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  • Writer's pictureVivian Chong

Journey Of My Real Estate Agent Career

Updated: Apr 12

vivian chong real estate mentor

Year 2020.

I have always envisioned this year as a year of challenges as I move from my previous real estate agency, ERA, a place I called home for 18 years.

I had in mind what I wanted to do, albeit vaguely. But what was clear was that I wanted to leave my comfort zone.

Then came Covid-19, which threw everyone a curveball.

More than half of the world is in lockdown. Offices are shut. Schools are closed. The good thing is there are fewer cars on the road. The skyline becomes clearer. Air is purer. The earth is smiling again.

As the earth cleansed itself during this period, I sorted out my thoughts, and my vision of what I wanted for the future became clearer.

Who I Was Before A Real Estate Agent

I graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 1996 (Gosh, that was 24 years ago but it seemed like yesterday!).

The popular choice then was to get a stable job quickly. A banking job on Shenton Way sounds like a dream job for fresh graduates. A job in the government sector seems very stable too! :)))

Honestly, that did not appeal to me. Instead, I bucked the trend and tried my luck in the entertainment industry. I wrote to recording companies, selling myself as the perfect person for the marketing job I don't even know if there was a vacancy for!

By God's will, I was soon offered a job at Polygram Records and started an exciting five-year journey in the Chinese music industry!

My job entails coming up with marketing plans to promote new music albums. These include planning media advertisements, writing news releases for the media, working with radio and TV stations for artists interviews etc.

When the artiste came to Singapore to promote their album, we were tasked with planning the itinerary - going on radio and TV stations for interviews, press conferences, arranging mini-concerts showcases, autography sessions with fans etc. These were what we did then.

Gosh, I feel so old just typing these. Are these still what the artistes are doing nowadays? Or everything is on social media now?

After working in Polygram (subsequently bought over by Universal Music) for three years, I moved on to a local artiste management company, Ocean Butterflies Production. I worked closely with the artistes that the company managed, including liaising with various partners on artistes' engagements, handling media inquiries, and coordinating artistes' schedules etc.

I traveled occasionally to countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong. The entertainment scene and my encounters with the journalists there were eye-opening for me! It trained me to be a quick thinker and improved my interpersonal and problem-solving skills. This was the perfect job for me in my initial stage of working life.

There were many memorable moments during my five years in the entertainment industry. I organized many promotional concerts during my time there. The one that I remembered fondly was Kit Chan's album promotional concert. All eyes were on this concert, as it was the first concert after regulations were relaxed to allow the artiste to come off stage to interact with the audience. There was tremendous stress when organizing this concert but immense satisfaction as it was very well-received!

female property agent, women leader in real estate, real estate team leader
One of the most memorable concerts organised during my days in Polygram.

I loved my job. Besides the valuable experience and beautiful memories, I made many good friends with whom we are still in regular contact after more than 20 years.

Honestly, I don't feel I worked for a day during the five years I was there. Every event we organized, every meeting, and every overseas trip felt more like a gathering with friends. I am blessed.

Oh, and how proud I am to say that amid all these, I finally got my Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) degree in 2001 through part-time study. Yay!

What I Did For The Past 18 Years

After leaving the music industry, I had a short stint working in an events company. Thereafter I entered the real estate Industry.

What made me choose a career in real estate?

I bought my first home in 2002, which triggered my interest in property. But the most important factor that attracts me to the Real Estate Agent Career is time flexibility. I am not bounded by a 9-to-5 job. I dream of travelling frequently for holidays and voluntarism.

Voluntarism has not materialized, but it is not far from my mind.

I started in my real estate agent career doing HDB sales. I remember that I helped a seller sell his 3-room HDB flat during my very early days in real estate. On the eve of completion, we arranged to do a final inspection. I was shocked when I reached. There was loanshark graffiti all over the wall along the staircase. It was then that I realized the seller borrowed from the loan sharks. The buyer's agent, who came on behalf of the buyer, was equally in shock. We wondered how we were going to complete the case the next day.

After a sleepless night thinking of the 101 scenarios that could happen, I finally met the buyer the next day. I apologized to him, expecting a big scolding from him. Surprisingly, he was cool about it. He asked the seller to let him know which groups of loan sharks he had borrowed the money from. He is in the "moneylending business" and will talk to them to not harass him!

And we managed to complete the case successfully!

