Interview by Tyrone Shum from Property Investory

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

"I realise that generating wealth passively has actually opened up my constraints around time, energy and money, that I can choose to pursue my own passions."

Listen to the Spotify podcasts here and here.

It is a great pleasure to be interviewed by Tyrone Shum from Property Investory.

I shared with him how I built from scratch a $5 million-plus property portfolio whilst managing funds in tune of $2 billion working in the Investment Management industry.

And now I have chosen to pursue my passion of helping others to make your hard-earned money work harder for you.

I have discussed my journey into property investment where I shared the best and worst moments of my investment career.

Podcast Transcript

Having achieved his own financial freedom, Rastogi now directs his energy into developing strategies to help others achieve theirs.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

I am a property strategist and a buyer's agent from Get RARE Properties. I help people achieve financial freedom by getting them into the right property for the right reasons. I'm a big fan of getting the right strategy, and it comes from my own financial background. I have been a fund manager of funds of $2 billion, and the key thing there was to get the right strategy. So, once we have the right strategy, then we can go for the right location and then the right property. And then, of course, if you can get it for the right price, that's a bonus.

So, I have used that strategy to build my own portfolio of $5 million-plus, which is a positively geared portfolio built up from scratch. I'm very proud of that. And I am now helping others to achieve something similar much better, much quicker and with much more ease.

Some people have the perception that a person who's achieved financial freedom can be found relaxing at the beach all day. But Rastogi shares with us the details on how he fills his day with intentional productivity.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

I'm actually huge on data, and I tend to capture a lot of data points through different sources, and I try to manipulate them, or rather contaminate them. And so, that's a desk job. But as you know, property is all about the people and the sentiment. So, I'm actually more on the road but not as much as I would like to be in these COVID confinements! It's all about zoom, phone and emails with my deep network of real estate agents, trying to understand and going through lots of media, lots of reports out there on the council; trying to go to the source of information, as in like, lots of statistical sites and economic forecast sites.

And coming from a research background, that's actually ingrained in my mindset that we have to do a lot of research. So, that's what I'm doing all the time, and then another part of it is understanding the client's stories. There's always a story behind the prospects of the clients. So, we're trying to get into it, understand what their 'why's' are—like, what are they trying to achieve?—and then how I can actually potentially help, by providing them with the kind of property portfolio which can lead them to the life that they really desire.

Like all of us, Rastogi has been affected by the pandemic, and he warns of the changing market, which could have a negative effect on those who are financially distressed.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

It's kind of an unprecedented event... that everything has been shut down. And there's a lot of worry. As we know, people are getting a bit worried about their jobs. The forecasts are not so… so positive as of now. So, to me, going to the ground, understanding what the local demographic is doing, seeing it firsthand with my own eyes is one part. But then there's a lot that you can actually leverage off other people. To me, it's not just a one-man show. It's just more about the team that you have on the ground. So the local real estate agents are the team that I actually rely on. They are the best people to know what's really going on in the local market.

But in terms of the market, I think it's a very, very special kind of... for the lack of a better word, environment—whereby the cash that buyers are actually taking has a lot of benefits in this time. Cash, which buyers are taking advantage of, from the people who are distressed about their jobs and who are looking for the deep bargains. Of course, they're not really available everywhere. We have to really go deep and dive into the transactions to find those deals.

But despite some vendors needing to sell at an undesirable price, it's not all bad.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

I work on the win-win situation, like I'm not really forcing anyone to sell a property at a much lower level of desired amount. I mean, they're not forced into it. It's just, we are giving an option. So, we, in a way, are actually helping them to get out of the deal or out of the property. We are actually helping them to move on with their lives, with or without their own property. So, it's not really a transaction with a gun to the head. They have all the choices.

To me, it's a lesson to my own clients and the community that actually talk about that. We have to be risk-aware all the time. We have to have the buffers… today we are enjoying the benefit of purchasing the distressed properties. But also, it gives us a very important lesson: that we don't find ourselves on the other side of the transaction when we are distressed, and we have to sell out of our transactions at an undesirable pricing. So, having that kind of buffer all the time, having that kind of a risk buffer is a key thing.

