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Guru Debunker – Word Plays That Make Outrageous Claims Legitimate
It is so easy to get an overdose of advertisements in the mass media delivering outrageous claims and ideas on property investments. So much so that taking a real look at all of them in 1 session can possibly give you a hangover for a couple of days. Unless you are really fresh as a fish, you will know that outrageous claims and statements are just baits to get you to attend free seminars conducted by “gurus”. You will then face the prospect of a sales pitch that takes up an hour and a half of the presumably 2 hours intensive seminar.
Although it still remain a closely guarded riddle why gurus who are apparently multi-millionaires still take the time out conducting workshops to supplement their incomes, the benefit of the doubt has to be offered as there will always be successful people wanting to give something back to the community. They are building a legacy for themselves and trying to forever be remembered like Napoleon Hill. Immortality is something that many successful individuals attempt to achieve for themselves.
Nobody is trying to scam you. Of course there are real people who are killing it with properties everywhere. And although many outrageous claims are exaggerated and grossly glorified, I would say that every claim no matter how weird and radical it may sound, workshop trainers are not lying in any way. Just that different words and phrases are subjective and take on different meanings with each individual. This is a humble attempt at debunking these sometimes crazy-looking headlines and statements (if indeed they are not the whole truth) with alternate interpretations.
“I bought my first property in a PRIME district at age 25”
Layman interpretation. The gifted guru must be super rich and successful to be able to afford a property in the epitome of a prime district. And all that at the tender age of 25. This is an angel sent from the heavens that deserves my worship. I’m going to buy a roasted pig takeaway now as offering.
Debunker. Yes a property was bought by the guru. But he did not mention that he brought in 5 partners including his parents who paid the down payment and half the monthly mortgage repayments while at it. He now still lives in public housing with his parents because a month without rental from tenants in the Orchard Road property will put him into default. What’s the point of owning luxury when you don’t live it up. Property investments are after all, a medium to financial freedom towards a more lavish lifestyle. Rather than owning the property, the guru is being owned by the property.
“I own over 100 properties all over the world valued at over $200m”
Layman interpretation. This is a master sensei of a guru at work. How does anyone amass such a portfolio without being drop-dead successful in real estate. And these properties are all over the world I might add. Only a world class investor will be able to take on the risks and challenges of such a task. His knowledge must also be second to none. If this guru stands before me, I will kneel down and kiss his toes even if he just stepped on dog poo.
Debunker. You can make the same claim by buying up 1 lot of shares for every REIT you see. You can then legitimately make the same claim on Facebook in less than a week without lying. Yes you own those properties which is true. Just that you don’t FULLY own them. How about buying up some shares of property developers on the stock market. As developers can own billions of dollars worth of properties, being a shareholder effectively makes you an owner of those properties no matter how insignificant your stake is. You can even go crazy with your buying spree by going for subprime CDOs. By the way, you do not actually fully own a property until you have fully paid off the mortgage hanging over it. But alas! Gurus will say that we are stupid to fully pay off a property.
“I collect $200,000 worth of rental income each month”
Layman interpretation. Holy bananas! With a $200,000 monthly rental income, the guru is effectively retired. I am so honoured to have the opportunity to be in the presence of such greatness. The last time I was inspired by a quote was when reading up on Martin Luther King. This is such a gentleman to come out of retirement just to share his knowledge and skills with me. It must be his life purpose to help every average man to achieve financial freedom through properties.
Debunker. The $200,000 income could be true. But he did not mention the $300,000 expenses each month that is burning a hole in his current account. Why would any property investor want to come out and conduct seminars when there is $200,000 automatically crediting into his account each month. The objective of property investment is financial freedom and independence. This is not really someone who is living the life. Maybe he is left with $1 after splitting up the cash flow with his partners. Thus, needing to generate extra income by conducting $997 workshops filled with information that can be freely obtained on the internet.
