In this 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 face 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.
The second time’s the charm
When Mark entered the real estate industry in 2003 as a fresh graduate, he wasn’t thinking about it as a long-term career. He saw real estate as the most cost-efficient way to begin a business, and to quickly earn money to finance a small personal debt. After one and a half years and working hard closing deals in mainly Housing & Development Board (HDB) properties, he found himself debt-free. “I decided then to shift my real estate work into a part-time hustle, to seek out other professional opportunities in the corporate sector.”
It would be 12 years, in 2017, before Mark would find himself thinking about returning to the real estate industry. By the time he returned, he found that the industry had changed, becoming more dynamic and competitive. Not to be discouraged by the changes, he enrolled himself in training courses, supported by his SkillsFuture Credits, and learned the necessary skills, knowledge, and certifications that could put him in the best position to re-enter the industry. After a period of upskilling, he eventually joined the Aaron Wan division in PropNex in 2019.
Building himself from the ground up
One of the biggest hurdles that Mark had to overcome upon his return was to adopt a growth mindset towards building his second career from the ground up. This was not easy for someone who was already in his forties, and who came from a corporate setting. Nevertheless, he knew that such humility could help him in the longer term. “I told myself that within 12 months I wanted to at least double my corporate annual income and eventually build and lead a team. With that goal in mind, I knew that it was crucial that I learnt the ropes of being a good agent, and really understood what happened on the ground. Such real-world experience would help me become an effective leader who could also walk the talk.”
He promised his family that if he could not meet his own objectives within the year that he would leave the industry. Such accountability motivated Mark to work the ground, pursuing leads through door-to-door visits, giving out flyers, and telemarketing, pushing through long days and difficult clients.
With his hands-on attitude and gumption, he reaped success, reaching his goals a year later. Even during 2020, when Singapore entered the Circuit Breaker and social restrictions were in place, Mark was able to continue closing deals.
That same year, he won the Gold and Super Gold Awards, and was ranked 7th in the Aaron Wan division.
This was all achieved within his first year. “I think I can be a good mentor for people who are ready to switch careers into real estate, and make a decent income,” he says. His success bears this out.
Celebrating the smallest of wins
Mark believes that it is important to treat every downline with respect and see them as a partner. When he brings a new team member onboard, he tries to understand their personal goals, values, and personality. With this, he tailors his mentorship accordingly, allowing them to scale new professional heights. He also believes in providing his team members with crucial skills such as making a good first impression on clients and engaging them in an approachable way. This immediately improves the team’s ability to find, manage and close deals effectively.
Such small, early wins help spur them on to more success and eventually helps build a cohesive team that can achieve greater things together. Mark also encourages an open, nurturing environment where the team can ask for assistance or advice whenever they need to. “Right now, I’m looking for agents who are in the early stages of their career in the industry. The age doesn’t matter—I can provide mentorship to someone who is a fresh graduate, or someone who is currently undergoing a mid-career switch”.
Mark believes that his success also speaks for itself and attracts agents to join his team. He also pushes his team to high professional standards, ensuring that they are able to manage their time well, perform under pressure, and think on their feet in unexpected situations. He believes that such good mental habits are transferable outside of a professional setting into other aspects of life. “Such soft skills separate the good agent from the extraordinary one”.
He also encourages his team to build relationships between fellow agents, as that can help with generating leads through the agent’s professional networks and clientele. Mark adopts a win-win attitude towards both clients and fellow agents, ensuring mutually beneficial outcomes for everyone.
Balancing personal and team performance
Mark has come a long way since his early days closing HDB transactions. These days, his clientele comprises a wide range of properties, from commercial to residential properties, both public and private properties. In all his transactions, he believes in the importance of understanding the client’s reasons for purchasing or selling their properties, their timeline, as well as their financial situation, to provide the most relevant advice and property listing.
For instance, Mark has helped a client leverage on a property that was not to her personal living preferences into a one that could provide a healthy return when leased out on the rental market. This could only have been possible with maintaining a good relationship with the client and accurately assessing her needs and preferences to provide the best solutions.
Advice for the younger agent
When asked about what advice he has for younger agents, he says that they should understand the value of being patient. “It’s important to see yourself as a businessman running a business, so be persistent and understand that having a long runway is important to achieving the success you’re looking for.”
With proper guidance and a clear vision as to one’s professional goals, Mark believes that younger agents can be coached to identify valuable opportunities, expand their professional networks, thrive in unexpected situations, and comfortably adapt to the ever changing real estate industry.
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