Monday, April 14, 2014

this is it...



“This does not fucking slip now.”

This sentence will either be lost in all the social media repetitions, or go down to be the most quoted words from LFC’s captain Steven Gerrard in years to come.

As the referee Mark Clattenburg blows his whistle to signal the end of a pulsating match between Liverpool and Manchester City, the first thing video cameramen do were to rush to the captain in red to capture how he tried to stop tears from flowing.

He couldn’t. But how could he?

Here is he standing in the middle of Anfield, with forty over thousand supporters singing his name, where he led his courageous men onto the pitch and stood firmly on the ground as they knock Manchester City back down in their attempts to climb over us. It took a heroic effort to command that kind of aura in one of England’s most famous football grounds.

“This is gone, next week we go to Norwich, exactly the same, we go again!”

That he said, arms in arms with the likes of Slovakian national team captain, Uruguay’s national team top scorer and former captain of PSG. You freaking pay attention when the Liverpool captain shouts the battle rally.

There is something different with the squad this season. The players are showing that special kind of affection to the club, the desire to succeed as a team, and the will to drag your comrades across the finishing line. When the red-hot strikers Sturridge and Suarez fail to lit the match, Coutinho and Sterling will stand up to be counted. When Sakho and Skrtel fail to stop the opposition, Mignolet will go full stretch to tip the ball away. When the team goes under pressure to defend a lead, Lucas and Toure will step in and take responsibility. When a bomb dropped in front of your battalion, Henderson jumps into it with no hesitation and takes one for the team. When you need nerves of steel to stab in that injury time winning penalty, Gerrard puts it away to spark wild celebrations.

There is no ‘me’ in the current squad. It is always ‘we’. For every pre- and post-match interview every single player will say the same thing; ‘we’ want to win it, ‘we’ will take it one game at a time, ‘we’ will try to stop them from scoring, I’ll trade my goals if ‘we’ can go and win it, ‘we we we we we’.

This season is some sort of breakthrough season for Liverpool. Not only the team gave the supporters something to cheer about, they gave them something to dream for. Majority of the neutral fans, and even some rivals, are now willing the team in red to hang on at the top come end of the season because it has just been some kind of special thing brewing in the red half of Merseyside. It's a wonder to see some Manchester United fans want this Liverpool team succeed, because if there is one person that really deserves to lift the Premier League trophy at least once in their career, it is Steven Gerrard.

Brendan Rodgers took the helm for a little less than 2 years, and my words how he has galvanized the sleeping giants. 52 wins out of 93 games. 200 goals scored. Entertaining passing football with dazzling results. Reinvented a goalscoring midfield captain to anchor the defensive line. Plucked the little Brazilian from Italy and gave him the magic wand. Saved the career of a forgotten striker. Gave confidence to a make-weight midfielder to reclaim a national team spot. Pushed a young fullback to become one of league’s best prospect. Enhanced a burnt-out miniature winger to become world-beater. Tamed a wolverine to lead the goal and assist charts. Anything more and people will worship Rodgers like god. And you can be rest assured Robbie Fowler wouldn’t mind that.

Anthing can happen between now and end of the season. Liverpool can probably go on and win it for the first time in 24 years, but we can also probably lose steam and falter before the finishing line. Whatever the league position come mid of May, it has been a fun roller-coaster ride led by our manager and captain. How long has it been for a Liverpool supporter to be able to feel such elation in the last couple of few decades?

Even if we end the season with nothing, the least Liverpool has given us; like how the majestic flying banner hovered over Anfield yesterday said; the dare to dream.

This splendid display of swashbuckling football was a fitting tribute just days before we pay respect to the 96 fellow supporters from the Hillsborough tragedy. We can now really see the golden sky shining at the end of the storm, and you can be darn sure that you’ll never walk alone in this.

Monday, March 03, 2014

5 years ago today...



I know I said 2013 may be the year I stop blogging, but this topic has been lingering for a while and I have nowhere else to share the story. With the kind of attention Facebook will attract, coupled with Twitter’s limitation, I guess I will just have to jot it down here and keep the blog alive for another year.

