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Starting early in home investments

Wendeline Goh bought her first property at 26 as she believes value can appreciate over time

Like many Singaporeans, real estate singapore 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 district 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 realtor 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 in real estate 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 in real estate singapore, I have summarised my investing strategy into four key factors:

  • – Undervalued property: The selling price for the property must be way below those of its neighbouring properties, or even within the same condominium, in order to ensure that it is at a “safe” entry price. When the perceived value to purchase is considered “safe”, there is bound to be capital appreciation in the future. Usually, I will compare past trends of the intended purchase development versus its neighbouring projects, and even neighbouring districts. This has been my protocol in my property decision-making and it has worked out well, not only for myself but also for my real estate singapore clients. 
  • – Supply and demand: Look out for the number of units in total within the same location, and not the number of units in a development. If an area has limited condominiums but many HDB units, there will be demand from this pool of secondary buyers in the near future. 
  • – Rental yield: Rental yield is dependent on the supply and demand of tenant pools, tenant profile type, and the type and size of the property.
  • – Market intelligence: It is a privilege to be part of an agency with a strong market research team. At ERA, the leaders always hold consumer and market intelligence seminars to let us into the latest real estate singapore property trends and the most updated investment strategies. With such insights, we are able to make more calculated decisions in property investment within the real estate singapore market.

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 in real estate singapore. 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, core central 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 singapore.

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. 

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