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Today is Mar 22, 2019
John Lee
ERA Executive Group Division Director
CEA Licence No.:
L3002382K / R027183J
Call (+65) 9002 8425
Meet John
*Exclusive Interview by Award Winning Singaporean Business and Lifestyle Blogger & Author of Best Selling Book "Blogging for a Living" by Ms Grace Tan*

A Career In Real Estate: Is It For You? (Part One)

I’ve previously blogged about my first job as a property agent and shared with you the challenges and rewards. I’ve learnt that the job pays well, but finding the right manager is often as difficult as finding the right life partner. And mind you, the consequences of picking the wrong leader to follow can be quite disastrous, as my own example has shown.

I’ve recently had the opportunity of interviewing 3 Division Directors from ERA. Each of them have their own story to tell about their journey into the real estate line so read on…

John Lee ERA

John Lee

1) You studied Building and Property Management in Singapore Polytechnic, but later went into the financial planning line, before returning to the real estate industry again. What made you want to venture into the financial planning industry, and what made you come back to real estate in the end?

I joined ERA in 2006 as a part-time agent and a full-time career in real estate never crossed my mind till the sub-prime crisis in 2008. That year, the financial industry was in a bad shape and investors’ confidence level took a hit. Coincidentally, I had a few clients who were thinking of selling their properties and that’s when I took the plunge to really get started in real estate.

2) Having achieved MDRT and COT, how tough was that decision to give up the recurring income, business you have built up in the insurance line, to get back into real estate?

Oh yes, it took me quite a while to give up my financial planning business totally. Two years after I started my real estate business on a full time basis, I was promoted to ERA DD and achieved the ERA Top 50 Achievers award in a company with over 5000 agents. I knew then that I needed to make a career choice in order to be fair to my clients. I also had to find someone reliable to take over my clients in my financial planning business. It took me quite a while to find this financial planner colleague whom I could trust. 
John Receiving ERA Overall Top Manager Award for Year 2011 among 5000+ Agents in ERA
John Lee

3) What sort of mindset and skill-set do you think you possess, that helped you achieve MDRT, COT, and your current success in your real estate business?

I guess my family background does play a part. I came from a poor family and I have been working part time while studying since I was 11 years old. During those days as a polytechnic student, I worked as a waiter for a 5-star hotel whenever I had some free time and I could work for 12 to 14 hours a day just to make $100+ a day, which was a lot to me during that time. I saved quite a far bit to pay for my daily expenses and school fees.

I also did well academically and qualified for scholarships by SP during my 2nd and 3rd year there. I am very grateful for this. During my national service stint, when most of my peers are partying throughout, I was thankful to have been exposed to motivational authors like Robert Kiyosaki and I started thinking seriously about what I really want for my careerand life.

4) As a manager, what are the qualities you are looking out for as you recruit real estate agents to join your team? Have you ever asked anyone to leave – if yes, for what reason?

Attitude, a strong belief and most importantly, this business requires a lot of ACTION!!! Fortunately, most of our agents are team players and we have not encountered termination cases yet. I feel that running a team is just like being the father in the family. If you ‘set’ your culture right, your members will follow your lead as they look up to you.

5) What does your investment portfolio look like, and what property investments have you made?

I am currently staying in an HDB unit in the east. I have also co-invested with my brother, who is also my fellow DD Eugene Lee, on a 4-Bedder condo unit in Toa Payoh and which is currently tenanted out. We got quite a good deal for the Toa Payoh condo unit as the owner was in financial distress and needed to sell it off desperately. I firmly believe that there are always undervalued deals and you need to be really very diligent in order to get such deals. If you do not have the time to do so, get a reliable and trustworthy agent to assist you. Between 2008 to 2009, I also invested some money into blue chips and silverstocks and I plan to hold them for the long haul. Also, because of my background in the financial planning line, I am also a strong believer in insurance and currently am insured for almost $1 million.
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