Freehold vs Leasehold: Should You Even Care?

Kaewta Adulya @GoodPlaceHQ

When I was starting out in property, a friend once told me, “Khai Yin, there’s only one thing to remember… freehold good, leasehold bad.”

That it sounded something out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (“four legs good, two legs bad”) should have sounded off alarm bells already. And I have since known to be extra wary of such truisms, and to treat them like pieces of cat poo infested with Zika virus.

As you’ll see in today’s guide, whether a piece of property is freehold or leasehold may or may not matter depends on why you’re buying the property for.

Freehold vs Leasehold: The Fundamentals

If you own a piece of freehold land, it means that you have ownership of that property forever, and you can pass it on to whoever you want, who can then pass it on to whoever he or she wants in perpetuity.

On the other hand, if your land is leasehold, the tenure is limited – usually by (the maximum) 99 years if you bought your property from the developer, and much less if you’re getting an extension.

In the case of the latter, when the tenure expires, the owner will need to apply to the state government for an extension of the lease. If the application is approved, a premium is payable depending on the prevailing market value of the land.

The Question Of Value Appreciation

There’s anecdotal evidence that values of both freehold and leasehold properties appreciate at a similar rate for the first 20+ years.

However, nearing the end of its tenure, the value of a piece of leasehold property predictably stops going up. In this respect, freehold properties win in the longer run, as far as value appreciation is concerned.

Additionally, older leasehold properties are also harder to sell because of the uncertainty in the renewal of the lease (which is under complete discretion of the local authorities).

Also, bank loans are harder to come by for leasehold properties with shorter tenures. Even if you manage to get a loan, the margin of financing may be comparatively lower to that of freehold properties.

As with everything else, prices of property are determined by the sacrosanct law of supply and demand, and if freehold properties are more popular, naturally, they will fetch higher prices, both in the short run and the long run.

The Case For Leasehold Properties

Location remains the biggest driver of demand in real estate, and you’ll see that some of the best locations in the Klang Valley are leasehold – for example: Bandar Sunway, (large swathes of) Petaling Jaya old town, Tropicana (near the golf course) and the Seputeh area in KL.

There is no doubt that the freehold status is a strong selling point for new projects. As such, developers understand the need to “make up” for the leasehold status of a new project that they want to launch. Therefore, for new projects at least, leasehold properties often give a better bang for the buck in terms of features, design, and concept when compared to freehold properties.

Finally, understand that freehold properties are limited in availability, and so the question of freehold vs leasehold will most probably be moot sometime in the future – simply because the buyers won’t get much of a choice.

So, Khai Yin, Does It Even Matter?

First, realize that even when you own a freehold land, you own it in perpetuity, the state government has the powers to forcibly acquire it from you. Therefore, the idea of “owning a piece of land forever” is somewhat fallible.

So, with everything else equal, yes, you should always opt for properties with freehold status. However, whether a property is freehold and leasehold should be secondary compared to other factors like location, developer reputation, concept, and upside opportunity.

Now with the price of houses becoming the single biggest concern especially among first-time buyers, it’s a question of whether a piece of property is affordable, and not if it’s freehold or leasehold.

What If You Suddenly Become Rich? Do These Four Things First Before You Get Screwed Over

Queen of Diamonds @GoodPlaceHQ

Albie made a tidy fortune from brokering the sale of a couple of uber expensive real estate in downtown Manhattan end of last year. Newly rich, he had to “take cover” for a while (reasons which will be apparent to you later), and so he was at the Mentor’s Nilai estate where I got to meet him.

With Albie’s presence, our monthly Mastermind meeting quickly focused on his story – much less on how he had made his money, and more on its “aftermath”. Indeed, strange things start to happen once you’ve added a couple of zeros to your net worth.

The Mastermind had a collective net worth of possibly billions, and as many of its members were self-made, they knew a thing or two about how to deal with gobs of moolah that never existed before. And trust me, it’s not all champagne and roses – that old rap adage “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” really rings true.

Nicki Minaj

I’ve made the following notes mainly for my own benefit because, well, they might just come in handy in the future, who knows? 🙂 Don’t forget to bookmark this page so that you can come back later when you’ve made your filthy lucre from property investment or nombor ekor or whatever else.

Four Things To Do First If You Suddenly Become Rich (Before You Celebrate)

#1: STFU

This is usually the first thing that people in the know will tell you, and it’s entirely true.

If the word leaks out that you have struck it rich it will make you a standout at social gatherings like a fart in the exam hall.  You want to keep quiet – especially if your ascendency to the wealthy class has been abrupt (like, if you’ve brokered the sale of a billion-dollar hotel chain) – at least until you get all that legal stuff done.

If you don’t keep your pie hole shut about your newfound wealth, expect one (or all) of these things to happen:

  • Friends start begging you for money
  • Friends whom you’ve never seen since high school start begging you for money
  • Friends start to pitch you with their “business plans”
  • Frivolous lawsuits
  • Family members expect you to pay for dinners / their broadband bills / their kids’ education

In short, you’ll need to STFU. You can celebrate later when you’ve protected yourself from jerkoffs who will crawl out from the woodwork to demand their pound of flesh.

#2: Lawyer Up

No, not your wife’s cousin brother (unless he went to Harvard Law), or someone you found on Craigslist. Use this list (I’m assuming that you’re in Malaysia) –

Pick a firm from that list, make the call and ask for an exploratory meeting. When you’re there, demand that someone at the Partner level is to handle your account. Never settle for a junior staff (don’t be fooled by artificial titles, like “Client Director”, or “Senior Vice President”). If you don’t get what you want, move on to the next law firm on the list, no biggie.

Trust me – it will be worth the money to hire the Partner of a big name firm to represent you. This is absolutely not the time to skimp on fees! At least, if the lawyer firm screws up then you can in turn sue them for money. No point going after a skint “Yap Chooi Hwa Advocates & Solicitors” if things go belly up, you know what I mean?

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV, but from what I had heard, they will probably advise you to set up a series of trust funds to safeguard your money. And as any sufficiently moneyed person will tell you, you want to own nothing, and yet control everything. A good lawyer will help set this up for you.


Once you have put the lawyer firm on retainer, use Mr Partner as the buffer between you and the inevitable bullshit requests that are going to come from your family. So your distant cousin from China starts pestering you for $150,000 to buy a friggin’ Toyota Camry? No problem… get the lawyer to be the bad guy and ask your cousin to take the slow boat back to Tongsan.

