My journey in the real estate industry
Updated: Jun 6
How did I start?
It all started with my husband’s army buddy who dropped in to our house for kopi every now and then. He was with Century21 then, and had wanted to start a team to do corporate leasing and project way back in 2004!
No need to pay, I will teach you how to do it. You are still able to do what you are doing in the meantime!
I was running my own small design firm then, chasing deadlines after deadlines was becoming a chore! And I was draining out working out creative ideas with my team presenting new ideas every time for the same client.
It would also take away a lot of time from me to spend quality family time if I took more projects to feed the monsters.
At the same time, I wanted to branch into something more corporate and learn something new. The best part is I didn’t have to give up what I was doing, while learning the trade, so I took a baby step into the real estate industry.
Corporate leasing didn’t come through in the end!
I knocked a few walls here and there while doing corporate leasing. It was quite discouraging then.
There was no one to provide proper training, the know-hows. How many leaders are able to share as much as Navis leaders? Yay!
But I still had to find my path and did a couple of new launch projects. It was a very different ball game back then!
What was hyping? It was totally unheard of. You just had to be at the show flat, and the new launch buyers will stream in themselves. It was a lot easier to swing buyers to other project sites as well.
High Commission was almost unheard of. Some leaders didn't even encourage their agents to focus in doing projects marketing sales.
I remembered one project, Kovan Melody, i did very clearly.
The crowd was so amazing during the launch that people queue to enter the showflat. (No covid, no social distancing, lol). People who cannot afford came along too because Kovan Melody was one of the first few projects that MRT was at its doorstep.
Can you imagine the launch price was $500psf and that was the highest in that area then?
Congratulations to those buyers who managed to buy a unit and make profits!
I guessed I really started to my journey was a catch up with an old client, Mr Tio, from my old trade, advertising.
Mr Tio owned a furniture showroom in Scotts Tower. We did a catch-up with a ex-colleague at his showroom. He told me to give him some time as he was busy setting up his showroom. He was looking to do some real estate investments and that led me to the journey in real estate.
We went around shopping shortly after that.
We explored condo in the east, and preferably something with en-bloc potential, explored Neptune Court, Laguna Park, Mandarin Gardens, Bayshore Park etc. He eventually bought a unit in Bayshore Park for $470k, I managed to lease it for him and had a tenant who leased it to prostitutes and was alerted by MCST. Interesting, right?
I had the opportunity to listen to the talk when Bayshore Park launched the en-bloc exercise. It was during this time, you saw the ‘ugly’ side of residents who said ‘yes’ and and the other party who said ‘no’.
Well, we eventually sold it for $1.05M. We didn’t sell at the highest price because he said we have to leave room for the next investor to make money.
We moved on to buy a few other units. And one day, he said he wanted to buy HDB commercial shop houses and I had to admit to him I had no knowledge. he said
No problem, we both learn together
How many clients could actually offer you the opportunity to learn and make that commission at the same time?
I got to learn how to buy, sell and rent a HDB commercial shophouse with him.
A couple of years later, he started to talk about retirement and wanted to sell his company’s industrial unit. He had bought 3 units of terrace industrial unit in Pan Malayan Warehouse years back, and had hacked some walls to link the 3 units. Again, he gave me a tour of the unit and taught me how to sell this unit.
My challenge!? Sell either 2 units side by side, (so he could keep one unit) or sell all 3! Thank God, 2 buyers came, 1 bought 2 units and 1 bought 1 unit. I cleared the inventory.
I always laughed when I picked up the option money (down payment) cheque from his office, because it is either his wife would say, ‘you still want to buy?’ or Mr Tio would say ‘Let me see which piggy bank I can break’!
Our working relationship was so close then that I could only to plan my JB trips when he was out of town!
And my trips to his office was easily 3 hours, followed by casual chit chatting, after settling all the serious works.
We made money together, he reap profits in real estate investments, and me, in commission.
I am still close to him after all these years, and have also visited his Leisure Farm unit in Malaysia.
Am looking forward for the next catch up with him, hopefully soon.
