ERA Realty agent Kenneth Lim.
Property agent Kenneth Lim isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty for his clients, even offering to change light bulbs and clean their units. He shares his tips for success.
By Romesh Navaratnarajah
The government recently unveiled the latest roadmap for Singapore’s real estate industry, which will see customer ratings and transaction details of property agents being published in the near future.
The move aims to improve transparency and accountability in the property sector, which is facing various challenges such as disruptive technologies and rising consumer expectations.
The launch of the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map in February attracted considerable attention from consumers, many of whom shared their negative experiences with agents.
Writing on PropertyGuru’s Facebook page, one user said that an agent acting on behalf of her landlord had “pestered” her to renew the lease on her rental unit even when she had to attend funerals of loved ones.
“There was no sympathy or condolences,” she said. “He (the agent) would text me close to midnight chasing for rent. And when I told him the main door needed to be changed and the window pane had fallen off, he disappeared.”
Another user wrote that she had engaged several “forgettable agents”. “After they take the fee, they don’t bother to even ask how everything is.”
While such complaints are not new, they are not reflective of the industry as a whole.
In fact, a 2016 Public Perception Survey of the real estate industry conducted by the Council for Estate Agencies found that nearly four out of five Singaporeans are pleased with the performance of property agents. The survey polled more than 2,100 consumers.
Respondents said they were most satisfied with service excellence, giving high marks to property agents for politeness, responsiveness and for reasonably accommodating customers’ needs.
ERA Realty agent Kenneth Lim is one such salesperson who has stood out for his empathy and adaptability. With over six years of experience in the real estate industry, the 42-year-old has racked up numerous awards including ERA Top 1st in Service in 2017 and ERA Top 50 Achievers in 2016 and 2017.
One of his clients, Clarence Lam, told PropertyGuru that Lim was instrumental in making the home buying process easier for him.
“He demonstrated extensive knowledge of the market and understanding customers’ needs. For example, he tried to find out what appealed to me and my constraints, and then offered his advice and suggestions.
“On many occasions, he went above and beyond his responsibilities, such as helping to prepare my property for viewings, picking up my calls late at night, and addressing any requests or questions I had within hours.
“Despite his busy schedule handling other customers, he kept track of every stage of my contracts, deadlines to meet, and made time to meet me at last-minute notice,” said Lam.
Lim puts his success down to two major factors, one of which is going the extra mile for his clients, even doing menial tasks for them such as changing light bulbs, cleaning the unit, taking measurements and coordinating repair works.
The other is being resilient and nimble. “The industry is ever-changing, so are people’s expectations and demands. Agents can no longer afford to be solely information providers,” said Lim.
He shared how he helped a newly-wed couple purchase an HDB flat in Bedok North. After taking over the flat, the new owner had difficulty opening the mailbox as it was jammed with letters belonging to the previous owner.
“As he had not moved in yet and was busy with work commitments, I volunteered to help him solve the problem. I went to the flat several times to meet the postman and helped him to open the mailbox, cleared the letters, went to the hardware shop to buy a new lock and replaced the mailbox lock by myself.
“I can still remember the smile on his face when I went to his mum’s place to hand him the new set of keys to the mailbox. He was so happy and impressed with my service that he referred all his family members and friends to me.
“Subsequently, I helped his sister and cousin to buy their flats, rented out his mum’s flat and served a few of his friends,” said Lim.
Patience and persistence pays off
Lim also served another newly-wed couple, Mr and Mrs Ng, and found after the initial meeting that they were not very sure of what they were looking for, and hence, he had to be very patient.
“We searched across various parts of Singapore for over four to five months. After viewing 44 units, they finally decided on a high-floor unit at Fernvale in Sengkang.
“However, there was a hiccup in their loan application and it took more than two weeks to resolve the issue. Finally, the loan was approved on the day of the option expiry. The banker and I had to rush to meet the couple separately at their home and airport as Mr Ng was catching a flight,” Lim said.
Values and beliefs
His advice to other agents, especially new entrants, is to look beyond the money when carrying out their business. “Put your heart and soul into this business and serve with passion, commitment and conviction,” he said.
In addition, they should offer sincere and genuine advice as well as show empathy, said Lim. “Treasure those clients who appreciate and reciprocate your intentions. Oftentimes, it’s the smallest things that matter the most.”
Lim admitted that things aren’t always rosy or smooth-sailing in the real estate agency industry. “I have handled several difficult cases, for instance couples going through divorce, facing financial difficulty or dealing with the loss of a loved one.
“Sometimes, things don’t always turn out the way we expect and we just have to do our best given the circumstances. If things don’t turn out well, our clients will often appreciate the effort we put in,” he said.
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