Friday, October 22, 2010

Ford Fiesta


It has arguably been the car with all the pre-launch publicity this year, having had a good seven months plus of doing so in various forms up to this point, but now the wait is over and things are finally rolling for the Ford Fiesta. The car was officially launched this evening in Malaysia at the Opera in Sunway Pyramid, and the neat surprise is that the pricing has improved on that bandied about before pre-launch.

Before today, the indicative pricing for the Fiesta, which is of course available in three variants – an entry-level 1.4 litre hatch, a 1.6 litre sedan and a range-topping 1.6 litre Sport hatch – was RM73,888, RM79,888 and RM84,888 respectively, all on-the-road with insurance.


The wonderful news for those looking at the B-segment offering is that the 1.4 LX manual’s price has dipped under RM70k, in this case RM69,888, while the 1.6 LX sedan goes for RM78,888. As for the 1.6 Sport, it’s two thousand cheaper than expected, rolling in at RM82,888, again all on-the-road with insurance.

Our earlier test drive report, filed by my colleague Danny Tan, already explains the Thai-made car wonderfully in great detail, but to recap, you’re certainly getting a lot for your money with the Fiesta. At the top-end, here’s a hatch with plenty of snazz about it.


There’s that new Duratec Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing) 1.6 litre pot for starters (which is also to be found on the sedan), offering 118 hp (or 120 PS, if you prefer) at 6,000rpm and 152 Nm of torque at 4,050rpm, and the Fiesta is the only car in its price range offering a six-speed Powershift twin-clutch tranny on both variants. Meanwhile, the 1.4 litre Duratec pot on the entry-level LX hatch turns out 94.5 hp (96 PS) at 5,650rpm and has 128 Nm at 4,050rpm, mated to a five-speed IB5 manual box.

Other items on the equipment list includes ABS with Hill Launch Assist, ESP and TCS, EBD, emergency brake assist, a six-speaker audio system offering Bluetooth/USB/iPod connectivity and Voice Control, dual airbags, Easy Fuel capless refuelling system, Isofix mounting points, power folding side mirrors and 195/50 series rubbers riding on five-spoke 16-inch alloys.


The kit listed is for the 1.6 Sport, but on the whole the two other variants have a decent spread of features. In terms of boot space, the sedan offers 471 litres of cargo space, while the hatch has a 281 litre capacity – getting more naturally if you fold down the 60:40 split rear seats.

A wide colour palette is available for the exterior, with Cool White, Mica Black and Metropolitan Grey common to all three models. The manual gets a fourth shade, True Red, while the rest of the sedan’s six colours are made up of Phantom Blue, Sparking Gold and Highlight Silver.


As for the 1.6 Sport, eight’s the total weight in this case – besides five of the colours listed above (save Sparkling Gold and Phantom Blue, which are unique to the sedan) the Sport gets two exclusive shades – the designated hero colour called Chili Orange and Aurora Blue. The eighth body colour, which I believe will only come in at some point in the future and will have a slight premium attached to it, is a very distinct looking Phantom Purple (maybe you can name your Fiesta Barney?)

The Fiesta range comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty, and to sweeten the deal further, buyers get the Ford Extended Service Plan thrown in for good measure – the three-year or 60,000km free maintenance plan covers parts and labour, and included in the list are engine oil and filter changes, multi-point inspections, engine belts and hoses, spark plugs and wiper blades.


Sime Darby Auto ConneXion says that more than 500 bookings have already been taken in the Klang Valley alone (the nationwide numbers are still being compiled), with the first customer deliveries going underway now that the car has been launched. Nonetheless, the waiting period for the Fiesta currently isn’t that long – with a steady stream of stock coming in from Rayong, if you book a Fiesta now you’ll likely get it in January, which really isn’t too long a wait.

Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be one. Real estate consultant and property investor Nancy Ng has certainly worked hard for her success. Together with her husband, they have accumulated approximately 18 properties that include apartments, SoHos, land, factories, houses, shop offices, retail and condominiums. Their loans amount to more than RM10mil and their monthly passive income is a much-desired five-figure sum.

