From Engineer To Real Estate - Property Wealth Planner.

Peter Tan, Property Wealth Planner
From Engineer to Real Estate - Property Wealth Planner

20 over years in the Real Estate Industry since 1995. An engineering train person like me, I am amazed that I can be in this real estate industry for so long. But I never regret that I have chosen this trade as my Career. Let me shared with you my storey.

Real Estate Agent
My first job - car mechanic

I am trained as a car mechanic, finished my study in Industrial Technician Certificate in 1984, then after I went for my National Service as store personnel in Navy. I completed my National services in 1986. Got my first job as a car mechanic apprentice after 3 months of job hunting, back then, having a monthly salary and a fixed over time, my pay is only S$450 monthly.

I always dreamt of having my own car mechanics workshop, so I find ways and means to upgrade myself. Taking night courses related to my field, car inspection course, workshop management course etc..

2 years down the road, I realised, a car mechanic is not a career that suitable for me. I quit the job and joined a corporate gift company as a salesperson. I like to meet people instead of facing the machine, but due to my exposal during school times, I am a class monitor and also a head prefect. I use to train and give instructions to all my school prefects, made me a person that not easy to take instructions from others.

due to the above reasons, I went back to assist my father in his business, he was running a goldsmith workshop. I share with his customers the type of designs that will be trendy and obained orders from them, then bring them back to my workers to manufacture it.

I got married in 1993, bought my first HDB BTO flat. I was 29 years old. My father business is not doing well back then so I have to find something else to do.

I started a delivery and courier services company, but the earning was not enough to meet the month-end needs. I have to find other sources of income, I tried MLM sales, never made it because I could not agree to the MLM system, I feel like I am cheating people.

How Did I Start With My Real Estate Career?

In March 1995, I saw this advertisement in The Strait Times.

Free 5 days training course and you can make at least S$3,000 monthly part-time.

Very Attractive right?

My newly started business was not doing well, I need more incomes to supports, my family. This extra S$3,000 income will be good for me. I can do it part-time as my time is flexible since I was running my own business.

So, I signed up for the course. The course taught me all the paper works that I needed to know in the real estate industry and was assigned to a manager after the course.

My manager was always busy, he never had time for me, let alone to mentor me or help me solve my problems.

Was It Easy To Be A Real Estate Agent?

Back then, no training, no support from your upline was the norm.

How to start? I was lost, but I always believe

There is a will, there will be a way. Never Say Die!

I approached the admin to check how other agents are doing. I mirrored them. I subscribed to the daily For Sale By Owner listings, my company will fax it to me. No internet services back then. Handphone was a luxury, my only communication was by pager.

Cold calling
cold calling

I faced a lot of rejections and criticisms when I did me telemarketing. I didn't know how to talk to owners! I do not have any property sales background and I was not trained for it, but I persevered. Finally, I managed to get one appointment ( the joy will never be able to relate ) a property owner wanted to sell her bungalow in Pierce Road.

“Madam, why do you want to sell your property?”

This is the first question I asked the seller,

The first lesson I learned

I had to be more diplomatic in asking a question. I was too blunt, nobody would ask such a question especially to a landed property owner.

I didn't get to market her unit in the end ( maybe she could sense I was too new in this industry). She highlighted to me that I have to be equipped with the knowledge of the Real Estate Industry.

The 2nd lessons I learned

Do your homework!

She has a Good Class Bungalow! ( so embarrassing) and I had no knowledge of the type of landed properties available in Singapore.

Good Class Bungalow
Good Class Bungalow

I started to read, but where can I obtain the knowledge? There are no courses conducted for property agents. Luckily, books shop do have books regarding the properties of Singapore, I bought books about all the private condominium developments in Singapore and from there I started to know more about the industry bit by bits. The real estate industry is not that simple, there are so many sectors involved, there are so many to learn.

In the year 1995, most of the agents only involve in HDB transactions. Knowledge in property investment was unheard of. Most of us only focus on HDB flats, it was the biggest real estate markets in Singapore.

