Financial Perspective - Chia-Yi Tung

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Known in Montreal as the Happiness Entrepreneur, Chia-Yi Tung is a leader in “exporting” Quebec in Asian markets. A born entrepreneur, Chia-Yi landed her first job at the age of seven in Taipei, Taiwan where after school, she stuck shoe soles to bring back some money to her grandmother. Full of energy and seemingly always cheerful, Chia-Yi Tung decided from an early age to seize the opportunities that come her way. Thus, it was thanks to a scholarship obtained while studying at the University of Taipei that she came to Montreal, as part of an exchange program with the University of Montreal.

Today she is a chartered real estate broker and owner of Orchimedia, a cross-cultural  branding firm who helps Western companies to enter the Asian market. I caught up with Chia-Yi in Montreal to discuss real-estate as a financial tool to building wealth.

1.        What is your view on financial literacy?

People have so many ideas and perspectives about money. Some people think that money is ugly and that it is only used for showing off, or for being extravagant. This could not be further from the truth. I believe that money is a TOOL! Having the ability to see money as a tool and understanding how to use this tool to get what you want is key to financial freedom. Case in point: knowing how to secure the best mortgage in real estate allows you to be able to maximize and take control of your funds when making one of the most expensive purchases in your life.

2.        Who taught you about money?

When I came to Canada from Taiwan, I had to learn about money on the go. I taught myself about money by connecting with people who knew more about this topic than me, reading everything I could about the subject and I really paid attention to what was happening around me, I was a financial information sponge.


3.        What is your proudest financial moment?

Now this is an interesting question. I would say my first experience when I bought my first property. Let me tell you, the place was a good sized 2 bedroom in downtown Montreal. It was also in a great location, had great bones BUT was not very pretty. So decided to jump in and purchase this house. I put down 5% down payment and invested $10k into renovating this place. I rolled up my sleeves and I did a lot of the work myself  but also hired a contractor for things that I was not able to do.  I was able to sell this condo after a few years for a very nice profit, and the most importantly, generating passive income without paying tax on the capital gain.  The learning here is that you can take a place that is not 100% perfect and fix it up, and sell it for a profit after doing a bit of work.

4.        What should ladies who are looking to buy a property look for in a property?

Remember the old adage, location, location, location? When it comes to real estate this is still very true – especially if this is a primary residence.  Also, we need to remember that you need to have enough income to cover all of your expenses when you move – ie: downpayment, notary (closing fees), welcome taxes (land transfer taxes), moving fees, updates to the property, etc... One thing that people need to remember is that you can indeed put 5% of the value of the house as a downpayment. If you do this, this is called a high-ratio mortgage and you will have to have mortgage insurance (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)  to cover the higher risk of the loan BUT you can keep more of your capital. 

5.        What’s next for you and your financial focus?

I am a risk taker. I know that everyone has a different capacity when it comes to risk but I believe that with high risk, comes great reward. Moving forward I will continue to take risks when it comes to real estate investing because this has been a good method for me to build financial freedom with passive income.

You can catch up with Chia-Yi on Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and Instagram.