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  • Writer's pictureVivian Chong

Seeking Breakthrough In Real Estate Career Through Commercial Shophouse

Updated: Apr 8

real estate career property commercial shophouse mentor

Welcome to the first episode of the Breakthrough Series!

In this Breakthrough Series, I am going to invite people from all walks of life to chat with us about their life stories and the breakthroughs they have created in their lives. Through their stories, I hope it can inspire and encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and create the breakthroughs in their lives.

The first guest i have invited to kick-start this breakthrough series is Gigi Wang.

Gigi is an American expat who came to Singapore in 2013. She passed her real estate salesperson (RES) examination in 2021 and is currently a realtor with Huttons.

In this episode, Gigi discussed the challenges she faced since she move to Singapore. She shared with us how she finally got her real estate license and how she creates the breakthrough in her real estate career through specialising in commercial shophouse.

As a dog lover, Gigi shared her dream in one day setting up a non-profit for local animal shelter.

Lastly, we discussed about how our passion to empower women and how through these breakthrough stories, we hope to inspire and encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and create the breakthroughs in their lives.

property career leader agent real estate breakthrough

Q: You came to Singapore from New York in 2013. What is the biggest difference between New York City and Singapore?

Gigi: The biggest difference between NYC and Singapore is the weather and the pace of life. I love the weather in Singapore and I love that Singapore has a slower pace of life as compared to NYC. This allows me to have a better work-life balance which is very important to me.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face in Singapore?

Gigi: I wasn't independent when I first moved to Singapore. As a trailing spouse, there were many things which I could not do without the consent of my spouse, like opening a bank account, applying for a mobile phone etc.

The good thing is we managed to get our PR after a year!

Q: Can you share with us your journey to finally passing your RES exam?

Gigi: I decided that I want to be a real estate agent in Singapore. To do that, I have to take the RES course and pass the exam. Initially I studied on my own. Took the exam twice but unfortunately I failed both times.

Thereafter, I came to know of a trainer Jeremy, who has helped many RES pass their exam. He is very strict and his course is very intensive. I spent a lot of time studying and finally passed my exam after 2.5 years.

Viv: I met Jeremy and he is really very passionate about training aspiring RES to pass the RES exam. For those who are having difficulties passing your exam, do contact us and we will pass you Jeremy's contact number.

Q: You took 2.5 years to pass the RES exam. Thereafter it took you another 6 months before you finally got your CEA application approved.

Gigi: Yes, I had to contact the state police station and was directed to many different departments. With the 12-hour time difference it wasn’t easy getting in touch with someone. Then I was sent an outdated forms by mail. I had to get fingerprinted twice here in Singapore. Finally in December 2020, I got the Certificate of No Criminal Record by mail but my last name was misspelled! It took me another 3 months to get the correct version!

Viv: I received many enquires from PRs like you who would like to be a real estate agent in Singapore. Just to share with everyone watching this video that you can be a real estate agent if you are a PR for more than 10 years.

If you are a PR for less than 10 years, you are required to produce the Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) from your country of origin to become a real estate agent.

In the event that you have resided in Singapore for more than 10 years, you can also be a property agent by producing documents like Employment Pass and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) etc.

Q: How was your initial months as a new real estate agent?

Gigi: I was working on the expat market at the beginning cos that was a market that was relevant to me.

I looked through the listings that were placed by owners looking to rent out their properties and started showing the units to prospective tenants.

I was very closed to closing a few deals at that time but somehow it just didn't work out.

Then I was exposed to the shophouse market because our colleague James Yeow specialised in this segment. He showed us some of the shophouses that Landlords were putting up for rent. I fell in love with shophouses as we didn't have it back in our country.

I started putting up advertisements on commercialguru and conduct viewings everyday. Soon I closed my first shophouse deal!

property commercial real estate rookie
I fell in love with shophouse and started working on this segment of the real estate market.

Q: Can you share with us how was the experience like and this first shophouse deal that you closed?

