a premium club, dubbed the Plush Club, has been unveiled to focus on enhancing salespersons’ abilities to provide “premium concierge services” for high net worth customers.
In preparing its agents to face the rising demands of the real estate market, ERA has expanded its signature Ultimate Agent Training to better equip its agents, such as the new Ultimate Commercial Mastery, Ultimate Wealth Seminar and Ultimate Leadership Development Programme, as well as improving its Ultimate AccelERAtion Mastery – compulsory training that aims to provide the roadmap of success.
In addition, ERA also lines up a series of digital marketing training with leading industry digital partners, ensuring that its salespersons are well-tuned to the ever changing digital landscape.
INNOVATION ITS DRIVING FORCE FOR GROWTH
Not resting on its laurels, ERA continues to upgrade its technology tools. The i-ERA app and myERA portal – a comprehensive virtual office that allows its salespersons to work remotely – have been revamped to become more user-centric, intuitive and mobile optimised.
Progressive enhancements on navigation and usability are made based on the insights of salespersons’ needs. Key features such as myProfile, news feeds, announcements, quick links to Tech Tools and quick access to Marketing Templates are all positioned strategically at the home page to improve the user’s search experience.
Above all, salespersons can access an improved Calendar Planner that displays companywide training, events and seminars at a glance. All these new integrations drastically improve the productivity of today’s salespersons that spend a lot of time travelling between appointments.
Everything seems to point to this: ERA is fully committed to providing the most up-to -date solutions to meet the everchanging needs of modern real estate salespersons.