MOVIE stars do it differently. After just 10 minutes of talking in a piano lounge in Taiwan, Jackie Chan agreed to buy an $8.8 million piece of property in Singapore.
Two days later, the cheque arrived at Mr Simon Kwan's office in International Plaza here. This was in 1996 when Chan bought The 50s entertainment complex in Tanjong Pagar.
The Hong Kong movie star had not set eyes on his buy. Not even its floor plan.
That is how he usually buys places, said Mr Kwan, who has been handling the actor's property deals here since 1994.
Jackie Chan's latest acquisition is the three-storey former Jinriksha Station at 1 Neil Road last month, for which he paid $11 million.
While he has been on the ground floor of the former depot for rickshaw pullers, he has no clue what the upper two floors look like.
Mr Kwan said Chan likes small but beautifully designed buildings because they are like 'pieces of art'.
Both the 105-year-old Jinriksha Station and the four-storey The 50s complex Chan bought are historic buildings within the Neil Road conservation area.
The movie star also owns a few condominium units in the Orchard Road area, including a three-bedroom unit in The Grangeford condo which will reap $3.4 million in a coming collective sale.
Last October, he opened a 1,500 sq ft cafe at 1 Nassim Road, called Jackie Chan's Cafe, Coffee And Tea.
Mr Kwan was once an unknown player who joined his family's small property business, Heng Fatt Properties. His fortunes changed when he was introduced to Chan at a New Year's Day party in 1994 by the movie star's manager at the now defunct Studebakers discotheque here.
Since then, he has been included on the social circuit of Hong Kong stars; doing business with the likes of Emil Chau and Andy Lau, as well as with the late Anita Mui and Teresa Teng.
The Hong Kongers have bought more than 10 properties (he says he cannot remember the exact number) from him, the biggest purchase being Chan's $11 million Jinriksha Station.
Said Mr Kwan: 'Hong Kong stars have always been interested in buying Singapore property. But they don't know much about property. So they need someone here whom they can trust to handle their businesses.'
He gets the usual 1 per cent cut from each transaction, he said. During good times, his income can hit $1 million in a month.
Not only does he choose and buy properties for the stars, but he also calls the shots on how much rent the purchased properties should fetch and whether or not renovations are required. On their part, the stars send him their cheques.
He now manages 10 properties for them.
Said Mr Kwan: 'I treat their properties as though they are my own. So I'm very careful when I make decisions for them.'
His business dealings with them have blossomed into friendship.
Twice, singer Emil Chau flew to Singapore specially to sing at The 50s pub gratis. Mr Kwan owns the pub, located within The 50s entertainment complex, and the space it occupies, which he leased from Chan.
And when Mr Kwan ran into some financial trouble in 2003, Chan waived a month's rent of $30,000 owed to him.
Said Mr Kwan: 'Before I knew them, they were my idols. Over the years, I realise that they are down-to-earth and humble people. Now, they have become my close friends.'
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