These days, many friends still think that I got lucky that I accumulated some (some, not a lot) properties in past five or six years before the market hit sky high these couple of years. Accumulate is a strong word though, I prefer to think that the bank owns still.

But I dislike the notion that people like to think that I got lucky.

Approximately five years ago, my wife (then girl-friend) decided to venture into our first joint-name property investment.

She just started work for about a year or so, and I was struggling to balance my bank book with the car loan and after completing a separate purchase a year before that.

Things didn’t look as rosy as people tend to paint them these days, but five years ago we were pretty much like any ordinary couples out there who were dreaming about having a small slice of the property pie in the market.

We had a small budget, around RM15,000 to RM20,000 in our savings. We spent very little back then to pamper ourselves; we seldom travel overseas, we drive simple cars, we ate simple meals, we almost never shop. We saved every penny to accumulate a decent sum which we thought was enough to make a bold move.

But even then RM20,000 was still a small figure back then. So we hunted for studio units, because studios are the only ones we can afford.

We spent nights after work, weekends and public holidays viewing houses or sometimes just drive around and sit in the car to study the demographic and community in the area we decided to purchase. We probably looked at about 50 over units before getting the right one (we sat down two years ago and counted, we have been to almost 100 new properties launches, excluding unit viewings!).

When we finally decided to sign on the dotted lines, the owner decided to raise the selling price.

We were pretty distraught then, and were contemplating whether to go ahead and figure out our financial plans later, or look for a different one and start all over. And throw six months worth of research down the drain.

Then we gather some information from the agents and found out there was a unit which the owner may have interest in letting go, but was never put up for sale. We pushed the agents to obtain the owner’s contact and tried to convince him in letting go, which he finally did after considering for a month or so.

We were elated, but the fairytale endings don’t end this early.

With our budget, having to pay off the 10% downpayment, coupled with the legal and loan fees we were pretty much broke. So we had to think of something.

And so we did. We asked the owner if we can jack up the selling price in the S&P in order for us to obtain a higher loan, which will cover a big portion of what we initially had to put in the downpayment.

It took him another few weeks to decide, but in the end he said yes (back then there were no RPGT yet).

And so the deal went on, and lasted for about half a year before the transaction was closed.

When we finally got the vacant unit, we knew we had to do something to it if we want to rent it out at a higher price compared to those listed at that moment, so we decided to rent a fully-furnished unit.

But we were down to like RM10,000 after saving some from the downpayment, and to change an empty unit into a fully-furnished unit with RM10,000 is a pretty tall order.

So we did what cheapskates would do: D-I-Y.

We bought the paints and painted the walls ourselves. We bought furniture on cheap deals, and transport them in our tiny little Kelisa. We spent the nights after work cleaning up the place and decorating it. And with a few hundred Ringgits left from our budget, we spent them on a wallpaper to cover one side of the wall and make the entire place looking chic.

And then we marketed it ourselves in hoping to save on the commission.

That part didn’t work though.

We spent several weeks, during night time and weekends bringing in prospects to view and in the end, it just didn’t happen. One lady viewer wanted to reserve the unit for a week for her to move from Kuantan, but ended up a dud when she refused to pick up calls after we blocked off several viewing appointments in the coming week.

So we finally brought in an agent, and told him to market it 20% higher than anything that’s in the market then (just to make up the commission over the course of the tenancy). I am not sure how things worked out differently, but he found a Japanese expatriate to move in after just two weeks, and surprising did not even negotiate for a lower rental!

Five years down the road, we have changed tenants twice, this third tenant being Japanese as well, and we are still getting the same rental over this period of time. Our Cash on Cash Return broke even some time in the third year (2012), and since then the unit has been generating positive cash flow for us, which in turn ended up in other investments.


And so that’s the story I wanted to let out from my chest all these while.

Maybe I am being too confident, but if I had to use a word that best describe the ordeals we went through five years ago, a few came into mind.

Determined? Diligent? Hardwork? Preseverance? Could be any of those.

But lucky? After all those that we've gone through?

I don’t know. You tell me.

Monday, February 04, 2013

the end...


