Hosted By Tyrone Shum

Making Six Figures in a Property Developer Business

Updated 07/01/2019

Growing up in Western Sydney, Michael Lin simultaneously runs two family export businesses and being a developer in his own property projects. After learning the ropes of business in running the companies and property from his parents, Lin now balances the daily operations of two international businesses, while also developing a 6-townhouse site.

Join us in this episode of Property Investory where Lin delves into his best and worst investment moments, how his family and culture influence him in business and property, and how he started his development journey at such a young age.

"You can only learn and you can only progress if you're doing things, and you know that could be failing. "
-Michael Lin

Lin worked his way up the family business, and now independently runs two companies.

I run two vitamin brands that my family started about 16 years ago right now. And I'm also a property investor and property developer.

So the vitamin business that you've been running for the family and so forth you mentioned has been for more than a decade now. What type of I guess vitamins are we looking at in how this business work.

My father started this company you know he's in the skincare business and we're mainly export to Asia.

We deal in travel retail and you know it just kind of makes sense to connect vitamins to skincare. And I started working in my family's company. I started doing deliveries working in the warehouse and then kind of worked my way up. And now I run the business also looking after my own brand which I export to Asia as well.

Lin runs the daily operations of these vitamin businesses, but that’s not the only thing on his plate.

I run the day to day operations and also focus on the growth of the businesses so the business is my primary day to day exercise. And then we've also got our property development side of things which is really from my point of view doesn't really take up that much time in my day.

Growing up in South Western Sydney, Lin was set to go down a very different path after high school.

I was born in New Zealand and my family migrated to Australia. We grew up in southwest Sydney I guess since I was maybe six years old.

So in the suburb of Cabramatta, went to Cabramatta West Primary School and you know I went to school at Macquarie Fields high school and I didn't really go to Uni I went to a private college for graphic design didn't really flourish in that space. I didn't know what I wanted to do. Graphic Design seemed like something cool to do but there are some people in there who really love being creative. Whereas for me it was just something I did. So kind of flip-flopped all over the place. I didn't really have any purpose in my opinion. Now that I think about it and my father suggested why did you come you know work in the family business for a while and until you figure out what you want to do and I've just been here ever since.

Ultimately, Lin learned a lot from his family encouraging him to take on roles within the business of their companies.

They you know kind of locked me down by giving all these opportunities in the business you start my own brand debt because you know once your family puts in a certain amount of capital it was hard for me to get out which was a good thing that I think about in hindsight is a blessing because it meant that I couldn't find something else to flip flop to anymore. At the beginning you know I'm not I wasn't entrepreneur person just like I wasn't really into property but I've been kind of not forced but kind of been put in positions where I have had to learn how to run a business how to grow our Company in a changing market and also the same thing of property how to become a sophisticated property investor this is just a passive buy and hold moment that kind of strategy investor. So I've you know at the time it was very challenging but now I'm very grateful for those learnings because I'm able to be on the journey that I am on now because of that previous learnings.

Like most of us, Lin started out in casual jobs, before he entered the family business and started investing.

I did work in retail like travel retail luxury electronic retail so not even it was Tandi which was owned by Dick Smith. It was just a high paying job but that type of thing is like over 20 bucks you know on an on weekend raid so it's just something to do and. But my family has always run businesses so there's always been work to do but I did not intend to join the family business as just I really didn't know what I wanted to do to.

But yeah I didn't really I hadn't actually had a job when I think about it now I've never had a full-time job it's always been casual work.

Lin believes his parents influenced his decision to enter property development.

Being from an Asian background you are expected to do well academically yet you know despite the fact that my parents obviously wanted me to do academically well I didn't do very well. They were you know wanting me to do better but at the same time they look at my cousins and you know people that I know who went to uni got a corporate job they would be thinking know in our private discussions saying you know working for the man you know there's no room to move you know like this there's no freedom like you have as a business owner and you know these lessons kind of transition into property development as well.

I see property as just another business. It's not you know it's just another business that's exactly what it is. There's no difference. You still have to learn marketing you still need to know what's happening in the landscape is need Internet regulations you need to you know what the market trends are.

Who's Who are the bright people that you need to work with to deliver the product at the end of the day.

It's it's all the same just different colors.

And again, he emphasises how his culture reinforced his decision.

I would say that property is inherently part of our Chinese culture.

It's just something you do when you have a certain amount of assets or capital you would buy property you know it's a smarter way of saving money. So from that perspective, it is better than just keeping your money and other assets such as cash. I mean obviously what a lot of Asian parents actually do is force their children to buy properties at right out of university actually pay the positive half the deposit for them. And then you know forced them to save from the mortgage you know so my parents have always been interested in property but my transition into property has and it's the same. It's exactly the same pattern with business. I worked for my family. I saw things that I thought didn't really make sense and I improved their processes or their marketing or basically changed their business model which is what I did about the business and the same applied to the property where I would be expected to manage a lot of their you know their property portfolio. And you know I didn't like the way things were done or I didn't think they were the smartest and best use for those particular sites even the purchasers acquisition. Everything they just did things a particular way from because of them from a generation arm they used to a certain way of doing things and my job as it's been and you know.