Ng, 41, started her property investment journey six years ago in year 2004 with just RM60,000. It was at one of the lowest points of her life as she had to sell the house they were staying in for RM333,000 (they purchased it for RM165,000). They still had RM100,000 in loan. After paying off all debts, she and her husband were left with approximately RM60,000.

“I really have to thank my late father-in-law. We wouldn’t have made it through without his help. He offered a place for our family to stay in when we had to sell our house,” says Ng, as she fondly remembers her father-in-law.

“Don’t give up. I refused to give up even at my lowest point. Property saved me. It was my saviour,” Ng adds. By investing carefully, Ng has attained financial freedom and has made it her goal to share her knowledge about property investment and give back to the community by pledging to give away properties worth RM1mil.

“I plan to give away RM1 million worth of properties. I have given away two properties worth RM 500,000. I hope to achieve this by year 2013. A man gave away a piece of land to a church after listening to my story. I am so excited ! I hope more people will also start giving! My dream is to have more people join me in giving away properties to charity or any deserving organisations of their choice,” says the charitable investor. chats with Ng, whose high-pitched boisterous laugh never fails to liven up a room.

Driven: Real estate consultant and investor, Ng, is also the project sales director for Qube, an integrated commercial development in Shah Alam

Were you always a real estate consultant?
I have been a real estate consultant since 2003 or 2004. Before that, I was in logistics for 12 years. Actually I took a break in 1999 to fulfil my dream of being a full-time mother (laughs). But it didn’t last long. I rested for about two years and I think everybody knows about the recession in 1997 and the spill-over effect in 1998 and 1999. I resigned at the end of 1998. I thought I had a lot of money because I was saving for so many years. But I didn’t know my husband lost it all (laughs). He kept this dark secret from me.

You did not see the bank accounts?
I was pregnant with my second child and he didn’t want to frighten or upset me. If he told me, then I would have given second thoughts about being a full-time mother. So how? Resigned already (laughs). I think the savings lasted for a while as I worked on a part-time basis for two companies as a consultant. I wasn’t just doing nothing, but it was more of ‘relax’ mode.

We did not have to be really rich, as long as we can provide our children with local education. Property investment was never a goal. I was contented. But I went into property investment with a clear mindset. In 2002 or 2003, I attended a few seminars because I was desperate. Our savings was running low. I did a trading business with a friend, of which I owned 20%. After a year, I asked myself if this was what I wanted. There has to be something better than this. So my husband and I explored all types of courses such as Forex trading, options and Internet courses, which was very ‘in’ at that time. Some of the courses we attended were free previews by Renesial Leong and Milan Doshi (local property gurus). Then I realised and felt that it made sense.

And when Robert Kiyosaki went to Singapore, we went to listen to what he had to say. Upon returning to Malaysia, I realised that, that’s it. I shouldn’t just be a real estate agent, I should also be a property investor.

At what point did you decide to become a real estate agent?
I became a real estate agent after selling my property. I actually engaged a lot of agents to sell my property but none of them could me get the price that I wanted. So I was angry (laughs). I had renovated the house nicely. I told the agents that I wanted to sell my house for RM330,000. All five agents said that they could only get me RM280,000. I refused to accept that and tried selling it myself. And I sold my first property for RM330,000.

How did you sell your home for RM330,000?
Ahhh. It was a brand new house and I only stayed in it for four years. I took care of the house. The basic houses in that area were valued between RM260,000 and RM280,000. You mean that there’s no value to the renovations? I didn’t think so. So that’s why, I told them (agents) that I would do it. After I sold my house, my mom asked me to sell her two apartments, and then my cousin also asked me to sell two apartments. Then all my friends asked me to sell and rent their houses and apartments. So before I knew it, I was helping to transact over 30 properties and I wasn’t getting paid (laughs).