#3: Setup A Family Office

Once you’ve got the lawyering part sorted out, it’s time to think about how to manage your money. One option you have is to engage the services of a major bank (via its “Wealth Management” division). It will set up a team who will maintain and grow your capital according to what you agree with in terms of the types of investments and how comfortable you are with risk. Again, you should at least go with a major financial institution (i.e. JP Morgan or Citibank or Merrill Lynch) and avoid the cikai ones with dubious reputation (“Yap Chooi Hwa Investment Management”, etc).

I heard that while going to the banks is a popular option, the smarter way is to establish what people all a “Family Office”. It’s an industry term for a group of professional managers whose entire life purpose is to manage your money and make sure that you’re happy.

What the family office does is to provide you a range of products that what the banks can give you, but also other types of investments like, you guessed it, property. For example, you can ask them to analyze if it’s worth it to buy an empty tract of land for sale in Damansara Heights and build a couple of bungalows on it. They will then go do the due diligence and let you know the findings.

Contrast this with the “Wealth Management” division of a bank which is usually filled with salespeople who are incentivized to sell you products which have high commissions. So, there’s a conflict of interest inherent in the banks since their interests are not exactly always align to yours. No such problems with family offices!

Apparently you can get your family office to sort out problems which extend beyond the management of your money and investments. One of the people I knew in the Mastermind told me that he had once asked the head of his family office to find at least two dates for him every week (for Friday and Saturday nights!) because then, he was too busy working to meet women.

He eventually married the head of his family office.

#4: Take Cover

Now back to our visitor Albie who was in KL as the guest of the Mentor. He was away from his native New York because he was, you guessed it, “taking cover”.

After engaging a hot shot lawyer and set up his family office, he quickly packed his bags and left the country. “It takes awhile to set all those trust funds and legal entities up. Meanwhile, I’m using this time to figure out what I want to do for the next five years of my life. That’s why I am traveling and meeting new people,” he told me.

When you’re rich, you’ll find new, interesting opportunities that will come knocking on your door more frequently than ever before. It’s a good time to parse through everything that comes to your attention, and sort out what’s important from what’s not. Now that you’ve got the money, you’ll now need to figure out how to spend it purposefully!


My old buddy (and fellow Mastermind member) “Lanky” Ari of Bangsarville read through the draft of this article, and had the following to add:

  • Don’t hire your friends and relatives as employees. You are elevating yourself to a position which is superior to them. They will end up hating you.
  • Don’t start businesses with friends and relatives. They will expect to get rich riding on your coattails. They will end up hating you.
  • Watch your social circle closely. There will be people who will want to take advantage of you. If you’re a single guy, be aware that there are people out there who make a living out of, ahem, falsified sexual assault and paternity claims. Not friggin’ joking.


Can You Get Rich With AirBnB?

Rattakorn Tarachiwat @GoodPlace

This article is contributed by GoodPlace reader, Sue Yi. If you’ve got a question for Sue, use this form.

Short answer: you can’t. Sorry to burst your bubble. If you want to make lots of money quick, try running a scam instead. What I can show you here is how to make an extra couple of bucks on the side without having to hustle DVDs in the pasar malam or worse, peddle multi-level marketing scams (OK, Khai Yin made me say that). Given the increasing number of rich gwailos who continue to throng our country for cheap food, pirated DVDs and (ahem) friendly company, there’s lots of money to be made in the short-let niche. Let me show you how I do it.

Step 1: Take Some Property Porn

First of all, you’ve got to have some pretty kick-butt pictures to show off your unit. 80% of your marketing is in the pics! Now don’t do a lame-ass job with a 0.8 megapixel camera, and certainly don’t plaster your email address written in Comic Sans font on top of the pictures.

Hype-y headlines and copywriting sadly won’t make your unit stand out – pretty pictures do. Now with smartphones and apps like Instagram, it’s quite easy to take appealing pictures without expensive professional equipment. I used to do this by myself, but after I’ve made some cash (remember to treat this as a business – scared money don’t make money) I’ve pretty much outsourced it to professional photographers.

Pro tip: wedding photographers are a dime a dozen these days, and you can target those who are in-between wedding gigs. Since they are not dealing with picky brides they don’t usually charge an arm and a leg, but it’s good to haggle. I heard from a wedding planner friend that there is chronic oversupply of photographers (since any Tom, Dick and Harry can do this job given a little bit of talent and some cash to invest in equipment), and as Economics 101 would tell us, prices tend to go down with excessive supply. Budget for a couple hundred bucks for a good set of high resolution pictures.

Once you’ve gotten the pics, then it’s time to Photoshop them. I hate to make this somewhat sexist comparison, but Photoshop to pics is like makeup to women! Like it or not, you need to spruce up the pics digitally. The good news is that you can “Photoshop” pics now without the Photoshop software (which I heard can run into thousands of Ringgit). I use the following photo touch-up tools which are both free and easy to use:-

  • – possibly the best of the lot
  • – you can also use this for graphic design

Once you’ve finished applying the “make up” on your pics, depending on how high the resolution is, they may be too big to be uploaded into AirBnB. Use the following free tools to lower down the size without compromising too much on the quality:

  • – my favorite compression tool of choice for JPEGs. Also available as a paid desktop tool
  • – For PNG files mostly; it’s JPEG quality is quite meh
  • – you can choose how lossy you want your pictures to be (the lossier, the smaller the size)

Bonus tip courtesy of Khai Yin: if you’re worried about your pictures getting stolen by other landlords and their scheming agents – remember to tag your JPEGs with your information. Right click on the file, and go to “Properties”, and enter something like “Copyright Joe Bloggs. Don’t steal this picture or you’ll get your sorry ass sued, bucko.”

Khai Yin told me that some lazy agents would go to his sites (KLCC Condominiums Database, Property Reviews and GoodPlace) and steal his pictures to be used in their listings. They didn’t know that all the pics have been embedded with incriminating code. These thieves will get their, ahem, (legal) comeuppance soon… or so I had heard. 🙂

Bottom line: for starters, you can iPhone / Instagram your way around your first set of pics, but once you’ve made some money, get the pics taken professionally. And if you’re paranoid about getting your pictures stolen, tag it.

