Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honoured to interview Mr. William Wong, Founder and Managing Director of Realstar Premier Group. Established in 2001, Realstar Premier Group has since transacted more than 2,000 landed properties, and over $14 billion worth of landed transactions.
With 70 agents specializing in transactions for the landed arena, Realstar Premier Group has stellar results of 29 Good Class Bungalow (GCB) transactions in 2020.
Q. Where do you stay? Is there a spot where you often go for food?
William: I currently stay in Claymore. In terms of food, I am quite simple. I enjoy local delicacies served at hawker centres. But if I were to choose one, I do enjoy going to FOC Restaurant at Hong Kong Street and Sentosa Island. It is a Spanish Tapas restaurant owned by my good friend.
Q. How was your investment journey like?
William: I am a true believer of landed property, as it has a huge investment potential. All my investments in the past 20 years are in landed property. I have seen good returns over the years. The only investment that did not work out was one where I thought that there was a chance for enbloc, but it didn’t happen.
In 2013, before the government announced a series of measures, I managed to liquidate my landed property and divested into commercial property. Now, I am slowly moving back to residential landed once again.
Q. Given that you have always been in the private property arena, will you recommend HDB purchases?
William: Nowadays, it is not easy for young couples to purchase private property. HDBs are still one of the best assets to own. I know many who rent their HDBs out and get an amazing monthly rental yield. For a start, I believe that HDBs are a good choice. Once you have enough savings, I believe that it would be good to move up to own private property.
For me, apartments and condominiums are not a great choice. Looking at supply-demand dynamics, landed homes have a limited supply but high demand. However, this can’t be said for condominiums and apartments.
Q. In terms of mortgage financing, do you choose fixed or floating rates?
William: I usually go for fixed rates because of the certainty and clarity. I tend to consider the worst-case scenario. Looking at the past three decades, when there are changes in the market sentiment, it usually lasts up to one and a half years. When I go for fixed interest rates, I know clearly what my commitment would be for the next two to three years, without worrying about any surprises that may occur during this period.
Q. Was your property purchase journey planned solely by yourself or together with your wife?
William: I always plan my purchases with my wife. As long as one of us think that it is not a viable investment, we will not commit to the purchase. We will analyze the property together, and if both of us are positive that it is a good investment decision, we will go for it.
Q. Do you have a favorite estate in Singapore?
William: I love staying in the East, but my property is located in the Central area. It’s ironic. But if given a choice, I would definitely choose the East. The food, beach, amenities are so much more enjoyable for me as compared to the Central Area of Singapore.
Q. Is there a renovation trend that you go for?
William: Overall, we prefer a simple concept for our house. A black and white concept would be ideal. We like greenery in our home, so we may incorporate a green wall, and solar panels in our new home. My wife loves 1-storey houses, but the challenge is the limited built-in area. I think that a one and a half-storey home with a built-in basement would be ideal for us.
Q. What do you look for when purchasing landed property?
William: I like buying landed houses with redevelopment potential – those which I can subdivide into 2 or 3 houses. Whenever I look at landed houses, I do not pay much attention to the furnishings and interior of the house, but focus more on the exterior such as the surroundings and gradient and shape of land.
Q. What tools do you think is best to grow wealth or generate multiple streams of income?
William: I am not an equity person and hardly invest in shares. In fact, most of the time I invest in shares, I make losses. For my wife and I, we believe in Feng Shui, and the master has actually told us that land investments are best suited for us.
Q. If you could turn back time, what would you have done differently 5 years ago?
William: Looking at the situation now, I would definitely have invested more in landed property. Landed prices have escalated so quickly over the past few years, so that’s what I would have done differently.
Q. Are there any tips you would like to give to our readers?
William: I always hear people say that they wish they had bought something. I believe that as long as you are not over-leveraging, regardless of price, you should try to go into landed property first.
If you were to look at the landed supply demographics, it is no surprise that years down the road, it will be more challenging to own one. The competition will be too high then.