Property agencies urged by Minister to embrace innovation to rise from ashes like phoenix

Image credit: Credit: Orange Tee & Tie MOU signing between OrangeTee & Tie and Carousell, overseen by Minister Desmond Lee

2nd Minister for National Development asked property agencies to embrace innovation in order to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Singapore’s third largest property agency, Orange Tee & Tie, has teamed up with a top marketplace app to bring over 20,000 property listings and more than 9,000 verified agent reviews onto the portal.

The app’s co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui said that there are currently about 10,000 property listings on Carousell, and that the property category continues to grow on the online marketplace.

property agencies
Image credit: Credit: Orange Tee & Tie
MOU signing between OrangeTee & Tie and Carousell, overseen by Minister Desmond Lee

2nd Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee, who spoke at the OrangeTee & Tie Business Conference 2018 welcomed the tie-up between Orange Tee & Tie and Carousell. The Minister acknowledged that the partnership is an important milestone in the real estate industry transformation map (ITM) and that the Singapore Government will continue to support the partnership in this aspect.

Steven Tan, managing director of Orange Tee & Tie, noted that consumer consumption habits continue to evolve and many buyers are turning to digital tools when purchasing big-ticket items like property. He hope that with this new initiative, agents will have more digital touchpoints to connect more effectively with prospective buyers and sellers.

In his speech, Mr Lee also urged property agencies to embrace digital innovation. He said that in a time of change and disruption,the real estate industry can only continue to grow and prosper if they did so.

Disruption – if you’re passive, you get eliminated, but if you are pro-active, then what you are doing – just as firms in the real estate industry and the built environment industry as a whole are doing, is to embrace and ride the waves of disruption. Do not be passive when disruption comes. Rather, anticipate it, and embrace it. Change is always uncomfortable. We always prefer the status quo, but know that if you ride the waves of change, the opportunities are tremendous and you have a part to play in setting the rules of the game. Otherwise, the rules will be set for you, and the rules may say that you have no part to play.

The Minister’s caution comes amidst technological disruptions which has impacted the earnings of property agencies. There has been a 11 percent decrease in property agents since 2014. There were 31,783 property agents in 2014, but this number dropped to 28,397 in January 2017.

Analysts predict that this number will further drop, and that Singapore may need only 20,000 property agents in the long run. In this new landscape, property agents “must upgrade or die,” said chief mortgage consultant of, Mr Paul Ho.

Mr Ho noted that many property agencies struggle to keep up with all the regulatory changes in the industry, as well as the changing financial calculations for acquiring a property. He urged property agents to master the basics in property financing, refinancing, taxation and CPF.

He said that ran a full 2 – 3 days course on how property agents can run such reports for their customers. He added that the trademarked course –  Home Loan Report (TM) is the bare minimum.

The Minister noted that more and more people in Singapore are turning to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) online portals. HDB too recently launched the HDB Resale Portal which has shortened the transaction time for HDB resale flats.

Mr Lee said that companies like Carousell are thriving in an environment where consumers prefer quick, convenient, highly personalised online services.

The Minister urged property agencies here to embrace this shift towards online and data-driven services. He said that this was not only good for the agents but also for their customers, and Singapore as a whole.

“You should find new ways of delivering value to consumers, by relentlessly and constantly innovating, but on the other hand, making sure that you bring all your fellow colleagues along with you. Because change can be frightening, can be uncertain, can turn existing hierarchies of experience and familiarity upside down, and reset them. So if you have been working and know how to do something for 20 years and you are really adept at it, suddenly, with new technology you are as good as a fresh entrant, all learning from the same page, but having different learning needs.”

He praised the tie-up between the two companies for “being the first mover in engaging customers digitally and taking a customer-centric approach in the estates agency business.”

Written by Ravi Chandran

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