As I have identified it is to take what they've built and take it to another level and that's the business that's with that property. You know that they know we had many opportunities to get into development. We owned a development site that was 13 50 square meters on the main road was built to be beautiful to develop. But at that time I didn't have the education behind me to be able to you know accomplish you know pull through a project like that. So it's always been a constant journey for me to improve on what my parents have built.

That's where I see it.

Lin started his property journey by helping his parents with their properties, before buying an investment of his own.

I've had to manage the properties I've had to help them manage their build even for you know building their home and other projects as well. So I've had some you know I've had a lot of experience in like a little bit of everything rides on for my own personal property investing journey it really started after I made a decision with my girlfriend at the time to invest in our education. You know find out what we don't know because you don't know well you don't know. And after we you know invested in a few different courses on our very first project like as an investor as a smart investor anyway from my perspective is we bought a property out in regional NSW about seven hours away from Sydney. It was pretty much the border of Queensland and it was a good buy.

It was you know we paid less than 20 thousand dollars for a house and we fixed it up and got rentals of 200 and I sold it later on to a Sydney buyer actually. So we made mistakes of course during that process but that was our first buy. After investing in education I mean we also have you know properties that we've bought just buy and hold kind of strategies. But you know they don't really count. From my point of view.

In fact, Lin believes getting himself educated was the best way to get started in property investment.

Once you start in educating yourself you know your horizon is broadened and you start realizing the things that you determine whether limits or what is possible is expanded. And you know I like bargains and this was a bargain by then. It was less than 20 thousand dollars. It just made sense to purchase it but at the same time I know I made a couple of bad purchases as well which didn't you know which lost money. But what I've noticed like since then till now every single time and in business as well. Every single time it's something I want to try because I'm persistent and I'm you know I have a strong work ethic. Overall I'm always up and I always make mistakes with each project or whatever. I mean everyone does but I don't give up after that. Overall I'm always up so if you're doing nothing waiting for the market this shelter blah blah blah that kind of stuff. It's very passive and eventually it just more likely not to do anything considering the current. You know as you're aware the current market right now its people are waiting on the side you know they're waiting to time the market see that's the thing between them this is something that I've discussed with a couple of developers.

He expands on this thinking and on the realities of property investment strategies.

The difference between a property investor even a sophisticated property investor and a developer is a property investor tries to time the market they're trying to you know that's a big concern to them because they treat each deal as if it's the only one they're ever going to do whereas a business person or a you know a developer they know that you have to make money when the market goes down and you know how to make money when it goes down sideways or upwards.

You can't just rely on buying when it's low and selling when it's high and what are they going to do between.

Because how can you really wait like 10 years or something like that for the next exactly it's too passive a strategy and these people are in the business of property you know so they know they need to be doing stuff. You can only learn and you can only progress if you're doing things, and you know that could be failing.

Even after getting himself educated on the property market and investment, Lin reveals not all investments can be predicted, with the story of his worst investment.

This is actually a bad investment, not a missed opportunity I've had too many missed opportunities so that's I think that's everyone's journey. But there's actually a bad one. We actually purchased a block of land for the same show we used to buy that under 20K property and we bought a block of land right. But what I wasn't aware of and I know I can't claim that I was aware of it and I still proceeded was there was a burnt-out house on the block of land. And because it is a burnt-out block you know there's I learnt all about asbestos so there's asbestos and then it's something called driveway's vessels which is like a the next level of Asbestos and when a house is burnt down the asbestos becomes viable so it's more powerful and or the term is but it's more powdery which is inherently why asbestos is dangerous rain people can breathe it in and everything. So we saw that this and I have photos we saw that this house was this block that had a burned-out husk of a skeleton you know like frames sitting on the block and we still proceeded to purchase it we're here you know and okay I'll share how much I paid for writing up a 10k for it. But what happened was it actually cost me I think close to twenty thousand dollars maybe more to knock it down because I was forced to. So it costs you know more than twice what I purchased that which is really very like a big lesson for me. So because I do have a tendency to you know I work hard I work fast but that also means I get distracted and I'm always chasing after things very quickly jumped right in. This was like a lesson for me like you know there's your 30 K lesson Michael. Don't get too emotional don't you know listen to your heart. What is what. She's really taken that lesson on board that where she knows she has to rein me here. She's an accountant by trade. She's very analytical. And you know now that we've exposed that weakness she knows that she has to do her due diligence and even due diligence is pretty obvious that you should buy a. It's not like I had to really discover and do a lot of digging in right in front of us. So that was my big mistake.

Now I won't forget it my never forget.

His original plan for the land didn’t come through in the end.

