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  • Writer's pictureVivian Chong

Why A Mid-Career Switch To Real Estate Is A Good Move?

Updated: Jan 13


Met up with a friend over lunch today.

She has been working in the corporate world for many years and holds a high-ranking position in her company.

However, she is extremely tired of corporate life. She feels especially listless on Sunday evenings and dread going back to office on Monday. She describe herself like a robot going through the motion everyday.

I think she is suffering from mid-career burnout.

She feel it's time for a change. A change to do something she is really passionate about.

And a property career sounds a great career. That's why she contacted me.

This brings me to think in-depth to this question: Is a mid-career change to real estate a good move?

Having been in the real estate industry for many years, I hope I am able to shed some light into how this career is.

Hopefully like my friend, you will find an answer at the end of this article.

engineer, teachers, change job
I hope this article can shed some light on how a real estate career is before you make the mid-career switch.

Why Real Estate Is A Good Mid-Career Move

There are many reasons why a person doing a mid-career switch will find it easier to adapt to the real estate industry.

(1) Transferrable skills from past working experience

As compared to a fresh graduate, you have a wealth of working experience which is beneficial for you in this industry,

You will likely be more competent in areas like sales, marketing, public relations, communications and can handle human relationship better. These are extremely important in our fields of work.

Your analytical and problem solving skills acquired from years of working will come in handy in this new career too.

I was doing marketing and promotion in my previous job before entering the property industry. The nature of my job requires me to interact with many people. It was there that I build up my communication skills, quick thinking and problem solving skills.

These skills and experience is extremely useful when I made the switch to real estate career.

air stewardess, mid career switch
Your past working experience will come in handy in your real estate career.

(2) Leverage on your existing network of contacts

There is a Chinese saying 人脉就是钱脉。

To translate directly, it means people connections are money connections.

You should have a network of professional and personal contacts from years of working, This ensure that you are embarking on a new career with strong contacts to draw upon, rather than having to start from scratch working on cold leads.

Your contacts will trust you more, as they have worked with you before. It is much easier to work on warm leads, especially for new agents who might not have referrals from past clients.

I had a colleague from my previous agency. He did a mid-career switch from a VP in Human Resource to a real estate agent. Having been working for more than 10 years in his previous industry, he accumulated a good network of contacts.

He tapped into his network and it took him less than 1 month to close his first deal. And within that year, he became one of the top agents in the agency! Kudos to him!

Networking, property agent career
Leverage on your existing network of contacts when you make the switch to a real estate career.

(3) More control over your work and time

Many working adults suffer burnout from the long hours of their work.

One of the benefits of a property agent career is the flexibility in working hours. Being a more mature working adult doing a mid-career switch to be a property agent, you should be more discipline while enjoying a good control on how you spend your time.

Your working hours will mostly depend on the segment of the market you gravitate to. If you are into the residential segment, you will be working when most people are not. This means weekday evenings and weekends are burnt for you.

If you are into the commercial segment, you will likely be working on weekdays as most of your clients do not work over the weekend.

Regardless of whether it is the residential or commercial market, you have the autonomy to decide how best to work and grow your business.

Rather than waiting for instructions and taking orders from someone, you need to be independent and do what is best for your business.

Shophouse property real estate career
If you specialise in commercial segment like the shophouse, your working hours will mostly be on weekdays

(4) True purpose and meaning in your work

From my conversation with many who are looking to do mid-career switch, I realised many are looking for work which they can find true purpose.

Instead of a job which they take up merely for the financial benefits, many are motivated by a desire to find meaning and satisfaction in what they do.

Contrary to what many perceived the real estate industry to be, where property agents are merely chasing after big fat commissions, there is true meaning and significance in the work we do.

real estate property career
Our work is meaningful and significant as we are able to help clients directly in their difficult times.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will remember the case where I helped an elderly man in his 70s sold his 5room HDB flat in order to downgrade to a 3room unit.

This client of mine has a daughter in her 40s and is wheelchair-bound.

Age is catching up with him and he can no longer work like before.

One of his requirements for the flat he is buying is it must be located on a lift level. And it must also have easy access to at least 2 lifts.

I can understand why he needs a unit on the lift level, but why need access to 2 lifts?

He explained that his daughter needs to go for frequent doctor appointments. There were times when the lift is under maintenance, and he is totally stuck. Unlike before, he can no longer carry his daughter down the staircase.

I managed to help him sell his flat and move to an ideal 3 room flat.

Real estate is a very meaningful career. Over the years, I have helped my clients right-sizing their homes and worked with them on property wealth planning.

I have also worked on divorce cases, cases with dysfunctional family and pro-bono cases etc.

Meeting them at one of the lowest points of their lives and helping them move on in life gave me immense satisfaction.

