Having bought his first Sydney property at age 18 and then amassing a real estate portfolio of more than 25 properties in under 15 years, Adler Ho knows how to spot a property deal. As a buyer’s agent with his own business, Adler Ho Property Consultants, he divides his time between Sydney and Hong Kong to advise high net worth individuals wanting to purchase Australian real estate.
“My parents always instilled in me that you should have a property, something to put your money towards that isn’t rent, but I guess I’ve just taken it to a whole new level of what they expected,” says Ho, who previously worked in IT at an internet start-up company. “My parents are not risk takers like I am.”
“When I was 18, I bought my first property in Sydney. About two years after that I ended up talking to the bank and bought a property in Queanbeyan. I ended up buying two properties there based off the increased capital in my first property. I had a very good bank manager who explained it all to me, how it worked. The properties went up about 50 percent in six months which was a huge gain such a short period of time, and I thought, ‘I’m making more money doing this than anything else, I should be concentrating on this,’ so that’s how it all started. I thought I was onto something,” says Ho, who studied business and marketing at the University of Canberra.
After several years as a consultant for a property developer working across a number of projects, Ho realized he had enough experience from the development side and as an investor himself to start his business. “I’ve found a little bit of a niche in the market,” he says. Ho said he thought about the Asian buyers purchasing high-end residential real estate in Australia. “For every one trophy home buyer you read about spending $40 million on a home in Point Piper, there’s probably another ten people happily doing their investment in much lower priced properties,” he said. “They’re obviously not as familiar with the Sydney market as I am as a local, and they’re not getting independent advice. I thought it was important. Because my family is originally from Hong Kong, I feel comfortable coming up here and working in this market.”
His point of difference is that he doesn’t sell any property, and understands both the developer’s point of view and the customer’s point of view. “They’re exactly who I thought my clients would be,” says Ho of his customer base. Many are Australian citizens living in Hong Kong but planning to move back home or looking to diversify their asset base. He’s also had a very strong response from people with a permanent residency visas or citizenship who are very well educated and have often gone to university in Australia and spent a bit of time in Australia and now they’re in Hong Kong. “What they like about me is that I’m actually here on the ground in Hong Kong to meet with them. They like the fact that I’ve got experience in the investment side, and I’m not just trying to sell them something. If it takes me six months to find them the right property, we will do that,” he says.
Asked why these investors are looking at Australia, Ho said that Australian real estate is still a comparatively cheap prospect for people from other countries. “Especially with currency fluctuations,” said Ho, citing the fact the Australian dollar has fallen about 30 percent in the last few years. “The market is telling me they view it as a cheap place to buy, however, they also view London as a very attractive option as they’re not limited to new properties there. From a tax point of view and also compliance, London is a much more attractive place,” said Ho. “My clients are certainly looking at Sydney as a very cheap market to be in at the moment, contrary to what the locals think. I know there’s a lot of talk about the housing market in Sydney being unaffordable, but certainly from an international perspective that’s not the case,” he said. “The clients I’ve dealt with, they’ve actually got international property portfolios. A client I’m dealing with at the moment, they’ve got large portfolios in London and Toronto and their reason for buying in Australia is diversification. The fact they’ve got an Australian passport means they might want to live here down the track, but they’re not buying anything negatively geared, everything is neutrally geared.”
“Sydney is still seen as a very strong place to be, and because it is so strong, they’re looking a little bit further afield and maybe looking at places that aren’t traditionally overseas investment areas. They’re happy to look at regional areas but they’re looking at larger towns like Newcastle and Wollongong. Larger established towns where there’s universities in place and also potential for growth from a commercial side of things.”
This article comes from RE Talk Asia.