I had this plan to relocate a house to an existing dwelling. So at that time there was a market or there was there were what they called they were called like a house junkyard. Yeah. Or Herms you know were they actually on a lot but that market has actually changed too. There is no single dealer you know some guy have a massive lot of land and he has a whole bunch of houses sitting on it that markets change because of services like gumtree and whatnot. So you actually have to buy the house directly from people now rather than go through a middle man. So it just worked out that it cost too much for me to deliver a house to that area and the end value wasn't really worth it. So I could have gotten it through council approved easily. Problems are estimates preliminary inquiries but it just it makes it just too much to deliver a house all the way out that way.

Ultimately, Lin had to make a decision about what to do next.

We probably wouldn't have made a loss but we weren't in a position where we wanted to invest more in a regional town that had less than ten thousand people so beyond what we already invested. I mean we had the funds but we wanted to identify projects that were closer to home so we could actually learn the process.

We unsold it with it but we had to and we got out of it. You know we don't pay land tax on it anymore which is great.

He admits he learned a lot of valuable lessons from his investment journey, in one case having to deal with an uninvited tenant.

There's a human element to this strategy of buying property for a very low price which essentially meant I had to remove a squatter and it was a very difficult process to learn and I did what I had to do to I guess feel right. I I gave this person ample time and obviously you know to the last minute three months later still hadn't made any news.

I had to forcibly evicted but in that process know that means coordinating with local services such as police and lawyers and locksmiths and just it took a whole day at my time to organise all that but I also had to arrange removalists for that person's belongings. And you know that I could have just put it on the curb but you know I didn't want to do that to another person so I rented storage space like a temporary for storage you know like I can I'd hire kind of places and you know I paid for it out of my pocket and I had to pay for a moveless to move all his stuff in to that place and I paid for it. I think are people like see for months and he didn't move it at the end of the day. So it just I don't know. The a learning process like you can always try to help people but you know some people they don't want to help themselves so that's just something I had to learn because I know I have certain values that my parents have taught me and I want to do the right thing and end it out. He appreciated of course but it just you know I wish he'd collected his belongings. Well yeah, he had to move up I wish he took his belongings or because the storage service actually just threw it away.

Despite getting a good rental return, Lin decided not to hold onto this property.

"I would say that property is inherently part of our Chinese culture."
-Michael Lin

We've sold that property because we wanted the equity to help us with other projects. So moving forward we don't want to just leave our money in a regional town. I mean cash flow was fantastic obviously positive off the bat but essentially cash is king when there's an opportunity around.

So how much did you sell the property and sold it?

Six figures. It's pretty good. It’s all right.

How long did it take you?

I think a little bit over a year so not that long we don't keep it for very long. Like I said other things to do.

That's a very good return especially I mean you had quite a bit of a headache with the tenant that was all the squatter that was in there but the end result was a huge success.

You know when you assess assets there's huge learning but also what I learned was despite the fact there was a huge return way why I didn't want to do it again.

This is the amount of work I had to play and I could put the same amount of effort into a development for example and I'd make a lot more money and it wouldn't be stressful if that makes sense yeah yeah. Like sure you're putting more money down but we have money so it’s fine you know depending on your situation I guess.

Lin recalls an encounter with his family, particularly with his mum, that really cemented his path in the property.

We had a lot of you know family from overseas and you know they just wanted to invest in Australia. They were buying off the plan speculating kind of investors. I mean we’re talking about domestic people domestically and also from overseas and you know they're just buying and flipping their men ousting them myself. Okay. These people are willing to and mind you I recommended certain properties for them to buy for example. I was moving out as one property as many others want property it was a rainy day I mean was a Saturday as they were moving out and my wife went to go to the local shops and she saw a whole bunch of people from an Oriental background lining up in the middle of the in the morning So early morning on a rainy morning and she told me and I thought that's not right that's the stop in happening so I went to have a look and you know there's a whole line of them in and my I told my mom and I said probably you know some off the plan or some some opportunity right now my mother lives nearby she tells me about 30 40 minutes away. She drove got in the car my sister my dad drove came up straight away so really sometimes you know it's about the opportunity you can't drag your feet where you can't make that decision before you've even assessed the offer. So a lot of people say oh probably the best thing they could offer this is no good or building this is no good but they having found the details themselves. They haven't gone out their way. Time out of their personal lives to actually confirm these things before succumbing to those ideas in their minds. You know they actually have to go verify. That's what she did she got in the car straight away. Can I have a look for the good? I bought one for half it's got a good price and she negotiates a great price better than everyone else on the day. She actually spoke to the developer. I didn't know how she did it so my mom's very very confident. She's really been a strong figure in my life you know and she did this and then she told my auntie and aunties bought some and they want me to like you know hundreds of thousands of dollars. But what happened was after they made those first that first investment they wanted to do it again and I was advising them not to but they still wanted to proceed.

He reflects on what this situation taught him about investments.

