I am Henry. When I was 4 years old, my parents divorced and that ended my childhood. I was sent to live with relatives who struggled to earn a living. I marked cards in the gambling house and sold cigarettes on the streets.
At the end of elementary school I failed to qualify to enter high school. My life had come to another end! I had to go to a rural school and lived with my maternal grandparents. My grandfather owned many pieces of land and several shops and I learnt the basics of property ownership by tagging along everywhere he went.
The failue in elementary school taught me to be more focused and hardworking. I had no natural talent as a student but by struggling I did well enough to re-enter my original school.
After 11 years of schooling, I worked as a technician in the city planning department. One of my friends in the engineering department had to check rural roads every day, which put him in touch with the local people. He approached me one day about a property for sale. The asking price was below market value in my opinion and we decided to buy it, but the problem was we did not have enough money. We pooled their savings together which was only enough for the deposit. Within 2 weeks we found another buyer and on-sold the land. The profit for each of us was equal to 6 months’ pay. My friend and I knew we were on to a good thing.
With the enlarged capital, we bought similar small properties one at a time, held them for a while and then on-sold them. Each transaction made a substantial profit. I became skilled at negotiating. We always used the broker to our advantage by promising him a commission based on the full asking price. However, we told him that we were only prepared to pay a lower price, e.g. 20% lower. This made the broker work hard on the seller to bring down the price.
Even though I owned a few properties by age 30, I was not yet financially independent. I knew that to get a higher income he had to obtain a university degree. The university required me to undertake a 3-year program, giving credit for my experience, but I completed it in 2 years by overloading.
I then got a job as a property maintenance executive at the national oil corporation. I felt I needed more qualifications, so after working only for a year, I resigned to study for a masters degree in planning. Upon completion of the degree, I managed to get back my old job.
The high and steady income from my job together with excellent employer financing allowed me to buy houses and condominiums. For the latter, I focused on dilapidated properties at knocked down prices which I renovated myself after office hours, only using workers occasionally. For condominiums, I did my own interior fittings and rented to expatriates who provided higher yields than local residents did. I also bought extra parking bays at these condominiums – because demand always outstripped supply, I obtained very good yields.
In my mid-forties, I was financially independent but I continued working at the national oil company: there were few demands placed on me and the pay was great. My sons were academically gifted but I encouraged them to be pilots so that they could enjoy a high income early in life. Airlines recruited and trained them, paying for their education so the children were cost-free to me once they reached age 17.
I left the employer after more than 25 years’ service. I continue to hunt for low-priced properties and busy myself with renovations before selling them for a significant profit. Recently I bought two adjoining bungalows and sold them within a year for a 100% capital gain.