Ever wondered what it is like to be a property agent?
In this new series entitled Agent Success Stories, we sit down with agency leaders to find out their side of the story. From their humble beginnings to the challenges they have faced on the road to success, we learn that a career in the real estate industry is one filled with boundless opportunities – if you know where to look.
At first glance, it may be easy to dismiss Grace Cheong, Regine Yow and Ana Ng as just another pretty face. However, with awards like Super Platinum and Multiple Platinum Achiever (Grace), #1 Project Sales Transaction and Titanium Achiever (Regine) and Top Landed Property Transactor and Super Platinum Achiever (Ana) under their belts, these ladies have shown that they are not to be trifled with in the real estate space.
Their journey into Real Estate
While they all had differing motivations for joining the real estate space, what struck us most was their tenacity as they faced the differing challenges at the start of their career; and how they chose to continue doing right by their clients – even at the cost of their paycheck or convenience.
Grace’s journey began with her father. Coming from a background in Design and Fashion, the Real Estate industry was clearly out of her comfort zone. As a businessman, her father knew what it would take for someone to excel in a non-traditional career, and saw potential from the beginning. With his encouragement, she decided to venture onto this path and has not looked back since.
Regine witnessed how her parents cashed out from their HDB to enter the private property space, and was curious about what else the Real Estate space had to offer. Coming from an audit background, she had little control over her working hours. It was tiring, and she could not spend time with her family, despite staying in the same space.
With encouragement from her father, Regine decided to take her license despite having others around her discouraging her from doing so. Till today, her father has been an invaluable “partner” in her Real Estate journey, and they often have “work” conversations stemming from his innate interest in Real Estate.
Ana is the only one out of three who was steadfast in her decision to enter the real estate industry.
Coming from a humble background, Ana saw how an average family like herself knew so little or thought so little about the most significant financial purchase of their lives. Gaining from her own asset progression and investing experience, she decided there was so much she could do to help others in the same shoes.
After having co-founded a startup, and having had experience being a small business owner before, Ana decided to switch to Real Estate.
Stumbling into the high-net-worth space
While high-net-worth clients are often coveted, Grace, Regine and Ana did not begin their careers striving to serve them.
Instead, all three admitted that they somehow stumbled into the space while staying true to serving their leading group of clients well.
Grace spent most of her 13 years of Real Estate career serving the average Singaporeans. While she had the opportunity to serve the Luxury Market five years ago in PropNex, she felt her heart was not there as it did not give her the satisfaction she wanted, despite the bigger payout that came with it.
Instead, she focused on serving clients within the private condo sector. Through her experience, she was referred to a few high-net-worth clients to assist in their property journey. Having already established her reputation as someone who focused on delivering quality service, and who strove to constantly do right by the client, there was a lesser need for her to “prove herself” to the new clients she acquired via word-of-mouth, which has been the most consistent flow of leads for her.
As someone younger, Regine’s friends are mostly not at the age of buying property. That was why she had to step out of her comfort zone to connect with an older set of audience with higher purchasing power for property.
She started in the mass market HDB space and still serves mostly HDBs and private clients. Her first high-net-worth client was an online lead whom she served well. Ater that, the lead recommended Regine to another high-net-worth client. This word-of-mouth recommendation was what kickstarted her journey into this space.
For Ana, reconnecting with her network was one of the prospecting methods she went with, as she entered the industry wanting to deliver value and make a difference to the people around her. She considers herself fortunate to have maintained her relationships with clients from a previous workplace by going above and beyond in helping them even after she left. She believes this was what left a great impression and helped build the trust when her first high-net-worth client wanted to make a property move.
Navigating the nuances of serving high-net-worth clients
Having specialised in the mass market space, all three ladies spoke frankly of their challenges in serving high-net-worth clients. Regine aptly states, “These clients are vastly different from your everyday homebuyer. They have a mind of their own and know exactly what they want.”
The language was one of the biggest barriers for Grace when dealing with her mainland clients. Despite growing up with a bilingual education, Grace struggled to get her terminology right. She was forced to be quick on her feet and turned to language apps extensively to ensure information was not lost in translation.
Additionally, the pressure of being on standby for these clients was immense. Grace shared, “There is no such thing as a break until your client has called for one. You have to be on standby as when these clients want to buy a property, they want to buy it now.”
Regine, similarly, struggled with the terminology for specific property terms. She also pointed out the different property information her mainland clients would require her to have, like the size of a property in square meters, despite Singapore’s usual practice of using square feet as a measurement tool. Some of the questions she received also caught her off guard, like what the lift brand in the development was.
In cases like that, Regine notes the importance of having a solid network of other agents supporting you. Thankfully, she had a tagger she could work with that was equally fast and could give her the answers she needed to serve her clients promptly.
To Regine, keeping her clients waiting was a huge no, as “These are not ordinary people. They got to where they are because they are of a much higher calibre than us, so the speed and intensity they think about things are higher.” Therefore, even when she needed to chase her taggers for answers relentlessly, she would.