It really showed me that emotions are very very powerful when it comes to investing despite the fact that property is one of the biggest things that we ever purchase in our lifetimes. So I kind of decided hey if I have people around me who have the funds and they're willing to listen to me too to buy and sell and whatever I should do the same thing for property development and that's sort of why we kind of got into probably because we've built that kind of trust and now you know in our circle our family circle our social circle that you know we are consistent and reliable and honest business owners and the same applies to property developers investing in us basically.

His age and influence at this time then served as his breakthrough moment on his investment journey.

Despite the fact that I was in my 20s people really want to throw their money at you and they are just looking for somewhere to park their money and they're willing to listen to someone like me who wasn't really that sophisticated a property investor yet they were willing to for hundreds of thousand dollars in deposits. Yeah me my direction and now I'll go.

Lin took his influential position very seriously and made sure he was doing right by anyone who chose to invest with him.

Personal relationships are a very very important component when they talk about property is actually about people it's about being able to leverage people and what it means for their benefit for everybody's benefit. But you just have to make sure that your values are and your intentions are actually good.

Some people I mean I held back on development for a few years because despite the fact that people are asking me to do stuff because I wasn't comfortable. I was confident that I could make the money whereas there are some people in the industry who would take money from anybody and if they lose money oh well that's your problem. We're just not willing to do that. And I think in the long term that's yeah that's the way to go.

Even if it means missing opportunities, Lin would rather feel secure in his returns to people, than risk losing other people’s money.

Even if you come out unscathed how can you walk around every day knowing that you know you're the cause. And yet at the same time, everyone's responsible for their own destiny and no one put a gun to their heads. But it's just I don't want to be part of that. There's enough of that happening and I choose not to be. So I'd only be limiting my options and opportunities that way but. I'm happy.

They're thinking ‘how did you transition from an investor, you know who had a couple of properties to a developer?’  and I said, I just decided to.

How Michael Lin Managed in Running their Company and His Property Development

Lin explains how a shift in his mindset sparked his journey in property development.

I've always had to manage the builds and, I guess the fundamentals are the same and the process is the same if you were to be a developer or if you were

An owner-occupier right. The process is the same to build a house as a developer, or to build a house to live in. It's exactly the same in terms of the mechanics but I would say that the mindset shifted when we made a conscious decision to be property developers we actually were in the process of building a granny flat. When that happened and you have a mentor who told me you know what are you doing.

I said I'm doing a granny flat and he said I thought you want to be a developer like I do but I have to finish the granny flat then I'll find a development project like at least a duplex or triplex or 4 pack or something like that. Why not start now. What do you mean I'm going to start now I have to finish this and he's at war no. You know development is just the mindset. You know you decide you're a developer and now you're a developer that's all it is.

So I thought okay I always never say no to you actually tried so I made that decision with my fiance and she was like okay let's just be property developers and we started it. It's not obvious but that conscious decision made a big shift in our trajectory as developers because we started treating our little green that builds as a development project we started implementing systems.

He expands on some of these systems that they implemented.

We started chasing up people a lot faster to just start and not just treating it like a business and these are things they are ready to business but for some reason, it didn't apply to my property business. It's a weird thing that I've noticed where you have certain inherent wisdoms and lessons that you've learned but you only apply it to the area where you had to get burnt but you don't apply it somewhere else even though it's exactly the same thing again and again and again it's perfectly applicable. So when we made that decision to be property developers and yeah our project just took off it. Mind you before that before the even with the experience before we made that decision I actually had a huge delay with my granny flat and my confidence was shot because I couldn't. I had to take my builder to fair trading which is now saying to myself God I can't build a granny flat what kind of developer am I going to be. You know but when and when I had that conversation, my mentor, it just changed things happen and it got built in three months straight away. So I thought oh that's it just made things easier. So and I've had this discussion with other people when you probably did on a community where they're thinking how did you transition from an investor, you know who had a couple of properties to a developer and I said I just decided to. And it just happened.

Lin’s first multi-dwelling development has already taught him many lessons.

We're currently involved in a six townhouse development waiting for a DA approval. I shared the view earlier that the current situation. But we were planning to proceed as planned but obviously just like any other project is going to be delayed and there has been a lot of learnings. A lot of learnings but I'm grateful for those learnings because it just means that I'm going to get a lot better.

He describes how he got involved in this deal.

It was a product of the systems that we had in place.

And when I say systems I mean data vaulting and actually keeping track of all the things are being submitted to council and also keeping an idea of what the end value sales are and making sure that you actually have a network of agents that you talk to regularly. And that's what I mean when I say systems. Now being able to build six is not the norm in that area for that size block literally right next door adjacent block they've built four.

