real estate educational stories for asiahomes.com realtors, excerpts from "The
Internet Realtors, Singapore", sponsored by AsiaHomes Internet.
The American banker made the old girl cry
"Tania just answered my phone call, started crying and put down the phone" said
Louis, an American expatriate banker with a top American bank. "It is not
How did he make Tania, a forty-year-old realtor with 20 years of property experience
cry? She had encountered all types of expatriates over the years and should have a
strong constitution as she looked rugged, I thought.
This was his first posting in the exotic Far East. A gung-ho financial investment
expert who wanted things to be done promptly and efficiently. He was good at his
profession, otherwise the American bank would not have given him, a young man of less than
30 years old, a $9,000 housing allowance.
This story began with an email from a Caucasian banker in New York, USA.
Unique Apartments in Singapore
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 17:27:31 -0400
From: An American banker
I will be moving to Singapore for 3 years starting in November '99.
I am very interested in 2 types of housing as one of your previous clients put it:
"I have two types of interests in homes: One is a conservation, or
storefront home that has a very eclectic (read untypical, interesting)"
.... and/or modern interior (i.e. loft style living).
My first choice is loft style living (I love big empty spaces). My office will
be at Suntec City Road and I am (less than 30 years) old and single, so do not need more
than 2 bedrooms but would like at least 2000 sq. ft. of space. My budget is $Singapore
Dollars 9,000 per month. Thanks in Advance!!!
A follow-up email revealed that the prospective tenant had seen the following condos with
I will be staying at the Ritz Carlton, the phone number 337-8888. I have seen
apartments in : The Colonnade #13-04, Orchard Bel-Air #15-01, Nassim Park Blk 17 B,
Balmoral Park Blk 16 #01-02, Draycott Tower #6, Ardmore Point #16, Scotts 28 #11, Skyline
Angullia #08-07, The Sovereign #15-03.
I didn't really like all of these places expect for the Colonnade.
I don't like built-in wardrobes. I liked the Colonnade because I like big open
spaces. I only need 2 bedrooms and would like a minimum of 1800 sq. ft. I like hardwood
floors and very modern and unique apartments.
The modern Grange 80 apartment on your webpage looks like my kind of place, modern with
open space. Richmond Park looks nice as well.
This was a promiscuous prospective tenant-client. Well, to be fair, most internet
surfers are not giving exclusives to internet realtors.
Louis would be contacting other realtors too. Should I handle this case? There
was a high probability of not closing since I would be competing with all the agents in
Singapore for his business. Plenty to lose and nothing to gain?
He had a $9,000 rental budget. Not a small account for a self employed realtor to ignore.
He might have found his ideal home during his exploratory trip to Singapore for an
His next email asked for the house numbers of the conservation shophomes I would be
showing him. I explained this to the co-broking agents who usually will not divulge such
information. They understood and were cooperative.
20 conservation shophomes
and townhouses were seen. There were not many of such unique homes in Singapore.
The one he liked was the one managed by Realtor Tania.
On our first visit, the whole living and dining areas and two bedrooms were wet,
indicating a possible leaking of rain water from the roof. I advised not considering
this unit as it would be difficult to trace sources of roof leaks in any house. This
was a restored heritage house but it was over 50 years old. But it was love at first
sight for him.
On a second visit, after a heavy downpour, the living and dining areas were dry confirming
Tania's claim that the workmen forgot to close the windows. Louis fell in love with
this unit again.
His second choice was another unit nearby. The other realtor assured him that he
could get it for S$8,500 and the tenancy agreement could be signed in 5 days' time.
Realtor Tania had said that the Owner wanted $11,000. I thought it was a hopeless
case. Like asking for the moon.
Louis was very keen on his first choice and proposed $8,500. I had suggested an
offer of $8,000 and this was rejected with some scolding for such a ridiculous low offer
from co-broking realtor Tania. Not only that, there was a long list of works to be
done from Louis too.
Louis had other options from other agents. I had been given 3 weeks' advance notice and
thought I had shown all heritage houses available in Singapore. There were at least
two not advertised for some time probably.
One of them was from a seller of an upscale furniture shop which was selling some beds to
Louis and the second choice was from the realtor of his Bank. It was a good offer
although I had not seen the house.
You win some, you lose some and I congratulated Louis on his good fortune.