My first commission cheque came from a friend from the Community Club Youth Group. She bought a hdbHDB 3room flat in Toa Payoh for the price of S$75K, 1% commission from the buyer, my commission is S$750, after a 30/70 cut from the company, my commission left with only S$525.

My second commission also from a friend from the Community Club Youth Group. He bought a 2 bedrooms private condo in district 10 for the price of S$700k, give me a commission of S$3,500, 30/70 cut, commission pay to me was S$2450.That’s is after 6 months I am in the Real Estate Business.

That was my result after 6 months in the real estate business. I was very happy with my results, I was making extra income as a part-time agent. I was slow but I still had transactions now and then. Most of the transactions are from people I know, all relatives and friends. Thank you for your supports, you know who you are. I am grateful you are still with me until now.

I was very fortunate, that my father's friend, Mr Goh, an experienced real estate agent, had shared his knowledge on landed houses, redevelopment and private housing with me.

Today, you can get any information about an owner just a click away from the internet. Back then, just to check for ownership and details of the unit/house, not only cost you a sum of money, but time is also very consuming. Let me remind you again that the internet wasn't available and document in black & white meant physical paper and ink.

You have to go all the way to SLA personally, queue to pay for submitting your application (easily 2 hours), then they will give you a microchip where you check and selected the document you want, ask them to photocopy (info per page is S$5 to S$10 ), if you need the land site plan of the house, you pay additional for it. Easily, you need to spend one whole day there.

Before 2009, any company can do real estate transactions as long as you registered a company, and agents do not need to have an individual licence to operate, they will associate with the registered Agency licence. Training is in house, not recognised by the trade.

There was no governing body. You can imagine how complicated it is during those days until the government start to look into the matters, they start to provides courses and equips the Real Estate Agents with the proper knowledge. That is also why the real estate industry gets its bad name. There is no transparency to the system.

Common Examination for House Agents (CEHA)
Common Examination for House Agents (CEHA)

SISV was the first to provide courses, they provided the Common Examination for House Agents (CEHA), its consists of 3 papers, The Estate agency management, The law about real estate practised and real estate marketing.

Certify Property Agent Licence

To make sure I am on par with the market, I took up the course in CEHA (Common Examination for House Agents) in 2005. Unfortunately, I didn't pass the exam. Since an individual licence is not necessary, I stop taking the exam.

In 2009, the government decided that all practice agents must obtain an individual licence. All agents have to pass the CEA exam, then they will only be giving a certified licence to practise. I manage to pass the CEA exam in October 2009. Now, it is called the RES (Real estate salesperson)

CEA certificate and Agent ID card
My CEA certificate and ID card

A lot of agents is being forced to leave the industry when they didn't pass the CEA exam in 2009.

Following up in the year 2010, the authority decided to raise the criteria. You must at least 4 “O” level passes, and you must have a credit in English language before you can sit for the exam. if you want to know more about the RES exam, you can visit my blog "how long does the RES take?"

My delivery and courier services business not doing well. I decided to focus on Real Estate, so I joined another agency and was only doing resale markets sales.

The sentimental of running the real estate agency changes, this real estate company I joined do provides in-depth training, organising marketing activities, door to door knocking, door to door farming, roadshows for more exposal and also organise cold calling to owners (you can call yourself or engage a telemarketer). Finally, I start to learn a lot more.

I was in this agency till the year 2008 when I came to a bottleneck. I just can’t find any satisfaction in the trade, I was making money but I could not add value to my clients, I felt I was a “BUY” and “SELL” agent.

Not many clients stay in with me, so I started to find ways that I can hold on to my clients.

Added Value To Clients

When a society improves through time, information is more accessible through technology, people are expecting more from the Real Estate agents. I realised that if I am to stay in this industry, I cannot just be a SELL and BUY agent anymore. I have to provide more value-added to my clients.

Knowledge of the real estate is essential, but understanding the needs of your clients and able to help them address their concerns in their property transaction is also very crucial.

I start to take up courses like mortgage planning to provide some financial planning for them.

Singapore Accredited Mortgage Planner
SAMP - a financial course

I quit this company in August 2008 joining another agency which focuses more on new launch residential projects by developers. I started to understand what is property investment.