I am active in both the HDB and private property markets. It is easy to find me in Marine Parade HDB estate, or along the East Coast from Bayshore to Tanjong Rhu. One of my goals this year is to learn in-depth how to do commercial properties, especially shophouses. I love the old charm of shophouses.

Having said that, working with HDB owners will always be closest to my heart. This is one segment I will continue as long as I am in the industry. HDB cases ground me as they often let me see the day-to-day struggles of the average Singaporean. It also allows me to use my expertise to help those in need directly.

marine parade real estate agent
Working on HDB cases is something always close to my heart.

A few years ago, I helped an elderly man downgrade from a 5rm to a 3rm flat. He was in his 70s and had a daughter in her 40s. The daughter is wheelchair-bound. The father is the sole caregiver and will wheel her around whenever they go for meals or visit the doctor.

During our search for a 3-room flat, he told me he needed a lift-level unit. It was not difficult to find a unit on the lift level as most flats in Singapore are upgraded with lifts on every level. However, he said he needed a unit with access to 2 lifts. He has experience with the lift not working when he needs to bring his daughter to her doctor's appointment. He is stuck when this happens as there is no way he can carry his daughter down the staircase at his age.

This is a logical reason for someone whose daily lives rely on the lift, but it struck me hard. A lift is a standard fixture in almost any building, and we have often taken it for granted. We complain when the lift breaks down, which means climbing many stairs. But to someone else, their lives are disrupted.

marine parade property agent
I look at lift with a different perspective now.

This brings me to another case. I had a client who stayed on level 17 of an HDB block. Her unit had the perfect unblocked sea view. However, she decided to sell it. While chatting about the reasons, she shared one of her encounters with me.

Many years back, there was an earthquake in Indonesia. Some parts of Singapore felt the tremors, and she was one of them (I was one of those who felt it and ran down my staircase too!). She took flight by running down the stairs. On the way down, she passed by a neighbor who could not run as she was in a wheelchair. That was when she decided to give up her unit with the million-dollar view. Age was catching up, and she might have difficulty walking soon, let alone climbing down 17 flights of the staircase!

I helped her find a new home, and we got a perfect unit on level 2! I attended her 70th birthday party a few years back, and it was great to see her in good health.

The past 18 years have been a remarkable journey. There have been hiccups along the way, like dealing with unreasonable client demands, undercutting from fellow agents, and times when you just find it hard to close that deal.

But I am blessed with a bunch of amazing teammates. They form a big part of my beautiful real estate journey thus far.

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Photo taken with my ERA teammates after our 2009 Annual Business Conference.

From Now On...

I enjoy deep conversations and learning about life through experience. Doing sales allows me to meet people from all walks of life, and their life experiences often enrich me.

Having done residential sales for many years, I want to learn about shophouses in-depth. And that is one of the goals I set for myself this year. I have gotten myself a great sifu, James Yeow. I hope I don't disappoint him! :)

For many who know me or read my blog regularly, you will know I have a vision to mentor women who would like to build a career in real estate.

Why women? Some might ask.

During the past 18 years as a real estate agent, I have been blessed with two beautiful boys. Due to the nature of my work, I was able to spend a lot of time with them during their growing-up days, and I am really thankful for that.

It was also during this time when I saw many of my peers sucked into the long hours of a salaried job. A number of them are mothers who have young children. They often feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids but can't do much about it.

I also have friends who are single or have grown-up kids. Many are super career women who feel so burned out from the long hours of a salaried job. They will like to spend more time pursuing what they want in life.

I have always believed that there is a reason why God places us where we are. Now, I feel it is my calling to use my experience to help women who would like to get out of that rut and real estate is a good career that can achieve that.

dreams and reality

If you want to take the leap of faith, contact me and let me clear your doubts.

(Update) I have written a second part of this article, updating my progress three years later :)


About The Author

women leader, real estate female leader, property team leader

Vivian joined the real estate industry in 2002. Having been in the real estate business for more than two decades, she knows the rewards and challenges that real estate agents face.

While the real estate career offers lucrative income and flexible work hours, it also presents many challenges - financial insecurity as we do not have basic pay, time management as we juggle work, children and family all at once.

Only those who have walked the same journey will understand.

Vivian would now like to pay it forward by mentoring fellow agents, especially women who want to build a real estate career.

It is her vision to see women achieving their dreams, and live their lives with purpose and passion through a successful real estate career.

Connect with Vivian at 98577714 to embark on this journey.



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