I was browsing through a few blogs that I used to follow when I started blogging back in the mid-2000, and no surprises when I say most of them have left their blogs unattended, or perhaps updating only once a month. Mind you, these were few of the ‘celebrity’ bloggers back then when Project Petaling Street was still a useful link to find wonderful writings, news and jokes. These days almost everyone owns a blog, and may I add, everyone claims themselves as a blogger just because they own one.

Maybe internet was much more of a luxury back then. I can remember almost every single blogger who has graced the blogsphere because almost every post I read in PPS were properly thought, written and expressed. I enjoyed spending time online reading blogs until 3-4 years back when everyone began to have something to say (or they think they do) and blogs become the best tool for them to express their inner thoughts and feelings.

I have no issues with that, really. But when everyone are sharing it on a public blog-ping of sorts, that’s when PPS became a junk-generator webpage. I grew tired of it, stopped blogging regularly, stopped reading the great articles and posts (because it’s too hard to filter which posts are genuine with misleading titles and adverts a common sight), and subsequently had no interest whatsoever anymore.

Some great bloggers survived, some improvised. Few turned to twitter and maintained a good fan crowd. Some decided that they’ve grown out of it. There is, after all, life outside the room.

I certainly am no celebrity blogger, nor was I an avid blogger to begin with. But 2013 could yet be the year that sees my last post, I don’t know.

I don’t have much to tell nowadays, life’s great, the end. Once or twice in a year I’ve thought of shutting down this blog for good, but wiping out my written memories for the past 7 years does seem a little wasteful. I don’t know, but perhaps 2013 will see my last ever post. One year before my 10 years anniversary in blogging. And this being my 333rd post since my first one in 2004.

If that holds any meaning at all.

How time has changed, and how blogging has changed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

demotivated...

Sometimes I wonder if I should just take it all in, or is that a wrong decision.

I'm sick and tired of the traveling, working all day long, all night long, every single day, my aching foot has been a thorn for over two months, stupid traffic jams, lack of sleep, sometimes going a full day with not a dot of rice going into my mouth.

All because I give a fuck.

The doctor said I am too stressed and need to take the pressure off my chest. I wish it's as easy as she says.

Perhaps I should just don't give a flying fuck.

Or is that what she's hinting me?


Friday, May 25, 2012

where students go, real estate follows...

How true is the statement above from today's News Straits Times?

Well, no doubt, wherever the student population clusters, we tend to see a demand in amount of rental properties. And with that, certain types of real estate investors will venture into these markets and try to make some profit out of it. But are students good tenant prospects for long term?

On the positive side, one will almost need not worry about their property being left vacant for long. Even for a semester break, chances are you will hardly have the unit unoccupied for 3 months.

But reading the paper's statistic I somehow believe the figures are poorly compiled and it's somewhat misleading to generate a feel good factor to justify the articles published.

Well yes, it's not hard to find students who are willing to fork out RM1,100.00 monthly on rental alone, but does the author honestly think there are tons of these wealthy students across the country? Apparently a unit of 1500sf to 1600sf is worth between RM700,000.00 to RM800,000.00 and rentals can averagely fetch a cool RM4,000.00 to RM5,000.00 which makes the rental yielding a 7-8% return.

Either I'm detached from reality. Or the author is.

I was a student not too long ago, but surely inflation has not gone that bad.

Back in 2006, a corner unit of a double-storey terrace with over 2000sf was worth RM550,000.00 can only fetch RM1,500.00 in rental. I was one of those students renting at such price and I paid RM130.00 monthly in a household of 10.

We can barely find expats willing to pay rental over RM3,000.00 for fully furnished units these days and the author would like to make us believe there are groups of few students who're willing to pay much more.

And even if these students exist, 7-8% rental yield is very much, in most savvy investors' eyes, a very laughable return. None of my rented units yield as low as the figure given, and if anyone thinks that's a great deal then I'm secretly rejoicing for the lack of astute competitors.

Perhaps one will think I'm overreacting, but I will most definitely not (though I'll never say never) venture into students' market in this country, sadly because returns is not as good as the author projected it to be. And the ever changing pool of tenants (students do graduate don't they?) will prove to be a hassle and waste of resources to those who seek agent assistance in letting out. And finally, I can almost never find a property returned in good condition after a tenancy expires. This I speak from experience: I pity my landlord when we returned the keys. He actually sold it off to someone who demolished the whole unit to rebuild something else.

