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From Engineer To Real Estate - Property Wealth Planner.

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

20 plus 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 share with you my storey.

Real Estate Agent
My first job - car mechanic

I took up a course in Automotive Engineering after my GCE "O" Level examination, an Industrial Technician Certificate conducted by The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in 1984, then I went for my National Service as a store personnel in the Navy.

I completed my National Services in 1986. After three months of job hunting, I finally got my first job as a car mechanic apprentice. Back then, having a monthly salary and a fixed overtime, my salary is only a gross of S$450.00

I always dreamt of having my own car mechanics workshop at that time, 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 realized that Car Mechanic is not a Career that is suitable for me. I quit the job and joined a corporate gift company as a salesperson. I am an outgoing person, like to meet people, talk to people, and need more interaction.

I am a class monitor and also head Prefect during my school days. I use to train and give instructions to all my school Prefects, which naturally 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 obtain orders from them, then bring them back to my workers to manufacture them.

I got married in 1993, and bought my first HDB BTO flat, back then I was 29 years old.

Due to the financial crisis, luxury items are not selling well, and my father's business is being affected and not doing well, so I have to find something else to do.

I started a delivery and courier services company, providing companies and individuals with the services. Only one man, the revenue was not enough to meet the month-end needs, so I have to find other sources of income, I tried MLM sales, but 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?

S$3,000 in 1995, which is equivalent to top management pay.

Since my newly started business was not doing well, I need search for more revenues to support my family. This extra S$3,000 income will be excellent for me.

I was running my own business, and my timing is flexible, so I decided to do it as a part-timer for the start.

I signed up for the course. The course taught me all the papers works that I needed to know about the real estate industry during these five days of free courses and 1 was assigned to a manager after completing the training.

My manager was always busy, he never had time for me, he was supposed to be my mentor and guide me.

Very disappointed, he did nothing, and I am left alone sorting out things all by myself.

Was It Easy To Be A Real Estate Agent?

Back then in 1995, no training, and no support from your upline was the norm.

How to start? I was lost.

Well, I am not a person that easily gives up, and 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 my telemarketing. No training was provided by the company and my manager, I didn't know how to communicate with prospects!

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 ) with a property owner who wanted to sell her bungalow on Pierce Road, located in District 10, one of the luxurious residential areas in Singapore.

It was a very embarrassing experience for this meeting. My Manager had no time for me in this meeting, to assist me to secure the listing and I just go there by myself not prepared. (practically don't know what to prepare)

And 2 lessons learned.

The owner is a nice lady in her mid-fifties.

Knowing nothing and starting a conversation with a Stupid Question.

“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 ( GCB owner some more)

I didn't get to market her house in the end ( she definitely senses I am a novice in this industry). She highlighted to me that I have to be equipped with knowledge of the Real Estate Industry.

The 2nd lesson 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. ( Back in 1995, no course related to Singapore Property is available, especially for Real Estate Agents)

Good Class Bungalow
Good Class Bungalow

But where can I obtain the information and knowledge of the Real Estate Industry?

There are no courses conducted for property agents.

Luckily, there are books with some writes up on some of the Residential development in Singapore. I bought these books on all the private condominium developments in Singapore.

This is how I managed to understand more about the industry bit by bit. The real estate industry is not that simple, there are so many sectors involved and endless learning. And till today, I am still learning.

In the year 1995, most of the agents were asked to focus on HDB transactions. It was the biggest real estate market in Singapore.

Buy and sell. Knowledge of property investment was unheard of. ( Not in the field of the agent, but in the hand of the savvy investor)

My first commission cheque came from a friend from the People Association Youth Group Community Club. She bought an HDB 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 was also from a friend from the People Association Youth Group Community Club.

He bought a 2-bedroom private condo in district 10 for the price of S$700k, give me a commission of S$3,500, 30/70 cut, commission paid 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. Not satisfied but I am still happy with the results without any guidance from my manager, I managed to make some 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, relatives, and friends. Thank you for your support, you know who you are. I am grateful you are still with me now.

I was very fortunate, that my father's friend, Mr. Goh, an experienced veteran real estate professional, had shared his knowledge on landed houses, redevelopment, and private housing with me, other areas that I manage to gain my knowledge in Real Estate.

Today, you can get any information about an owner just a click away from the internet.

Back then, just checking for ownership and details of the unit/house, was not only costly, but time is also very consuming. Let me remind you again that the internet wasn't available and documents 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 registered company in Singapore can do real estate transactions, and agents do not need to have an individual license to practice, they will just associate with the registered Agency license. Training is in-house, not recognized by the trade.

There was no governing body. You can imagine how complicated it is during those days.

Disputes between buyer and seller arise, and agents, undercut each other. Unethical practices everywhere.

Till then the government starts to look into the matters, start to provide courses and equip the Real Estate Agents with the proper knowledge. There is also where the real estate industry gets its bad name from. There is no transparency in the system.

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

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

Certify Property Agent License

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

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

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

A lot of agents are being forced to leave the industry when they didn't pass the CES exam in 2009. ( Most of the Property Agents are not fluent in English and cannot manage to pass the interim examination)

Following up in the year 2010, the authority decided to raise the criteria. minimum entry to obtain a RES License, You must have at least 4 “O” level passes, and a credit in the English language is necessary 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 Course take?"