Of course, I do also have cases that are not so rosy and it didn’t have a happy ending
I was referred to an Indian family whose father had gone missing for more than 7 years, his 70-year old wife had diabetes and both children were not earning much. They had missed so many housing installments that they were told by HDB to sell the house. HDB would allocated a 2-bedroom unit in Fernvale area but it would only be ready 2 years later!
The mother managed to get the papers to sell the flat as her husband had been missing for more than 7 years. I did financial calculation for them and thank goodness, they still has quite a good sum of sales proceeds.
It was a second floor unit in woodlands near to Admiralty MRT, very nice layout, so it didn’t take me too long to sell. All good till on the day of completion, elder sister told me she still had not paid the outstanding town council bill about $700 (they really had serious financial difficulties).
What would you do if you were in my position? At that moment, on the top of my mind was how to help them to complete the transaction.
I had to help them to pay the bill so the completion could go through, (by the way, they moved to the interim room rental provided by the government while waiting for their flat to be ready).
Ok, they were steady, they paid my commission after the sales proceed cheque was cleared.
Knowing they are quite unlikely to keep the money for the new house. I reminded them many many times (from the beginning when I did financial calculations with them, to viewing, to completion) that they are not to touch the sales proceeds money, keep the money in fixed deposit so that they will be able to pay for their new 2-rm flat when it is ready.
I even tried to ask HDB to use the sales proceed to pay for the 2-rm flat directly but HDB do not have such scheme.
And sadly to say, a few years later, the elder sister called and asked me if there is a way for her to buy a flat! She had apparently spent all the money.
Every woman’s struggle
I came into the industry when my monsters were 3 and 6 years old then! A working mum with 2 young boys aren’t easy.
I was glad I was almost always around when they were back from school, could help out in their school work every now and then, and was able fetch them back after their CCA / remedial classes. (Parents who put their kids on school bus will understand me, we have to pay extra for the bus operator to bring them home after these activities!)
I didn’t have to take a 6 months leave when the monsters had their PSLE, I was there to give support to them while I was still working (In fact, I hit my record sales when Sean had his PSLE!).
But I had to schedule my open house after I dropped them at tuition centre for 3 hours, and had to rush back to pick them la. But cannot complain when I could still work and be with the monsters most of the times.
I have 2 fantastic kids who did well is their studies, was and still very proud that Sean walked up the stage to collect his top in class award for his ‘O’ levels and Jonathen collected his top in class in Primary 5! (Giving myself a pat on my shoulders and well done, Kids!)
My gain in real estate journey
I have forged many good clients relationship over the years, like Mr Tio, is one of them who had literally helped me in this journey. From residential, to commercial and then to industrial. Learning so much knowledge along the way!
And John, who gave me so much trust despite the fact that Bangkok market is so new and foreign to me, but he also walked this journey with me! (You can read up my real estate journey with him here)
And of course, nurturing my two monsters!
It was very rewarding to hear Sean telling his friends that my mom is my friend!
I have to continue learning. Not enough, despite being in the trade for 16 years. I have to 活到老，学到老 (One is never too old to learn)
HDB is always changing its rules for the better, I have to check again and again to make sure I do not (cannot afford) make a mistake.
Through the years, I equipped myself with Property Wealth Planning knowledge so I can advise my clients accordingly and so that they can make an informed decision.
Prospecting is a whole different ball game now. I have to sell “My Branding” more which I am still taking baby steps into the world of social media marketing.
I am also learning how to do my website and have to understand that website is not the only thing, I have to learn about SEO, etc. Coming from a zero knowledge background, this is really a huge challenge which I must overcome.
Mummies who are reading this, take your step out to join us, we can all do it.
The journey is not as hard as you think. Best part of all, you still have quality time for your kids and family.
Having been in the industry for 16 years, I have helped many clients to rent, buy or sell their properties, be it residential, commercial or industrial.
I take each and every case seriously and this has earned referrals clients to me. Many clients are my friends now, my expat tenants jio me for coffee when they are in town. I want to be your third pair of eyes to point out blind spots which may cost you money to rectify or worse, hard to sell because of that obstacle.
I take pride in what I do, which involve constantly reading up and updating myself with latest news and regulation changes, so to give my clients advice they deserve.
Being a mother of 2 monsters (yes, they are monsters), has taught me to be patient and take every tasks/problems/issues as a challenge!