Humour and ethics at
"I'll give you five dollars if you can swipe the card
successfully to get us up to the Horizon Towers unit," I said to the
expatriate. We had been to one unit and the various parties had
difficulty making the card work after ten tries. If the card worked,
the unit number at the lift panel would be lighted up. One resident
swiped and dropped her card twice onto the floor. One did a stylish
swipe and at the end of the line curved the card downwards. It
Now, we were at the second unit and the agent had failed to activate
the card after four tries. The Caucasian expatriate was
sporting and tried. He failed two times. I failed too. The
co-broking agent said, "Ask the domestic worker to do it as she
would have more experience with the card." The Filipino maid was in
the lift and she tried. It did not work too. Now, the lift was not
that big and we kept going up as other residents on higher floors
hijacked the lift to go down. Ten adults were now in this lift.
What was the problem with this card? "It is better to call the
guard," the agent suggested. "He may have the master card."
Fortunately, the expatriate was a patient man. Yet this could not go
on. "This could be the wrong lift," he commented as he remembered
that each lift in Horizon Towers goes to specified units and the
unit numbers were clearly marked on top of the lift.
Would you believe it? He was right.
"No wonder, I had no chance of winning the $5.00!" he said.
Co-broking realtors representing the Landlord really have to
be alert and should arrive early to check out the apartment first
but busy ones don't.
"Please wait 5 minutes," the owner said. I told the
expatriate that the owner whom I had met before would be switching
on the air conditioners as this would give a cool impression. This
was his way of working. To show the apartment to the best effect. He
was an investment-minded owner.
"There is a musky odour," the expatriate said to me quietly when he
entered the utility area from the kitchen. I don't know what a musky
odour smelled like. It was the smell of urine in an enclosed
apartment. Probably from the maid's toilet. It is important
that the owner ventilate the apartment an hour or two before
viewing. It is already so competitive and every smell counts in
securing a tenant. It is good to inform the owner quietly so that he
will rectify the problem later. If he can smell the odour and know
what you mean. He seemed to think that the smell was due to the fact
that the windows were all closed.
also into the business of selling durians too?" I asked the
realtor as five adults entered the Horizon Towers lift. He was short
and stocky and his ball-shaped face had short spikes of hair jutting
out. Spikes reminding me of The Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay,
known as "The Durian" by the taxi driver who may not be as cultured
as the originator of the name for the multi-million theatre.
The realtor was the reticent type. He did not reply nor smile as he
swiped the access card to go up to the private lift of this Horizon
I was seeing the sixth unit and the senior citizen of over sixty
years of age, a white-haired and trim Caucasian gentleman who showed
no signs of weariness of walking back and forth between the twin
towers of Horizon Towers, known as Horizon Towers East and West,
must be entertained.
Humour is a part of the Caucasian culture and is always appreciated
by Caucasians. It establishes a rapport and makes house-hunting less
boring as various parties arrive late or get delayed.
If the prospective tenant could not remember me later, he would at
least enjoy the house-hunting trip. All Chinese may look alike to a
Caucasian and vice versa. Unless you happen to have a durian
head. Still you need to be able to communicate well as a realtor is
essentially selling a service although you can still close a case if
you have the desired property. Provided you have no competition but
the depressed rental market in December 2002 means that you do have.
Any many of them too.
Did the Caucasian expatriate appreciate the humour? By a
strange twist of fate, I got the answer when we saw the same
apartment with another realtor.
The expatriate could be over sixty years old but he had excellent
recall and said he remembered this apartment as it had a strange
looking deep blue sofa like those seen in the Arabian Nights.
And most important of all, he remembered the Landlord's realtor with
the durian hair when he said to me: "This is the unit I like. I
remember that realtor who showed us the apartment. He did not say
anything when you asked about his durian business!"
This second realtor now knew that the expatriate has interest in
this unit. Now, in marketing, the interest must be translated
into desire and action. (AIDA if you read up marketing books).
He also had the keys to this apartment and though my assistant had
told him that we had seen it, he spoke to me directly. I did
not know it was the same unit and my assistant did not tell me too.
I told him that I would be dealing with the first realtor. It would
be the right thing to do. I explain to him, "It is the ethical thing
to do. If you had shown me the apartment first, I would deal with
you." There must be ethics in this rental business so that you
do not get a sullied reputation amongst co-broking agents.
"I could get you a lower rent than the $5,500 asked," he said as the
expatriate commented that he liked the unit with the private lift as
the only objection was that the rent was too high. Other units were
asking around $4,500. Valley Park was so much newer while Horizon
Towers was twenty years old and plumbing pipes stuck out like sores
inside the master bedroom. In new condos, all piping would be
concealed, he said. That was correct.
