TO succeed in anything, be it buying a house or building a career, one needs to have a plan with a set target and the determination to achieve it. This is what Three Acres Real Estate Sdn Bhd managing director Gerard Chan believes and constantly advises his friends and fellow agents.
“Achieving your dream is not easy, one needs to have a plan and follow it — sometimes you may be far off but you can make adjustments along the way,” he shares.
“For instance, when buying a house, if you realize your current pay is not enough to buy a house, you could find other ways, such as teaming up with family members to buy or finding other ways of earning more money,” he says.
“When salary increments are much slower than the inflation rate, the best way to accumulate wealth and to fulfill one’s dream of buying a home and have ample retirement funds, is through investment,” says the founder of the real estate consultancy firm who hails from Taiping.
The investment could be property investment or equity investment, but he believes real estate investment is still the best way to build one’s nest.
“Many people complain that house prices are beyond their affordability but they never thought of buying a house when the price was low and loans were easier to obtain.
Chan notes that things are changing now as more young people are aware of the importance of investments and have started to invest in property while in their mid-20s.
Passion in real estate industry
Chan himself realized early in life that he could not depend on a single income source in order to achieve his life goal and desired lifestyle. So, he became an entrepreneur and his own boss.
As the son of a quantity surveyor, he also quickly understood how property values could appreciate over time.
“You wonder how developers or construction companies turn a forest or swamp land into a well-planned township,” he reminisces. The experience triggered his interest in real estate development which drove him to further his studies in civil engineering.
After graduating with masters, Chan set up a construction company with a few partners and successfully secured a big government infrastructure project. But his company was immediately acquired by a local listed company that wanted to pursue the project.
With the first pot of gold he earned from selling the company, he ventured into the aquaculture business of fish farming. However, the business only lasted seven years as heavy rains during a monsoon season killed all the fish and wiped out his efforts.
He decided to quit the business and set his eyes yet again on the real estate sector.
“I always had a passion for property and wanted to know where the next hotspot to invest would be, so I decided to change my career path and became a real estate negotiator,” he notes.
After four years as a negotiator, Chan decided to set up his own firm — Three Acres Real Estate Sdn Bhd, in 2013. The company currently has more than 50 real estate negotiators and another office in Port Dickson.
A stepping stone
Aiming to be a property investor himself, Chan says being a real estate negotiator means he gets to know about a good deal before others.
“Seeing things from the perspective of an investor helps me to evaluate whether a deal is a good deal and could be recommended to clients,” he explains.
His experience as a civil engineer is also of help in his current career. “I am good at detecting cracks and defects, and I can provide professional advice on how to fix certain problems as well as affordable solutions that can help property owners raise their property’s values,” he says.
Another thing he likes about being a real estate agent is that people never shy away from property agents the way they try to avoid insurance agents or direct sales representatives.
“You can ask your friends for tea or lunch and they would be willing to meet up to chat about the current property market. People are interested and want to invest in property, you just need to press the right button without being too pushy,” he says.
As competition gets more intense in the industry, he advises negotiators and agents to maintain good relationships with existing customers rather than aggressively finding new clients.
“Getting a new client is hard, maintaining a good relationship and building trust with the existing client is the easiest way to keep their business. They will look for you when they plan their next purchase. Better still if I can make money for them, they will continue to follow me,” he adds.