Being a Property Agent: 4 Surprising Things You Might Not Know

A property agent handing keys to her client

It seems like property agents have the best job. They’re basically their own bosses, have the freedom to work whenever they want, and can potentially earn 5 to 6-digit commissions.

If they’re lucky, they might even earn a million-dollar commission. In fact, back in April 2015, an agent earned a whopping $1.5 million commission after selling a penthouse at Le Nouvel Ardmore for $51 million. 

With so many perks that come with the job and the possibility of earning million-dollar commissions, it’s no wonder that a career as a property agent is relatively sought-after.

Unfortunately, not everything about the profession is rosy. 

So before you jump into applying for a property agent license in Singapore, here are some things that you should know first. 

 

1) Property Agents Can Have Zero Income for Months

One of the toughest problems you could face being a property agent in Singapore is that you might not close any deals for months, leaving you with no income during that period.

While you might have the chance to earn a large commission from just a single sale, the industry follows a cyclical trend. This means there can be periods where many people are rushing to buy houses, and a times when transactions are sluggish. 

A bar graph showing the movement in new private home sales over the past several years

Aspiring property agents should be aware of the cyclical nature of Singapore’s property market

 

Let’s look at the yearly transactions of new private houses in Singapore. From 2009 to 2012, new private home sales (excluding executive condos) increased significantly from 14,688 units to 22,670 units a year. 

But when the cooling measures took effect in July 2013, transaction volume fell to 14,948 units. Then in 2014, sales plunged by more than half to 7,316 units.

Though sales volume started to pick up from 2015 onwards, it still hasn’t been as high as previous years. 

While the above doesn’t account for property agent commissions from rentals, and transactions for HDB resale flats and resale private properties, selling new private homes account for a substantial chunk of a property agent’s salary.

 

2) A Property Agent’s Salary Depends Solely on Closing Deals

One of the top perks of being a property agent is that you get to earn commission from sales and rentals that typically surpass the monthly salary of average jobs in Singapore. But this also means that you might not get to enjoy regular and steady income, and only get paid if you close a transaction.

Hence, you can only earn more by completing a greater number of property deals, or closing a lower number of high-value sales, like the $51 million deal for the Le Nouvel Ardmore condo. This means that your salary is not fixed and can seesaw from high to low. 

While there are no black and white rates or guidelines on how much property agents should be paid per closed deal, you can expect to get 2% commission for successfully selling a home, as well as a month’s rent for every 2-year rental.

Let’s say in a particular year, you manage to sell 4 private condos at $800,000 each. With 2% commission for each deal, this means that you’ll earn $64,000 that year.

This equates to a monthly salary of around $5,333.33. This isn’t that bad for a monthly salary, given that it’s higher than the median salary of $4,563 in Singapore in 2019

But if you take into account the additional expenses that you’ll need to fork out to close deals, that amount might not turn out to be that high... 

Recommended article: Property Owner’s Dilemma: How Much Should I Pay My Estate Agent?

 

3) Property Agents Need to Spend Money to Get Results

Just like in every business or start-up, you’ll need to first invest some money before you can make decent money from closing deals.

For starters, you’ll need to spend some money to provide services to your clients. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll close these transactions.

Let’s say you accompany your client to see different shortlisted properties for 2 months. To bring your client to visit these properties, you spend a lot of money on petrol to chauffeur him around Singapore. 

When your client decides to buy a particular home, you begin taking care of the relevant documents. But just before the signing of the sales and purchase agreement, your client decides to back out.

Although this is rare, there’s still the possibility that this can happen. Despite putting all your hard work, you end up getting nothing in return.

There’s also the marketing expenses that you need to spend to market yourself as a property agent. Be it flyers, newspaper ads, social media, or online listings, you have to spend some money to reach out to as many people as possible.

As a property agent in Singapore, you can subscribe to PropertyGuru's agent package, which allows you to get your listings seen by home hunters and real estate investors. 

Recommended article: 3 Times Property Agents in Singapore Broke the Rules (And What You Can Do)

 

4) Property Agents Have to Work On Evenings, Weekends, and Holidays

Being a property agent means that you have to be prepared to work outside normal working hours. 

Most Singaporeans work standard working hours from Monday to Friday. This means you might  only be able to meet your clients when they’re free in the evenings, weekends, or even public holidays. 

In addition, you should prepare to work longer hours, especially to market new residential projects here in Singapore and abroad.