Louis could not forget his first love. This was his pro-active trait which made him so
successful in this profession. The house was still available. The offer of
$9,000 was given, together with his long list.
Five days passed and the other Realtor of his second choice could not close.
"Singapore's realtors are not professional," commented Louis when the realtor of
the second choice told him to wait another two weeks. He presumed to be a delaying tactic.
Was this an opportunity for me now? What should I do? I thought a lunch meeting with
Realtor Tania would be useful. I asked Tania for help in recommending Louis.
The Tenant would be a blue chip bank and Singapore Landladies prefer a corporate
tenant especially good quality ones. Louis was the ideal type of Occupant; he
was single, therefore less wear and tear of the house would be anticipated since there
were no children.
"Any good news?" I asked Tania after two days. Tania was a top notch
realtor in negotiation.
"Three months' security deposit and three months' notice before the Tenant can break
lease using the diplomatic clause," she replied.
Would the bank agree? Two months' deposit for a two-year lease were now the norm as the
Tenants took advantage of the recession and lower demand for expatriate housing in
The bank agreed to the demand. But Louis still wanted the works done according to his
long lists of repairs and defects. It would be costly. The items were whittled down after a meeting
with the Landlady arranged by me. A Letter of Intent to lease with the agreed
upon requests for works to be done was signed by both the Landlady and the Tenant.
All's well that end well, you would think. Time to relax.
However, Louis added more requests after the Letter of Intent was signed as he checked out
the apartment. The Letter of Intent has stated what was required by both parties but
every 2 or 3 days, Louis would give a new list.
I asked him to put his requests in writing and passed them to Tania. Louis would also
contact Tania to expedite matters. He was going home for Christmas and had not much
time. Tania was the tough type of realtor and would give him a firing. He
persevered with his demands to make this shophome an ideal residence. A dream house.
"Just say the word and let's drop him," the Landlady told Tania. She was
fed up and had earlier evicted the Tenant for being too fussy. This was a
corporate-owned property and therefore it did not financially affect the Landlady
I persuaded Tania not to do drop Louis so.
The tenancy agreement was to be signed eight days after the Letter of Intent was
signed. Louis would not want the tenancy signed unless all his requests were acceded
It needed time to get the defects done as this was the Christmas period and workers might
have gone back to Malaysia. The Landlady could just return the good faith deposit
and I would get zero income for all the hard work and time spent. At least 50 hours
were spent on this case.
In the meantime, I had got 2 expats on house-visiting trips who wanted to lease this unit
for $9,000. They liked the house. Tania did not get any offer and this
was fortunate for Louis.
Should I switch to the other two expatriates and just say better luck next time to
Would that be the right thing to do? After all, I was not the exclusive
realtor for Louis. It was a big temptation as this deal could fall through.
The shophome had roof tiles scattered and bunched up together as if it was bombed.
Louis emailed to say he felt cheated He had gone up to the top floor of a shopping
complex and used his binoculars to check out the roof.
I explained that the unit was being checked for roof leaks and therefore the tiles were
taken out. But Louis wanted the tiles to be in place before handing over. I informed
Tania. Another stress? Which crazy "ang mo" (local term for
Caucasian) would think of doing such a thing?
Louis was making the girls cry. At least one. Tania was self employed and of
course, it would mean a lot if she could close this case without so much hassles.
Everything had been agreed in the Letter of Intent and now, Louis kept asking for more
The Landlady was exasperated. She was not exactly joyful with new lists of requests
every few days.
Another letter from Louis wanted the commencement of tenancy to be on January 5, 2000
instead of December 18, 1999 since not all the repairs could be completed.
the type who wants all things to be completed before taking over. Would this
be the last straw that would break the camel's back?
"Take it or leave it," was the ultimatum from the Landlady.
Louis discussed the matter with his company. "Don't give in to blackmail"
advised the human resource manageress whom Louis introduced to me, so that I could get some
business from her.
He was kind and helpful and I always remembered him.
The manageress, an woman in her forties knew all about the Caucasian expatriate's whims
"What was so good about this heritage house? There are many on the
market." she continued.
Louis had 3 months to live in the best hotel in Singapore - The Ritz Carlton. He might have
more choices if he waited.
"Why not we call the Landlady's bluff? We would not sign the tenancy agreement till
every defect is rectified?" I suggested. I wished I had kept my big mouth shut.