All of them took me out for lunch, dinner, supper or tea. Then my husband reminded that we are not that rich anymore and our savings were depleting. I did not have a regular income, have decided to give up the (trading) business, and here I was doing ‘busybody’ work for people. So he suggested that I sign up as an agent. It made total sense, because as a friend, I don’t think that it’s nice to ask them for one or two percent (commission). It doesn’t work. So I agreed to be an agent. From year 2004 till today, we have not stopped investing. So a lot of people were amazed that we attained our financial freedom in four years.

How did you do it?
(Laughs) I think that we were very “sharp”. The first few properties we invested in were small properties. When we started in real estate investment, we were down to our last RM60,000 in both our accounts. I looked at him. He looked at me (laughs). Do or die, we had to make wise choices; cannot simply “shoot” (laughs). We started with small condominiums with zero down payment. We bought the condo for RM80,000. We knew that we wanted to buy properties, so we had to work hard. Like what one of the property gurus said, “Earn as much as you can”. I think that’s very important. We worked until at least 1 or 2am every day.

Doing what?
At 9am, we make at least eight appointments. We travel a few hundred kilometres in a day. We see a lot of customers for listing. We see prospects buyers and find out what they want. So, being hardworking is very important. Throughout the first two years, we saw seven to eight customers every day. We never stopped on Saturdays or Sundays either.

People might say that you are real estate agent, so it’s easier for you to view properties.
But during our free time, we would go and see properties for ourselves. I think if you saw me five years ago, I looked very haggard (laughs). I was not this fat also (laughs). The journey was challenging. In the evenings, we would put up signboards. I remember taking a ladder with our friends (other hardworking real estate agents) and we hung banners during weekends. At that time, we were not rich, so we did everything ourselves.

It was tough but I saved money from every deal. Once we have saved 20% (enough for down payment), then we would buy a property. So until today, I am still that broke (laughs). That is a habit that my husband and I had cultivated. The last three years, we were very aggressive. Of course, the first two years, we were not able buy so many properties; only two properties. The second year, we managed to buy four properties. Then the following year, we were able purchase six and we continued doing so. This year, I have purchased six. So I am keeping my pace.

When you started, was it all lower cost units?
Properties that are RM300,000 and below.

Is your husband a real estate agent as well?
Yes. When we started, we handled a lot of sub-sales. But in the last four years, we concentrated on servicing developers. I don’t want to be a regular agent next door. I have found my niche. So in the last five years, 70% of my job scope is working with developers. Qube (integrated commercial development in Shah Alam) is one of them. Qube outsourced the entire sales and marketing to me. Usually, upon achieving certain (sales) target, we would hand it back to the management. But Qube is different. Prudence Wong (developer of Qube) requested for me to handle it all the way. Prudence is a friend, so it’s different. Certain projects, once I achieve 50% to 60% (sales), I would return the project to the management. The sales figure depends on the contract.

So you are involved in just the sales and marketing?
No, we usually sit with the developer to plan on what’s best to build. I give my feedback on the features to be incorporated, the latest concepts, decide on the look, width, height, dimensions and all that. So we come in at a very early stage and we provide our input so that we build a more relevant product. A lot of developers want things done the right way, so we encourage them to carry out market surveys first.

It is known that you prefer not to share your story. What has changed, now that you have begun to share?
I got to know Michael Tan (property investment coach) last year. He said, “Nancy, you have so much wealth in knowledge.” I think he liked the idea that I literally created a few millionaires.

So I told Michael, “If you are doing it the right way, then I don’t mind giving input in terms of providing certain statistics, data and such.” I have seen thousands of properties and have visited many areas, so this is something I can share with him. But he told me, “Nancy, why don’t you do me a favour. Instead, I put you out there and you share.” I told him that it doesn’t work for me because I didn't want people to know me as I enjoy my freedom. My husband and I have been travelling extensively and we enjoy our holidays and good food with good friends.

