Property agencies encouraging agents to look into overseas and rental markets

With property transactions dampened by various cooling measures last year, some real estate agencies have said they are encouraging their agents to diversify their income stream.

That means looking beyond local transactions and venturing into the overseas and rental markets as well.

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) announced on Thursday that there was a 27 per cent fall in the number of new property agents in 2013, compared to 2012.

25-year-old Victor Chan became a real estate salesperson last year.

But on the back of loan curbs and other property cooling measures, the market was less than rosy for him.

He said; “Usually on weekends, I would go for about 15 to 20 viewings. During the November, December period, calls actually slowed down, until there were no viewings on weekends or at most just one.”

With more free time, the computing graduate fell back on what he knew – programming mobile apps to sell.

One of them is a financial calculator that helps property agents compute a client’s finances.

Mr Chan said: “I have been getting a few hundred dollars and this actually helps to cover the expenses there are for my current listing’s advertisement.”

To cope, Mr Chan added he has focused his real estate efforts on the Woodlands area, a town where he said there are more resale transactions because prices are more affordable. It is a strategy adopted by his team at DWG.

With local sales slowing, some property agencies like ERA Realty Network and HSR International Realtors said they have encouraged agents to consider the overseas and rental markets for income.

Common overseas locations include Malaysia and Australia.

Donald Yeo, head of marketing and training at HSR International Realtors, said that agents typically get about one month of commission for a two-year rental deal.

With new rules barring new Permanent Residents (PRs) from buying a HDB resale flat for three years and more private properties being completed, agencies expect rental demand to grow.

Mr Yeo said: “Compare 2012 and 2013, we have witnessed a 30 per cent increase in our rental transactions and business. People who may not want to purchase a property right now may think that still prices may be coming down, so they (adopt) a wait-and-see (approach), so right now, they are actually residing in a rental flat.”

Some property agencies said they have also increased the frequency of training for their salespeople. This is to better equip them with the skills and knowledge to advise their clients on a deal in the current property climate.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 10 Jan 2014

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