MILLIONS OF people buy self-help or inspirational books in a desperate bid to improve their lives. But how many of them really profit from those books? How many really turn their lives around, applying the principles listed in them?
Perhaps not many.
Sunil Jaiswal is one of the few who did. In his case though, he was far from being in a desperate situation. In fact, in the conventional sense, he was already a success. Born and bred in London to an Indian father and a British mother, he was something of a child prodigy in computers. He had a thriving IT business employing people in both London and India and was earning a cool 700 pounds a day doing programming for major companies.
Around 1999, while browsing in a bookstore, he came across a book, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ which got him thinking. ‘I thought I was pretty successful, done what I wanted, but what next?’ Jaiswal recounted. The book provided an alternative viewpoint and led Sunil to question the nature of his perceived success. I came to realise that being successful was about having money work for me, not just me working for money.’ Sunil looked at ways he could achieve this and this led him to venture into real estate.
Since then, Jaiswal has achieved phenomenal success in property dealings, first in London , then Florida in the US, India and now in Dubai. His success was so astounding that he quit his IT business in 2003, and began a new business of teaching people how to deal and invest in property through his ‘Property Secrets’ course (www.suniljaiswal.com).
Jaiswal also found the time to found Sumansa Events, an event management company that holds property shows around the world, and he is the driving force behind the Indian Property Show, now in its second year, scheduled to be held this year in Dubai from May 17 to 19 at Airport Expo East hall (www.indianpropertyshow.com). The Indian Property Show brings together builders, developers, banks and other financial institutions, real estate lawyers, even Vaastu consultants, under one roof. ‘We started the show, putting together everything for the benefit of non-resident Indians (NRIs) here,’ explained Jaiswal, while talking to City Times in an informal chat.
How did you make the switch from computers to real estate, that too, in mid-career?
I was an IT programmer in London when I read the book, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad.’ It said why should you work for money; why not have money come to you automatically without doing any work? That grabbed me. The book talked about property being one method of getting that kind of passive income. You buy a commercial property once, net a good deal, rent it out and the money comes month after month after month. And it doesn’t matter where you are. The only thing is: you have to know how to do that properly. So the book set me on property and made me take action, because I wanted more in life.
How much did you know about property when you started?
Zero. I had to learn it all by myself, through trial and error. After I read the book, I tried for one year to buy property and failed. It didn’t work. I was trying to be a bit creative, thinking how do I buy property without spending any of my money. The book said it was possible. It may have been possible in the USA, but I was trying to adapt that to the UK market. In that first year, the amount of property I tried to buy and failed was worth 8.5 million pounds. Finally, I found the right team of people, which is very important, and the right financer, right property etc. So, when the deal came through, which was about 250,000 pounds, I spent no money of my own and I walked out of the deal with a property and 25,000 pounds in my hand. The way we rented that property, it made 700 pounds a month profit. Once I did that, I did another one and another and so on. In two years, my property income had surpassed my income from the IT business, which I had in London and in India. I ventured into property in 1999. In 2003, I quit my IT business and focused full time on real estate. I designed my first Property Secrets Course, teaching people how to deal in property. We had eleven people on our first course, all of whom got fired up by what I told them. A month later, three of them bought one million pounds worth of property and within three months, all eleven had bought at least one property. After this, I realised this was what I wanted to do: help people, help them understand property and get inspired because it can get them what they want. One of the things I teach in classes is how to look at property in a different way.
How did you decide to go international, dealing in markets outside UK?
When you’re developing your portfolio, it is important to focus on one area, because the better you understand one area fully, its localities, roads, builders, developers etc, the better buying decisions you will make. But once you have done that it’s better to look at some other property markets, because what if your market crashes and all the properties crash at the same time. So, I started dealing in property markets in India, Florida in the US, and recently in Dubai. If you’re looking to be a serious investor, you have to have that balance, not only between different countries, but different facets, such as residential, commercial, retail space, warehouses, godowns etc.
How did the idea of the Indian property show come about?
My business partners were in Dubai in December 2005 and we saw the potential. We saw that the Indian NRIs here wanted to buy in India. So we thought we wouldn’t only put up an exhibition, but with my background of teaching, also teach people the right way to look at property as well. Last year we had 12,000 visitors. This year it’s going to be even bigger.
What is the rationale behind holding the Indian Property Show here, when Indians are coming here to buy property?
We found that people come here to make money, so they could go back and own their home, because at some point they have to go back. And the number of such people who want to buy property in India is huge. They are from small investors looking for a property worth Rs 4 to 5 lakhs, all the way up to Rs 2 crores. For instance, last year fifty per cent Indians who came to the show were looking for their own home. The rest were looking for investment. Last year, we had property enquiries of Rs 2167 crores, which was amazing. On the spot the business closed was about Rs120 crores. And this year we have people looking from the smallest to even the largest investments. Then we have the Indo-Arab Real Estate Conference happening on May 16, which is targeted at the FDI level, 10 million and over. With the amount of business happening between India and this part of the world, it makes an ideal platform for those who are interested in real estate at that level.
What is the purpose behind the conference?
The purpose is to help start the process of formation of partnerships between distinct groups, both in India and the UAE. Because you have companies like Emaar, ETA- Star, even Nakheel now, investing in India and some Indian builders investing in Dubai. The conference will bring together developers, builders, architects, financers from both sides. So we have two groups of people involved in each other’s business.
What is the current status of property markets in India?
India is booming in every sense of the word. But in any market, there are places that are booming more so than others, just as there are places that are going down. But on the whole, India is booming at 7 to 8 per cent of GDP growth rate, and we expect that trend to continue for next six to seven years. In 2030 India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In property, one of the basic laws is supply and demand. And the supply of land on the earth is limited. So when the supply is limited and the population is going up, what’s going to happen in the long term? Prices will go up. So we’re looking at properties as a long-term investment. And it doesn’t matter where you are. The important thing is to invest, either in your own home or investment property, because the returns are there. And especially in India where huge amount of money is coming from USA, UK and this region into the Indian market. So, it’s very unlikely you are going to see a slow down or a serious reduction in prices.
Is your Property Secrets Course universal, in the sense does it apply to properties anywhere?
Absolutely. But there are some intricacies about certain markets. For example, in India some things are very important which might not be so, say, in USA or UK. The primary concern of NRIs here is: “Is the builder actually real? Does he even exist there?” This is because there have been innumerable cases where people paid money for properties and got nothing, no land, no apartment, nothing. So, when you look at India, there’s a different kind of focus, emphasis on research, how to look at the market etc, as opposed to what you’re looking at in Florida or UK. But the fundamentals of property investment are the same all over the world. If you get it right, you make good money. If you get it wrong, you have a headache.
What is the biggest mistake you have seen property investors make?
The biggest mistake I have seen investors make is to think prices will always go up. They don’t. They go up and down and up and down. Every market stabilises, goes up and down again. That’s the law of property market. So the whole point is to be a smart investor, expecting the market will turn any moment. If you buy a property thinking the prices are going to go up, and they don’t, you’re in trouble.