Step 2: Get Kickbutt Five-Star Reviews

Remember that what you wanna do if you want your unit to be rented out consistently is to have awesomely great (not just good) reviews. Merely cleaning up your condo and giving out towels and fresh linen is no longer sufficient – it’s expected. In fact, expect your tenant to bitch about your cheapskate-ness if all you give them is a bottle of Tesco Everyday Value “3-in-1” shampoo, body wash and toothpaste.

What I’ve learned from renting my apartments to gwailos (I use this term endearingly, mind you) is that they are in Malaysia to experience local culture – that’s why they are avoiding the Sheratons and the Mandarin Orientals of KL. This is also the key to five star reviews: which greatly boost your listing’s profile on AirBnB. Here’s how I do it:

Firstly, I compile a mini guide on the local foods of Malaysia – dubbed the “Sue Yi’s Guide To Malaysia Hawker Fare” and give it to my customers in a printed booklet. Give them a lowdown about local food – these can be downloaded online and put in book format. If you need help compiling, go to a site like where you’ll find people offering to do this for a mere (American) fiver. Bloody cheap if you ask me.

I have packs of nasi lemak ($1.50 a pop from your friendly Makcik Tepi Jalan) as well as some kuih talam readily available in the kitchen. Of course, these are mentioned (and rated highly) inside the food guide that I give them.

When they are here, I would typically spend about 15 minutes to talk to them about “Insider Tips On How To Avoid Getting Fleeced By Dirtbag Malaysians” – for example, avoid the sharks on Jalan Alor or mamaks which charge extra for air-con, etc. Common sense stuff.


Those two things are what would typically give me five star ratings each time. Of course, there are also other important things like pricing, but I’ve found that I can even price above the average at about 10-15% more because of the plethora of 5-star ratings that I have on my listings. As any savvy businessperson will tell you, competing on price is a race to the bottom. Don’t cut your prices – instead, write better listings and provide a better service!

Of course, sometimes you’ll run into undesirables renting your condo – like those running a hookup joint (no joke – see this). You’ll find this guide handy in the time to come, trust me.

How To Scam People For Fun And Profit

Which is the scammer and which is the sucker?

I rarely watch any TV. But, I’m a big, big fan of Hustle. Screw Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Phua Chu Kang, etc. If you’d like to watch a TV show which does not leave you dumber than before you watched it, I bet you’ll dig Hustle as much as I do.

As you can probably tell from the title, Hustle is about a group of scammers going around scamming people for fun and money. What’s remarkable about the scams that these hustlers pull is that they all follow a tried-and-true formula which is pretty much unchanged since our loincloth-wearing caveman days:-

  1. Pick the victim. He’s someone who wants something for nothing.
  2. Give the victim the “Convincer”. Allow the victim to make some money on the first scam. This is to gain the victim’s trust (i.e. to convince him).
  3. Rope the victim in. After gaining his trust, steer him into the big scam.
  4. Fleece the victim.
  5. Run, rinse, repeat.

You can bet that conmen of all shapes and sizes follow this formula to the dot. Why? Because it’s rooted in human psychology which hasn’t changed since Adam took that big fat bite into the apple:-

  1. You can’t cheat an honest man.
  2. The victim is most vulnerable when he is most greedy.
  3. The victim wants to believe. You can give him a reason to believe by letting him earn some money first (i.e. the “convincer”).

The good thing about this is that once you know the formula, you’ll readily recognize scams for what they are, especially when someone tries to make a sucker out of you. Remember that slimy salesman who tried to sell you that “no money down, 15% rental yield” opportunity? Did you want something (15% rental yield!) for nothing (no money down!)? Now you know!

How To Scam Property Buyers Like A Seasoned Conman

My lawyer has asked me to put up this disclaimer: I’m writing this in our typical GoodPlace tongue-in-cheek fashion, and am in no way encouraging anyone to run property scams. If it’s not too obvious already, this is written so that buyers know how to spot a scam when they see one. As always, you are responsible for what you choose to do with this information. By continuing to read this article, you agree to our terms and conditions. This article is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. In short, don’t sue me if something goes wrong. Thank you for understanding.

Now with the usual PC bullshit out of the way, let’s talk about how you can run a property con like the shameless scammer that you’ve always wanted to be.

Step #1: Start of with something legit.

Don’t come out of the gates looking and smelling like a scammer. Like any sensible conman, you must have a good “front” business which covers up all your shady shit. Begin with something boring that everyone knows as legitimate. For example, start a property agency with a proper license and all (get a principal as a sleeping partner, etc).

Bonus tip: use boring name like “Yap Chooi Hwa Agency Enterprise”. Calling yourself “Rich Man Property Investment Specialists” is pure amateur hour. Any of the following words will immediately trip the BS meter: “Dreams”, “Gold”, “Freedom”, “Independence”, “Investments”, “Network”, “Matrix”, “Silver”, “Diamond”, “Platinum”.

Step #2: Hide yourself.

Because you’re a scammer, you’ll want to hide your mug so that it’s easier to make a comeback after you fleece your victims of their children’s college funds. At your website, remember to use only anonymous stock pictures, preferably of people in “aspirational” poses. Typically, you want pictures of cheery looking professionals giving themselves high-fives or pumping their collective fists jubilantly in the air. See these examples below:-

yap-chooi-hwa yap-chooi-hwa-agent yap-chooi-hwa-agent-that-cares

(The depictions above are entirely the fruit of my imagination, and are not meant to mock anyone by the name “Yap Chooi Hwa”, if that person exists.)

Extra credit: Get a celebrity endorsement! It doesn’t have to be someone current (gotta watch the budget!) – maybe a washed up actress who had starred in a once-popular RTM Drama Minggu Ini in the 1990’s. If you are too cheap to afford a C-list actress at least go gatecrash some parties and take some selfies with them celebrities. Upload them to your site, implying that they are endorsing you.

Step #3: Give out the “Convincer”.

Find 10-15 ‘lucky’ people. Pay them a crazy rate of return, like, $13,257.92 profits on top of a $150.76 investment, or a 8,794% ROI. Use specific numbers to be extra convincing. You want these ‘lucky’ people to be the face of your scheme. Make sure you take videos of them giving you recommendations, gushing over you like you’re Mother Teresa. Get them to flash the cameras with the filthy lucre that they’ve made from your scheme. Upload the videos on YouTube and force them to spam their family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Myspace, Friendster, Orkut, Ashley Madison, etc.

