Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honoured to interview Mr. Darren Teo, head of SHINE Group of ERA. Darren is a Senior Executive Group Division Director whose focus on property portfolio management serves a niche market. Humble and down-to-earth, Darren has worked with clients from all walks of life, including high-profile personalities. Today, Darren shares about his journey from a rookie real estate agent to a successful leader with a niche expertise.
Q. What prompted you to start a career in real estate?
Darren: Back then, I was a young engineer in the construction industry, working long hours and wondering how to gain better career prospects. In order to advance further in the construction industry, I would have to venture overseas.
After attending an ERA career recruitment seminar, I was drawn to the company’s vision and opportunities offered. Hence, I decided to join as a real estate agent. It has been 19 years and I have never regretted that decision.
Q. What are some personal values that stayed with you throughout your career?
Darren: Adaptability is highly valued in this ever-evolving industry. Another key value is having the thirst and eagerness to learn.
To do well in this industry, good interpersonal skills are required. These skills and others can be taught. However, proper ethics are nurtured values that cannot be cultivated overnight. I have always prioritized coaching these personal values and these are important in order for agents to progress in the real estate industry.
Q. You have achieved numerous awards during your career, may I ask which achievement are you most proud of?
Darren: I am most proud of achieving the League of Excellence Award in 2020. This is the highest recognition bestowed upon ERA Division Directors who have achieved at least three times as either Top Division Overall or Top Division Director in each category of the Year.
As my division is not large in numbers, every single one of my agents have to do well over a period of time in order for Shine Division to pick up this award.
Q. Could you share what or how you started building your property portfolio?
Darren: I graduated from the School of Building and Real Estate, NUS.I have always been interested in the finance and the ‘’Maths’’ behind real estate investments. I’m fully convinced of the power of real estate and how it can help every individual grow or protect their wealth.
I invested in District 9 properties in my earlier years and was able to enjoy decent capital appreciation through them. I also invested in overseas land and managed to achieve quite decent returns.
I’m also a firm believer in landed properties as there are a great hedge against inflation and works perfectly in its role of wealth retention. I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my own piece of land and constructed my own home a few years ago.
Q. What makes you stand out from the rest?
Darren: My business model involves handling multiple clients with multiple properties. I essentially handle their property portfolio. I will advise clients on the various options available to them and we will work hand-in-hand to achieve their property goals.
Unlike many property agents who have to keep on looking for new clients, I have stopped prospecting since 2007. The last 15 years of my business are spent looking after my existing clients’ portfolio. They in-turn will recommend their own network to me.
I used to travel bi-monthly pre-covid days to wherever the clients are located. Being physically present while exploring real estate solutions makes a big difference in client management.
Successful property agents have a reputation of being ‘’flashy’’. I’m the exact opposite. I am very “low-key’’ about my real estate business as I do have a lot of ‘’high profile’’ clients.
The ‘’high profile’’ clients appreciate me working silently behind the scenes and protecting their interests.
Q. How do you get people to join your team?
Darren: Word of mouth. Shine Group have developed a reputation as a team that concentrates on real estate coaching. Shine Group is result-orientated and lots of effort are made to ‘’position’’ the agent. We recognize that every agent is different and every agent comes with his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. Our job is to ensure that the agent is best positioned so that he or she can maximize his or her potential.
Q. Who do you look up to for inspiration?
Darren: While there are many notable leaders in ERA, I look up the most to Mr. Jack Chua, Executive Chairman of ERA.
In my line of work, large real estate deals can be very rewarding financially. However, large real estate deals can be very complex. There have been many instances when I have exhausted all means and negotiations have reached a standstill. Jack have always been readily available to solve these outstanding issues. His experience and knowledge have always proved helpful in situations like these, helping me to bridge the gap in negotiations.
Q. How do you keep the ‘real estate” fire within you whilst igniting the drive/passion of your mentees?
Darren: The real estate industry is very dynamic. It’s ever-changing and Prop-tech has accelerated the change. Every single day is a challenge.
I always believe in focusing on the process. If the process is done properly, the result will take care of itself. That keeps me going every single day.
Managing clients’ property portfolio is a big responsibility. The feeling of successfully meeting clients’ objective and expectation is highly satisfying
Coaching agents is also a big responsibility. I enjoy this process the most. Coaching is a two-way process. You get to learn about the agent and at the same time they get to learn about the business. This process allows me and the agent to come up with a customized business plan that will maximize his or her potential.
Everyone is different, but if both parties work hard at it, the chances of success is greatly elevated.
Q. What is the one thing that makes you most proud?
Darren: That I have managed to stay relevant after 19 years in the industry. Many of my clients have become close personal friends. I’m also extremely proud of Shine Group. Especially the ones that have stayed with me through the years. The last 12 months have been great for Shine Group. We have a record number of agents (New and Experienced) joining Shine Group and we fully intend to coach every single one of them so that we will keep on Shining in the Real Estate Industry.