A Career In Real Estate: Is It For You? (Part Two)

[Read Part One here]

Many people have asked me how I managed to earn S$114,000 from my sales job (my third job) at age 24. The answer is simple. After graduation from NUS with a History degree, my first job was in real estate.

After selling property worth at least S$1million, is there anything that I can’t sell? (Ok, maybe not rockets or planes, but you get the idea) 😛

In this blogpost, you’ll get to read about the real estate journey of two Division Directors in ERA, and I believe aspiring as well as current agents will be able to pick up a pointer or two. Read on…

5 Questions with Bryan Tian and Louis Ko [Division Directors, ERA Horizon Group]

Bryan Tian:

Bryan Tian ERA

Bryan Tian ERA

Louis Ko:

Louis Ko ERA

ERA Division Director Louis Ko

1) What are some practical tips for success in the real estate industry?

Bryan: There is a saying: “If you want to be successful, just copy what the successful people are doing.” I am an engineer by training. I like to observe and analyze things. Through my observation, I realized all the top agents in the real estate industry are very disciplined. I think that is the most important factor if one decides to be self-employed. This is especially essential when one is in this industry, because nobody will plan your schedule or marketing activities for you. We have to plan our own activities. Because activities lead to appointments, and appointments lead to potential sales, try to plan a week’s worth of activities ahead of time and follow it strictly.

3 Factors For Success In Your Real Estate Career:

  1. Goal setting – Setting an optimistic but realistic goal is very important. Then you will know how to work out a plan to achieve the goal. For example, if your goal is to earn $120K a year, that means on average, you will need to make $10k a month. In order to make $10k a month, you will need to sell probably 2 HDB flats a month, so you can now work out a plan and schedule the number of activities required in order to secure or sell 2 flats per month.
  2. Positive Mindset – Always surround yourself with positive people in order to stay positive. If you can’t influence the negative thinkers, leave them, so you will not be affected by their negativity. Ever wondered why the rich always surround themselves with other rich people while the poor always mixes with other poor people? It has been said that your income is equivalent to the average income of your five best friends – I think it’s very true.
  3. Power of Leveraging – My mentor once told me “If you can survive your first year in the real estate industry, it could simply mean you are lucky. If you can survive and still do well after 3 years, it means you know the trick of leveraging”. There are only 24 hours in a day and there is only so much that we can handle. Leverage on other people’s strengths to bring your business to the next level.

Louis: I joined the industry via a friend in 2009. My real estate journey did not begin well although I had 10 years of retail sales experience. A car salesman has cars to sell, insurance agents have policies to sell, but as real estate agents, we basically start with no products to sell. I was not used to the idea. My company and manager did not provide me with any listings so I was struggling with my business and managed to earn only $9,000 in my first 6 months!

The turning point came when I started to observe what the top producers were doing. I realized that all of them were only focusing on doing 1 thing:  Leads Generation.
Louis Recommends FOUR Crucial Things To Do:
  1. Proper planning – Pen down your goals and the steps you will take to achieve them. Exercise some creativity and let your best ideas bring you results.
  2. Execution – Take action. Do not let your plans remain as plans only. I planned to make 100 cold calls daily, but I struggled to complete 10. I hated rejection and contemplated giving up. Fortunately, a senior agent shared with me that he too has the same frustration with cold calling, but instead of looking at the problem, he focuses on looking for the solution. Instead of making the calls himself, he engaged a telemarketer. By doing so, he was able to focus on doing what he did best: managing people to produce the results he wanted. By adopting his methods, I got multiple appointments fixed. However, I was still unable to convert these appointments into listings.
  3. Review to improve – Initially, I was unable to convince prospects to engage me as their agent. I realized that I lacked the knowledge and presentation skills necessary to engage my customer. Thus, I began reading real estate books and attended seminars. The turning point was when I came across a YouTube video by Tom Hopkins. I gained renewed confidence, started to get listings, and even managed to secure exclusive listings. Over the next 12 months, I saw an exponential increase in my income. By the end of 2010, I had earned an annual income of $100,000.
  4. Follow up – So important but often ignored. Some of the most successful agents have customers who give them referrals, so they do not have to keep prospecting new clients. Why? It is because they stay in touch with their customers. It can be as simple as monthly SMS messages to remind your customer that you are still in the business. Such an action grows your referral base.

2) What are some fatal mistakes that new agents may commit?


  1. Many new agents think the real estate industry is a ‘get rich quick line’. Many agents have been charged for unethical acts like faking documents to cheat customers for quick money or even engaging in illegal money-lending, thus losing their licence to practice or even ending up in jail. We are building our career and our business, so having a good reputation is very crucial.  I don’t believe there are ‘Free Lunches’. By working hard and being honest in this industry, one should be able to do well.
  2. Many fail to save up. Some new agents worked very hard initially. They did well in the first 2 years and thought they would continue to do well in future. They started taking things for granted and spent most of their income buying flashy cars, watches, etc. And when the market changes, they do not have enough savings to tide them through tough times. To me, it’s not how much you can make, but how much you can save that matters at the end of the day.
  3. Many agents also fail to share. Many new agents do not like to share their problems, mistakes or ideas with others. They keep everything to themselves, thinking that other people may not be willing to help or may steal their ideas, so they end up repeating many of the same old mistakes made by others. I believe that the more you give, the more you get. We cannot do this business alone. We have to be more open-minded and humble enough to learn from others – whether they are new or experienced agents.