Step #4: Create your scam.

The best property scams have some (if not all) of the following four characteristics:

  1. The property must be in an area which where information is scarce. Choose areas which your victims are completely unfamiliar with. Maybe a small town in Perak, or a new ceruk hidden somewhere in the Iskandar region. The more ulu the place, the better.
  2. Minimum upfront payment or “no-money-down”. Structure the financing in such a way that it’s (almost) painless for the buyer. The lower the barrier to entry is, the more impulsive the buyer would be. Don’t we all like buyers who buy in impulse? I do!
  3. Humongous returns. A good rule of thumb: aim for about 20% returns. Remember: the greedier your victims are, the less likely they are to come to their senses. However, don’t go crazy and promise 50% returns – you need your lies to be believable, even by suckers who are blinded by their greed.
  4. Have “no lose” clauses. You want to make it sound as if there’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. For example, put in place a “No Lose Guarantee” – if the property doesn’t give the 20% yield as promised then the buyer gets the chance to sell the property back to you. Of course, you’ll sneakily enter a clause inside the lengthy Terms and Conditions document that the victim would usually sign without reading (e.g. to get his money back, he must perform a naked rain dance in the KLCC park, etc).

Step #4: Bribe your affiliates.

The affiliates are your sales people, and so they must be awarded nicely with fat commissions. Remember, the more commissions you give them, the less concerned they are with ethics. If possible, you want someone who would sell you his grandma for $10. The best people to recruit to help you sell your scams are: you guessed it: people who dabble in Multi-level Marketing (MLM) schemes. They are greedy, hungry and gullible: just like the doctor ordered!

If you have problems finding these MLM hucksters – go to where these vermin like to congregate: Starbucks! It’s quite easy to spot them – they are usually sharply dressed, and armed with laptops and iPads which they use to give “presentations” to would-be victims. Also, you’ll notice that they like to whip out their notepads to draw funny pictures of pyramids and 2×2 “matrices”. These are the tell-tale signs of an MLM turdball.

So how do you recruit them into your scheme? Easy. Go near them within striking distance, and pretend that you’re having a phone call with a top performing affiliate of yours now enjoying a fully paid holiday cruise in the Aegean Sea courtesy of the “President’s Platinum VIP Club”. Before you know it, he’ll be on his all fours and his tongue wagging, begging to join your “opportunity”, believing you’re the messiah to deliver him to the promised land of financial independence. Simple, innit?

Step #5: Make your money, and GTFU.

Every good scam must come to an end. It’s just a matter of time before your office (if you’ve got one) gets swarmed by angry people demanding their money back. Of course, you should have the foresight to already launder your money to the British Virgin Islands long before anything like that happens. Remember to keep some petty cash at hand to pay off those who are extra LOUD so that you can shut them up for good (tell them you’ll only pay them if they sign the confidentiality clause).

Bonus “extra despicable” tip: hire a team of badass lawyers and threaten to sue the victims if they don’t shut up. At this point, you may also stop paying your sales people too, since you won’t need them anymore. With the extra money, I’d recommend that you put a team of bodyguards with bazookas on your payroll because, trust me, you’ll need them!

How To Know If Your Tenant Is A Psychopath

Sade @GoodPlaceHQ

OK, before anything, I’d like to point out that I will disavow whatever you choose to do with the information below. In other words, you’re entirely responsible for your own actions. If you don’t agree to this, then close this page and go watch Barney & Friends on YouTube or something.

Given the crappy condition of the property rental market right now, if you’re a landlord with a vacant unit, you’re probably as desperate as a dateless 18-year old boy nearing prom night. As such, you might be tempted to settle with any Ahmad, Muthu and Ah Beng that you can get to rent your place. That, my friend, could well be the biggest mistake you could ever make.

And I’m speaking from experience. Just two months ago I had almost rented out my beloved condo unit at Aseana Puteri to this lunatic before I found out that he had had spates with his former landlord on almost everything you ever could think of: from the color of the light bulbs of “not having the right temperature” to the little cuckoo bird who would come chirping at the balcony, disrupting his afternoon siesta. I thank the good Lord Buddha every night for sidestepping what could well be an epic clusterfluck of Titanic proportions.

Therefore, I cannot possibly understate the importance of doing background checks of whoever who wants to rent your precious property. And guess what, with free tools now which you can use online, you can find out what Ahmad / Muthu / Ah Beng did last Hari Raya / Deepavali / Chap Goh Meh. It’s really that easy, and I will show you how right now.


Google knows about lots of things. Heck, it even has the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

The first thing you need to do is to enter your tenant’s name into Google and perform a search. Of course, it helps if your tenant’s name is somewhat unique, like Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop (which is a real person, by the way).

If your tenant has got a generic name like Mat Nor bin Abu or Michael Tan Beng Seng or Subramaniam A/L Saravanan, then you’ve gotta bring your ninja search skillz on teh Googlez. First, get hold of his email address and then run a Google search. If he has posted on forums or blogs then you’ll see the company that he keeps and the crap that he posts online. You might well find that he’s living double or triple lives (like, holding a day job as a perfectly respectable piano teacher while moonlighting as a scummy get-rich-online Guru at night and a slimy multi-level marketing huckster during the weekends).

Don’t stop there. Like everyone else, he probably has multiple emails. Curiously, many retain the same handle when registering with different email providers as well as forums and blogs. For example, if Michael Tan’s email is, then chances are that he uses the handle swingingdong78 everywhere he goes online. So, go to Google and enter swingingdong78 to see what other shenanigans that Mr Michael Tan is up to.

Finally, search for his phone number on Google. You’ll find out if he has harassed anyone (“who is this 01X-XXXXXXX and why is he calling me non-stop??”) or if he is a budding  entrepreneur (“Berita baik untuk lelaki! Hanya $100 sebotol! Panggil 01X-XXXXXXX  sekarang!”).

As a sidenote: I think everybody should Google their names from time to time just to see how much their personal information is exposed all and sundry for the world to see. For me, as you can see, I pretty much own the first page of Google for the query “Khai Yin”. And hooray for me, the news item of me robbing the Setiawalk 7-11 storekeeper is not seen anywhere within the first ten pages of Google1.


