Huttons Asia is all about agent empowerment
Even though 2019 was poised to be a challenging year, with property cooling measures that came into effect from July 6, 2018, residential sales volume started to pick up from February. “In fact, it is on track to be better than 2018’s new launch sales figures,” says Goh Kee Nguan, CEO of Huttons Asia, which won the Top Marketing Agency award at EdgeProp Singapore Excellence Awards 2019.
By Huttons’ estimates, about 55 new projects were launched this year. This is the highest since the last peak in 2013 when more than 60 projects were launched, says Goh. Average new home sales increased by 28% q-o-q from 1Q2019 to 2Q2019; and by about 52% q-o-q from 2Q2019 to 3Q2019.
Most buyers who had been holding out for prices to fall, have returned from the sidelines. “Future prices of new launches will only go higher given the land prices paid by developers for both collective sale and government land sales sites in the last two years,” says Goh.Goh: The agent can no longer be just an information provider. The agent has to play a more advisory role, to be a consultant; to help their clients assess their own financial situation and advise them on the available options given their affordability (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
At least half a dozen of the projects launched this year were those with more than 1,000 units, with another half a dozen in the range of 500 to 800 units. New phases in these projects are likely to be released next year, in addition to another 30 new project launches in the pipeline, adds Goh.
Huttons Asia has a sales force of more than 3,000 agents today and is among the four biggest agencies in Singapore, in terms of number of agents. “We are definitely actively recruiting agents,” says Goh. “We have a very good package for agents – they basically pay $0 to join us.”
Besides recruitment, Huttons is also offering comprehensive training for its agents. The agency also leverages technology to enable and empower agents. “We want to create platforms where agents can access reports and analytics,” says Goh. “We have to ensure that the agents have a good range of marketing channels that are affordable for them. They will then be in a better position to provide value-added services to their clients.”
This is because the new generation of homebuyers are very different from those a decade ago. They are also more tech-savvy and already have access to all the information on the property market and new project launches via the Internet. “The agent can no longer be just an information provider,” says Goh. “The agent has to play a more advisory role, to be a consultant; to help their clients assess their own financial situation and advise them what their available options are given their affordability.”
While Huttons has built its name in marketing new launches, it has now enlarged its spectrum of services to include resales, retail leasing, commercial and industrial space, landed property, and international project marketing. There are also agents that focus on the HDB resale market. “We have different niche areas, where agents can either learn from the different heads; or they can refer or co-broke deals, depending on the level of their involvement,” explains Goh.
One of the challenges of the industry is the movement of agents, especially around October, when it’s time for the annual renewal of real estate agents’ licence with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).
“Agent movement happens all the time,” says Goh. “And it happens everywhere. In fact, we asked CEA if they could do away with the annual renewal of the CEA licence for agents. Around October every year, agents will ask themselves if they should stay or move. Real estate agencies end up spending a lot of time on retaining existing and recruiting new agents.”
To retain existing agents, Huttons ensure that they have ample business opportunities, comprehensive training, adequate tools and a good renewal package at their disposal, adds Goh.
The recent movement of agents and key executives in both property agencies and consultancies could also be due to the “challenging business environment” owing to the difficult economic situation, reckons Goh.
Huttons generally treats their agents as business partners. “They can join us as entrepreneurs, and we provide strong platforms to support them as business partners,” says Goh. “Our key objective is always to ensure that agents in Huttons have sufficient opportunities to do well in their business.”
This year, out of 55 new projects launched, Huttons was appointed joint marketing agency for 41 of them; with another four as sole agency. These were the 17-unit Seraya Residences by Macly Group; the 110-unit Rezi24 by KSH Holdings, Lian Beng and Heeton Holdings; Tee Land’s 48-unit Lattice 1; and 51-unit The Iveria by Macly Group in a joint venture with Lim Wen Heng.
With Huttons handling numerous new launches, real estate agents who join the resale team could also benefit as they can easily “swing their clients over” given the inventory of new units, says Goh. “With so many new projects, they have a lot of choices to match the needs of their clients.”