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.
Inspiring by example as the industry’s only female leader
Since we last interviewed her four years ago, Mary Tan has continued to blaze the trail and inspire other agents with her successes. As head of MTD Group (Make The Difference), she has over 1,400 agents under her leadership. She is also Executive Group District Director with Huttons Asia Pte. Ltd. Despite such impressive achievements accumulated over her 20 years of industry experience, Mary is ultimately driven by a deep desire to serve her clients and to help them find their forever home.
Mary’s journey to success is one of hard work, grit, and perseverance. After working a few years as an insurance agent, she decided to take the plunge and start over in the real estate industry. Naturally, she found herself facing a steep learning curve. “Any new agent would need to have some basic skills: where to start, how to negotiate, and who to seek advice from,” she shares. Fortunately, she had a mentor who she could shadow to pick these skills up. Together with him, she would hone her skills during the day, building up her knowledge of the resale sector, and in the night, she would distribute mailers together with him. During this time, she noticed that people were beginning to use their property purchases as a form of investment. She then decided to take advantage of this opportunity to expand her expertise to include all residential properties across all sectors.
With determination, she began seeing the results of her hard work, winning multiple groundbreaking awards from 2008 to 2016. While she had to take a step away from the day-to-day work to tend to personal family matters, she decided to make a full comeback in the industry in 2019. Undeterred by the naturally fast-changing and dynamic nature of the real estate industry, she decided to hit the ground running again to refresh her skills. Being a natural go-getter, she saw it as an opportunity to learn, and become a shining role model for the importance of life-long learning. “I also wanted to show the younger agents that if I can do it, they can do it too.” It is no wonder that even after a brief hiatus, Mary quickly clinched 7 Platinum Achievers awards—an impressive feat!
Leading from the heart, and valuing people as people
But even as we were interviewing Mary and feeling inspired by all that she has achieved, we still found her to be a very approachable and warm person. In our conversation with her, she shares that she finds it important to always value people as people, and to have her agents feel comfortable enough to look for her for guidance, or even comfort for personal matters.
Mary’s distinct leadership style is not the only thing that sets MTD apart from the rest. “We are very diversified. We not only focus on new launches, but private condominiums, HDB flats, commercial and industrial properties, enbloc sales, rentals, landed and international properties. ” she says. Such broad expertise allows them to make in-roads into specific sectors. For instance, MTD partnered with the en-bloc department to synergise their areas of work and to learn more about the en-bloc business, tapping into new growth areas. MTD Group also recruited key specialists into their division: Willi Ching (Head of Huttons Landed Division) and Tony Teo (Head of Huttons International), as well as the youngest Executive Group District Director, Rex Tan (Head of RTD and deputy of Huttons AEC). Seeing how they’ve left a groundbreaking impact within the property industry, Mary takes great pride in nurturing them and watching them excel in their respective careers. “Seeing someone succeed through your mentorship and guidance is something you can’t buy with any amount of money,” she says.
In many ways MTD Group reflects Mary’s own values: of loving new challenges and being willing to take a large step out of one’s comfort zone. It takes a certain amount of gumption to do this, which is why MTD Group is open to anyone who is eager to learn and carve their own career in the real estate industry. This could even include more seasoned professionals who are looking to break past their plateaus. These are precisely the kind of agent who could benefit from diversifying their skill sets to other areas of the real estate industry, while leveraging on their own current well of expertise. Real Estate Salespersons (RES) who join MTD Group will also be able to receive training on their presentation skills for show flats and learn how to perform robust analyses of the market to provide clients with timely as well as transparent advice on properties most suitable for their requirements.
For Mary Tan, the human touch is key to success
With the growing digitalisation of all areas of work, Mary maintains that the human touch continues to be the crucial key to success. She also ensures that her agents understand the importance of being professional and having integrity as she walks the talk by being a trustworthy leader. Agents are, after all, a walking advertisement of their own services. If they serve their clients well, and conduct themselves professionally, their clients will not only be grateful, but will work with them again, or even refer them to other potential clients. “It is vital to establish a strong element of trust as a leader, property consultant and friend. With every new relationship built, I want them to know that they can always rely on me.”
She also ensures that she’s always available to her agents, having an open-door policy to allow them to reach her whenever they need help—and this could be both in her professional capacity, and if they need a confidant for personal matters. She is also a strong advocate for open communication, speaking to her leaders on a weekly basis, daily broadcasting messages to the entire team, and replying promptly to messages. This creates a warm environment in which agents can feel close to one another even with the increased social restrictions due to Covid-19.
Mary’s advice to younger agents
Mary has certainly come a long way since she first started, growing her 2-man group into a strong team of 1,400 agents. We asked Mary if there was anything she thought a younger agent needs to remember. “They need to know that hard work, and the willingness to learn and constantly upgrade themselves is so important,” she says. This is certainly true for the only female leader in the industry with the most number of agents. Mary does not look like someone who is content to rest on her laurels. She is always open to trying new things, and is open to sharing her advice to the rest of her team when she succeeds. This creates a win-win environment for Mary and her team and fosters a close relationship in which everyone trusts that they can succeed together.
Mary’s second piece of advice? Knowledge is nothing if it’s not being applied to the real world. This is why it’s so important to invest in marketing, so that they can shine and apply what they’ve learned. This turns new-found knowledge into results. You must have activities. Activities lead to sales,” she says. But of course, she also reminds us to remember the client. “Work hard, serve with sincerity, and your customers will surely want to continue working with you.”
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