Mr Victor Neo, chief executive and founder of creative technology provider Revez, is a strong believer in the investment potential of real estate. This is not surprising as he had been accompanying his late father, an avid property investor, for property viewings since he was 10.
His father was a businessman in the manufacturing and supply industry. Besides Singapore, they viewed properties mainly in Australia.
"By watching my father, I learnt what you need to do before investing, the foresight required in terms of the location, understanding the economy, and the potential interest the property might have to future investors," said Mr Neo.
His father died of poor health in 2015 and Mr Neo, 36, inherited two properties from him.
In 2010, Mr Neo set up Revez with a start-up capital in the low five-digits, with two partners. Its first hire was only a year later, but since then the firm's headcount has doubled each year.
"We've also seen a steady growth in revenue of about 10 per cent year on year. In 2015, we ventured overseas with our first office in Hong Kong. Our business strategy is to be on a constant lookout for strategic partners and investors for expansion," said Mr Neo.
The firm broke even in less than 12 months. Its current annual turnover is about $4 million and it has a staff strength of about 40.
Some of the accolades it has achieved include "Singapore's largest provider of customised multimedia solutions for museums and galleries" this year. It was also recognised for the "Largest Touchscreen" in 2016 for the National Gallery's Social Table, and Singapore Outstanding Enterprise 2014. All awards are from the Singapore Book of Records.
Mr Neo is married to banker Wendy Ong, 34, and they have a three-year-old daughter, Lecole, and one-year-old son, Thor.
Q Please describe your residential property.
A My family and I are living in a 1,100 sq ft, three-bedroom condominium unit in District 3. It was bought in 2014 for $1.8 million.
I chose it because it is conveniently located in front of an MRT station and is close to the Central Business District and my working place. It is convenient to travel to town. The land limitation in the area makes this a good property buy.
My favourite part is the balcony. It faces a nice garden and has a jacuzzi, allowing me to work in a relaxed environment.
Q What else is in your property portfolio?
A In 2010, I bought a 624 sq ft, two-bedroom condo unit for $650,000 in District 3. It is being rented out. A year later, I bought a 441 sq ft, one-bedroom condo unit, for $600,000 in District 15. Prior to selling it at a break-even price this year, I was renting it out.
In 2012, I bought a 1,000 sq ft commercial office for $1.2 million and used it as an office for my business. I'm looking to rent it out now.
In 2015, I inherited a commercial retail space valued at $2 million in District 10, and a condo unit valued at $2 million in District 8, from my late father. Both properties are being rented out.
During a good year, my rental yield can hit 8 per cent to 10 per cent. Presently, it is about 2 per cent to 4 per cent. All the properties have mortgages.
Q Describe your property investing strategy.
A When I buy a property, I will go for those that can generate a minimum rental yield of 4.5 per cent and potential growth of at least 10 per cent to 15 per cent in the next five years.
The four factors I look out for are access to public transport, plot ratio, potential plans in the area and proximity to schools.
I'm potentially looking for landed property for my family in the Bukit Timah area.
Q What do you think of the property market now?
A Various measures such as the Total Debt Servicing Ratio, Seller/Buyer Stamp Duty, and tighter loan restrictions have been put in place to stabilise the market.
It is a good sign that the authorities want to ensure that real estate space remains sustainable here. Based on recent reports, I think real estate is still expected to grow steadily.
Q What's your financing strategy?
A Do not over gear and be prepared for rainy days. The most important thing is to make sure that I am able to balance the affordability and the risk.
The majority of my home loans are generally less than 50 per cent, with interest rates of less than 2 per cent.
I have refinanced my loans before with various banks depending on the interest rate packages.
Q Do you have insurance cover for property and contents?
A I have the standard fire insurance for my property.
Q What's your overall investing strategy?
A I learnt the importance of adding breadth to an investment portfolio and not to put all my eggs in just one basket. It's prudent to have investments that are under your own control rather than relying on a third party.
In addition, aim to have investments to cover the short-, mid-and long-term periods, depending on your current portfolio, appetite and risk.
My portfolio comprises 50 per cent in property, 10 per cent in bonds and 40 per cent in my business Revez and affiliated companies.
Q My dream home is...
A A landed property with a nice garden and a sea view, including a yacht docked behind the house. I am a person who works hard and would like to enjoy this lifestyle.