“How to own multiple private properties even when you live in public housing”
Layman interpretation. This is an idea that has given me a divine paradigm shift. It has never occurred to me that this is even possible. A guru who can make such a claim must be so clear in property policies that he knows exactly where the loopholes are. And he must be a maverick of an investor to even suggest this, let alone attempt it. Just take my money now so that I can learn about this immediately.
Debunker. Let’s start by saying that it is possible to cycle all the way up to Bangkok, but is it worthwhile. How can anyone even fall for this. The easy answer which even a teenager can give is to have the money to buy 2 private properties after a minimum occupation period. That is just one of many fully correct answers. An even better answer to that riddle is by buying overseas properties. The harder answer requires you to go through complex legal processes playing with assignment of names for ownership and borrowers like a game of musical chairs. If you are really that desperate to go through with this, you have to weigh up the pros and cons again. Anyway, new property loan curbs are slowly making dinosaurs out of such attempts to play with loopholes.
“We are developers”
Layman interpretation. All my life, I have been a small player dreaming about when I can enter the big league. I want to develop my own land and sell the properties at the type of prices that will fetch me millions per project. Now this is a guru that has done it and is going to teach me how to do it. I cannot comprehend the day when the world loses such a guru which is the pinnacle of real estate investment. This is a person who is where I want to be. I will gladly pay $497 just to hear him speak two sentences. Anyone with half a brain will be attending this breakthrough training.
Debunker. This is something that is really subjective and plays on how you define a developer. You can just be a salesperson for a company which is developing land. That is enough reason to call yourself a developer. These days, developers of land can also be partnerships of organisations which include companies with absolutely nothing to do with real estate. But just because they are part of the partnership, nobody can fault them for calling themselves developers. Anyway, you can buy a hector of land in exchange for 5 cows somewhere where the sun never shines and build a hut there. You can rightfully call yourself a developer after that.
“I live in a pent house with a great view of the Singapore Flyer”
Layman interpretation. Hoochie mama! This guru must live somewhere in Shenton Way or Marina Bay to enjoy such a view. At the very least, it has to be a penthouse in Tanjong Rhu. How else can he have such a view over an international landmark. I’m going to write a cheque for $597 right now to attend his weekend course on value investing. My only worry is that he refuses to take my money as he rather spent his precious time admiring his great view.
Debunker. You must know that there are thousands of HDB flats in Singapore that have a view of the Singapore Flyer correct? And they don’t even have to be on the top floor to have that view. Even homes in the nearby offshore Indonesian Islands have a view of the Flyer. The forth storey of a 4-storey flat can also be a penthouse.
“Own 10 properties for the price of one”
Layman interpretation. Here I am just trying to make ends meet with 1 property and this guy is telling me I can potentially multiply my rental income by 10 times? This guru must truly be the king of real estate to know how to take leverage to the maximum. Even if I have only half his intellectual capacity, I will end up with 5 properties. That’s not bad at all! Give me your bank account number and I will transfer $2,000 immediately to book my seat in your class.
Debunker. Ermmm… You can actually sell your property now and buy more than 10 properties in other countries with change to spare. You don’t need a genius investor with excessive overflowing intellectual capacity to tell you that. The only way a “guru” is referring to Singapore real estate in such a statement is when the price of that 1 property is $10m and the prices of the other 10 properties are $1m each. This is not really breakthrough revolutionary mathematics.
“I will give you a refund 10 times the price of the course if you don’t own a property within 30 days”
Layman interpretation. To have the confidence and audacity to make such a guarantee must only mean 1 thing. This guy is the real deal and the only possible outcome is what he has defined. He must have some intimately guarded secret that will work 100% or he wouldn’t have to balls to make such a claim. All I need now is his email so that I can send him my tuition fees via Paypal.
Debunker. It’s time to pinch yourself. You are never going to get that Godzilla refund. Because the moment you equip yourself with a thick skin to claim a refund, you are going to be hammered with countless reasons and examples of how you did not follow the guru’s instructions to the letter. How can you claim that the guru’s method does not work when you did not follow it. It does not matter whether you did not have the resources to apply it or whether the method does not work where you are. You did not follow it to the letter. You are not going to get that refund worth 3 months of your salary. Dream on.