I told Michael, I don’t need to because I am not going to be a guru. But then when he looked at me and said, “Can you consider it as a form of charity?” I said, “Oh dear!” Then he phrased it differently, “By not sharing, it is actually very selfish of you.” I was surprised. He is very “cunning” you know (laughs). He said that once a while, when they have an event and if I think it is relevant, then I could share to help motivate or inspire people to the next level. So I agreed. So far, I have spoken at two of Michael’s events.

Knowledgeable: The amicable Ng (second from left) sits with fellow speakers (L-R: Ho Chin Soon, Juanita Chin and Peter Yee) at the recent Property Millionaire Challenge seminar.

How do you help people become millionaires?
One example. I met this real estate agent four years ago. Very hardworking. When I saw him, I saw me. He takes seven to eight cases per day and he has been doing so for seven years. I asked how many properties has he invested in and he said none! So I told him that I must take him out and buy something. I took him to buy one zero-money-down condominium. It didn’t cost him a single cent. We bought the property at RM125,000 and I got him a tenant at RM1,500. The monthly instalment about RM700 to RM800. So that’s the first time that he tasted the ‘sweetness’ of passive income. The second property, he wanted it to be a joint-venture with me. He saw a shop that costs RM728,000. I told him that he can afford it himself. He said he couldn’t because he didn’t pay his taxes for three years. That’s why he can’t purchase ‘big’ properties.

That’s why I always advise people to pay their taxes—it is very important. I told him to declare whatever that he has not declared. My accountant went through his papers and did three years of back taxes for him. We went to Jabatan Hasil and he paid the fine. The he was able to present his EA and J Form to my banker friend. His loan was processed at RM550,000. Can you see how busybody I was (laughs)? After three years, the shop was completed and I provided a tenant for him. Actually the tenant was mine, but the tenant wanted two intermediate units, so I gave it to this young man. It was a corporate tenant and before you know it, he sold the shop at RM1.55mil the following month. By selling at RM1.55 mil, he cashed out almost RM1mil. It’s amazing, isn’t it? This is the joy of seeing another person make it in life. So I want to create as many millionaires to share the enjoyment of life.

Do you specialise in a particular area when you started investing?
I invest in properties in KL, Subang, Klang and Shah Alam. These are the four areas that I zoom into.

Do you have any mentors?
In life, you have to be very self-motivated. Maybe because I am a very positive person. I am always hungry for information. Not many real estate agents would take on developers’ projects. I tell them (developers) to outsource the job to me. I have trained my people in the last six years. They know the job. If a development is not that big, there’s no need to employ people. Otherwise when the project is done, what are they going to do with their staff? So, I would encourage small- or medium-sized developers to outsource. Let me take over their problems. Actually, I am happier taking on smaller jobs. We complete it in two to three months, or maximum, six months. After that, I can take another six months for holidays (laughs).

During Qube’s launch, Ho Chin Soon (map maker) spoke about property bubble. What are your thoughts and advice?
If you mark Ho Chin Soon’s advice properly, he said that there is a little bubble being created.

Yes, he mentioned that we are in year one.
Yes, year one only. We still have two good years to go. So there is no bubble yet in the market. A lot of people are saying that the prices are too high. But you must know which market you are talking about. I would say that the market would not burst, but if the area that you invest in has very high supply, then look again.

For example, I know of a developer that launched a 750-unit condominium in Phase 1. It was priced at RM180,000 for 350sq ft. A lot of people bought. If you have spare cash, and you purchase one or two, it’s okay. But if you are a first-time investor, I would advise against purchasing because it will take some time for the market to digest, especially when it comes to rental. Is yours going to be the first one to be rented out? Even if your unit is among the first one hundred to be rented out, it takes time (for the market) to digest. I have seen another apartment in Subang where the first phase had 250 units. It took a year and half to fill up half the units. Another project in Subang with 600 units. Today, in its third year, the occupancy rate is just slightly more than 50%.

