You have been active in the real estate industry in Singapore since 2001, tell us about your background and what led you to choose this industry?
I was born into a humble family and had my first experience with real estate when my mum decided to go for a real estate course. I was eight years old and had to tag along as she couldn’t afford day-care.
I realised that I have a knack to connect and understand people (through my interaction with parents of the kids I tutor. I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I was grateful to have met my metaphysics master, Master Pang, whom steered me into my current path.
He gave me a piece of important advice regarding my career pathway and that I’m suited to be in real estate. Then at 16, I decided to pursue a career in real estate. I studied Building & Real Estate Management and self-funded my school fees by giving private tuitions to neighbourhood kids. Before graduation, I started out as a part-time telemarketer in a property firm making S$400 per month and did it for two months.
However, it was too slow a way to make big bucks so I started to make my own district-specific flyers. I collected listings and courageously met clients who were thrice my age and made my first deal right after.
At 21, I was awarded the “Top Rookie” of the year by the Institute of Estate Agent and had my first interview with Straits Times, calling me “Miss Can” and “Millionaire below 25” by Cleo magazine.
With the current pandemic predicted to hit travelling for the coming 12 months, is the current growth in Singapore’s real estate prices sustainable?
The growth trend being witnessed now will continue, albeit at a more gradual pace. The capital preservation throughout the pandemic has driven many investors to divert their focus on real estate properties.
There is a growing trend of high net worth expats who are looking towards Singapore as their nesting ground for both their family and investments amidst the global situation. The buoyant transactions making news in these recent months also created a spillover effect for the local buyers. With rising income snagging a slice of the pie of smaller luxury units and also with the travel restrictions, a lot of investors diverted their funds into the local scene.
Namely the mid to premium sector, transactions coupled with attractive deals from the developer, spurred the demands and hence led to property prices on the rise.
For Rental: Also on a growth trend. Having to work from home, more are parting higher percentage of their income to upgrade into bigger homes with a better view. Improved take-up rates compared to pre-covid times boosted to buyers’ confidence to invest in the property market.
A World-class Education: Our proven track record has not dampen the influx of kids of this specific category to head towards Singapore as the country is deemed as the right decision to get a good education in a safe environment.
Adding on to the expat segment, there is a growing trend of ex-expat, who are starting their own business in Singapore, allowing them to still hire senior management roles to be stationed in Singapore.
One specific point to note is that with increased construction (manpower shortage) and material (shipping) costs, the cost of owning and renting will most certainly increase.
Given that Singapore makes a sound destination and the current pandemic not easing anytime soon, both from an investment and personal perspective, the real estate market is only set to grow.
You are bullish on the Central Business District and the 9-, 10-, 11- districts, why is that?
It is with the circles that I rub shoulders with, these people are not just my customers but friends as well. And they prefer living in town which includes Districts 1 and 4.
I own properties in District 9 and would advise my customers as if I am giving advice to myself, and I do know what works.
Apart from that, the invigorating and ever-changing property landscape in these districts struck most interest in me. From bare lands, enbloc development, selling air spaces from the old development to the new, had always been a good challenge. I pride upon myself that when I serve my customers, it is not merely a business transaction, it’s housing clients not only in their dream house but the history that comes with it.
The decision I aid them in making goes beyond the signing of the contract; it is a lifelong promise that will ring true, at least 20 years down the road.
What has changed in the last past years in the way people buy properties in Singapore?
The buyers today are definitely more tech savvy, thus
Changing up the entire buying process while the standard du jour is the physical viewing of the property itself. Technology has provided the platform to allow virtual tours and walkthroughs prior to actually conducting the actual viewing itself. But there are instances where the transaction are done solely based on these virtual tours (where the buyers are overseas or during the lockdown back in April May 2020).Allowing customers to be more ‘informed’ than ever before with the availability of that much information online, customers are definitely more informed then ever. And these data ranges from official stats to third party verbatim.
So while buyers and sellers are more ‘informed’ about the property they are looking at, it is not necessarily the right information they should be looking at.
Information may be seeded, gazetted stats may be caused by a sudden policy change that has since been corrected. More importantly, information that is only available to individuals that are actually living in that environment, will never be made known publicly.
Thus it is my responsibility to provide the buyers and sellers all the tools needed to not just make an informed decision, but a well-informed one.
Is Sentosa’s premium real estate market benefitting from the current pandemic?
Pre-pandemic, Sentosa has been perceived as a playground for the nouveau riche; the demand had been exceptionally strong this year. It is evident with the number of transactions, 103 deals done till August 2021, up by 84 per cent from the whole of last year.
Buyers appreciate what Sentosa truly represents, a lifestyle away from the bustling city-state of Singapore, while still under the safe-haven umbrella of the Singapore brand.
And this has translated to a jump in the rental market too, with well-heeled expat choosing to fork out a substantial sum to ensure that their families are, and will always be in an environment that is safe, and comfortable.
What is the Singapore government doing right which some other countries seem not to do as well?
The protocols put in place by the Singapore government means that every buyer and seller do not have to worry about all the possible pitfalls of shady deals.