But that was you know I don't know maybe eight years ago or something 10 years ago so it's not really applicable right now. But on the other side of my block, I'm on the other side of the road as in the other side of my block literally adjacent the other side is and is a comparably sized block obviously same frontage the same size very very similar. They just submitted a DA I think early this year for four. So they were only able to submit for based on today's LEP and DCP but what they didn't do was which is what me and my wife and I did was actually drive around the area and identify the ones that stand out which is a process that you know it's something very simple it's like the culmination of hours and hours and hours of research and work just to find this one a little tidbit but that little bit of information that little loophole that little secret changes the deal completely. Just lifts it upside down. What I've noticed is that that's how you know you can't do what everyone else is doing because everyone else can look at a block and say oh I built for that and the price and blah blah blah. This is solitude as per square meter but there's so much development happening in Sydney I questioned how many of them actually profitable if they were to be purchased today vs. the ones that were purchased a long time ago and they've been holding on the land for a long time. So you know when I'm I'm trying to compare actual you know developments that actually make money. It's pretty rare. That was purchased to develop straight away. If that makes sense like in the under six or under 10 kind of townhouse kind of space. So we're able to put six because were utilising a state planning policy that was able to allow us to do six. And this wasn't based on us talking to town planners or architects. Me and my wife I had to suggest it based on what's been around. We gave them an idea.

Lin expands on how he managed to get approval for six townhouses on a block that would normally only have four.

A lot of people think oh you know you get a town planner and they'll give you the highest and best you know they're there to enforce the rules to tell you what you can and can't do they like lawyers right, lawyers aren’t there to make money to protect you make sure it's legal blah blah blah. Some plans are just there to make sure that you follow the regulations you can actually get approval but they're not there to help you make money.

Other than that for many different types of town planners so in this process we suggested hey this was something like this has been done over here can we do the same thing on our block and you know they're like oh I guess you can that's a much better question than asking town planner what’s the band license.

Yeah, how many can you put on here and so we go?

That's the stock standard answer.

Ask them a stock standard question, you get a stock standard answer. So you need to do some work. This is what sets you apart. That's why I mean other than that what else does a developer do you know put the deals together. I mean if you're not willing to do that work then what's what are you doing. Yeah. Like what value we add to the process.

Lin discusses the submission timeline, and road bumps along the way of this process.

While we were supposed to submit this afternoon there's been a slight hiccup as I told you earlier. So maybe it’ll be tomorrow.

Things happen. You just have to go with it. You can't let these setbacks you know deter you from completing the project bond because he already is in the project but it's just persistence that's the key I'm always going to make mistakes I've accepted the fact that I'm guy is going to make mistakes like in my line my business my sister who is my partner in business because it's passed on to me and my sister. We both run the business. I encourage her to make mistakes because you can only learn from taking action and if you’re too scared to make mistakes. You just won't do anything and that's what I did. I was like a worker in my family's business hours literally just do what I was told head down it was so silly I wasted years doing that. You know just didn't make any sense. So now I am because we were always encouraged not to make mistakes but when you don't make mistakes we don't take risks. You just don't do anything.

You learn nothing happening.

And how long the process has taken so far.

It's taken three months longer than it should have because I guess I dropped the ball there where I assumed that I an architect did. You know done everything and. He's a very good architect he's had a lot of experience and he's you know he's a great architect does the job but management of an asset is important.

You have to manage your team just like you imagine assets so someone in your team could be very very good but if you don't manage it very well the results are going to be very good. So I because I thought that he knows what he's doing. I didn't touch base with him as much as I should have. And we lost several months due to my negligence. That's what it was. You know it wasn't because I wasn't working I was always I'm always working but I wasn't working in that bottlenecks where you know where we would have a where was necessary. That's it.

Well, it's really good that you share that with us because that's a great learning lesson not just only for property development but for business as well. What things do you mean by management like how can someone learn from this that they can ensure that if they're working with an architect or builder or so forth to manage it better or how do you know how to improve.

There wasn't so much fear there wasn't fear of stepping on this architect's toes because I have to work in other areas that I owe you know is the best area and everyone is chasing Aaron. He got upset at me and blah blah blah they felt whatever. It's just taking that responsibility to figure out away.

So it's really acknowledging where the bottleneck could be. Think about those kinds of things. I mean what I could have done was rather than breathed down his neck every two weeks go hey where are you up to where you're up to. I could have just done in a different way whereas I say you know how's it going. Just touching base cause I need to let my investors know, something like that. Well, he can't really blame me if I need to give an update to my investors. That's perfectly fine. I'm a worker just like him I am I'm a cog in the wheel it's not Michael who's chasing you and hassling you. It's something that I need to do for my job. So I had that available to me but I didn't do it and I don't know why but you know how I see the consequence of it. I mean it's very easy to learn lessons. I mean if you read any book you know now in business or property. There are so many lessons to learn. But you are not in the right state to learn them as you learned them but you're not actually learning them because they're not really applicable to you at that point in time. So it's like hearing a quote Oh that's a great quote I can relate to that but not really like her if you know it I mean.

Lin has his sights set on his next development opportunity, which is not always easy in this changing market.

We're looking at acquiring another site.

