A boost to upskilling with the SkillsFuture Study Award

Jun 2022 - 3 min read

Since the SkillsFuture Study Award* for the Real Estate Agency Industry was introduced in 2018, CEA has given out five awards and provided real estate salespersons (RESs) with the opportunity to enrol in courses to acquire relevant skillsets and competencies, stay competitive, and enhance their level of professionalism.  

The 2022 SkillsFuture Study Award for the Real Estate Agency Industry was awarded to Johncelin Khoo Kai Yao from Propseller Pte Ltd, and Derek Ng Zi Yin from SRI Pte Ltd on 9 May 2022. 

CEAnergy caught up with them to find out more about what motivated their pursuit of further education to further their career in the real estate agency industry.

Johncelin Khoo Kai Yao, Propseller Pte Ltd

JohncelinMr Johncelin Khoo (left) receiving the award from Mr Lim Chee Hwee (right), Executive Director, CEA

Having heard his mother share her interesting experiences and stories from her profession as a property agent since he was young, Johncelin Khoo’s interest in the real estate industry was piqued. This led him to join the real estate industry while he was at university. “On hindsight, it was definitely not easy juggling both studies and work, but it was one of the most fruitful experiences I have had so far”, he said. 

As a fresh entrant joining the industry at the age of 21, Johncelin found himself struggling to secure exclusive appointments by clients looking to sell or lease their property as they perceived him to be young and inexperienced. He said, “I knew then that I had to compensate for my lack of experience with solid knowledge of the industry and even more creative and modern solutions, and I set out to improve myself in these two areas. To showcase this, I quickly developed a listing presentation deck that I could use to pitch to clients and convince them to work with me, regardless of my experience. Eventually, I was able to secure the trust of clients to grant me exclusive appointments and managed to secure an exclusive to sell a $6.5 million landed property despite the other potential marketing agents being landed specialists with decades of experience.” 

A firm believer in the importance of harnessing digitalisation to build modern and sustainable solutions, Johncelin shared, “Real estate is the largest asset class in the world, yet the industry is still largely untouched by digital disruption, especially in Southeast Asia. Consumers in the real estate agency industry are still going through a number of pain points, and technology would probably be able to help reduce some of them in the future.” 

“In my opinion, Proptech companies have been building solutions that have really benefitted RESs and consumers over the last few years. For example, beyond providing property listings, property portals are now offering financial advice on home loans. I think that more business models and innovations will be developed in the next few years to solve problems for property owners looking to sell or lease. An example would be the emergence of tech-powered real estate brokerages that help to make real estate transactions more efficient and hassle-free,” Johncelin elaborated.

When asked about what he thought were the challenges faced by today’s RESs, Johncelin said, “The top recurring challenge I keep hearing about is that RESs are struggling to find leads consistently. These days, more digitally savvy consumers are heading online to find RESs. While RESs are also going online to find clients, not everyone is able to do so successfully as they do not have the necessary resources and expertise to consistently generate leads. Hence, I think digital marketing is a crucial skill that could really help a RES build healthy business pipelines and achieve consistent success.” 

He added that with consumers getting more educated and IT savvy, they would expect a RES to play a more consultative role instead of a transactional one. As such, a successful RES would need to add value to the consumer’s property transaction experience by advising them beyond what they already know through online sources. “Ultimately, RESs are under more scrutiny and are expected to conduct their business with great service, transparency and attention to detail,” he said.

Johncelin Khoo is currently pursuing a Global Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Manchester. Upon graduation, he hopes to become a holistic and valuable member to any team he would be working with. Johncelin also wants to continue developing more meaningful and modern solutions that would be able to reduce pain points for consumers and RESs.   

Derek Ng Zi Yin, SRI Pte Ltd

DerekMr Derek Ng (left) receiving the award from Mr Lim Chee Hwee (right), Executive Director, CEA

Being in the real estate agency industry for close to five years, Derek reflected that it was the experience of purchasing his matrimonial home which led to his interest and eventual pursuit of a career in the industry. He shared, “I realised that there were so many elements in the planning and execution that were not well-covered. I felt that I could fill these gaps and, after a long discussion with various people, I decided to pursue this work.”

He also shared that having made the switch after eight years in the corporate world, there was “an absolute need for discipline”. “There are no regular hours, standard work protocols, sales targets, or even fixed training plans. But of course, it can be a blank canvas for you. You can tailor your working style to fit your lifestyle and life stage, and also seek out the right training for yourself to improve and grow,” he said. 

Derek is especially thankful for his peers and managers who mentored him at the start of his career in the real estate agency industry and are still doing so today. “This is something that I hope I can pass on too,” he enthused. 

When asked about key skillsets that RESs should possess to add value to their clients’ property transactions in the face of digitalisation and changing consumer expectations, Derek said, “Digitalisation would help to improve transparency and efficiency in property transactions and administrative procedures. I foresee the creation of new jobs and alternative investment opportunities such as tokenisation, which is a buzzword in the industry. Tokenisation platforms use blockchain technology to generate “smart contracts” between buyers and sellers. Therefore, what is crucial is how we make sense of information, turn it into actionable insights, map a workable plan, and execute it as seamlessly as possible.” 

Acknowledging the demands placed by increasingly IT savvy consumers, he sees the role of the RES as “a consultant to help clients navigate and map out options that are tailored for them and their families. Most importantly, serve your clients with professional ethics and due care.”

Despite his busy schedule, Derek holds fast to his conviction that knowledge and experience are meant to be shared. Similar to how furthering his studies would hold him in good stead, he sees the value of continuing his passion as a Ministry of Education (MOE) trainer at secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education.  

He said, “I firmly believe in a quote by Benjamin Franklin – An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. I find a lot of joy and satisfaction in sharing what I experienced and learnt when I was a student and in my working journey with the students now. Topics like public speaking, presentation and interview skills, as well as the application of multiple intelligence theory in education and career planning are very close to my heart. These are relevant skillsets in the long run.”  

Derek Ng is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Real Estate at the National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, he looks forward to applying what he has learnt across various levels – industry-wide, company, division/group – and most importantly, to his clients. He also hopes to nurture a group of like-minded individuals who are passionate to grow the industry and build it on a foundation of good values and professional ethics. Lastly, Derek aims to provide a holistic, objective, and clear analysis of the property market to his clients. 

*The SkillsFuture Study Awards was discontinued on 31 March 2022, as part of SkillsFuture Singapore’s (SSG) broader efforts to review existing schemes and prioritise resources for programmes that deliver stronger manpower development outcomes. 

RESs who wish to develop and deepen their skills may continue to do so by tapping on existing alternative schemes offered by SSG.  

Information accurate as at 14 June 2022

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