Louis:  Many people enter the industry as they have witnessed the success of a friend or relative in this line. They think that attending some courses, passing the examinations and joining a reputable agency will set them on the path to earning a 5-figure monthly income.

Only a handful of agents, sadly, are able to see instant results and start doing very well in their business. Their success did not happen because of luck, but due to the following two main reasons:
1) Strong existing customer base due to their previous job experience
2) The right mentor and a positive mindset in the face of rejection and failure
The drop out rate in our industry is relatively high. After about 3 to 6 months, newbie agents lose their steam and their initial “Can do” attitude turns into a “Can I do it?” attitude.
Louis’ advice to new agents:
  1. Have strong family support: Have faith in what you are doing, and with time and commitment, results will come.
  2. Surround yourself with successful/positive people
  3. Focus: do not let things that you read in the papers, or what other people have said, affect your judgement. As long as you have a proper plan and a strong mental attitude to complete what you set out to do, you will still achieve the results you want.

3) Why did you join the real estate line, and what do you love most about it?

Bryan: Perhaps I was influenced by my father who was a small time developer before he retired. I also have a degree in Building Engineering. When I grew tired of working for others, and decided to be self-employed, naturally the real estate line was my priority. What I like most in this business is that I get to see many beautiful houses, and some homeowners also share with me many practical home decor tips. I also get to meet many talented and successful people whom I can learn from.

Louis: For the freedom of self management. The sky is the limit for what you can achieve. There is no salary cap in our business and I have seen a 25 year old newcomer earning $800,000 in one year. I am motivated by the fact that top agents in the industry can make as much as 1 to 2 million dollars a year. I know of no other industry which can give me such opportunities, besides starting my own business.

4) What have you achieved thus far in your real estate career?

Bryan: I joined the real estate industry less than 4 years ago. With the guidance of my seniors and good team leaders, I have been able to consistently do well in my business and I have been promoted to the rank of ERA Division Director, managing a team of 30 agents.

Louis: Last year was a good year for me, I was one of ERA’s Top 300 agents for year 2012. Most recently, I was promoted and became a Division Director and granted the opportunity to branch out and set up my own Division.

ERA Division Director Promotions

5) What is one thing about your real estate journey that would shock or amaze people?

Bryan: Like many new agents, my first 6 months in real estate was not a bed of roses. I went door to door to distribute flyers in the day and made cold calls till 10pm. I earned about $8,000 in total for the first 6 months, and that was less than my monthly salary in my previous job as a regional director for an MNC. I almost threw in the towel, but luckily for me, I met some top agents who were willing to help me and share with me some very useful tips. To ‘pay it forward’, I have thus volunteered to train new agents, so as to help them avoid making the same mistakes we committed.

I’ve learnt that the real estate industry is actually a recession-proof industry, because during good times, people tend to ‘upgrade’ their homes or buy more houses. And during bad times, people will ‘downgrade’ and sell houses. It’s a numbers game. To the successful agents, their formula is this: Luck = Preparation + Opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities out there, however, if we are not well prepared, we will never be ready for those opportunities even when they come ‘knocking’ on our door.

Louis: The term “tour guide” is used to describe an agent serving a buyer without resulting in a sale. I was a “tour guide” previously. For the first 3 months of my real estate career, my focus was on serving the buyers. My then-mentor told me that “as long as you serve diligently and bring your buyer to all the units that he wants to view, eventually you will secure the deal”. How wrong he was! I brought a PR couple to view at least 50 listings over a span of 2 months. They ended up buying from another listing agent who showed them the one unit that he was marketing. That made me realize that in this business, “The Lister Is King”. As long as you can secure listings, your business will flourish.

Over the last 4 years in the business, I have served only 2 types of buyers. Either buyers who are also my sellers, or referred buyers. Hopefully, most of my fellow colleagues who read this blogpost can relate to what I have shared. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my current mentors John, Cody and Eugene, from whom I have learnt so much. They have not only selflessly taught me their ‘secrets’ and know-how for success in the business, but more importantly, they have instilled in me a very positive attitude and a willingness to share.
ERA Horizon Group
Contact these Division Directors and their Group of over 300 Agents at www.teamhorizon.sg and ‘Like’ their facebook page www.facebook.com/horizongroupsingapore for more property updates!
In the final part of this series, I interview one of the top agents in ERA Horizon Group and share with you the secrets to his success! Read it HERE.

2 thoughts on “A Career In Real Estate: Is It For You? (Part Two)

  1. Pingback: A Career In Real Estate: Is It For You? (Part 3) Interview With A Sales Champion | Working With Grace

  2. Pingback: A Career In Real Estate: Is It For You? (Part One) | Working With Grace

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