I wonder with the current trend of journalism how further backward will we continue to go? I don't mean to criticize all journalists, but I would rather read lame Bieber-related news, than real estate articles with outrageously optimistic datas written by journalists who I suspect have not even bought one property, just because they have to write up an article to submit on a deadline.



Friday, May 18, 2012

YNWA my king...

The sacking of of Kenny Dalglish didn't seem much like a surprise, but still the manner of how he was made to leave the club made my heart twitch a little.

Yes, he may not be the modern day saviour as most LFC fans had hoped for, but honestly how many of us would've thought FSG would have things end this way?

Here is a king who scored 167 goals in 322 games for LFC. A king who won 9 league titles and 3 European cups. A king who, along with a handful only, to have won every domestic trophy in England with a single club. A king, when the club fell into its darkest days in the late 80s with tragic deaths, led the knights and supporters to discover the silver lining in the sky. The king, who mourn the deaths of supporters with the rest of us, every single year until today without fail.

And the king is sacked? That could've been done with a lot more taste. But sacking is not the Liverpool Way.

Not once in LFC's history that a manager has been sacked by the board, not every Roy Hodgson. And surely Kenny Dalglish should not go down in history to be the first.

8th place is by far the worst position I have witnessed LFC in the last decade, but after all the mayhem by the US cowboys it does spiral a bit out of control eh? All the promises unkept, all the merry-go-rounds, all the legal tangles, and FSG came along to pull us out from the well. But as ruthless as we know, like all business tycoons, FSG means business and business is all there is.

With Dalglish's sacking it signals the end of the bootroom legacy and whatever is left to the traditions. Some fans got their way in calling for Dalglish's head towards the end of the season. Now who will emerge to lead LFC to better days in the future? Martinez? Villa-Boas? Really?

Fans should know better, and should've learnt from the lesson for calling Rafa's head 2 seasons back. For a man who breathes LFC, Benitez surely didn't expect some fans to ask for his resignation, only to be replaced by Roy 'Puppet' Hodgson. The woy who rubs his face like a genie lamp every time things go wrong. The woy who brought us as low as 19th place in the league.

Do we not learn from the past? Where do we go from here? Now that the king is gone, we will have to start from scratch. Again.

Was the season really that bad that Dalglish does not deserve any more than what he received? It was a season of bad referee decisions, woodwork shots (over 30 of them) and bad penalties that could've cost us more than 20 points in the season just ended. Can he be blamed for even half of these situations?

Now that the decision has been made, we'll have to dust ourselves and get ready to get dirty again. Now FSG can thank King Kenny for flatly refusing his severance package so the club can take whatever is there to reinvest into the club's buying policy.

King Kenny, you'll never walk alone.

Monday, April 30, 2012

wtf?

Reading Faizul Ridzuan's 'WTF? 23 Properties by 30'. Must say it brings back lots of memories of internet forum days. Probably more than half of what he wrote in the book were in forum chats over the years accumulated (or at least I knew the stuff were discussed before anyway), but it's a great book nonetheless.

And it reminds me of a middle-aged man (probably closing into his retirement age now?) who made a sneering remark about me being the 'talk a lot, pretending to be smart kind, but unfortunately without much substance or investments'. And also wishing me luck because I will be needing a lot of it.

Makes me smile every time I think about it.

Man was ├╝ber proud he was renting out his studio unit at a mere RM1.1k. Started a forum thread pretending to be asking for advice, then revealing he's already investing and basked in his glory for shooting down my opinions.

Poor chap didn't know I was making better rental returns.

I eventually slowed down in forum participation in the coming years. Well, talks on the internet are, and always will remain cheap. Chap thought he won the battle and loved all the attention when clueless 'investors' seek his expert advices in property investment thereafter.

Me? Lost to a keyboard warrior. But at least I got a consolation: when what he revealed has confirmed that I am actually making more money than he was, for every single month from that day onwards.

Until today.

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.

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Bwahahahahaha!!!