So for newcomers, if you are thinking of purchasing condominiums or service apartments, try to look at those with less than 300 units. Otherwise, I encourage them to look into sub-sales, where it might be ready with tenants. I don’t want newcomers to be stuck with cash flow problems. I don’t want newcomers to take big risks. I want them to take calculated risks. You never know, like when SARS came, it came all of sudden. So in the event that you have such unforeseen circumstances, the completed ones are the ones you can sell. In fact, if I feel that some of my customers are not ready, I advise them against investing. If your risk appetite is not so big and you are the type who gets worried and can’t sleep and eat thinking about your investment, then don’t invest. What you should do is to buy your own house. Even if buying your own house also worries you, then better to buy completed ones. Not everybody is for property investment.

I’ve spoken to a few property gurus. They always advise to do your research. But there can be such a thing as wrong research. What do you think?
I would share with you one of the simple things that I did when I started. Firstly, if it is completed, even though my agent has shown me the property, I would still go and look at that property for at least two more times. I would go to the nearby areas and understand the new housing area that is within five to 15km radius. I would check the income level of the residents there and check the developer’s launch price.

About three years ago, I bought a property. The developer’s price was RM840,000. The agent wanted to sell it at RM1.4mil. Now, this guy would make quite a lot of money from me (laughs). After I surveyed the area, I felt that the potential is there. A shopping mall and high-end housing is being developed in that area. To me, these are all positive things. The resident’s income level is high and the nearby rental is also high. So it justified the purchase at RM1.4mil. Some friends said that I am mad, because I won’t be able to make money from it. I said that it is okay, because the potential is there and nearby areas have almost 90% occupancy rate. So I am comfortable with the whole area. My husband and I paid for it. Now, after two years in our hands, somebody offered me RM2.3mil. Am I earning more or that guy who sold it to me earning more?

Ermmm... you.
(Laughs) So you see, sometimes it is a longer term. After two years, everything has been completed. Highway done nicely. All housing completed. I rented the place out for RM10,000 a month. So it doesn’t mean that once people have already earned, you do not go in. I think that there is still the chance for the property to appreciate to the next level. Now that we have seen a few thousand properties over the last few years, we are able to tell if a property has potential or not. Now, we usually take a day or two to do our survey. Before, we took two to three weeks. I believe that property gurus should be on the ground. Get out there and check it out. Some property gurus might not be able to teach their students relevant information because they are very privileged, whereby agents present properties to them.

For Qube, how many percent has been sold?
We are left with Bumiputra units. I am very positive about this project. It definitely will sell all. It’s a matter of time. Do you know that a lot of office projects take a long time to sell? There is a project in PJ that is smaller than Qube. They are completing this year and they are still selling. Selling office is always a challenge. If we compare ourselves with some of them, we are very lucky, blessed and fortunate. We are down to 30% but we have just started.

Has piling works started?
Master David Koh (Feng Shui master) has chosen a date in September to do the piling. Prudence is a strong believer of Feng Shui. So everything must have the best Feng Shui date. Everything was chosen on dates. It has to be auspicious all the way.

Any promotions for Qube?
At the moment, we have an interesting promotion. If you bring any Bumiputra friends to Qube office and if they buy a unit, we will reward you with the latest Samsung Galaxy S handphone that is worth RM2,000 plus, free. So if your Malay friends are renting offices, drag them here to buy instead of rent. Then you can get your free handphones (laughs).

Are the remaining units the bigger ones?
No. We made sure that there are still many RM300,000 units available for Bumiputras. We made sure that these are the reasonable sizes.

What’s next for you—personally and/or professionally?
I am actually renovating my house and hopefully I can move in by Christmas. So I am travelling again to buy things for my house. This is the time I take a long break, normally October to December. This is the time where I read up on a lot of books and I am actually looking, no promises though, to compile a book with stories on how my clients made it, because I’ve known too many people who have made it (laughs).