It’s trivial to find someone’s Facebook page and see what he makes public for the world to see – it’s the perfect opportunity to peek into his inner thoughts and see pictures of him in compromising positions if any. Take it a step further, set up a sock puppet Facebook account and add him as a friend. Pretending to be an attractive member of the opposite sex (complete with pictures) is proven to increase conversions by at least 1,500% according to our exhaustive experiments in the GoodPlace Labs. Use excuses like, “Hey, I thought you were cute.Wanna be friends?” Being accepted as a friend will reveal a ton of information – use your imagination!

To be extra sure, and especially if he’s the cautious kind, try adding one of his friends first. Look through his list of friends and target to add those who look especially lonely / desperate / hamsap. He is more likely to add you with a common friend.

You can repeat the above for practically every other social networking sites out there: LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram or if he’s an ancient fossil from zaman batu then maybe Myspace.

Advanced Stuff

The following collection of tricks is particularly ninja, and is useful if your target has got a website or blog. Go to this site:- and enter the URL – you’ll find the details of the registrar – name, organization, address and alternate emails. You now have more information about Mr Michael Tan to do Google and Facebook searches! Then, go to this link:- – and then enter the URL of his site, and voila! You know have a list of all sites that he owns!

Next, head on to the (in)famous Internet Wayback Machine – and enter this URLs, one-by-one. There, you will find an archive of everything he ever posted on his sites (and elsewhere if you know the URLs) – yes, even the pictures of him in compromising positions that he had deleted (or so he thought). For example, I found my own (non-compromising) pictures posted on my very first website coded back in 1997 here.

I guess I should stop here because I don’t want to open up the Pandora’s box by listing out even more ways to uncover anyone’s footprint on the web (some of which would probably make your blood curdle). If you’re in a situation where you’ve got a stinking suspicion that a would-be renter is a scumbag in sheep skin then let me know – I’ll try to help.

Sussing People Out For Fun And Profit

As you’ve probably realized by now, you can pretty much use the above to check the background of anyone you want (i.e. not just potential buyers or renters). Whatever you want to do with it is entirely up to how fertile your imagination is. On the other hand, if you think that you’ve been overexposed by the crap that you’ve posted about yourself online, and you want to protect yourself from getting stalked by others (i.e. your ex) then read this.

  1. Just kidding. For the record, I’ve never robbed anyone in my life.

Abandoned Property Monies Part 3: How To Know Crap When You See One

My Taiping retirement home!

In the first two installments in the “Abandoned Property Monies” series, I’ve talked about the importance of managing your own psychology, and why properties get abandoned in the first place. In today’s guide, we’ll explore possibly the most important factor when it comes to making money with abandoned properties: knowing what’s the actual value of the abandoned house that you’ve been eyeing.

Trust me: knowing how to tell a dud from a stud will pretty much determine if you’re going to live the life as a high rolling property tycoon or a broke ass property Guru selling seminars to make a living. It’s really a skill worth having… especially when we are talking about abandoned properties. How would you know if that eerie, lalang infested Amityville Horror house lookalike is worth $300,000 its advertised price on Mudah? Don’t worry, my little kittens, for I am about to answer that question for ya…

Some Background Reading Required

Of all things property, Khai Yin had a particularly unhealthy fetish for the topic of valuation, and true enough, he had written more on the subject that I’ve seen anywhere else:-

I don’t always agree with what that kid says, especially the vitriol that he had spewed about crowdfunding for property (which I think is a jolly good idea). But when it comes to the subject of valuing a property, I’d STFU and listen to him because he knows this stuff, even though sometimes I’d rather poke my eyes with a large fork than to hear his girly voice.

So, do yourself a favor, and if you haven’t read the above yet, go read ’em first. And then come back.

Calvin’s DUTA: The Four “Value Drivers”

OK, I will now assume that you’ve got some background knowledge about valuation, or at least know how to avoid the usual layman mistakes when it comes to valuing a property (i.e. by looking at advertised prices at property portals, or asking clueless agents, etc). When I look at a piece of abandoned property, I will typically look at the following four factors (which are known as “Value Drivers” in standard property investment textbook jargon):

  • Desirability
  • Usefulness
  • Transferability
  • Availability

I use the acronym “DUTA” to remember these easily. For you property Guru types who want to rip this off and sell it as your own in your property seminars – well, I’ll let you use it as long as you attribute it back to me (Calvin’s DUTA, just like Schrodinger’s Cat, Schindler’s List, Ben’s Bitches, etc).

Now let’s go through these one by one. Desirability of an abandoned property simply means: will people want this piece of crap once you “de-crapped” it? You can find this out by looking at the area’s property uptake. I like to check the property portals to do a quick search on the area where the abandoned property that I am researching is. In particular, “age of listings” is particularly important here because it tells you how long a particular property has been in the market before it’s being bought.

Usefulness of an abandoned property means if it can be converted into something else apart from its original use. For example, if it’s an originally a residential property, can it be repurposed into a shop? In SS2, Petaling Jaya, for example, many of the terrace houses (especially those facing the main roads) have been converted into wedding boutiques, dental surgeries and mamak shops. The more “use” the abandoned property has once you have fixed it, the more money you can afford to pay for it now.

Transferability is especially important when it comes to abandoned properties because no matter how desirable and useful it is, it doesn’t matter a whit if the property can’t be transferred to you. When you’ve bought the property, is the owner able to transfer its ownership to you “cleanly“? Heck, before anything, are you able to track down the owner in the first place?

Availability has more to do with the area than the abandoned property itself. Is the area littered with abandoned houses? Or is the abandoned house stand on the last piece of available land, surrounded by busy office buildings and upmarket condos? Like everything else from the lost Beatles song to the chalice of Jesus Christ: the more scarce something is, the more valuable it gets.

How To Know Crap When You See One

In the previous post in this homebuyer guide series, you’ve learned how to develop your “sixth sense” about noticing and identifying abandoned properties which you could buy and make money with. In this guide, you know how to look beyond the mere appearance of an abandoned property and know crap when you see one:-

  • Will people want it once you fixed it up? (The Desirability factor)
  • Will it have other use beyond what it originally first for? (The Usefulness factor)
  • Are you able to locate the seller, and if you buy it, will the seller able to transfer ownership to you? (The Transferability factor)
  • Are there other abandoned properties in the vicinity? (The Availability factor)

For me personally, all the above four criteria must be satisfied for me before I move on to the next step: i.e. to determine the fair value of the property which will then give me a bidding range to work with when I hustle the seller to sell me the property. We shall be covering this in the next guide in this series.

