Thursday, 7 May 2015

Equity vs Property

What is the best form of investment?

We know that putting our money in savings account will make us poorer. If we put them in fixed deposit, it is just enough to beat inflation and we are not getting any richer.

We can start our own business which is what most rich people do, but not many of us possess the entrepreneur skills and perseverance to become really successful.

This leaves many people especially the middle class to put their money in equity investment and property investment.

Between equity and property, which one is better?

This seems to be a burning question.

If you ask someone who is successful and comfortable in stock market investment, he will definitely say that equity is much better.

If you ask someone who makes a good fortune from property investment, he will tell you that property is much better.

There are also some people who have their hands in both equity and property. These people may tell you that one is better than the other but they might not invest in the same way as you will in the first place.

I myself invest in both stock and property, but I'm not in a position to tell anyone that which one is better. It varies between each individual depending on their risk appetite, interest and expectation.

Some people think that property investment has higher risk because of high initial capital and illiquidity.

Some people think that stock market has higher risk because of high volatility and uncertainty.

Some people think that property investment has lower risk because property price almost always appreciate with time if the location is not too bad.

Some people think that stock market has lower risk because a good company's share price almost always appreciate with time despite short-term fluctuation.

Some people like property because of the feeling of land or building ownership.

Some people like stock market because of easy transaction and "faster" gain.

Some people don't like property because of hassle in tenant management, huge debts, higher fees & stamp duties payment.

Some people don't like stock market because of hearing stories that people get burnt or gone bankrupt in stock market.

One thing for sure is, it is much easier to start investing in stock market as it is simple and does not require a big sum of capital to start with. If you make a bad decision, it is much easier to make amends and start all over again.

If you make a bad decision in buying a property, not only your initial capital will be tied down, you still need to serve monthly bank loan while unable to rent out or sell the property except at significant loss.

So, both financially & psychologically, it is not easy to take a first step into property investment.

Personally I started my investment journey by investing in equity, first in unit trust in 2004 and then directly in stock market in 2006. However, I  have never been serious with it until 2013.

I started to look into property investment in 2009. In that year, I bought my first property which is my current house.

After that, I constantly looked for properties for investment. I did quite a lot of research on properties in Klang Valley and Penang.

I registered for developers future projects, went to new property launches, screened through property advertisement, viewed numerous subsale properties etc.

I can feel the difficulty in taking a first step in property investment, as there will be fear of making mistake.

Even though I'm just a little tiny property investor, I still hope that it will help in my journey toward financial freedom.

If I were to depend on stock market alone, I need to achieve at least 30% annual return compounded for 10 consecutive years. Is it possible?

If I can get 30% for 4 consecutive years but not careful enough to lose 50% on the 5th year due to big bear market, it is almost like back to the starting line.

Property investment sounds "more secure" in that sense. If I buy a property at RM300k, take RM270k loan and get tenants to cover the monthly loan repayment, I can just sit back and watch property price appreciates with time.

After 10 years, I will still owe bank RM230k. However, I don't put a lot of cash into the property after the 10% down payment as long as the property get rented out without negative cashflow.

If  I sell the property which lets say appreciates to RM600k 10 years later (which I think is not impossible if property is bought before 2012), I can get a profit of RM370k after settling the outstanding loan (excluding other fees). This will help my retirement plan significantly if I have more investment properties.

For me, when I was more active in property investment in 2009-2012, I think that it is a good investment. Actually now I still think it is.

After year 2012, I find it extremely difficult to get a positive monthly cashflow from renting out newly-purchased properties anymore, as property price has escalated much faster than rental & salary. Furthermore, house price seems to appreciate more slowly now. 

Even though one can still make money in the long run, property investment is no more attractive to me at the moment, compared to stock market.

Nevertheless, I am still alert on current property market. I still view new and subsale properties once in a while hoping to get a bargain.

Perhaps I will only buy property again when property price falls significantly.

Is this possible?

After the US subprime mortgage crisis in 2007, I will not assume that house price will never fall massively.


  1. thanks for sharing, equity also all high price now :)

    1. I can see that uncle jim is experienced in both equity & property :)

  2. I also invested both in property and equity. In fact, my capital has more weight in property than equity.
    I think one of the biggest +ve points in property investment is leverage, we can, for example, use merely RM50k to invest into RM500k property. It is the leverage that magnifies the return and this is what equity investment can't do unless we use margin financing which also can't get the leverage as high.
    I also think the best time to do property investment is over. There won't be much appreciation in property price in next several years, and as you mentioned, it is extremely hard to get positive cash flow for a rented property nowadays. So, I think equity investment is the way to go for few years down the road.
    I think the property price will shoot up again after several years of consolidation. The strategy that I adopt is continue to hold the property that provides +ve cash flow while shifting the focus to equity investment now.

    1. Agree with you :)
      My property investment also takes up a lot of my cash, more than 2x my current shares value. Whenever I have not enough cash to invest in stock market, I will regret putting too much into property...

  3. I think property or equity is very much of personal preferance. I too bought my first house & one for rental back in 2009 and I feel very lucky to have made those decision. The only thing I don't like about property is the management of the rental, can be troublesome at times. As for current situation, I think the best time to fork out cash to invest in either equity or property is over. I believe now is the time to work hard to accumulate as much bullets as possible, the next best timing will come :)

    1. Me too so far I feel very lucky to have bought my house though I never expect property price to rise that much at that time. For stock market, no one can predict it but somehow I feel a little bit uneasy with it. Should be more serious in accumulating cash I guess.

  4. Hi BD,

    I have been looking at this.

    Not sure if you are looking for one to invest soon. Maybe we can share some views. :)

    1. This project looks quite attractive. Thanks for sharing.

      I have made a decision few years back to concentrate on the place I know best which is Penang for property investment. So I won't touch KV at the moment..

    2. Ohh, I didnt know you are from Penang, Yeah, always best to invest where you know best!

      All the best in your investment journey!

  5. Gentlemen buy shares.

    房产技术含量低,适合鸡饭佬,pasar malam佬

    且房产投资不完全是钱赚钱,你还要找人租房,找银行找律师签合同,麻烦到要死,又会中income tax,遇到流氓租客更死。


    I would put my money into the stock market for my entire life and never touch property.

    1. Actually I do not totally agree with you. It's true that stock market investment requires some knowledge in accounting, English language etc but more importantly, both equity & property investment need good analytic skill, which some "intellectual" may not have.

      Property investment is about using other people's money to invest, which has higher leverage compared to equity. At the end, I think it's about the price you pay for the property, just like the price you pay for a stock.

      Anyway it's true that property investment can be very troublesome, and also the shitty income tax...