So while there was one I was pretty heavily invested in which was a 13 townhouse site but after further investigations not so much that the area was no good or the plant the project was not feasible to continue but it's just some financial landscape kind of seeing what everyone, if you're in development, is talking about it pre-sales pre-sales pre-sales so you've actually built something at the affordable end. They're moving things that are on the middle and higher-end they’re moving slower. So that's really interesting and I was actually targeting the affordable side of the landscape. But the issue is because it was 13 townhouses I would have required a lot more pre-sales and right now pre-sales are very hard to obtain. End product,

No problem I would sell it. No big deal. You are very confident but you need to get a bottom. Yeah and that's the learning I'm going through right now. If I didn't proceed as if I was going to and I was going to proceed with this 13 pack, I would not have realized how important pre-sales are and why I need to meet a walk to find other alternative financial solutions because it's something that in at the beginning I didn't really want to focus on but it's something that people talk about. But everyone is trying to think about increasing the yield or putting more dwellings hires better use of a site. You know the technical side of things the planning side of things the design but no one wants to actually think about themselves on the marketing side of things. The sales marketing and financing is so important.

You know and that's what understudying knows and I'm grateful for that less because I'm going through it right now. Yeah. I mean last night I literally had dinner with a broker you know because I wanted to know more. You know. Yeah that's what you have to do. You have to do.

Lin shares advice on how to get through a tough situation in property development, such as the one he was in with his initial architect.

It's all mindset. I mean you and I in our day to day you know our life we know how to call people up follow people up.

These are things that we've already skills that we're really it's like sales you know everyone's most people think they're not salespeople but by just being you while you are a salesperson you are very manipulative you manipulate your parents into feeding you to whatever or buying you toys.

We’ve learned all these skills already. There are skills that are inherent to us as people but we just try. Like I said earlier like just for some reason we isolate each skill to that particular context and apply it to the rest of the different facets of our lives.

I mean it's just I don't know it's just learned by fire.

He further explains his mindset in dealing with his projects and gives some advice to people starting out in property development.

No matter what I've done no matter how many mistakes I've made I've always been up, so now I've lost that fear. So I'm just going to go right in. I mean I'm going from a six to 13. I mean sure I didn't get the 13 but that's fine. I have no fear to do a 13 pack. It is nothing it's nothing. Even if it was more than that. What's the difference. It's the same thing. It's the same process. It's just it's fear is just a mental construct in your mind. So why am I seeing limitations on myself. That's always how I see it.

So would you suggest that someone who is starting out in property development to start small or to jump into a big development?

This is funny you know it's a really funny thing because people give different advice like advice that they give and what they actually do. Sometimes I've noticed a pattern very different. So I would advise somebody else to go for something small because if I do I really do it that's how I would advise by somebody else. But if it was me I would have said I don't know because we're all different. I don't know. I did a double standards but I just it's not because I'm super confident that I'm going to succeed it's just because I I know where I want to get to and I know you know I have to do this to get there and if I don't I'm not going to get to where I want to get to. That's all it is. So I would do it I would go for you know I mean I went from I've gone to a six-pack. People don’t start with a six-pack.

It's also just being confident in what you decide to do just you're actually doing the work behind it I mean I wouldn't do a six-pack if I didn't have the confidence behind me of actually doing the work or doing months of contacting people and talking to people and just everyone I can speak to about the topic.

Yeah. Yeah.

And people are passive then they should do something a bit more passive.

Next, Lin discusses programs and mentors that helped him in his journey of investment and property development.

I joined a program.

I'm not a member because I didn't really like it so much going a bad mouth them but I didn't really enjoy that property program and then that's not going to stop us if there wasn't such a great experience. We joined another program from I love real estate which is hosted by Dymphna  Bohol. She has a very established property educator in Australia and really that program. They have different tiers of course but that program really opened my eyes as to what's possible. So you know that 20,000 dollars regional deal I didn't even know you could do this. You know I hadn’t even heard of this strategy before. So when I heard that you know when she first spoke about it you know I had to find out how to do it. So that's what I did and I spent a couple of months on that and that's how I got that deal. And then as part of her affiliates, I guess one of her ex-students Jason Byron and Amy Tang they have their own development program because I've met Jason at a business event in a different kind of context. I really like the way he present himself and things are really genuine and he is genuine. Now, I think I can safely say we're friends where he is. He's you know laidback and very relatable kind of person and actually you know we related based on our background for working for our fathers in our father's business sense. You know the trial and fire that's involved in that kind of scenario.

And when I read into his background and development and you know when he had a program I jumped at the opportunity and you know he's the mentor that's really been helping me to transition from a property investor to a developer. It's like he's giving me specific information but he just having that mentor behind you who actually wants you to succeed. That really makes a big difference. You know it's not pep talk because I'm always motivated never had a problem of that but more so someone who can steer you in the right direction.


Lin emphasises the value of having a mentor.

