Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honored to interview Ms. Amy Ko from the PRIME Group of ERA. Amy is a District Division Director who has clinched 33 awards during her career. With 27 years of experience under her belt, Amy shares more about her personal journey as a real estate broker as well as past clients that have helped her excel in the industry. As a veteran in the field, Amy is also a wonderful mentor and tells us more about the leaders whom she looks up to.
Q. When you decided to start your real estate journey, was there a specific dream/goal that you had in mind?
Amy: Prior to joining ERA in 1994, I was with Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV). I really wanted to become a good salesperson, so I set a goal for myself. For the first year, my aim was to rise up the ranks and become a manager. I was so determined that I promised myself that if I do not achieve this goal and earn enough to purchase my dream car – a Mercedes, I would quit this job.
Thankfully, I managed to achieve my goal and was even awarded the 1994 Top 5 Rookie in 1994.
Q. What prompted you to start a career in real estate?
Amy: I wanted to try something new, and I wanted to find a new challenge. As an individual with a competitive streak, this contributed to my passion early in my sales career. I am also driven by investment opportunities, and I found this career suitable to pursue my investment interests.
Q. What are some personal values that stayed with you throughout your career?
Amy: I think there are 3 key values that I hold firmly throughout my career – building a personal connection, putting ourselves in others’ shoes and being diligent.
There was a case where the building was priced at $12 million, but I managed to clinch the deal at $10 million as I knew the seller personally. This was not an easy feat, as the property was a prestigious building that was already tenanted. Although it was a lower price than proposed, the seller was willing to sell through me over other agents that made offers as he knew me personally. As a real estate broker, having this level of trust and being able to help my clients successfully purchase their property gives me immense satisfaction – especially when my experience and the rapport I have built over the years can come into play.
I think it is important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. A property is a large-ticket item and often requires the life savings of the buyer. Thus, I do not subscribe to the notion of hard selling properties to others without considering their perspectives and financial positions.
Lastly, I believe that my success as a real estate broker is by doing my homework diligently. I know the properties inside-out and have also researched on the property markets that my clients are interested in. With today’s digital age, clients do not need you to share the basic information with them. To be able to act as a respected advisor to my clients, such information and understanding of the future market trends must be ready and is fundamental to my success as a real estate broker.
Q. You have achieved numerous awards during your career, may I ask which achievement are you most proud of?
Amy: Over my career, I have clinched over 30 awards. The award that I am most proud of is the Top 5 Rookie award in 1994. While I am also proud of my other awards such as Top Achievers between 1995 – 2007 and the 2006 ERA Asia Pacific Elite Award, being able to achieve the Top 5 Rookie award when I was starting out a new career gave me newfound confidence. The recognition from the company and my bosses motivated me to thrive in this new career.
Q. Could you share what or how you started building your property portfolio?
Amy: I invest in a mix of properties, mainly private buildings. My philosophy is that most properties would appreciate over time in Singapore’s land-scarce climate. In fact, this is especially prominent today as developers have been facing sluggish land sales and costs of construction have risen.
Q. Out of the numerous clients that you have worked with, was there any particular client that left a deep impression?
Amy: Speaking of clients that I built friendships with, I have a client whom I have worked together with for 20 years. I was able to help him earn over $150,000 over the span of 8 weeks simply by investing in the right property at the right time. I was able to achieve this because I had done my research and knew of a suitable timing for the investment.
Q. Who do you look up to for inspiration?
Amy: There are 3 outstanding individuals whom I look up to – Marcus Chu, Chief Executive Officer and Doris Ong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of ERA and my mentor, Gary Lau of PRIME Group. Like myself, Marcus and Doris had started their career in sales before moving up to ERA management team. Marcus, Doris and Gary are always able to come up with new, fresh initiatives and have very insightful talks. Even today with 27 years of experience, I am still learning from them.
Q. In your opinion, what are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Amy: I think successful leaders have the ability to give timely feedback to their team and can continuously give new insights to others. They also work hard to give back to the company and make their team members feel appreciated.
Q. Could you share on how the Group started and how it got its name?
Amy: I am with the PRIME Group led by Gary Lau. Within the PRIME group, we have our own divisions and my division is called SINCERE. We chose SINCERE as our name because we treat everyone genuinely and with respect. Our associates have established personal connections with their clients whom they do their best to serve. In particular, I am impressed by the younger associates who have different working styles as they have creative methods to do both sales and marketing, albeit different from traditional methods.
Q. How do you keep the ‘real estate” fire within you whilst igniting the drive/passion of your mentees?
Amy: While competitiveness was the driving force when I was younger, I find that my passion is now in helping others. Be it aiding younger associates to deal with scenarios that they struggle to deal with or to provide a fresh perspective from a sales and marketing standpoint, I find joy when I am able to help others achieve their goals.
In fact, ERA is like my second family as those who know me will call me ‘elder sister’ out of respect. Even the younger associates who have already gained their footing in the industry, they still treat me courteously. As for the colleagues I have worked with for decades, it has become such a warm environment and that has helped fuel my passion to help others.
Q. How would you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Amy: I will continue learning and improving my technical and digital skills, as digital marketing has become increasingly important today. Thankfully, I have others with such expertise to guide me to maximize on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Facebook Marketing. As a leader, I must move ahead of trends to enable my group to grow and excel.
Q. What is the one thing that makes you most proud?
Amy: My family comes first and I am known to be very close to my family. I strongly believe that people are the most important and that love can help us overcome any challenges in life.