The manageress was silent. Louis did not say a word. It was as if I was talking to
the wall in her office. The human resource manageress was just like a mother telling
her offspring suffering from unrequited love that there were many fishes in the
ocean. Not all fishes are identical, this mother forgot.
And do you get your first love if you wait?
I rushed the tenancy agreement and cheques to the Landlady's office.
A 6.30 p.m. handing over with the Landlady was arranged. A few repairs would need to
be done later.
Dark clouds indicated a storm was imminent. The Landlady was punctual but
caught in a traffic jam and arrived at 7 p.m.
The Landlady had left. It was not easy to get the Landlady to come.
We did the stress test by switching on all lights and air conditioners.
Louis gave Tania a bouquet of flowers but missed giving the Landlady a "World Series
1999 NY champions" baseball cap given to him by the pitcher. That would have
built up a good Landlady-tenant relationship had he been punctual. Tania said that
the Landlady, a top professional in her field, might not appreciate a cap. Flowers
or diamonds are a girl's best friend, I said.
Seven halogen track lights blew and one floor air conditioner stopped functioning after we
came back from dinner. We rummaged the drawers for the manual until I thought it
could be the circuit breaker tripping. It was the circuit breaker.
We gave another letter to Tania. I phoned the Landlady.
"I had the workers present for the handing over. Your client was rude in not
being punctual. I will not have the time to attend to more and more of his
request. If he is not satisfied, his money would be returned." said the
The track lights in the rafters were replaced immediately the next day.
"The track lights were blinking for the past few minutes!" Louis phoned me.
What should be done? God knows. I advised Louis to switch the lights off
and go out for dinner with his sister.
The lights behaved normally after Louis came back.
Louis invited us out for dinner when his sister came to visit him.
"You are a pain in the butt. Even your sister said so," Tania said.
Louis had told me that Tania was "nuts" but I did not tell her his comments.
It was a love and hate house hunting affair between Louis and Tania but I must say she had
done an excellent job in getting the Owner to agree to the $9,000 rent. Tania was
the aggressive type of lady realtor. I saw her telling in her serious tone, the expatriate
tenant next door not to say that Louis's unit was leaking or he would be sued. This was a
real tough no nonsense lady.
Caucasian expats are frank and they don't get offended. But I don't think it is good
to be brutally frank in business.
The important thing was that Louis had got what he want. It was sad that he was
not punctual as the Landlady made much effort to meet him on that weekend night. As
for the baseball cap, I was the recipient. It might be worth some money as a
collector's item many years later.
October 17, 2002. In reply to an email from Song Wong.
The above story is written for you as Song Wong wanted something in
words or pictures.
Happy 31st Birthday in Singapore on October 29, 2002.
Had fate not brought you to Singapore, I believe you would have gone to
the happy hunting grounds on September 11, 2001 as you would be working at
the Twin Towers. May all your years be prosperous, healthy and happy and
one day, you will find your dream boat.
David Sing (left in picture). Do all Chinese and Japanese look alike to
Tips for new www.asiahomes.com Realtors
This case study showed that it had been very stressful to make a very experienced realtor
to break down in tears and raised her testosterone level to give Louis and me several
scolding over the phone to protect the Landlady's interest.
If you represent the Tenant and do not have patience, one angry word from you is all that
is needed for your co-broking realtor to ask you to go fly a kite and recommend to the
Landlady not to take this fussy Tenant.
You would then have to start all over again and compete with the other realtors to source
another good heritage house with all the requirements demanded by a top American
expatriate banker. After all, he has reached one pinnacle of his profession and he expects
you to be really good in handling his case.
The customer is the reason for your existence. But nowadays, they have a lot of choices
and you may end up with no closing as they find their home with another realtor.
If you want to be self-employed, you will suffer more stresses as you get paid only on
performance. You need to exceed the expectations of your client while competing with
the other realtors in Singapore. Time is of the essence as much as good negotiating
skills which can be picked up on the job.
You Got Tenant, Apartment Owner?
Looking for Tenants is like winning a war.
You need to know where your enemies can be found.
You need to advertise in www.asiahomes.com
where prospects interested in Singapore properties
are likely to be found.
Why not place an affordable internet ad
to contact prospects direct and save you
a few thousand dollars in agency commission?
Telephone +65 9668 6468, E-mail email@example.com
17 Oct 2002