Aside from marketing units and showing properties to your clients, you’ll also need to provide further services. This includes assisting them in negotiating the best price, overseeing the sale or rental process, handling all the necessary paperwork, and sharing accurate market data.

Nevertheless, being a property agent means that most of the time you’re your own boss. There’s no one to dictate when you need to work. Plus, you have the freedom to take time off whenever you want.

 

How Can I Succeed as A Property Agent In Singapore?

A property agent explaining contract terms to her clients

As a property agent, you need to stay updated and familiar with the latest trends and rules to be able to explain them to your clients

 

Though being a property agent can be challenging, it can be equally rewarding as well, especially when you close off a deal after months of hard work. 

So here are some of our tips to help you succeed in the profession. 

1) Take on Side Jobs and Acquire Other Skills

With the possibility that there might not be earnings for a few months, some property agents have taken on side jobs. In January 2016, it was reported that a 50-year old property agent named Billy Loh worked as a driver for Uber after not securing any deals for six months. 

You can also take up courses by the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), which trains property agents for other jobs such as property management to obtain supplemental income. 

You may want to widen your career options too, by enrolling in other training courses offered by SkillsFuture, and taking advantage of your SkillsFuture credit.

An alternative is also to improve your craft. Be sure to stay updated on the latest rules and regulations, as well as the latest trends in the property market.  

2) Stand Out but Also Be A Team Player

Here’s a table of the number of property agents and agencies in Singapore for the last 3 years

Number of property agents

28,397

28,571

29,146

Number of property agencies

1,286

1,269

1,229

Amidst the thousands of property agents in Singapore, you’ll need to stand out to get noticed by potential clients.

You can start by answering people’s questions on PropertyGuru’s AskGuru portal. Behind these questions, there might be clients with a real intention to buy or sell a property. 

You can think of these questions as sort of an initial test that prospective clients use to select a suitable property agent. People are more likely to choose agents who provide helpful answers, than those who give short and vague answers. 

For listings, you can stand out by posting clear and visible photos of neat rooms. Overlay your picture and contact details on just 1 photo, and not the rest, as people can get frustrated when they want to see an entire room and your photo is blocking the view. Also, avoid using picture collages.

While there’s a need to stand out, you should also be a team player, as there are many advantages of cooperating with working and getting along well with property agents in your agency. For starters, you can get a lot of helpful advice from your seniors. 

There could also be cases when you need to work together with another agent to close a sale or rental transaction. Known as co-broking, this shortens the time you need to find a buyer or tenant, though you’ll need to share the commission with the other agent.

3) Learn to Manage Your Time

Even if you have many talents and skills, you won’t succeed as a property agent if you can’t properly manage your time and workload. 

For example, when scheduling your meetings, you should consider possible client delays and traffic, so that you won’t be late for subsequent meetings. This is especially important as being late can give a lasting negative impression to your clients as well as colleagues.

Also, a well-organised schedule gives you more freedom to spend quality time with your family. 

4) Cultivate A Charming Personality and Appearance

People are more likely to engage you as their property agent if you’re someone they’re comfortable with.

Be genuinely cheerful, enthusiastic, and friendly. It also helps if you have a good sense of humor.

Be sure to improve your communications skills too, so you can get your message across clearly and prevent misunderstandings. In the property industry, it’s important that you provide accurate information. 

When meeting with clients, dress appropriately depending on the situation and venue. If it’s a high-end restaurant, company premises, or the property itself, you can wear a suit, office shirt with slacks, or an elegant dress.

But if you’re meeting them at a coffee shop or at an informal setting, wearing a smart casual attire like a polo t-shirt and a pair of pants should suffice.

You might also want to keep a blazer in your car in case you need to attend an unexpected formal meeting.

5) Uphold Honesty and Integrity

Last but not least, all the talent in the world means nothing if you aren’t honest and lack integrity.

Be sure to follow CEA’s Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care. As a property agent, you should always safeguard and look after the interest of your clients, even if doing so could mean some inconvenience to you.

Needless, you shouldn’t break the rules to earn easy money. Take the example of James Ngu, who was fined $30,000 and suspended for lying to pocket a higher commission. 

And of course, take note that you need to be registered with CEA to legally become a property agent in Singapore. 

 

Read here about 3 cases where property agents in Singapore broke industry rules, and the consequences they had to face.

Working With Agents

Read here about 3 cases where property agents in Singapore broke industry rules, and the consequences they had to face.

Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

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Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

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