How realtors dealt with the new realities of the real estate market 

An expert from Savills said the market is becoming increasingly international.

Aside from client demands, real estate agents in Singapore have also had to contend with changes in the real estate industry, including the market being more driven by global challenges such as inflation, rising interest rates and the pandemic.

In order to keep up with the new realities, Jazreel Lim, Area Manager of ERA Realty, said she needed to change the way she thinks and how she approaches her clients.

Lim said she became “a new agent” again and was working to further expand her sphere of influence when she struggled to sell in the first quarter of the year due to an unprecedented low inventory.

“In any market, referrals are usually the best source of leads… Put simply, if the fish aren’t biting, I have to go where they are,” she told Singapore Business Review.

According to Lim, she was only able to transact at least four houses in Q121, but she had zero in Q222. During the same period, only 1,825 new private homes were sold in Singapore, down 47.8% from the same period last year.

“I panicked when I saw such a stark difference, but I think as real estate agents we always have to keep our cool. We have to understand that we can’t change the market, so we can change the way we think and how we approach our clients,” said Lim, the youngest among SBR’s Notable Real Estate Agents Under 40 for 2022.

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When approaching clients, Lim says, it’s important that real estate agents educate their buyers about the market and its terms.

“As long as we’re able to educate shoppers and help them make their decisions, it will help build their confidence.” [into buying properties]’ Lim said.

Lim said she educates her buyers by giving them a “right picture” of the market, presenting them with charts and numbers, and even helping them plan properly.

In addition to educating buyers, Lim says it’s also important to understand their needs.

Savill’s Senior Director, Investment Sales & Capital Markets, Yap Hui Yee, echoed this sentiment, adding that the secret to success in the real estate industry is understanding what clients really want and offering bespoke services tailored to their needs needs are matched.

“There is no easy sale in the real estate market. The key to a successful sale is a combination of preparation, planning and understanding the market and your client’s needs and wish list,” said Yap, who was named one of Singapore Business Review’s most notable real estate agents under 40 for 2022, advised.

“Provide dedicated service with a good old-fashioned personal touch,” she added.

Lim advised buyers to “buy based on budget and needs” rather than timing the market.

“Inflation, high mortgage rates and record house prices are hurting housing affordability… Waiting and waiting may not be a viable option as there are unlikely to be any significant improvements in prices or interest rates. I think trying to predict what might happen next year isn’t the best home buying strategy,” Lim added.

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Embrace globally

Another reality Yap said real estate agents had to face was that the market was becoming increasingly international in its prospects – whether that be marketing to foreign buyers or acting on behalf of offshore clients.

“Real estate has historically been viewed as a local phenomenon… but with the influx of international capital, it’s almost impossible for real estate agents to live in a vacuum and protect themselves from global influences,” Yap told Singapore Business Review.

Because of this, she said, it’s important for real estate agents to “now look beyond the local and embrace this new global reality to surf the waves.”

“That’s not to say locality isn’t important – it is and always will be – but factors such as a solid international reputation and political stability have made Singapore a safe haven for wealthy international investors to navigate turbulent seas ‘ Yap added.

Admittedly, she said it was challenging embracing this new reality and strategizing how to expand her reach globally — but luckily, she had colleagues from different regions who helped her have a broader global client base.

“There’s a saying that while what you know is important, who you know can be more relevant,” she said.

“I have worked closely with Savills partner offices and colleagues to expand my regional network. Across the different regional offices, we work hand-in-hand to ensure we have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of capital flows,” she added.

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Yap said her extensive global reach, coupled with an “out of the box thinking,” led her to successfully sell Tan Yeok Nee’s national monument home within three months.

“By thinking outside the box, we began to envision the space and explore other potential uses, such as: B. a coffee shop, a private clubhouse or an art gallery. The buyers appreciated the research and breadth of knowledge that was part of our service and ultimately they were enthusiastic about our proposal,” she said.

“When I got the exclusive appointment, I knew I would leave no stone unturned. I tapped into every possible network to expand my buyer base and issued press releases to the Chinese and Hong Kong media in addition to our Singapore media,” she added.

Yap sold the national moment to an Indonesian family in March 2022 for about $85 million.

Yap hoped Singapore would fully reopen borders and other markets like China and Hong Kong would follow suit so she could meet clients residing in those areas in person.

“In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, it can be a particularly difficult landscape to traverse as global customers are almost always mobile customers. The best way for real estate agents to do this is to meet the needs of international investors by approaching everything with creativity and special care to their needs,” she said.

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