The agent persisted to close the case and persistence is a factor in
success. "If you can't get a lower rental from the agent,
please contact me. I have good relations with the Landlord."
Well, he will be successful as he provides a solution to his
advantage to overcome the problem of not being the first realtor to
show this unit.
His lady partner added, "Valley Park is not as well located in prime
district 9 as Horizon Towers." Frankly, this prestige factor does
not help to close the deal as the complaint is that Horizon Towers
is nearly 20 years old.
The expatriate said, "The Valley Park 3-bedroom, a newer condo has
beautiful pools and rents at $3,500 while Horizon Towers is an old
bomb and all of them are asking $4,500 to $6,000," he said. "Rentals
are dropping like ten pins in a bowling alley."
The expatriate liked the cream coloured sand-blasted walls of the
lift lobby and now the closing can only be done if you could
convince him that Horizon Towers had advantages over Valley Park.
How to switch him to rent Horizon Towers? In this case, new
associates will need be aware of the characteristics of a 3-bedroom
Valley Park. This can be only done if you work hard and handle
lots of house-hunting cases to get the impressions.
What would your response be? Would you offer to show him more Valley
Park units? He had seen only two but he liked Horizon Towers. He was
not impressed with one Yong An Park unit seen and had not mentioned
about Yong An Park anymore.
It was now Horizon Towers or Valley Park and he was more in favour
of the upgraded Horizon Tower. He volunteered this info, "Horizon
Towers is near to Orchard Road and yet near to Great World Shopping
Centre too". He had been staying in the Great World Serviced
Apartment and knew the region well.
Now, how would you bring him away from Valley Park and get a chance
to close the case?
I explained to him, "$3,500 rental is for a condo of less than 1,500
sq ft and if you compare on a rental dollar per sq ft, Horizon
Towers is inexpensive and offers you more living space for your home
He nodded his head.
I continued, "The 3rd bedroom in Valley Park is not even a bedroom
as it is very small and may not have ward robes. In Horizon Towers,
you have 4 bedrooms and a family area which can be your study area.
Setting up your own business requires you to have your own study
area and your wife to have her own. Four bedrooms will be more
The expatriate agreed. Now, it was a matter of negotiations for the
Horizon Towers. He needed to move in within 10 days and there were
six units for him to select. One unit was tenanted but the tenant
did not respond to the inter com and the agent did not turn up to
ensure that the apartment had a chance of being seen. In any case,
it was not appropriate for my assistant to make an appointment with
a tenanted unit as immediate vacancy was necessary.
Now, it was up to the couple to think it over. This house-hunting
trip was one a memorable one since the Caucasian husband appreciated
humour and that left him in a happy mood.
Budget around $4,000. Wants 3 or 4 bedrooms around
Great World Serviced Apartments where they have been staying.
Yong An Park 3+1 2900 sq ft $6,000. Blk 331, 11th floor.
Horizon Towers East 4+1 2379 sq ft $4,000 3rd floor.
Horizon Towers West 4+1 2314 sq ft $4,000 18th floor. Good
condition. Breezy. No private lift but colours of the master
bathroom with glazed pastel wall tiles instead of deep blue
tiles and sinks and bath tub suit Caucasian eyes.
Horizon Towers East 4+1 2600 sq ft $5,000 3rd floor.
lift. Under negotiations.
Horizon Towers East 4+1 2600 sq ft $5,000 9th floor. Private
lift. Seen two times. Favoured unit.
Horizon Towers East 4+1 2379 sq ft $4,500 13th floor.
Horizon Towers East 4+1 2600 sq ft $4,600 12th floor.
companion was more reticent and usually they find it difficult to
understand the Singaporean's English language accent. She was happy
to discuss one-to-one. Learn how to use humour if you can but
if your personality does not permit it, do not do it.
The expatriate's girl friend, a shrewd business woman had phoned me
yesterday to view Horizon Towers and Yong An Park after surfing the
internet. Without the internet, we would not have met. The internet
opens the door, but you still have to close the case by being
knowledgeable about your business to earn a livelihood.
CONCLUSION. The husband likes the Horizon Towers 4-bedroom with
private lift lobby. He wanted to pay as low as possible and I
estimated $3,500 or less would be his target.
How much would he be willing to pay and how much would the Landlord
of the Horizon Towers with private lift lobby be willing to accept?
The Dutch couple fell in love with Newton 18
Budget around $3,000. 3 bedroom 1500 sq ft. New.