Buying Vacant Land Part Deux: Monetizers & Exit Plans

Sally Pierce at GoodPlaceHQ

When you’re buying property, you’re essentially buying a piece of land and the building on top of it. In general (and in Malaysia at least), land value goes up over time. On the other hand, building values go down. When you’re buying vacant land, you’re investing in the only component of property that makes money.

In last week’s guide, we have talked about the importance of having a sensible exit strategy when you’re buying land, and why you shouldn’t be placing your hopes on a big developer buying you out in the future. In today’s installment in this series, we’ll explore on some of the more practical monetization strategies related to land investments.

Monetization for residential properties can be relatively simple because usually you make money either by generating rental cash, or by selling at a higher price (or ideally, both). For vacant land, it’s not that straightforward, and for that reason, in general, it is not for the newbie.

Like any sensible investor, you’ll need to figure out how you gonna make money from the piece of property in the short term while you wait for the value to go up in the longer term. The rest of this article will show you how to do this.

Short-Term Monetization Strategies

Vacant land investments typically go under the radar because they don’t generate immediate cashflow. The key here is to make it pay its way while you wait for it to “brew” over the long term (see the next section). I can’t possibly list out all the things you can do to generate cash from a piece of empty land, but here are some ideas to consider:-

  1. Turn it into a farm of chicken coops
  2. Rent it out for a transport company to store buses and trucks
  3. Build some modular, pre-fab homes to rent out, or to sell

Of course, I’m just half-joking about (1). There’s this old friend of mine who got fed up with KL life and moved back to Batu Gajah to build chicken coops on the vacant land he inherited from his late father. He’s doing pretty well for himself, earning way more than before when he was working as an investment analyst for a major foreign bank in the city.

Now that prices of property have gone through the roof and becoming severely unaffordable for the average Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu, there’s an opportunity to build low-cost, pre-fabricated homes which are cheap to build, and perhaps easier to sell or rent. Of course, this idea is not new elsewhere, and in Malaysia, there are some enterprising types who are already doing this – in fact, there was this chap in Klang who built himself a double storey container home for less than RM100,000. What if you can get hold of a vacant land to build some cheap container houses to rent out? You’ll be hitting paydirt in absolutely no time at all…

Long-Term Monetization Strategies

The most obvious (and profitable) exit strategy is to re-zone the piece of land, divide it and then get the approval for development. And as you can imagine, there’s an awful lot of work (and hustle) required, not to mention the amount of red tape that’s required to secure the appropriate approvals. If you can pull this off (and I know more than one guy who have gotten rich doing exactly this) then soon you’ll wonder why you bothered with apartments and city condos. If there’s one way to get rich with real estate then this has got to be it.

Remember: the usual considerations of supply and demand are still important – if the land that you’re buying if surrounded by similar tracts of empty land, then don’t expect it to skyrocket in value anytime soon. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow:- if there’s growth potential, and the surrounding 10km radius area is filled with land which are already built on, then you might just be looking at a potential goldmine.

Buying Vacant Land To Make Money: Genius Or Idiot?

If you’re expecting the continuation of the Abandoned Properties Series by my childhood nemesis turned mega property tycoon “Shallow” Cal (click here and here if you’ve missed the first two parts), well, tough luck – he just called to say that instead of writing the next article, he would be busy “attending to some private matters overseas this weekend”. Let’s all thank him for his significant contributions to GoodPlace so far, have him in our collective prayers, and hope that he recovers quickly from his sex change operations in Bangkok this Saturday.

Nevertheless, as the flamboyant Freddie Mercury liked to say, the show must go on.

Let’s face it – the Malaysia property market now is as dead as a piece of friggin’ fried chicken. Whoever who thinks he can make money flipping a KLCC condo, for example, is either smoking grass or as hopelessly delusional as a Bernie Sanders fanboy.

Given the zombie-like state of the property market tight now, those savvy investor-type folks that I know are looking further left-field for opportunities to make money. And those opportunities include areas which are generally overlooked by most people – like abandoned properties and vacant land.

All jokes aside, I seriously don’t know if Calvin is coming back to finish off the Abandoned Properties Series that he had started. Anyhow, to keep things going, this week we will discuss about another type of property investment which is quite rarely talked about anywhere: investing in vacant land.

Vacant Land Investment: The Basics

Investing in land sounds pretty simple in theory:- you buy an empty tract of land, and you figure out what to do with it to make money. Of course, the devil is in the details, and in this guide today we’ll give you a taste of what’s required for you to make money with vacant land.

So where can you buy vacant land? The most common story that I hear is that vacant land is usually inherited. For example, the seller’s great grandfather could have been one of those Kapitan Yap Ah Loy types who owned tin mines before World War Two. Now that he has inherited those vast swathes of land, he has got two options if he wants to make some moolah: (1) to sell the land “wholesale”, or (2) to build houses on the land and sell those houses on a piecemeal basis. Naturally, option (1) is always desirable especially if the seller is not an experienced developer.

The Big Question: Why?

Because buying property is so sacrosanct among Malaysians, most of us rarely take a step back and ask ourselves: why the heck do we buy property? One GoodPlace reader once told me that he bought a condo just because he was swayed by the developer CEO’s flashy, Lambo-driving and model-shagging lifestyle. “Maybe I thought I could be somewhat like him if I would just buy this penthouse he was selling,” he quipped. Surely enough, he got royally shagged by the banks instead when he failed to service his $9,000 a month repayments.

Of course, savvy buyers would already figure out their exit strategies even before they dare to dream of driving Lambos and shagging models. You’ve got to know why you’re buying a property, and importantly, how you’re gonna make money from that piece of property. You don’t buy some vacant land in your wife’s hometown in Chemor just to impress your father-in-law. You’ve got to know what to do with that piece of land after you buy it. And since it’s vacant, you’re not going to get any rental cash from it in the shorter term at least. As such, you’d better have some pretty stellar holding power especially when it’s probably as illiquid as it gets as an asset class.

