Redbrick Mortgage Advisory is honoured to interview Mr. Eugene Koh, head of Galaxy Group of ERA. Eugene is an Advisory Group Division Director who is on the lookout to guide and mentor a teammate, grooming leaders of tomorrow and humble to be walking the ground.
Alicia Yang, Group Division Director, joins today’s conversation on how the Galaxy Group have cultivated the importance of working together and “paying it forward”.
Q: What were some of the personal values that stayed with you throughout your real estate career?
Eugene: Personal growth and contribution with clear vision of my goals. We believe that individual willpower is limited, especially in the real estate industry, where the learning curve is increasingly steep. As such, our approach is to bring realtors seeking growth together in a highly achieving environment, naturally motivating and inspiring each other to do better.
Alicia: We cultivate the practice of paying it forward within the Galaxy group. Whilst each person has his/her own target, we can only move ahead through teamwork and helping each other. We started small, and our leaders experienced first-hand the power of the group’s culture of working together and paying it forward. We lead by example, and with sincerity.
Q: How did you start building your own property portfolio?
Eugene: I invested in my first private property in 2010 along Meyer Road. Over the last 12 years, I acquired 6 more properties and sold 2 of them (Queens Peak & D’leedon). I invested mainly in new launches and typically held the property for at least 3-5 years.
Alicia: I started with a HDB flat, later I bought an office unit in Tanjong Pagar and a brand-new Queens Peak unit, which I have sold. Then, I invested in another 3 brand new units, all on the first day of launch, tapping on the developer’s price increase strategy and growth potential of the location.
Q: Out of the clients that you have worked with, were there any clients that left a big impression on you?
Alicia/Eugene: Over the last 13 years, many clients referred their family and friends to us, and we are grateful for their trust and support. One particular local family we worked with four years ago, who did not transact with us then, contacted us this year to restructure their portfolio because they felt stuck with the moves they made. We spent time understanding their intentions and proposed to them a 10-year financial roadmap. They will be moving into their dream home next year, and we are very happy for them.
Q: What advice would you have for a client who is currently staying in a HDB and is looking to upgrade to a landed property?
Eugene/Alicia: If their finances allow, upgrading to a landed property is generally a good move. Another option is to upgrade to 2 lower quantum private properties to get rental income from one of the properties, which might be more appealing to some individuals. We recommend setting aside 2-3 years of monthly loan repayments as a safety net in both cases.
Q: Between giving advice to a first-time homeowner versus a property investor, how different would your advice be?
Eugene/Alicia: Firstly, we will gather our client’s real estate goals and portfolio to deliver insights on a customised financial roadmap to optimise the portfolio returns.
Typically, for first-time homeowners, we would recommend not to solely pick the property based on emotional home stay factors but also to place more emphasis on properties with higher potential for appreciation.
After all, if your wealth grows, you have a higher chance to stay in your ideal home later in your life.
For investment, one of our recommendations is to invest in brand new units with closer proximity to the MRT, with solid growth potential. Within 1km to good primary schools is a plus!
With the right entry price support by property research, the potential to exit the property with a healthy capital appreciation is promising.
Q: Who do you look up to for your inspiration?
Eugene: Alicia has been my inspiration. She has the ability to simplify complex concepts, the grit to complete challenging tasks, and the creative intuition to provide insights from a different perspective. Above all, she is a compassionate leader who truly cares for her people.
Alongside Alicia, we formulated the 8-week Galaxy Supernova Program with best practices, techniques, and tools to provide realtors with the best chance of moving up in the real estate game.
Q: What are some attributes shared by successful leaders of today?
Eugene: The ability to adapt to change, the courage to learn, and the willingness to put in hard work. I take the perspective that no matter how big my title is, I am just a learner, seeking new knowledge and insights to improve the processes and systems so that I can help my teammates do better.
Alicia: For me, it is the empathy to understand and feel the struggles and challenges realtors face. We grow our people to become leaders, and whenever a teammate needs help, we put our brains together to work on the issue. We aspire for everyone to move ahead together. And we are truly blessed to have many great leaders in Galaxy Group willing to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of realtors.
Q: Could you share more about how you decided on the group name – Galaxy Group?
Eugene/Alicia: Everyone can be a shining star in the galaxy, and what they do matter! Galaxy is a competitive and supportive environment which motivates our people to go the extra mile to deliver value to their clients. Even if you are currently not producing much results, your resilience, perseverance, and never-give-up spirit of learning and taking action will rally and inspire the people around you to improve with you.
Q: How do you maintain such a strong passion and motivation for yourself while growing the group?
Eugene/Alicia: Our vision is to help our teammates grow and achieve what they never thought possible. And we do so by constantly improving ourselves and building a conducive environment which inspires our people to thrive.
Q: How would you continue to grow and develop yourself as group leaders?
Alicia: Being on the ground, connecting with our people, understanding their frustrations, and providing solutions to their problems. It is about helping my people gain the ability to excel in their roles to give more value to their clients. Eugene is always curious to find new ways to improve himself by amplifying his strengths and improving his weaknesses through active learning. His humility to learn is probably his greatest strength.
Q: What is one thing that you are most proud of?
Eugene: The camaraderie that we have built within Galaxy Group. This solid bond helped us achieve over $44mil with less than 250 realtors in 2021, making us one of the highest achieving groups per realtor.
Alicia: It would be the number of awards that Galaxy members win every month and every year. The numbers are truly extraordinary. It reflects our hard work as a group, and we are very proud of this.