Gigi; It was a very stressful experience. There were many miscommunications and complications. But i guess one of the most important lessons I have learnt is that if you don't know the answer, you should just ask.

Viv: Yes i agree, this is applicable to both new and experienced RES. It is always good to be honest and sincere and I think people are very forgiving.

Q: You started working on the commercial shophouse segment in August and by Oct, you were the Top Rookie for the month. Can you share with us the deals that you closed so far?

Gigi: I closed 10 rentals deals in the few months. The tenants include hair salon, beauty clinics, restaurant, a few offices and a lighting gallery.

gigi wang top rookie property real estate

Q: You are an inspiration to the team. Many people said that you need a very good network of contacts to work in the commercial shophouse segment but you have shown this is not necessary so.

Gigi: I don't know many people in Singapore as my relatives are not here and I only have a small group of friends.

What I did mainly is work with the landlords and management companies that I knew and expanded my listings from there. I also walk the streets to look for units that are for sale or rent. I work on open listings, word of mouth and referrals. Also, i notice landlords will sometimes go onto commercialguru to see who are the agents working on commercial shophouse.

Having said that, it is not only about growing the listings that you have. It is also about giving your landlords and clients exceptional and professional service so that they trust you and you build a relationship with them.

Q: You are a dog lover and have a dream to set up a non-profit for local animals shelters. Real estate agents who are dog lovers like you can donate a percentage of their commission into this cause.

Gigi: I set up a campaign call Give Back To Shelters ( I choose Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter (OSCAS) as the first charity to help as they were smaller and there wasn't a lot of donations.

I will be donating 3% of my commission to this cause and it will be run for 6 months. As of yesterday, which was about a month since i set up this campaign, it has already received $1,900 donations and I am very happy about it.

There are many people and animals out there that are less fortunate than us and our pets so if we can, let's just help out.

Gigi with her dog, Miura :)
Gigi with her dog, Miura :)

Q: When I first know that you have this dream, I was very excited cos it is quite rare to hear people talk about their dreams. You reminded me of the reason why I decide to go into team management and set up RealTeam.

Gigi: It's a small dream and a small goal. I believe that even though we are from different backgrounds and of different ages, we have similar values. That's why I am really happy to be in this team.

I always believe that women should be independent. We should set our own goals and achieve them.

Viv: Yes and that's the reason why I setup RealTeam. I hope to empower women with a rewarding real estate career and to achieve their dreams through this career.

realteam navis huttons real estate leader women empowerment
REALTeam - To empower women through a rewarding real estate career.

Question To Vivian: Can I know how you started this real estate journey?

Viv: I joined the industry when I got my first place. I was single then, and then i got married, have my first kid and then a second kid. And now my kids are older.

When my kids were growing up, I spent a lot of time with them. But as I look around me, i saw many of my peers who were young mothers. They spend a lot of time on their work and often feel very guilty as they couldn't spend enough time with their children.

Also, there is another group of mothers who left the working world to become Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) to take care of their kids. When the kids grow older and they want to come back into the society to work, they find it hard to get a job. And I have a friends around me who are super career women. They have reached a stage where they feel that they are giving so much into their work and there is no work-life balance. They want to pursue a career that is more meaningful.

So for these groups of people, I feel real estate is really a very good career for them. I hope I can use my knowledge and experience to work with them to achieve a successful real estate career and with that to achieve whatever dreams they have.

And also that's the objective of us doing this breakthrough video. Many of us are in our comfort zone. It takes courage and some inspirational stories to help us step out of our comfort zone.

Hopefully this video can inspire the people who are watching and they can create the breakthroughs in their lives!

Watch the video here!


If you have inspiring stories which you would like to share with our readers, or you would like to explore a career in real estate, click on the below to make an appointment with me.

See you soon!


About The Author

Vivian Chong

Vivian joined the real estate industry in 2002. Having been in the real estate business for almost 2 decades, she knows the rewards and challenges that a real estate agent 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 one time.

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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