Back To Basics: Efficient Market Economics

I’m a believer in the Efficient Market Hypothesis – which states that in a stock market, its efficiency means that the price of a stock will always incorporate all available information, which means that it’s impossible to consistently “beat the market” over time. However, I observed that this hypothesis holds true generally in markets where assets are liquid – in particular, stock markets where shares are bought and sold frequently with little or no ‘friction’.

As such, for a market which is as illiquid as property, the inefficiency is more pronounced which means that there’s always pockets of opportunity to make money which exist for a given window time given a particular locality – until the market “finds out” about that gap and proceeds to close it. For something like vacant land, the degree of (il)liquidity is even higher – it then logically follows that there’s even more opportunities to make money. This is further compounded by the fact that vacant land generally attracts less attention especially from two-bit investor wannabes – which means that there’s less competition for the money.

It also follows that while there are not lots of investors are interested in vacant land, you can bet that those who are interested are usually big-time sharks that eat newcomers for breakfast. If you’re new to property, or if you haven’t build up your portfolio with “traditional” property like terrace houses, apartments or shop houses, steer clear.

Your Exit Strategy

The most common exit strategy when it comes to buying vacant land is to sell it off at a premium. Strangely, almost everyone who attempted to make money with vacant land seemed to harbour this “fantasy” of that hefty payday when a big-time developer like Ecoworld or UEM Sunrise or SP Setia to offer them gobs of cash. That, sadly, does not happen too often (if at all).

Why? The answer is pretty simple. Land banking is bread and butter for these players, and the tract of land that you found in Chemor – well, if it’s of any value, those big fellas would have bought it eons ago while you poo-pooed in your diapers. Unless you know something that they don’t, thinking that you can make money off the big boys is pretty foolhardy.

In Summary

Here’s the TLDR version for those who can’t be arsed to read all of the above:-

  1. If you’re new to the property game, don’t buy land.
  2. Since land is the most “illiquid” kind of property, it logically follows that opportunities to make money are most abundant.
  3. If you want to make money buying land, have a well thought-out exit strategy.
  4. Don’t buy land (or any kind of property) for the wrong reasons – like impressing your father-in-law.
  5. Vacant land investment is for the (very) long term. Short-term cash flow is minimal (usually zero). You better have some serious holding power unless the bank manager happens to be your father-in-law.
  6. The chances of a big developer buying the land from you later is comparable to that of Malaysia winning the World Cup.

In the next guide, we’ll explore more on how to make money with vacant land: especially on identifying good vs bad stock and some short-term monetization strategies while you take that long-term bet.

Truth be told: I’m not sure if this guide is going to come out next week because if Calvin comes back, I’ll give way to him for the third part in the  Abandoned Properties Series. Despite my differences with him (we’ve had more fallouts than Axl Rose had with Slash), he’s still the best in the business that he’s in, and we’ll all benefit from reading his insights. I got a feeling that he’ll be back, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Abandoned Property Monies Part 2: “I Wanna GTFU ASAP”

Sam Andi @GoodPlaceHQ

When we were in high school in Taiping, Khai Yin and I used to play in a Nirvana covers band. Being pimply dorks with piping hot testosterone firing on all cylinders, we figured that the easiest way to be popular with girls was to be in a rock band. After all, even butt-ugly rock stars like Mick Jagger got laid!

Read the first part in this series here if you have missed it.

We had read in a magazine (most probably URTV) that the dude in Nirvana had played this guitar manufactured by this company called Fender. And so we went to this one-and-only musical instrument shop in Taiping on Kota Road and bought two Made-in-China copycat “Fender” electric guitars at a small fortune of $90 each.

The funny thing was that once we bought those guitars (which we later found out were called “Fender Stratocasters”), we started to notice that an awful lot of bands had actually played the same type of guitar. Dave Gilmour, Richie Sambora, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton… the list was endless. We started seeing Fender Stratocasters everywhere… from live shows (Subculture! Koffin Kanser! Carburetor Dung!) to the hallowed pages of ROTTW (thumbs up if you know this magazine… hello Abang Rom).

I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that also – for example, when you think about buying a particular model of a particular car. You suddenly see more of the car of the same model on the roads. That’s really no coincidence – you’ve just “activated” that switch inside your mind to be especially aware of that particular car model.

Now when I tell people that I make gobs of money flipping abandoned properties, the first question that I ask is how I look for these properties in the first place. The answer is quite simple… you just “activate” your switch so that you become aware of these properties when you see them. I bet that before you even considered investing in abandoned properties, you have already come across a couple of them without paying much attention. In fact, you wouldn’t even know that those properties had been abandoned in the first place.

I’ll even wager that you’ll start noticing abandoned properties now that they are inside your “consciousness”. Your “Spidey sense” will start to tingle whenever you see an abandoned property! In fact, with enough practice, you can drive into a random Taman and immediately know if a house has been abandoned within a couple of minutes.

Now before we start hunting for abandoned properties, it’s important to look at the fundamentals of the game and understand why people abandon their houses.

Why Properties Get Abandoned?

Properties get abandoned for a variety of reasons. Below are the three biggest ones.

Reason #1: Personal Problems

My best flip was a house which was sold to me for literally cents on the Ringgit. The previous owner had told me, “My old man died in this house. I’ve been hearing strange noises in his room every night since his death. Please, buy this house off me. I wanna GTFU ASAP.”

Even more amusing: “I caught my wife with a ma lat lou on our bed one afternoon. We are breaking up. I’m not going back there again.”

Perhaps the best: “I mistakenly bought this house. It faces the southwest direction, which is incompatible with my bazi. My sifu told me that if I live in it I will hamkachan.” No. Friggin’. Joke.

Don’t underestimate the severeness of the crap that some people had to go through in their lives. Or their stupidity.

Reason #2: Property Problems

Let’s face it – maintaining a house is a royal pain in the rear.. and not to mention blood-curdingly expensive. As a piece of property gets older, you can expect the repair bills to stack up quickly like bricks in a Tetris game.

There are lots of retirees in Taiping, with their kids working mostly in Penang and in KL. When these retirees grow older, it gets harder and more expensive for them to maintain the old houses that they are in. So, some choose to move in with their kids, leaving their decades-old homes in Taiping to rot (until someone like me comes to the rescue).

