Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honoured to interview Mr. Alan Toh, head of Vision Group of ERA. Alan is an Advisory Group Division Director who has been focusing on personal mentorship and takes pride in the performance and growth of his group. Alan talks about how his real estate journey began 21 years ago and also reveals how he uses his personal experiences to help his clients attain their landed property goals.
Q: How and what made you start your career in Real Estate?
Alan: I was an intern in a property management company. The condominium manager that worked with me was a former ERA agent who preferred property management. During this internship, he felt that my character was a good fit for property sales, and I should go for it. After attending a recruitment seminar, I signed up with ERA and that was how I entered property sales, and it has been 21 years since.
Q: What are some of the personal values that stayed with you throughout your career?
Alan: I believe strongly in mentorship, which shortens the path to success within Real Estate. I teach my agents how to get started, which direction to take and which sectors to specialise in, and how to kickstart their business. When I was in their position years ago, social media was not prevalent. Formal training opportunities at a company level were few and far between. It was this experience that made me see the importance of good mentorship and guidance, which I am eager to provide to my agents.
Q: Could you share a bit about how you started building your own property portfolio?
Alan: I started building my real estate portfolio in 2007, purchasing property on my own. To overcome some of the charges imposed in line with the cooling measures, I started to co-own property with other agents. This was an opportunity that we created for other agents, to jointly own property, while helping them to start early in property investing.
Q: Out of the many clients that you have worked with, was there a particular client that left a deep impression?
Alan: Not just one! My clientele base grows together with me. Off the top of my head, one former HDB owner whom I have known has followed me throughout his property ownership journey. Like many others, he has upgraded from HDB to Condo, to landed property. I went through this progression with him and like many others, we have become very good friends. My relationships are based a lot on the trust that we share and that has been fundamental in building up the referral base that we have.
Q: Have you encountered clients who want to upgrade from HDB to landed? What advice would you give them?
Alan: I would firstly assess their financial status. If the property that they wish to purchase is within their means, I would advise them to review their assets to minimise additional stamp duties. The type of property that they are interested in will also be dependent on their age and salary.
For prospective buyers who are younger, I would advise them to consider leveraging as much as possible if they are able to afford the down payment and purchase as many properties as possible. For families with teenage children, they can also consider purchasing properties in trust for their children.
Q: How different would your advice be for first-time homeowners versus property investors?
Alan: It all depends on their resources. For those who are purchasing their home, I would recommend spending within your means. Some criteria for consideration would be its proximity to an MRT, a good school (local or international) and if it’s located next to a shopping mall.
If these criteria are met when searching for a property for your own stay, you will benefit over the years. The capital gains would be higher in this situation as compared to a property that does not fulfil these criteria, regardless of whether the property is a leasehold or freehold.
Q: Who do you look up to for inspiration?
Alan: I look up to both Jack Chua and Marcus Chu. I believe that with their guidance, our company will retain our values and propel a greater push into digital marketing which will ultimately enhance our performance and our clientele base.
Q: In your opinion, what are the most important attributes of a successful leader?
Alan: Passion, mentorship and responsibility. Success as a manager is less dependent on your personal performance but focuses on the performance of your downlines.
Personal mentorship is the most important factor for me. Supporting them also gives me a great sense of teamwork and satisfaction
Q: Can you share how the group name, Vision, started?
Alan: Vision means having a direction and a goal for what we do. At the same time, it relates to anticipating and moving quickly on opportunities that remain available.
Our slogan – We Train, We Guide, We Show & We Prove, applies to all our agents and recruiters.
Q: After being in the industry for 21 years, how do you keep that fire within you burning?
Alan: We only recruit based on referrals, and those that do join us to pursue their passion fall directly under our responsibility to provide proper guidance. My wife is also an agent, and if required, I can pass my sales workload to her to free up more time for coaching. This balance allows me to spend time on recruitment as well.
Q: How would you continue to grow and develop yourself as a leader?
Alan: I will have to continue to be involved in the market. This helps me to spot undervalued property and if the opportunity arises, I will jump on it. Being personally involved helps me stay abreast so that I can continue making strong recommendations to my clients.
Q: What is one thing that you feel most proud of?
Alan: Definitely being able to afford a landed property after my initial purchase of a condominium. Many of our clients pursue this path, and I am always happy to share my personal experience and guide them towards their goals with the best of my abilities. I am also proud to have a team ( VISION GROUP) with me for the past 20 over years who has become my family forever!