The young working couple lived in a 1800 sq ft apartment in The
Bayron and therefore had quite a bit of furniture. The wife
definitely wants a swimming pool. If you can find a new condo near
Orchard Road within their budget, they could decide immediately. The
problem is that such condos of 1500 sq ft rents above $3,000 unless
there are unfavourable factors like road frontage. Where to find
such a condo?
Newton 18 3+1 1249 sq ft $4,500. 26th floor.
Thomson Euro Asia 3+1 1300 sq ft $3,500. 12th floor.
Facing construction. Pool conventional rectangular shape.
Thomson Euro Asia 3+1 1300 sq ft $3,800. 18th floor
27 Balmoral Park 3+1 1800 sq ft $4,000.
13th floor with wide open city views of The Draycott and
Ardmore Park to Palm Springs condo. Completely renovated.
Tranquil. Upgrading of facilities and lift lobby in 1999. New
pool surrounded by trees, gym and two function rooms.
The back of the building looks terrible but the young Dutch
couple is in love with this renovated unit and does not mind
the dated facade of this condo which has several Caucasian
couple likes the renovated 27 Balmoral Park for its greenery,
tranquility, privacy of the new swimming pool provided by
trees and panoramic city views and the spacious living and dining
areas and the new kitchen cabinets and bathrooms. The 27 Balmoral
Park condo had been extensively renovated and had that panoramic
city views and tranquility unexpected in an old condo.
Their first love is still Newton 18 with its upscale fingerprint
identification for entry into the apartment, the sunken long bath,
the beautifully designed water-flow-over-the-edge pool (picture, see
left side) and its great location.
However, the rental asked is too much and to be practical, the
couple does need space to store their furniture and wake boards and
Newton 18 will be very congested if they do that.
The brand new The Aston's 3-bedroom is of ideal size and visually
appealing to young Caucasian couples. It is 2nd choice as it faces
the road junction.
This case study shows that older condos with excellent unblocked
city views and with well thought out renovations suiting the
Caucasian eye can still attract tenants. However, these are rare
gems as many Singaporean owners seldom renovate their old condos to
a standard similar to those found in new condos or have no knowledge
of good interior designs that appeal to Caucasians.
Caucasian couples prefer downtown condos, new interiors and lovely
unblocked city views.
The Dutch couple made their decision on the 3rd house-hunting trip.
The other two were:
The Albracca, La Meyer on the East Coast
Falling in love with Newton 18
As they were referred
to me by a South African lady banker who was their close friend,
this was a case with less pressure. Still, you should qualify
properly as to what the couple wanted and you should be able to
close in less than 3 house-hunting visits. If not, you are showing
the incorrect condos. Read up and know what are the characteristics
of new developments but keep an eye for older ones which are
Once you have done an excellent job, you'll get referrals from each
new expatriate and you should be able to earn a decent livelihood of
$6,000 per month in commissions on the average in 2002 as a rental
Listings of condos near the American Club of
around $7,000 monthly rentals at Oct/Nov 2002
Ardmore Point 4+1 3350 sq ft $8,500
Beverly Hill 4+2 3700 sq ft $8,000
Habitat I 4+1 3500 sq ft $9,500
Orchard Bel Air 4+1 3200 sq ft $8,000
Orchard Bel Air 4+1 3200 sq ft $7,300
Orchard Bel Air 4+1 3200 sq ft $7,000
72 Grange Road 4+1 4000 sq ft $8,000
Chatsworth Court 5+2 3800 sq ft $8,000
The Claymore 4+1 3412 sq ft $8,500
Yong An Park 4+1 3110 sq. ft $8,000
Regency Park 3+1 3175 sq ft $7,000
Regency Park 3+1 3282 sq ft $10,000
Westwood Apartments 4+1 sq ft $8,000
Nassim Mansion 4+1 3500 sq. ft $10,000
Villa d Este 5+1 3500 sq. ft $7,500
The Balmoral lower maisonette 4+1 3150 sq ft $6,000
The Balmoral 4+1 3000 sq ft $8,000
Tanglin Hill lower maisonette 4+1 3300 sq ft $8,000
The Orange Grove 4+1 3562 sq ft $9,000
Dormer Park 4+1 2500 sq ft $7,000
Regency Park 4+1 2300 sq ft $7,000
Horizon Tower 4+1 2500 sq ft $7,000
Elizabeth Heights 4+1 2500 sq ft $7,000
Elizabeth Towers 4+1
Lucky Tower 4+1 2700 sq ft $6,000
Casa Rosita 4+1 2820 sq ft
Crystal Tower 4+1 3200 sq ft
The Belmont 4+1 3100 sq ft