This, of course, is not a Taiping-only phenomenon, but is common in many towns outside the Klang Valley, where the demographics get older with time.

Reason #3: Money Problems

Funny thing about Malaysians is that we seem to like to think that owning a house is a “must”. Problem is that there are a lot of guys who buy outside their means due to the pressure from their parents, neighbours, peers, colleagues, and their girlfriends’ parents.

Also, especially among the Chinese, there’s this quaint concept called “face”. Getting evicted from your house is a disaster of epic proportions, and will cause you to “lose face” tremendously in the eyes of your parents, neighbours, peers, colleagues, and your girlfriend’s parents.

So, what most people in this situation do is to instead face eviction, they abandon the house and move on.

Now that you know why people abandon their homes, we’ll talk about the most important criteria when you buy property – value. There’s no two ways about it – you must know how to value an abandoned property if you want to make money! We’ll talk more about this in the next guide in this series.

Abandoned Property Monies Part 1: Your Biggest Problem Is Your Faulty Brain

Suzie Vai @GoodPlaceHQ

Hello, my name is Calvin. You may have known me from Khai Yin’s blog post last week about how I made my money selling crap properties that others don’t want, and in particular, how douchey I was when I sold our ancestral home for pocket money.

Now thinking back, I do feel pangs of regret from time to time, and truth be told, I still wake up in cold sweat from that sordid little episode. If I knew this would happen to me, I wouldn’t have done it. I mean, I should have held on to that property because that house could have been sold now for $450,000 now instead of the kacang putih that I had gotten when I sold it! Darn, I never felt so gutted in my life, I tell ya.

When Khai Yin asked me to write in his blog about my methods on how I make money, I hesitated quite a bit – because I didn’t want the ten (twenty?) nincompoops who read his blog to turn up in Taiping with bags of filthy lucre to go head-on with me in acquiring abandoned properties. But then again, I’ve got what footballers call the “home advantage” – Taiping is my turf, and I’m not just bragging when I say that I can easily run circles around whoever who tries to mess with me in this sleepy little cowboy town. Believe it.

The Abandoned Property Game: The Fundamentals

Despite the successes that I have had, I am not the least embarrassed to admit that I had screwed up many more times that I would care for. In fact, my first real estate project (in Kamunting, just north of Taiping) was so messed up that I drove to my old cinapek boss’ mansion at 1.30am to beg him to bail me out, and to give me back my old job.

Eating humble roti canai was easy especially when you were as broke as Kanye West. With debt levels up to my eyeballs and ah longs hot on my coattails, I was at that time about $100 away from doing gay porn. Driven by my desperation, I had begged my old boss on all fours. And yes, I really went down on my knees.

He wrote me a check for $100,000. And then, he looked at me dead straight in the eye and said:

“You know what your problem is, boy? Your brain is faulty, that’s what.”

As I was driving home in my Mercedes C-class (which got towed away later in case you were wondering, you schadenfraude-lovin’ sadist), I pondered about what he had told me. While I didn’t do that well in school (OK, I nearly failed my SPM), I had always prided myself at having lots of street smarts. I certainly wasn’t an idiot!

Upon further reflection, I came to a couple of conclusions. Now the following may sound rather hokey pokey to you but it is true. Indeed, now that I’ve got some level of success in real estate I’m more than convinced that the following is the single biggest driver behind my achievements.

To be good at real estate you must first manage your own psychology.

That was what my old boss meant when he said that my brain was “faulty”. What he meant was that my brain wasn’t just wired to be in this business. Real estate is first and foremost a psychology game, and my boss knew that I just didn’t have the right mindset, beliefs and mental discipline to make it work.

Buy Low And Sell High? Well, Good Friggin’ Luck

Now unlike that Khai Yin jackass I’ve got no axe to grind with “Real Estate Gurus” – in fact, I’ve got massive respect for a lot of them. Why? Simple really… it takes a good amount of hustle to convince people pay them money for stuff that are obviously true. And I have always liked good hustlers irrespective of what they peddle – real estate Guru seminars or life insurance schemes or interracial gay porn DVDs or other equally scummy things, it doesn’t matter. A good hustle is a good hustle.

One of those bleedin’ obvious things that Gurus tell you is that in order to make money in real estate, you gotta “buy low and sell high”. Now this is what you learn in Darjah Satu at the property investment school, and virtually every Ali, Mutusamy and Tan Chak Ngau knows about this piece of Guru advice. But despite this, how come most people fail to make even a single sen in real estate?

Here’s why – the reason people find it difficult to buy low and sell high is purely psychological. When you find a competitively priced property at below market value, you’ll always wonder if you could buy it at an even cheaper price. Correspondingly, when you sell, don’t you have that moment of hesitation when you wonder if you have sold prematurely, and if you could fetch a higher price later?

If you’ve got your brain wired up correctly for this thing, then you won’t have these kinds of mental barriers plaguing you when you buy or sell property. And to sort out your own psychological issues is absolutely fundamental to everything that you do in real estate. You can’t win in this game with a “faulty” mindset.

The Most Common Scam In Malaysia Property

In case you haven’t realize it, even as we are nearing the end of this article, I haven’t told you anything specific about finding and profiting from abandoned properties. Surprise, surprise – you’ve just been exposed to the most common tactic ever abused by agents and sellers alike – the bait and switch.

Now before you curse me to hell and back, let me assure you that there’s some method to my apparent madness. The reason I’ve blabbed for so long about investor psychology is because the biggest mistake you can ever make in real estate investing is having the wrong mindset. After you have overcome the psychological barrier to become a truly legit investor, then making money with abandoned property is remarkably easy.

With that out of the way…

If things go according to plan, I’ll be going into the meat and potatoes about the abandoned properties game – i.e. everything I know about finding these untapped gold mines and blackmailing the owners into selling them to you for cheap. OK, just kidding about the blackmailing. But I do use some rather questionable tactics (which are not illegal) which may offend some folks with tender feelings. If you’re one of those bleeding heart girl scouts then I suggest that you stop reading, unplug from the innerwebz and go watch The Sound of Music or whatever. If you nevertheless choose to stay, you may not like what you’re going to read what I am going to write next.

And of course, if Khai Yin gets pissed at me for taking potshots at him on his own blog (he’s one bipolar megalomaniac mofo in case you haven’t realized yet), then this is probably the last time you’re seeing me here.