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A Sabahan Tale: Journey to Success

Published on 29 June 2018|
2 min read

This is the story of a young man’s journey to becoming a successful property investor.

By Louise M., Carrybeans

Moving from one rented house to another, it never crossed his mind to invest or buy his own until a lawyer friend suggested it. Now the 33-year-old Director and co-owner of The Crown Borneo Hotel, Peter Fred Rumawas, owns real estate properties both in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, including several plantation lands around Sabah.

Our first meetup felt surprisingly comfortable due to his warm and friendly nature. Looking hip in jeans and a brightly-coloured checked shirt, you might find it hard to believe that this young man has already achieved so much at his age. That makes his story even more inspiring.  

A humble beginning

Peter Fred was born in Kota Kinabalu (KK) but moved to Labuan, an island just south of Sabah’s capital, where he spent most of his adolescence. After completing his high school education, he moved back to the city. The younger of two boys, he decided to work while studying so he would not be a financial burden to his parents.

For his first job, he was an office boy cum legal clerk at a law firm, delivering documents to banks and the firm’s clients. Peter became the family’s sole breadwinner, taking care of his ageing parents while earning a basic salary much lower than the present minimum wage. Saving was difficult and they were living from hand to mouth.

Life was hard back then, but his struggles were what gave Peter his fighting spirit. His plan to complete his higher education did not materialise, so he focused on building a career instead.

Peter Fred with his special gift: a trusted companion that took him places

Finding a mentor

Eventually, Peter found a better opportunity with another firm located at Damai Point. It was there that he met Clive Jublee, his boss and one of the lawyers of Ting & Jublee. Clive must have seen something in Peter: his true potential. At the time, Peter was renting a place in Sepanggar. One fine day, his boss asked him a question that seemed both funny and alien. “Instead of renting, why don’t you buy?”

And that was the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Clive became Peter’s mentor, teaching him the baby steps of property investment. It was he who got the ball rolling for him, finding out if there were any units available for purchase. With a side income of at least RM400 servicing legal notices and documents, Peter was earning roughly RM1,200 a month. At a very young age of 19, Peter Fred bought his first ever property: a RM50,000, 3-bedroom, 650-square-foot Seri Maju Apartment in Sepanggar.

First property at Seri Maju Apartment, Sepanggar

Clive Jublee is now one of the most influential people in his life, teaching Peter about life, family, planning, and investment. It’s crucial, Peter feels, to surround yourself with people who are far ahead of you on their life journey, because they keep encouraging you. That’s where iron sharpens iron.

Albert Einstein once said that when you stop learning, you start dying. Though he couldn’t pursue his education, through Clive’s mentoring, Peter proved that learning isn’t confined to the classroom. Even if it’s simple kopitiam talk with someone more experienced, the knowledge is there. You just have to be willing to learn.

Not losing his drive to succeed

After he left the law office, it was a very lonely ride. Peter explored being his own boss and dabbled in business, but found that it did not meet his expectations. He regularly questioned himself and went through self-doubt, wondering if he should give up on his chosen path. This was the lowest point of his life.

But he realised that life goes on. He was not a failure, but could learn to do better; he believed he was meant for greatness. It was those struggles that matured him along the way. Peter believes that self-drive is very important.

Becoming a hotelier

Peter got into the hotel industry through his then-girlfriend, Justina. Coming from Kuala Lumpur, her family’s side business was a hotel in the city centre. The General Manager was retiring and they wanted someone in the family to manage it. The couple, already engaged, decided to help out and Peter became the owner’s representative.

After some time, Justina missed KK, and so they moved back. Luckily for him, the previous owner of The Crown Borneo Hotel was looking for a hotel manager. Peter got the job and was with the hotel for two years when the owner decided to sell. By now experienced with hotel operations, Peter made a leap of faith and offered to buy The Crown Borneo Hotel himself. He found a partner with a similar vision for hospitality in KK, who understood that Sabah is a tourism hotspot. Finally, Peter became co-owner of the hotel in his early thirties.

It all started with Justina. They have now been married for 5 years and are wonderfully blessed with a daughter and a son.

Success versus happiness

Peter has a 20/80  principle. 20% of the time is actually spent on doing the things you like and enjoy the most which bring in the 80% of your success. He believes that how you spend your free time will determine your success.

His love for Vespa scooters has taken him on many road trips and he usually looks out for properties on the ride. He drives within the 20% of his time and eventually managed to make his hobby into something that brings him a return of investment. He considers it a refreshing journey as it has also given him many opportunities to network and make friends.

Buying properties and the property investment cycle

What are you investing for? Is it for your own stay or to rent out? Is it for short-term or long-term? These are some questions he keeps in mind. Although the location is important, Peter doesn’t believe that property is all about location. The track record of the developer must also be considered because if they have recorded delayed projects, then the property might not be a good choice of investment. 

According to Peter, property investment is a cycle. Prices rise and fall. There are highs and lows, and the returns are not guaranteed. When the prices are falling, you may feel like you’ve made the wrong investment. But property always appreciates in the long term. Eventually, what is down will go back up. If you do your due diligence and make calculated risks, you can sleep well and trust your decisions.

Peter Fred has got it all together

He perseveres to make the most of what life has to offer. Extremely self-motivated, Peter inspires by being true to himself.  He’s a living testament that success is not a complicated, impossible thing. Confident, grounded, open-minded, and strong in faith, I see him becoming an inspiration to others.

To end this article, I leave you with some words of wisdom from the man himself.

Some of Peter Fred’s best pieces of advice

Do not underestimate the importance of small beginnings

Go with what you can afford. You need to know your budget.

Do your research

You need to have enough knowledge to make the right decisions.

Calculate your risks

In every investment, there’s an element of risk. If you don’t take risks, you don’t gain.

Be creative

If you don’t have the money for the down-payment, you can be creative in finding the funds needed.

Save and invest

Have the discipline to save. Invest as early as possible.

Work hard and work smart  

The more time and effort you put into something, the more likely it will happen. Also look for smarter ways to work.

Be willing to learn

Be open to acquiring knowledge and improving yourself.

How you spend your free time determines your success

Make sure your free time is being used in activities that will benefit you in the long term.

How far you go depends on the people you’re meeting today

Networking is important. Knowing the right people can take you a long way.

Honour God

Because when we honour God, everything just falls into place.  

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