Redbrick Conversation with Mr. Alex Yap, Senior Group Division Director, ERA

Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honoured to interview Mr. Alex Yap, head of HOMEZ Group of ERA. Alex is a Senior Group Division Director who is a pioneer in developing interactive sales kits and is known for his foresight in enablement tools for the real estate industry. Alex shares about his journey on how his involvement in projects inspired him to develop tools for agents and become an accomplished real estate leader today.

Q: When you decided to begin your real estate journey, was there a specific dream or goal that you had in mind?

Alex: I embarked on my real estate career by chance as I previously had a comfortable job, so doing something apart from that was not always on my mind. However, a friend of mine left his job and joined the real estate and was doing fairly well for himself. It was 20 years ago when he invited me to his office for a chat. The next thing I knew, I was pointed to the counter to make payment to sign up! That was how my entire real estate career began but those were the days where the recruitment process was as such – through word of mouth in the industry, and it was how most people started out.

Q: What are some of the personal values that you have held throughout your career?

Alex: Over the years, I have realised that it is very important to build relationships before any business begins – for both clients and within our group members. When you treat your peers as friends, where factors like transparency and integrity come into play, relationships will begin on the right footing with a genuine intent. This has been my top priority over the years.

Q: Throughout your career, you have won many awards. Which award are you most proud of?

Alex: I was most proud of receiving awards like the Top Division Director. These awards represent fulfilled promises that I had set for my group and myself. When I recruit agents into my group, I would usually tell them that Homez can guide and help them. This is far more fulfilling than my personal sales achievement.

Source: Alex Yap

Q: What about your home ownership journey?

Alex: I started off staying in an HDB and I moved on to private properties. I went through decoupling and now I own more than one property, with some overseas properties as well.

Q: Of the many clients that you have worked with, were there any clients that left a deep impression with you?

Alex: Yes, I helped a client purchase his property in my early days and he had a sibling who did not want to buy a property because she felt it was a risky investment considering she was also a PR, among other reasons.

I built a great relationship with my client since and had been managing their property portfolio for over 10 years. One day, the sibling reached out and asked me about the benefits of purchasing a property, and she finally purchased her property! After 5 years, her property had increased quite a lot in value. Recently, she asked if there are any more opportunities in the market! I am very glad that over the years I have managed to manage her property portfolio and unlock opportunities for her.

Q: For the new members in your team, what type of advice would you give them when they meet a first-time homeowner versus a property investor?

Alex: I believe that there are two types of property buyers – one that buys for love, and the other that buys for money. The former wishes to start a family, with a long-term goal involving their children and the school that they go to, and other conveniences that are involved in life.

For that type of buyer, it is best to advise them to follow their heart, since it is a home that they will be living in. Thereafter, assess if the property has the potential to make profit down the road. If there is potential, then it will certainly be a great purchase, but it should not come at the expense of your satisfaction with the house itself.

The latter group may be less concerned with the details – which direction the unit faces, what view is available. There is less emotional attachment to the property, and you would often simply purchase the cheapest unit to rent out. Similarly, the tenant has minimal emotional attachment to the unit since it only serves to provide accommodation.

Either way, I train my team to seek out the client’s purpose when acquiring a unit. If this can be determined, finding the right unit should be fairly easy.

Source: Alex Yap

Q: Who do you look up to for inspiration?

Alex: Our CEO, Mr. Marcus Chu, has been very inspiring. When I first joined real estate, he was our division director. His perseverance definitely stands out, his adaptability and what he has achieved today defines my desire to learn continuously as I progress in this career.

Q: Would you say that in real estate, business improves with greater time spent in the business?

Alex: Certainly, I have clients that have been with me over the years. Even though there may not always be business, we do still keep in contact and catch up every once in a while. Sometimes, if opportunity arises, we refer business to each other.

Q: In your opinion, what are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

Alex: The most important value is the ability to be versatile and being adaptable to changes. As a leader, it is also important to embrace changes and innovate to stay ahead of the curve. One day, there may not be a need for real estate agents, if we continue to remain the same as we currently do. Therefore, it is important that we think of ways to innovate and add value to our work so that we stay relevant to the people we serve.

Q: As someone who has been in this industry for many years, how do you keep the real estate fire within you while still making sure that the people who join you have the same passion and drive to do well?

Alex: If I am the fire, my team will be the firewood – they are the ones who fuel me. Like I had mentioned, they are the ones that we hope to guide to success, and this drives me to stay up to date with the market, keeping abreast of the information. It is also important that I remain relevant so that I can provide them with the right information in training sessions. So effectively, they are the ones who keep me going, especially with their thirst for knowledge.

There are always things to learn about the industry, such as how online marketing has evolved!

Q: What is one thing that you are most proud of?

Alex: In recent years, I was involved in many projects and decided to develop an interactive sales program and easy reference guide. In the past, agents were carrying large bulky plans for each of the properties that they were involved in.

I decided to digitize these interactive sales kits which can be stored on the iPad, making it more convenient for our group members and our clients. It has been adapted by a lot of other groups and companies as it has brought a lot of convenience to the industry.

The Redbrick Team
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