My delivery and courier services business not doing well, so I decided to focus on Real Estate, I switch to another agency and did only secondary market sales.

The sentimental of running the real estate agency changed, the real estate company I joined provides in-depth training, organizing marketing activities, door-to-door knocking, door-to-door farming, roadshows hyping for more exposal and also organize cold calling to owners (you can call yourself or engage a telemarketer). Finally, the Industry player (Agency) is aware that training is essential for new Agents.

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 some income but I don't find myself giving added value to my clients, I felt I was a “BUY” and “SELL” agent and I know it won't last long if I continued.

No value is added to your services and many clients never stay with me, and most of them will leave me after the transaction is done. One-time business.

So I start to find ways to engage with clients by providing more services to them so they can appreciate the added value I provided to them.

Added Value To Clients

When society improves over time, information is more accessible through technology, people are expecting more from Real Estate agents. I realized 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 real estate is essential, but understanding the needs of your clients and being able to help them address their concerns in their property transactions is even more 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

In August 2008, I resigned from this Agency and switch to another Agency which focuses more on new launch residential projects by developers. This is where I started to understand what is property investment.

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

At the same time. I also started to invest in property, I bought my first investment property in the year 2008, followed by my second Investment property in 2011. with the hand on, I can understand the concern of each client when they are deciding the commitment to the unit, there where I share the experience that I have and advice them according to their portfolio.

Recruitments And Mentoring New Associates

recruitment and mentoring
Recruitment and mentoring

In 2010, I told myself, that 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 start 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 too involved in the development of the division, and also involved in some agency management matters, I neglected my first Intention- Recruitment and mentoring new like-minded agents.

Dark time in my career

2013 is a dark time for me, my delivery and courier services business was running at a loss and I had no choice but to shut it down. Things were not on my side, within the same year, 2 important family members left me.

My mother-in-law died of pancreatic cancer in January 2013 after fighting for 1 whole year.

My father got diagnosed with 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 20+ years of knowledge in this Real Estate Industry.

Since I decided to lead, I get involved in Company's new projects sales, I applied for the Projects Sale IC role. Being recognized by the agency, I was given a 2IC role in the year 2014, working along with Stuart Chng as the main IC for Amber Skye, a Luxury residential development in District 15.

This 2 IC appointment gave me the opportunity to train, and lead a team of Salespersons to market this project, allowing me to share my knowledge with them. Seeing them successfully close a deal, the satisfaction, I don't know how to put in words.

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 & Tie Pte Ltd, Navis Living Group after 10 years in my previous Agency. I have been looking for a team having the same mindset, that will be able to come together like a family, willing to train, guide, and mentor those who are not well-versed in the industry.

A Division where leaders are willing to selfless share and provide training in their expertise in a different segment of this Real Estate Industry. Working close together as Real Estate professionals, we can provide more value-added to our clients.


*Navis Living Group has migrated to Huttons Asia Pte Ltd in September 2021, and we have found a better platform for our Navis members to perform. With the support from the New Huttons management, we believe that Huttons Asia Pte Ltd will bring Navis Living Group and the Agency to a new height. Most of the Navis will be on board this new platform.

If you are now looking for a mentor to guide you to be successful in this Real Estate Industry.

I will be the one you should look for. Real Estate Guy - Peter Tan.

To Summarized

It was not an easy journey for me to where I am now in this Real Estate Business. Those days, information is not accessible that easily, with no training, no guidance, etc.

No worries, if you are 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, I have just taken up the role to be a trainer in NLG after almost 2 years with them. (Officially become part of the training team today 14th October 2021).

I am good at providing Property Wealth Planning for all my clients. If clients need strategic planning in their property investment journey, as Real Estate professionals, we also need to have strategic planning for our Real Estate careers. I am ready to help you draft this road map, especially for you.​

For an individual, whether you are an existing RES or 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.

If things work out, welcome you to join Peter's Team, if not, let's be friends.

You can reach me at 94896105 for a coffee session, let's excel together.

Finding the right group of same-minded people to work together will definitely happier and much easier to achieve what you want.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thinking of changing your Career?

Urge to know more about how to become a Real Estate Salesperson?

Welcome you to join our Career seminar, find out yourself how Navis can help you achieve your goal. WhatsApp Peter at 94896105.

Come fly with Navis

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

If you are keen and want to know more about Real Estate Work. Call me Now



About the Author

Peter Tan Choon Guan, The Real Estate Guy.

Associate District Director at Huttons Asia Pte Ltd

Property Wealth Planner

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, representing schools and organizations in the National Tournament. He is also active in track and field, 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 is another area he is interested in, in obtaining 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 in National Services as a 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 primary school time. Become a youth leader at a later stage. All the exposal created him a leader by nature, able to train and guide people.

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

With his hand on investment, he will be able to provide you with real-time property insight and strategic planning for your property investment through Property Wealth Planning System. Begin as a Group Trainer in Navis Living Group after 18 months of joining NLG.

He will be able to Mentor new RES, Coach, and Train them in their Career.

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

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