With the knowledge I gain from a financial planning course, I can give proper advice to my clients and help them to build their wealth in their property investment.

At the same time. I also started to invest in property, I bought my first investment property in the year 2008, followed my second Investment property in 2011.

Recruitments And Mentoring New Associates

recruitment and mentoring
Recruitment and mentoring

In 2010, I told myself, I should pass my knowledge to people who want to take up a Career in Real Estate, as a property wealth planner and not just a “Buy” and “Sell” agent. I decide to recruit and mentor like-minded agents.

I move to a new set up agency, hoping that I can share and progress from there. In the first 2 years in the agency, getting involved in the developing of the division I am with and also involved in some agency management matters, I neglected my first l intention- Recruitment and mentoring new like-minded agents.

Dark time in my career

2013 is the dark time of me, my delivery and courier services business was running at a loss and I had to decide to shut it down. Within the same year, 2 important families member left me.

My mother in law died of pancreas cancer in January 2013 after fighting for 1 whole year. My father got diagnose of lung cancer in June 2013 and left me in October 2013. I was very lost then.

2014, I manage to get my feet up and go into a full-time Real Estate Profession, providing value-added to clients with my knowledge as a property wealth planner.

Since I decided to lead, I get involved in Company new projects sale, I applied for the Projects Sale IC role. I was given a 2IC role in the year 2014, working along with Stuart Chng as the main IC for Amber Skye. My intention of recruitment and the mentoring new agent never change.

Why I Joined Navis Living Group, Jackie Mang Division?

Jackie, Peter Tan and Stuart
Jackie, me and Stuart, Navis Living Group

At the beginning of 2020, I joined Orangetee, Navis Living Group after 10 years in my previous Agency. I have been looking for a team that be able to come together like a family, willing to guide those who are not well versed in the industry.

An agency that leaders are willing to share and provides training in their expertise in a different segment of the real estate industry. Working close together so as a Real Estate Professional, we can provide more value-added to our clients.


To Summarized

Its was not an easy journey for me to where I am now in this Real Estate Business. In my days, information is not accessible that easy, no training, no guidance etc. No worries, if you keen to join me in this real estate business, I am ready to be your mentor. You do not need to go through what I had been through.

For an individual who wants to pursue a career in Real Estate, I will be happy to share with you how I can assist you in your real estate career. You can reach me at 94896105 for a coffee session.

If you find these articles useful for one of your friends, please like share and comments on it.

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About the Author

Peter Tan Choon Guan, The Real Estate Guy.

Senior Associate Group Director with OrangeTee & Tie.

Since 1995, he has been providing professional consulting services to clients in Singapore and beyond. From strategic planning to innovative solutions, his focus is always on building an efficient and results-driven relationship. He will work with you to create a customized plan of action for yourself or your organization.

Peter is an adventurous person, he is a basketball player since school times, represent schools and organisation in the National Tournament. He is also active in track and fields, participated in school events and national events and got a bronze medal for his Long Jump events and a silver medal in his 100M run.

Water sports in another area he is interested, obtained a few medals for his canoeing competition. He conquered Mount Kinabalu in East Malaysia, Mount Tahan and Mount Ophir in East Malaysia.

He is enlisted into National Services as Naval personnel, a Section IC in his department. Appointed to Acting Platoon Sergeant during his Reservist.

During school times, he is a class monitor and a school prefect during his primary school time. Become a youth leader in a later stage. With all the exposal created him a leader by nature, able to train and guide people.

Starting to run in his own business in the year 1995 and ended his business in years 2013. This allows him to be able to communicate at all levels in society. Joining the Real Estate Industry in the year 1995 as a part-timer. He ended his business in 2013, focuses on Real Estate consultation, not only starts to invest in property himself, he also assisted more than 350 property investors to build their wealth in property investment.

With the hand on investment himself, he will be able to provide you with the real-time property insight and strategic planning for your property investment through Property Wealth Planning System.

WhatsApp Peter if you need any assistant. If you do like this article, please give me some comments and like.