From the strict control on the quality of the salesperson (we are expected to not just pass a very strict examination, with regular refresher courses to ensure we are kept up to date) to the various checks we are to conduct on both buyers and sellers prior to allowing the transaction to go through. Nothing is left to chance for any form of speculation or illegal activities like money laundering to take place.
While some of our neighbouring countries present many seemingly great opportunities to own private properties (for rental income), the lack of transparency in governance, short tenure and social security would also mean that their investment could be wiped out overnight as projects can halt due to many unforeseeable circumstances.
Given that Singapore is land scarce, property investment in Singapore is only bound to appreciate, and not flatline.
Your views on the growth of Vietnam’s real estate market — which city offers the most attractive returns?
Sky pool at D1MENSION, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
I have since shifted my focus back to Singapore since 2017 (thus I would not be the most appropriate person to speak on this subject.) However with more than half of the 83 million population are under 25, this developing country has great upside.
The population is not only getting more educated, it is getting more affluent as well. Their appetite on housing is definitely on the rise. Predominantly in Ho Chi Minh, like Shanghai, they cater housings not only to the locals but had also been attracting more foreign investors. This pushed property yield up to 6-8 per cent.
In Hanoi, which is similar to Beijing, the market there is for conservative investors whose utmost concerns are capital appreciation in the long term.
You have studied Chinese Metaphysics and their impact on mental health, work and investment. Tell us more there?
Chinese Metaphysics, in its most simplest term, seeks out the understanding of “Nature vs Nurture”.
When a person is born, this person is pegged to an identity, which is tagged to the date and time of birth. This identity follows the Earth’s rotation and thus providing us with a set of perimeters that governs who we are, our personality, our traits and what would become of us due to what nature has given us.
This will lead to windows of opportunities or pitfalls, that have already been charted, again, tagged to everyone at birth.
Keeping in mind the Earth rotates and the energy that it generates gives us the strength and weakness we each possess.
This is where Nurture comes into play. With the study of Metaphysics, we would be able to identify the windows of opportunities (and the pitfalls) thus allowing us to not only do better in life, but also better the people around us.
There are so many instances where business owners going into ventures with individuals whose charts are not aligned, only to see the venture fail for no apparent business reasons. Only to find out that if they had taken that opportunity to nurture the relationship, it would have worked.
Chinese Metaphysics is not a study of mythology; it is a study of what was bestowed upon us, at birth and how, through self-realisation and self-actualisation, we are able to nurture what was to come, create harmony and thus foster growing wealth and health.
Should every business man consult and astrologer before making important decisions ?
Practising this astrological concept for almost two decades, I strongly encourage every person to have a basic understanding of Chinese Metaphysics to allow them better control of their lives. When there is a major decision in the pipeline, to seek consultation so that they do not make snap decisions should emotions or designated obstacles get in the way.
Which is the reason why I have been actively conducting private consultation and classes on the side, hoping to help those who wish to attain this understanding of why things are as such, what are to come and how to optimise each situation.
Who are the property buyers, investors and business people asking for your pieces of advice and a clearer understanding of their astrological map?
I will not be able to give specific names due to confidentiality, but I am able to tell you that my clientele list include:
A CEO of an international middle eastern airlineMultiple-listed companies CEOs and business owners from industries such as: medical services, law practices, F&B and entertainment fieldMany local celebrities turn business owners, running educational hubs and cafesProperty developers in Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
What would be the key training elements you would provide a young person wanting to join the real estate industry?
I would advise them to work with the 3 Hs: Head, Hand and Heart.
Head — Train and fill your mind with all the information and technicalities of the business and equipped yourself with latest trends. Sharpen your proficiency and competitive edge.Hand — Give quality services with our own pair of warm hands. Step out of our comfort zone to offer services beyond the norm and your client’s expectations.Heart — Combine with the knowledge of Chinese metaphysics, derive wisdom, build compassion and empthay should any challenges arise along the way, put ourself last and others first.
When you are on the right path from the get-go, everything else will fall into place.
If you were to name one person who has influenced you greatly in your life and career, who would that be?
There are two significant influences in my trajectory.
My mom, who has opened my eyes that we can find a way out from many impossibilities.
I still recalled the time that I was edged out due to my tender age when I first started as a salesperson. The seller gave the exclusive sale to another realtor and brushed me off then. I saw the couple again after that, called my mum, telling her how shy I was to see them again, she pushed me to reconnect with them. And with that move, I completed a sale that become one of the most memorable to me. It happened in 2001 and the transaction amounted to S$110,000 and that was a big deal for a girl below 20 years old.
Her quiet perseverance taught me to live my life with an honest heart, to be fearless and always be kind to others, regardless of what was done.
My Chinese metaphysics Master, Master Pang, has guided me since I was eight to how I am today. Be it my real estate career or my foray into Chinese metaphysics and various charity drives I had done since 2012, he contributed greatly in my life.
becoming who I am today, be it my real estate, Chinese metaphysics career, my charity drives since 2012, he contributed greatly to my life.
Trivia: When I first met Master Pang, I told him I wanted to be a fashion designer. He flatly told me NO, you will do well in real estate. From then on, the rest is history.
For more real estate reads, click here.