x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A property's worth is all in the facts

Money & Me: A former pro golfer who is now in property investment shares his passion for real estate and his strategy for saving and spending.

Paul Preston, the Middle East director of IP Global, says investing in property can be sound if you make the right moves. Antonie Robertson / The National
Paul Preston, the Middle East director of IP Global, says investing in property can be sound if you make the right moves. Antonie Robertson / The National

Paul Preston is the Middle East director of IP Global, a property investment company based in Dubai. The former professional golfer, who is originally from the United Kingdom and has lived in the UAE for six years, says he bought his first investment property at the age of 17 and has been passionate about real estate ever since


How would you describe your financial journey so far?

As a golf professional, I was lucky enough to start earning good money at an early age, which gave me the liquidity to start investing. I purchased my first home at the age of 17, which was a five-bedroom villa in Florida right next to Disney World. I built my investment view on how much property I could get for my money and overlooked the oversupply issues in that particular area, making the asset turn into a family residence, rather than an investment property. I learnt a lot from my first property acquisition and from then on, I made my investment decisions non-emotional and based on strong historic data. This is very much in line with the IP Global business model.

Are you a spender or a saver?

All investors, I feel, are spenders. The difference is that we always want a return on the money we spend. I personally like the finer things in life and so does my wife, which makes my spending habits greater than what they generally should be.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

I generally always get what I set my heart on; this is my philosophy in life, not just when it comes to money. My life as a married man is more conservative than it was when I was single [because] with marriage comes responsibility. I would say I am very conservative with my investments and very elaborate with my lifestyle. [But] if you can't afford it, don't buy it - it's quite simple.

Is property a sound investment for the average expat investor?

Property can be a sound investment if you make an educated decision when investing. Investing in a property because it has a nice view is not an investment-driven reason to buy. Investors need to look into the macro's of the market they are investing into, the price they are paying and also the pool of tenants in that particular location.

Where would you recommend expats buy property?

Ultimately, this depends on the origin and location of the individual. IP Global builds property portfolio's for our clients and with any property investment, there can be locally based charges and tax implications that could effectively make a strong asset look very ordinary. Our key three markets are London, New York and Kuala Lumpur. Within the GCC, there is a huge appetite for London investment due to the historical track record London has. My advice is for all expats and nationals to receive professional advice before investing.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

Of course. But in life, making one mistake is acceptable and making that same mistake again isn't. I'm happy I have not made the same mistake twice.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Yes, I am very big on planning for the future and I feel that we all should be. Life planning is essential and, again, good advice is key.

Is money important to you?

Money is important but the way you manage your money is more important. I get as much satisfaction from making my clients money as I do when I make money myself.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

Financial freedom is when you have enough money and enough performing assets allowing you the opportunity not to work anymore. A time when you have enough liquidity to give your family the best opportunities in life. I enjoy my down time with the family and playing golf but always look forward to getting back in the office bright and early on Sunday morning to start another week. I manage property portfolios for five billionaire clients of mine, all of whom work seven days per week, 14 hours a day. Therefore the term 'financial freedom' has very different meanings for many people.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

To me, there is no better reward than making someone else happy, especially your loved ones. I like surprising people with gifts. I also enjoy nice holidays and relaxing. I am a very keen sports fan and love taking clients to major sports events and investing into great memories - after all, great memories are priceless.