Entrepreneur Jasmine Tan has long aspired to be her own boss - not just because it could mean earning more but that it would bring more freedom of time.
"My dream is to travel the world while my firm runs on autopilot. In addition, my hubby and I plan to rely on passive income from renting out our properties," she says.
Where she has taken a more unusual turn is to try to carve out a path in the male-dominated construction and renovation sector.
That would be daunting to many but Ms Tan, 39, cut her teeth in the industry for several years as a sales executive at a stone company that specialised in marble and granite floor and table tops.
That led her to set up Stone Amperor in 2008. The firm, with an annual revenue of $1.2 million, is a countertop material specialist and provider here and in Malaysia.
Ms Tan has a diploma in industrial engineering from PSB Academy here and is married to Mr Shaun Ling, 36, who runs iPrima Media, a digital marketing agency founded by Ms Tan in 2012.
The couple, both Malaysians, are permanent residents. They have been married since 2011 and have no children. They live in a terraced house in Johor Baru (JB) and commute daily to their Singapore office in Woodlands Close, as living expenses in Johor are lower.
Besides it is convenient to travel by car between the two places, she adds.
Q: What is your residence like?
A: I live in a 2,540 sq ft double-storey terraced house in JB's Tebrau area, which was purchased for RM220,000 in 2007. The land size is 1,540 sq ft and it is freehold. The value of the four-bedroom house has appreciated to RM600,000 (S$201,000).
I like that it is conveniently located within walking distance of Aeon Mall and the first Ikea store in JB. It is also easy for my hubby and I to commute to Singapore for work.
Q: What are the other properties in your portfolio?
A: I have three investment residential properties.
Last year, I bought a freehold double-storey four-bedroom corner house in JB's Pasir Gudang area. Its land area is 2,400 sq ft with a built-up area of 4,000 sq ft for just above RM800,000. It will obtain its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 2019.
In 2012, I bought a 553 sq ft Soho (home-cum-office concept) apartment in Puteri Harbour in Johor, for just above RM400,000. I'm renting it out at an annual rental yield of 4 per cent.
In 2011, I purchased a 1,010 sq ft serviced apartment property at RM300,000 in JB's Plentong area. It came with a low down payment of only RM2,000 and the developer would bear the interest till its TOP was issued in March last year, under the Developer Interest-Bearing Scheme. The value has risen to RM450,000. I'm looking for a tenant now.
I have three commercial properties as well.
In October last year, I bought a retail-cum-warehouse unit for RM2.3 million in the Pasir Gudang area, to house Stone Amperor's business operations in Malaysia. Its land area is about 11,900 sq ft with a built-up area of 6,750 sq ft.
In 2015, I bought a two-storey commercial shop unit at Sunway Iskandar for about RM2 million. It has a built-up area of 2,800 sq ft. It will obtain its TOP in 2019.
In 2013, I bought a 660 sq ft office unit at Mount Austin in JB for about RM450,000. It obtained its TOP a few months ago and I'm renovating it.
Q: What is your property investing strategy?
A: The factors that I consider include the future development and capital appreciation potential. I also analyse if the purchase price is below market rate and whether it is reasonable. Is the location easy to access with major highways and malls nearby?
Q: What is your financing strategy?
A: For my commercial properties such as shop units, I will make a 15 per cent down payment and take an 85 per cent loan.
For residential properties, it will be a 10 per cent down payment and a 90 per cent loan.
I will consider refinancing if it helps to reduce the mortgage rate.
In addition, all my properties are covered with insurance coverage like fire insurance. The insured amount depends on the property.
Q: What do you think of the property market now?
A: I foresee a boom in the Johor Baru property market over the next five to 10 years, due to the influx of big corporations entering the area. This will in turn create a lot of job opportunities. People will need places to live, either through buying or renting property.
There has been a hive of activity in the area. The developments include Legoland, Hello Kitty Town, international schools, five-star hotels, private hospitals and so on.
Investors will be flooding in from all over the world, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, the Middle East, the United States and so on.
The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail will also increase the demand for properties in Johor Baru, fuelled by Singaporeans looking for holiday homes or property investments.
I have plans to invest more in East Malaysia over the next few years and also to enter the Singapore property market.
Q: What's your overall investing strategy?
A: Apart from property, I also have some stocks and shares in Malaysia (such as Hap Seng Group and UMW Oil & Gas) and Singapore (such as Singapore Exchange and Hutchinson Ports).
I have invested in some technology and apps start-ups as well.
My total investment portfolio is about RM8 million.
Q: Your dream home is...
A: There is a three-storey seven-bedroom mansion with an entertainment room in its basement over at Sunway Iskandar. Located on top of a hill, it faces a lake.
That would be my dream house but it would be ideal if it faces the sea and not a lake.
Author Info: This article was first published by Lorna Tan on Straits Times