So I’m going to talk to them to see if they can contribute their stories to me. Of course, not only success stories. Failures as well. Those who got burnt, lost a lot of money and what they have learnt from the experience. So if I can compile 101 stories of success and failures and the book is made available, then many people can have a better understanding on what property investment is all about. What motivates me is that the profits (from book sales) can go into charity.

What sort of charities do you do or I heard you have given away properties?
People do charity in different forms. I do it the property way. Two years ago, we set up a little foundation. We bought a Great Eastern fund at RM160,000. The funds give profit every year. With this profit, we can contribute to charity and the poor. Last year, I told my husband that we could do better than that. The fund that we purchased, in the event anything happens to my husband and I, it will go to charity 100%. The second thing we did was that we gave away two properties this year.

We gave away one small office and one apartment. The two properties’ combined current value is about RM500,000. So how do we pledge it away? The condominium I am settling the loan this year. Whatever monthly rental I get from the condominium, I give it to charity. The small office’s rent is also given to charity even though I am still servicing the loan, which I intend to settle in two years. So we hope that once we pay off the loan in the next two years, we will be able to pledge one more. I hope that by contributing (knowledge), these people would be able to learn.

Property investment can be very rewarding but it also involves a lot of hard work.
It’s not easy. It’s a lot of hard work. I am happy that all my staffs also own a lot of properties. If the successful people and the people with them also have certain success, then these people are able to share and teach. I don’t see myself as a property guru because I think that it is my responsibility to share and one day, if ever I want to contribute to any courses or charity, these people who have benefitted from my sharing, I hope that they will join hands with me to contribute to this fund or that fund. It need not be Christian-based of course. I think that’s more meaningful.

When I meet successful clients, I always ask them what their secrets are. For me, I give my e-mail address. I answer e-mails everyday during my spare time. Some people are not pleased that I am not charging. To me, by giving back, these people might credit me for changing them and help them invest. Then, I make sure that these people contribute 10% to charity (laughs).

I plan to “retire” next year; to manage a project a year, but it must be a good project. I am looking at two parcels of land for development with my developer friends. For developers who are looking for group purchases, they can contact me. I get excited buying in a group and becoming a negotiator for the group. I would have vested interest and I might benefit my friends, so why not? After that, I make sure that they contribute 10% to charity (laughs).

Property investment advice from Ng

• Married couples should go as a team. Your portfolio will grow faster.

• Be responsible for your own property, otherwise don’t be an investor. Make sure that everything is in good condition. Your tenants would also be happier. Treat your property with respect.

• Sell in a good condition. “Don’t you hate to see rubbish inside? That’s the wrong attitude. If needed, paint the place so that it looks nicer. If you don’t like trouble, then don’t buy. It’s not the game for you. There are a lot of responsibilities. If you want to be an investor, play your part,” Ng shares.

• Don’t give up. “I refused to give up even at my lowest point. Property saved me. It was my saviour. I had only one house and I sold it for RM333,000. I really have to thank my late father-in-law. We wouldn’t have made it through without his help,” Ng reflects.

• Newcomers should look into sub-sales, where it might be ready with tenants. So in the event of unforeseen circumstances, the completed ones are the ones you can sell.

• What’s your risk appetite? For newcomers, if you are thinking of purchasing newly ready condominiums or service apartments, try to look at those with less than 300 units.

• Earn as much as you can, which will enable you to purchase more properties at a faster pace to attain your financial freedom.

• Being hardworking is very important. Do your research, and learn from people who are in the field and on-the-ground.

• Sometimes, you have to think long-term. Just because a seller has profited from you doesn’t mean that you will not be able to profit, in the event that you decide to sell. There is still the chance for the property to appreciate to the next level, if it is in a good area.

• Share your knowledge and wealth. If you have benefited from your property investment, give back to charity and/or deserving organisations.

• If you are not ready to invest, don’t. If you are the type who gets worried and can’t sleep and eat thinking about your investment, then don’t invest. Not everybody is for property investment.

• Pay your taxes. If you don’t pay your taxes, it will affect your ability to borrow from the bank.