They're exposed to so many other people who've done what you wanted to do. They've done what you want to do but also they're just exposed to a lot of people like yourself who are at the same level as the same stage or stage in your journey so. They’re a fountain of wisdom and knowledge and it's not about them telling you what to do. Because if you're looking for someone to tell you what to do a mentor is not the right person for you. You know you're going to be disappointed and then you're just going to have you know I don't know I have negative feelings about the whole process and that's not what I.

I mean I can't do it for you. I mean that’s not a mentor, that's a mother yeah. I mean did you know people complain if they're not getting results. Did you do the work? I mean they've taught you their secret their IP what how they did it but you're not taking action. Can you really call them responsible?

They just know it doesn't make any sense.

It's just like you know people always looking for one thing for like another get rich quick or success strategy you know and there are lots of them and they all work and they all work but that doesn't mean they all work for everybody because not everyone does the work that's all it is. And people always looking for a magic bullet and it just it's something that we all know in you know other facets of our lives anyway. But for some reason when it comes to wealth creation we somehow expect magical to appear like a lottery ticket.

In terms of other resources, Lin draws on a live event he attended, which helped shape his mindset.

I'm a big fan of Tony Robbins.

His his live events are not not the one that's for motivation but the one it's about designing your life because you know my family's always about business and entrepreneurship and everything. It's just our DNA but you know with my wife that's not necessarily I guess part of her DNA. And you know she wants to enjoy ivory. I like to enjoy myself too but we're very concerned.

We don't dance whereas know in her background you know her family dances at Christmas and I used to get anxiety every single year leading up to Christmas because I didn't have that dad you know just it's just that completely different...

So you know when I went to Tony’s event and it was just you know you really sit down actually question the things that you've accepted or just things that you take for granted and then really kind of reassess your life. The program's all about designing your life Shantaram. I was having a discussion last night was to a broker yeah he's going to go to the next event and it's I'm very very excited for him it's one of the best things I've ever done. On a personal level because life isn't just about making money I mean I like making money but not because I like money because I actually don't spend money. I just like making it causes it. What are you going to do? You know it's just a form of achievement. So you know I'm able to I guess peel that back a little bit you know. Money is important and success and achievement but you know there has to be a reason beyond just a scorecard. You know and that's where we're trying to enrich our lives by helping others and helping the family. And it just I did it. Life is better. You know you actually take time actually to think about what you're doing rather than just doing it mindlessly and not actually consuming why you're doing the things that you're doing. So I on a personal level I highly recommend that.

He also shares some book recommendations.

Books that I just read are sapiens which is a very popular book for over a long time now. Yes. There are points where make you a little bit depressed. So if that's the concern don't read it but it's a very very informative read but a book that I really really enjoy currently is Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. I think it's from the eighteen hundreds or something but it has of nineteen hundred. In the early nineties Nineties nineteen hundreds. So I don't know what year it’s from.

I really like but it's fantastic is very easy to read the book and it is it's chock full of so many golden nuggets and I even though it's so short. Every chapter is maybe like five or six pages or even two or three.

I have to reread it several times because it's just condensed gold, not just for business and also for the property but just I don't know. I am I'm liking a lot. It's a very short book but I haven't finished reading it. That's because I keep rereading the same chapter again and again and again just yeah they're universal I think.

Lin exposes him “why” - essentially why he does what he does, and how he prioritises his life.

My, why is family very family conscious. We're very collective. Everything we do is together and. But after reassessing in my life and everything. It's not about abandoning family or abandoning friends but just realising that you have to prioritize things in our life. So my priority now is to just three things rather than before is just everything all these different things are important but if I had to pick and I did take it was my wife my family and business because business is integral to my family. So that was it. Everything else is just you know just not that they are not important but just having that clear distinction again mindset. It just made things easier. And you're not going through the same pain I mean you can't always be hanging out with your mates you know you wish you could. But making that decision. I didn't have the pain of not hanging with my mates because I wasn't hanging out with them as much as I was anyway. So why do the exact same thing but also have the pain as well. So after making that decision it just kind of changed things and just you know reassess our values. And yeah so that's my. Family. And yeah and providing you know because I'm a provider that's how I think of myself.

Next, he shares the best advice he believes he’s ever received.

The best advice is I I don't know where I got this from but I guess actually taking the time to know what's what you want in life. I mean that's one of the hardest things. No one knows what they actually want.

People just do things they’re set on the course. You know they go to uni and become an accountant in or whatever it is and then they're unhappy at all or whatever it is and you know at any stage I could have just stopped.

And it's hard mentally it's hard to go against the grain but you know you'll be happier for it. And why are we on this planet if we're not here to be happy. Are we here to suffer. It just doesn't make any sense. So perhaps it's time to take the time to actually think about what makes you happy. Why why do you want the things that you want. And do you actually want them or is it because someone else programmed to you you know not because they had any malice but just. Is it actually what you want is it because it's what someone else wants for you you know what kind of thing because I mean I did badly in you know academically and that was part of my story when I was younger but you know I'm happier now because actually not because I'm more successful just because I know what I want and I have clarity and I have direction and that just makes things easier. Whether I was doing development or graphic design does it really matter whatever you do as long as you're happy then you're the richest person in the world anyway. Make your case.