A Journey From India to Singapore to Australia

Growing up in India and being the only son, Rastogi had a lot of pressure on his shoulders to look after and provide for his mother—and from a young age, he has challenged himself to do just that.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

I grew up in a small town, near Delhi. It's a city named Meerut. I had been born and brought up over there and did my schooling. And it's a small town. But it's still not so small, because it was in proximity to the metro there. That actually gave me a lot of vision to aspire to have a bigger home over there. I've been brought up in a very humble, very God-fearing family. So, I have always learned to do the right thing.

Rastogi made it through school and moved into higher education.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

So, I did all my high schooling in Meerut and then moved to Lucknow to do architecture engineering for five years. And, at the age of 23, I moved to Singapore. So I was there in Singapore for about six years before I moved down to Australia in search of a much better lifestyle.

He made the most of his time in Singapore before considering the move to Australia.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

It was more of an opportunity there. Like, while I was doing architecture engineering, I had to change my gears, and I had to move to an IT career. That was the kind of the flavour, like everyone was jumping onto the bandwagon of IT with the interest of making bigger money. I jumped the bandwagon myself!

I'm a self-learned programmer. I learned programming and I had a job offer in IT before I actually finished my architecture degree. And from there, there was no turning back. I was working for a U.S.-based company in Delhi. And then, I got an offer to come to Singapore. So, that was the job which actually got me there, and I fell in love with the country.

But before Singapore, there was a life in India, and Rastogi had a lot of great influences to push him along on his journey.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

I'm actually born and brought up in a city near Delhi. So, it's not really a big metro like Delhi. Yeah, but I have always been exposed to cities like Delhi. So, the rest of my childhood... like we, we were a small family. I've got two siblings—two older sisters. But we were very close-knit with my older cousins. We spent all summer vacations together in different cities, following each other around. And it was great fun to be together. There was never a pressure of doing something in life; it was a very magical happy kind of thing. You're just enjoying the time together. So, it was the love.

And I guess, there were the inspirations as well, like, my uncles had been very well off, like engineers, doctors, defence personnel. And that actually helped me to think that if we do the right thing, then we can actually aspire to lead a good life later on. Compared to my father who actually just enjoyed life throughout and who gave me a good lesson that it's all about enjoying as well, not really stressing too much and living in the moment.

Rastogi's parents were the first motivators in his life for different reasons.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

My father was not really very educated, so he was chasing jobs here and there until he finally found something in which he worked for long hours, different shifts. And I think that took a toll on his health. He expired...he passed away a long time back. And that actually gave me a lot of, I guess, motivation to think about the family. Because back in India, being the only son, I had a huge responsibility on my shoulders to be able to deliver for my mother, especially.

So, my mother, on the other hand, is a very hardworking lady. She is the inspiration for my hard work, behaviour, and the culture that I have cultivated, because I've seen her working really hard. So, the background is that she started a boutique shop in her household itself. And that actually took a lot. Many hours of her time. Even her parenting. So, it was my elder sister who actually took care of me as a baby. I have a huge respect for my mother and my sister for that reason, and that actually has imbibed me with that kind of culture where I need to be hardworking enough to give back to other people or the community later on.

The events in Rastogi's life led him to where he is now. But it was something specific that really pushed him to move forward.

Vaibhav "Rasti" Rastogi:

Back home in India, when you're coming from a lower-middle-class family, it's the education that is key, which I realised early on. I was a very average, mediocre student until maybe Year 10. Until my uncle actually enquired about what's really going on in my life—what do I really want to be? And I'm really, really, really grateful for that. Maybe he doesn't remember that anymore. But actually, that made a great impression.

My one particular uncle had a lot of confidence in my ability. Because, you know, when you're the youngest in the family, you don't really care too much. You just play around. I was kind of a guy who was always playing cricket or flying kites in my childhood. Then all of a sudden, that was a moment that I was shaken up like, 'Okay, what do you mean by life, like, I'm enjoying it…' And then I realised that it&#