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Opportunities in property investment does not ONLY come during a crisis.

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Too many friends kept saying they will buy a property during a financial crisis. They were waiting for opportunities in property investment. Sorry my friends, when the crisis comes, most of us (me included and not just you) may NOT be courageous enough to do so. Jumping in when everyone is jumping out? I better just stay put and hold and wait till the bad time passes.

We would not dare to buy during a crisis if everyone around us are afraid, bad news everyday about companies collapsing and banks showing ever higher non-performing loans and thus will be even more stringent with lending approvals. Plus the fact that the property we want to buy may drop in price further AFTER we have signed the Sale and Purchase Agreement!

This is why we need to step back and realise that while crisis brings about the best opportunity to buy low and sell high later on, it may be best to identify opportunities by knowing what’s really happening. Here are 4 things we could do before the crisis and occasionally if we found something, we could proceed instead of waiting until the next crisis comes.

#1 – Do you already know what do you want to buy? Is the focus on undervalued property? If yes, how big is the discount that you would consider a must-buy? Is the focus on home upgrade? If yes, have we identified if we like a bigger home further away or can accept a more luxurious home but smaller in size? If it’s for rental, are we looking to rent out fully furnished, empty or even attractively renovated? It could even be sub-let or short stay as well.

Have we identified the targeted tenant market? Students? Private universities? Working professionals? Actually these are just a very small part of all the questions we would need to ask ourselves. If we have not even decided on what we want to focus and what to buy, then stop saying that we are waiting for the best time to buy. Nothing will happen even during a crisis.

#2 – Do you already have the funds ready? By the way, this is number 2 and not number 1 in the list because what you want to buy should determine how much funds you should prepare. This fund also does not necessary just be inside the savings account for it to be liquid. It could be in the Fixed Deposit for a 1-month or 3-month term. This should give enough flexibility should you need the fund for a purchase.

While leaving this in dividend stocks may also be an option but remember, when the financial crisis strikes, the company stock you bought may also drop in price too. So, that’s a risk as well where you suddenly realize you do not have enough funds to continue with the property purchase. Do not let it be a case of so near yet so far yeah.

#3 – Do you know where to keep track of all the listings? No point in knowing what we want to buy and having the funds to do so if we did not know when the opportunity knocks. Keeping track can be via property listing sites such as iproperty.com.my or propertyguru.com.my or mudah.my it could also be your good and friendly neighbourhood real estate negotiator who will continue to update you about potential opportunities. It could also be through auction listing sites too. Just google ‘auction listings Malaysia’ for many different sites to keep track of what’s available.

If we have these three steps in place, then truth is, we could buy as soon as we found a good opportunity and it does not necessarily during a financial crisis.

I share with you this story which happened just a few years back. I was driving a close friend out for lunch one day. Suddenly she said that she found a particular property listing which has just been posted 10 minutes ago! The price was unbelievable. It was 15-20% below the typical market price. She called immediately, made an appointment to view the unit in the evening and at night, she told me that she had paid the earnest deposit!

By the way, the property price was so low that when the calculation of property stamp duty was done, the price which was used to calculate the property stamp duty was higher than the price she bought! Now, do we understand why it is so important to be prepared? She certainly did not buy that property during a crisis. Happy waiting.

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