Lin shares a daily personal habit he believes contributes to his success.

Work hard work. I'm always thinking about work. That's a problem they have. I can't switch off. So I, I actually have to do personal things in know normal hours and then I'll actually stay up late and actually do the work. Like I don't know it's fun for me because that's what it is that's a habit I have. I've inception myself I was a lazy kid before but it's not because I was lazy because I was doing things I didn't enjoy whereas now I am following things I actually am passionate about. It just changes things. That saying work does not work if you enjoy it it's true it is true. I work seven days a week. I am unhappy I don't need work like this is work-life balance you know it's not that hard.

Do what you enjoy so.

If Lin met himself 10 years ago, he’d have this to say.

I have many things to say. It's not all good. I think one of them would be the stress because 10 years ago yes I would have been 21, I going through a stressful period in my life because I was I wasn't sure what I wanted and I didn't really particularly like working in the family business so you know I would have told myself look, everything is going to work itself out. You know don't worry about it too much and just enjoy it because at that time I was actually not I wasn't enjoying myself but I also wasn't doing what I was supposed to do. If that makes sense I sort of like in limbo. And when you have when you're in limbo or when you have no car you have no direction. It's what they call it purgatory. It's just it's not hell that's it's not exactly pleasant either. So yeah I would have told myself to just you know just enjoy yourself you know what will happen is supposed to happen and everything will work itself out.

Yeah. And that's the great thing to be able to see now. Well, it's all in hindsight.

It's all it's all internal it's all internal. I mean yeah like I could have been happy and still be in the same position but why did I have to be unhappy while doing nothing. So that's yeah it's all internal.

In the next 5 years, he is looking forward to more development and growing this side of his business exponentially.

Oh I'm pretty sure that we’re going to do a lot more development like we're at that stage where we're going to scale. We're so very excited and I'm excited about. I have a couple of opportunities in different fields related to property but I just like property for the actual development. I want to build stuff. That's that's why really like I like building things and people not everyone else is building. I don't know. I'd just like to build a that's what's exciting to me. The idea of what I'm going to build in the next five years.

That's pretty cool.

Finally, as a child to a family business, Lin believes both luck and skill are involved in his success.

Being a child or a business and you know this is a common theme or common thing is a common theme with children or business owners where a lot of people think you're lucky you're eating inheriting a business they do not understand that it is harder being you know picking up the slack from your father. It's really really hard. It's one of the hardest things I had to go through in my life.

I think I lost all my hair at 21 because of that reason I think I started as a month working for the family how stressful it was.

No seriously it just started falling out you know I was 21 years old like everyone and everything is a thick head of hair.

So it's not. But people always want to see the results and I don't want to see the work that you put behind it no one knows what it was that I said no one knows that I stay up at two o'clock in the morning like I would say three-four nights a week doing work because I enjoy it but still I do the work.

So I would say luck. Luck is important but you make your own luck because I did the work I'm in a position where I have greater luck you can increase your luck by putting yourself in a position to take advantage of these things.

There's no point, for example, finding a winning lottery ticket on the ground but you don't know what it is you never heard of a lottery ticket. I don't know it's a bad example but you know what mean. If you didn't even know what it was if you didn't do the work so there's no point having luck if you didn't also do the work to maybe have that opportunity actually is a valuable time. Yeah yeah, that's good. That is air and intelligence are a job. I don't consider myself very intelligent.

I didn't do very well at school are not particularly articulate. I know it's just. It's not I don't know it's not my skill. I never work to co-operate. I've never had a proper job I guess but I think that EQ is really important just that persistence and I don't know just having those values instilled in me from a young age really helped me and from my parent's destructive point a massive failure.

But really you know like they're always comparing me to look at your girls she's got a degree look at every level of what everyone thought of that this is it's just that you know expectation and I was the black sheep who did badly at school I mean yeah that Asian kid it didn't do well at maths. Well you know that doesn't make any sense. It's just that kind of me the stereotype is real in certain cases. So yeah I just yeah I. I think intelligence is overrated. It's. Yeah. Any anyone can do anything. We're in a world of abundance right now.

Yes yes. Wow. Oh yeah. Everyone defines success differently and at the end the day you define success for yourself not defined by your parents. And we all know that now.

Definitely definitely. But you know what's interesting is that they would probably you know not to my face but say oh you don't write themselves now you know I think they're more happy that I found my way around what I just said.

If you want to find out more about his projects or contact Lin, here’s how:

Go to my Web site at and they can just leave a message or send a message from our development website.

And you most likely will get it.

This episode was produced by Alex Cooper with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

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