“I will show you how to get 100% property financing in Singapore”
Layman interpretation. Are you serious?! Because the only thing standing between me and a posh apartment in Sentosa is financing. My god, this is my one way ticket out of the mainland and live the lifestyle of the rich and famous like those documentaries about Monaco on Discovery Channel. I can imagine waking up every morning to the smell of salt water and an ocean view with majestic dolphins caressing the gentle waves. I will SMS the guru hotline with my credit card details so that it can be charged immediately.
Debunker. Hold onto your credit card. Your mother will be able to show you how to obtain 100% financing. Just take the maximum loan you can obtain and top up the remainder by selling your flat or everything you have. Or simply borrow the rest from your uncles and aunties. That is 100% financing. The safe answer is to find investors to finance your properties. It is easy to show how to obtain 100% financing, but in reality, the methods are a little far fetched. If you see such a statement that excludes mentioning Singapore, you would be happy to know that there are 101 creative financing ways to obtain 100% financing overseas. If you have never heard of terms like “seller financing” or a “wrap-around mortgage”, your knowledge of property investing has so far been limited to a closed environment. You might want to get more exposure before venturing overseas. Putting it in another way, if you have a sugar daddy or a generous godfather buying an apartment for you, you are effectively getting 100% financing as well.
“Manager of multi-million dollar property portfolio”
Layman interpretation. Helter skelter! The only way I can build up my portfolio of property assets is to learn from those that have already achieved that. Learning the ropes from a guru who has already done that is my ticket out of my day job. I’m sure I will be able to pick up tips and tricks on the nitty gritty. Maybe the guru can even show me where I should put my money in.
Debunker. By definition, anything more than 1 can be said as “multi”. And by definition, “manager” is nothing close to being an owner or investor. And a “portfolio” can be defined as anything under the sun that is within the scope of the subject at hand. This means that even the renovation contractor for a $1.01m HDB flat can be considered as managing a multi-million dollar property portfolio. It’s all a clever play of words by marketers. You will never see gurus advertising themselves as “Sole legal owner and manager of fully paid up unencumbered properties in Singapore valued at multiple millions of dollars verified by professional valuers”.
“Back due to popular demand”
Layman interpretation. Wow! This must be a really popular training workshop that participants cannot get enough of listening to the soothing voice of the guru. So they have demanded that an extra session is conducted so that they can listen to the same thing again! My god. I should reserve my seat now before the popular course gets filled up within 1 hours of ticket sales. And I will prepare to record it so that I can listen to the training 5 times a week in my car.
Debunker. The definition of such a statement is so broad that you can almost call any event as “back due to popular demand”. In fact it is so broad that there are not enough vocabulary in the dictionary to discuss this. Even having dinner at home can be “back due to popular demand”. So I will just leave this here.
“Best selling author”
Layman interpretation. Only an established expert in the industry will be able to publish a book, let alone become a best seller! His infinite amount of intimate knowledge of the industry must be so overwhelming that publishers are lining up to publish his thoughts and theories. I long for the day where I can have dinner with such a genius thinker so that I can pick his brain on where my next investment should be. The immediate investment is to pay for his 2-day $1,497 training workshop.
Debunker. It is now the 2010s. Getting your book published is not as significant as it was decades ago. You can also easily self-publish with the technology available today. And “publish” is a very generic term. Signing up for a blog on a free blogging platform and writing 100 words on it is also considered as being published. You can also easily hire a ghostwriter for $50 to write a 10-page book for you without any of your own inputs. After which you can list your book for sale online in 10 minutes. You can then claim that you are a published author. How we define “best selling author” is also very subjective. Is it a best seller in the coffeeshop? Supermarket? An online store that only sells material from 1 author? If you are really hardcore, you can use you own money to buy up 100s of copies of your own book to become a best seller. Then request a refund for all your purchases after that. Remember to get a screenshot of the rankings before your refunds pull down your rankings.