Regine goes on to share about how there was a client who once chased her for a last-minute appointment at a project site. As she was serving another client, she could only return his call at 9.00pm and had to rush down to do an onsite presentation for him at 9.30pm. For a last-minute presentation like this, Regine had to cram everything she knew about the project in the 30-minute drive down to the location. She immediately called her tagger and got the tagger to feed her all the main pointers, and practice her presentation with her in her car ride till she reached her destination.
The presentation eventually ended at 12 am, and it was still a memorable experience for Regine, who had never done an onsite presentation such late at night. Thankfully, that resulted in a closure, and she credits it to having a good tagger who was available and could keep up with her energy.
Ana’s experience serving high-net-worth clients stemmed from her landed transactions, which often saw local buyers due to government regulations. Her challenge was understanding where to draw a line in pushing ahead with the sale purchase she thought would be best for her client without coming across as too pushy, as that would be a big turn-off for high-net-worth clients.
She also notes the importance of showing earnestness in serving your clients, not viewing them as a commission slip. Whether for high net-worth clients or your everyday buyers, doing so will go a long way in building trust and carving longevity in their client relationships.
Carving their own version of success in the Real Estate space
To most agents, success is seen by the dollar value in commission you collect at the end of the day. When posed the question on success, Grace, Regine and Ana pointed out how success was not about the money you bring in but how true they remained to themselves and their clients in the face of high commissions and other monetary benefits.
For them, it is integrity that matters more. They likened integrity to a piece of precious glass you hold and protect. If you compromise, it will be hard to return to its original form. This is why they pride themselves in making the right and hard decisions, even when easier routes are available.
For example, in one of the property listings Grace was marketing, she had pre-agreed with the seller on a specific price. However, from the time of agreement to listing, she saw how the market started heating up, and prices were inching upwards.
In cases like that, most agents would brush it off, thinking it would be in their favour as the more robust demand, coupled with the competitive pricing, would give them more offers and allow them to close the deal faster.
However, this did not sit right with Grace, who felt that if she were sincere in getting the highest offer, she would speak with the client about a price adjustment. She eventually did so, which led to a slowdown in received offers, although she still is confident in closing the deal at the stated price.
Taking the initial route is money I could have made with a shorter timeframe, but it is not the right thing to do if I’m serious about having my client’s interest at heart. Having the integrity to make these tough but right choices, and having clients trust me in these choices, are what I consider as success in this space.
As Ana concludes, “How trustful a person you are determines everything. In the people business, wanting to be a better person is a must-have trait to excel in this space continuously.”
The importance of a good mentor
Another common thread that ties the three ladies together is the sharing of a mentor, Aaron Wan from the Aaron Wan Division.
Aaron regularly pops up in our conversations, and it’s clear his impact on these realtors’ lives.
To Grace, Aaron was the first leader who saw something in her and took the time to invest in her growth. Unlike her previous mentors, Aaron never once viewed her as “someone he could milk for sales”. She remembers how, years ago, despite putting in all the hard work, she still could not get the level of success she strove for in this space.
Things took a turn when Aaron took her under his wing and inspired her with new knowledge to serve her clients better. For Grace, having a mentor like Aaron, who came from a similar background and grew his wealth from nothing, allowed her to resonate more with his teachings and advice. Being his second recruit, she has witnessed how he handled his successes and disappointments and continuously broke boundaries to take him to where he is today.
For Regine, joining Aaron as a fresh RES agent and the teammates she met in AWD, was what kept her going in her journey. Despite being new, Regine is grateful to Aaron for his 1-on-1 sessions and being readily available – down to curating replies to her clients. He is a hands-on leader in touch with the market – a huge difference in learning the ropes of the trade.
Similar to Regine, Ana too notes how significant a role Aaron has played in her career. She shared that despite thousands of agents under him, he still took time to mentor her and ensured she was on track to achieve her goals as a realtor.
Real Estate space is not for the faint-hearted
After speaking with Grace, Regine and Ana, it was clear that it would be hard for anyone to excel in this journey without tenacity. I asked them what advice they would give to potential agents thinking of entering the space, and they had to say this.
Grace: This industry is not a bed of roses. A lot of times, you only see the highlights on social media, which is the tip of the iceberg. There is a much bigger piece underwater, which is often the big, scary part of the business that newbies often overlook. If you are here just to reap the benefits without putting in the hard work, it will be hard to last in this industry.
Regine: Success requires you to not wait for opportunities to land on your lap. You have to look for it actively. Once you get it, you will get your chance to work from there.
Ana: Despite being in the entrepreneur space, I would say nothing can prepare you for a career in Real Estate. But if you think you want to do this, really understand your why. After which, you should set your non-negotiable goal and work with a trusted mentor to develop a plan for it.
If you’re looking for an agent that has a proven track record of putting their clients first, you can reach out to Grace, Regine and Ana here:
Grace Cheong: 9769 2662
Regine Yow: 9645 3210
Ana Ng: 9833 8566