Work satisfaction does not come only in the form of monetary rewards. When we can use our knowledge and experience to help others, it gives us true work satisfaction.

knowledge to help clients
To be able to use my knowledge to help clients move on in life give me immense satisfaction.

Tips For A Successful Mid-Career Switch To Real Estate

Making a mid-career switch to real estate can be a very scary decision as you are leaving a stable job.

Let me share my opinions on how you can make this transition a smooth and hopefully a very successful one!

(1) Develop your skills

Apart from the mandatory Real Estate Salesperson (RES) Course which you must enrol yourself into before taking the RES exam (unless you are hold a diploma or degree in selected course that gives you automatic qualifications to be a real estate agent), it is good that you are trained in some other areas.

A real estate career is really like running your own business. We are business development manager, operations manager, sales manager and finance manager all rolled into one.

You can learn more about sales and marketing. In a congested real estate industry, branding and marketing yourself help you stand out from the rest.

You can also horn your communication and presentation skills. Real estate sales is all about human relations, and communication is the key to building a good and effective human relationship.

Being trained in these areas will definitely prepare you for take off in your real estate career.

In a congested real estate industry, it is important to brand yourself so as to stand out from the rest.

(2) Keep yourself abreast on real estate news and regulations

With technology advancement, information is readily available at the fingertips. Consumers are much more savvy today as compared to many years ago. Real estate agents need to be well informed and updated about what is happening in the market.

For a start, I always advise agents to read the newspaper. Straits Times is a good start. Make it a habit to read the papers so we know what is happening around us and globally. For more business related news, Business Times is another good source of information.

There are many consumer seminars run by real estate agencies these days. Attend these seminars and learn from the speakers. This will improve your knowledge about the market and increase your confidence when speaking to your clients.

property career, real estate career leader, career change
Attend consumer seminars to improve your property market knowledge and confidence.

(3) Be Financially Ready

Being a real estate agent is akin to running your own business. And with all business, you need to have a capital to start your business.

To begin with, it will be good if you have a capital consisting of the following:

(a) 6 months of your salary

As a new agent, you might take longer time to close a sale. This is especially so if you do not have any leads to work with in the beginning.

A buffer of 6 months salary will give you peace of mind as you go about getting the first transaction in your property career.

Also, it takes some time for the transaction to be completed before you receive your commission.

For example, if you are doing resale transactions, it will take around 3 months for the sale and purchase to be completed. Taking into the time needed to market the property (1 to 2 months depending on the property), you could be receiving your first pay cheque around 5 months later).

Therefor it is good if you have a capital to sustain you for the first 6 months into the job.

However, if you are doing rental transactions, the lead time is shorter as we are typically paid after we found a tenant for our clients.

This will greatly help in the cashflow of the business.

(b) Marketing expenses

As per all business, you will need to spend on marketing your services so as to get more business.

For a start, it is good to sit down with your real estate mentor to discuss which segment you should be targeting and work out a marketing plan.

Prospecting is very important part of the business. Decide which is the best prospecting method and allocate marketing dollars to that segment.

Prospecting should be done on a regular basis so it brings you new business constantly. Develop a prospecting system that works for you and allocate a percentage of your sales to it.

business can grow
Prospecting should be done on a regular basis so your business can grow.

(c) Subscription to real estate portals

There are many real estate portals in the market.

Some of them are marketing portals where you can list your units for sale or rent to reach out to buyers and tenants.

Others are more information-based where you can see the recent transactions and run analysis of the market.

The more popular marketing portals are Propertyguru, and Edgeprop.

Speak to your real estate mentor to discuss which one you should subscribe to.

For Huttons agents, we are privileged to have the Huttons Analyzer app where we have access to the most updated information.

You can check the recent transacted price for HDB, condos, landed and commercial properties.

All the information related to the individual condos (eg. tenure, lease start date, number of units etc) is also at your fingertips.

Need to know the indicative valuation of the property? Key in the address and the app will give you 3 indicative valuation almost immediately!

There are many other features in the app. With Huttons Analyzer, you can save on subscribing to the informative-based apps!

Check out the video on our Huttons Analyzer!

(4) Be Very Disciplined

Last but not least, start training yourself to be very discipline!

You are running your own business as a real estate agent. There is no fixed working hours, neither do you need to take instructions from someone.

Therefore, the only person you need to answer to is yourself!

Discipline is almost the key to whether you can succeed in the business!

Lee Kuan Yew


I hope the above is helpful to you in deciding if you should make the mid-career switch into the real estate career

If you are still unsure or if you have decided to just do it, make an appointment with me for a non-obligated discussion on how I can help you achieve what you want from this career.

See you soon!


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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. Call Vivian at 98577714 to embark on this journey.



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