Engineer-turned-property agent makes two career switches in eight years

By
/ EdgeProp Singapore
|
February 26, 2021 5:30 AM SGT
Join our  Telegram  channel and follow our  Facebook  for the latest update.
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Few people would consider a major career pivot late into their professional lives, but property agent Mark Wang has gone through two career switches over the past eight years and landed on his feet both times.
As an engineering graduate in 2003, the then-25-year-old entered the real estate market as a part-time property agent to earn some money to cope with his tight financial situation. “I had just graduated from university and had already secured my first job, but I realised that my starting pay wasn’t going to be enough to help me get out of my financial difficulties,” says Wang.
He responded to a newspaper advertisement by a property agency who was hosting a career seminar.
“At the end of each work day, I would finish up the tasks in my day job, and then work for a few more hours at night as a property agent. After three months, I gained some traction as a realtor and managed to close some HDB resale deals. But this still wasn’t enough to cover my financial obligations,” says Wang.
ADVERTISEMENT

A year of hard work

Ultimately, Wang had to choose between his full-time engineering job or striking it out alone as a property agent. “I knew I could do better if being an agent was my full-time job. So, three months after I started as a part-time real estate agent, I quit my engineering job to be a full-time property agent,” he says.
He was 26 years old when he left his engineering job. But he told himself that he would work for only one year as a property agent, just to clear his financial obligations, before returning to salaried employment.
Wang focused on the HDB resale market and tried to cover as much ground as he could as a new agent by going door to door, drumming up sales and marketing himself to owners. “I stuck to the HDB market because it’s relatively more straightforward to close transactions. I focused my efforts on the Bedok area because I was living there at the time, and [that area has] a wide range of flat types and demographics,” he says.
He recalls many mornings where he would be waiting for the agency office doors to open so that he could be one of the first to prepare materials for his clients and find new sales to close. “I was focused because I had a goal to get myself out of my financial obligations within a year,” says Wang.
ADVERTISEMENT
His hard work paid off because by the end of 2004, all his financial troubles were behind him.

Jumping back into property

Looking back, Wang reflects that he had been short-sighted at the time because he viewed being a property agent only as a way to earn the money he needed. At the back of his mind, he still intended to return to a full-time, salaried job as an engineer. “I was only an agent for about a year, plus the entire experience as a full-time agent was exhausting at the time,” he says.
After fulfilling his financial obligations, Wang found regular employment as an engineer and would eventually take on roles in small businesses, corporations, and some government agencies, including a short teaching stint at the Institute of Technical Education.
But in 2017, he considered going back to selling property. While he was financially stable and able to support his family, he was also restless in his career in the IT industry.
ADVERTISEMENT
“I reconnected with a friend who had also signed up as a property agent in 2003 but had remained an agent. He knew me well during our younger days as new real estate agents and advised that if I took the plunge and made a career switch, I could survive in the industry, but it would be a tough climb up again,” says Wang.

Using SkillsFuture

The first hurdle he had to overcome was renewing his salesperson registration which he had allowed to lapse after leaving the industry at the end of 2004.
Over the past decade, the government regulator, the Council for Estate Agents, had made improvements in certifying property agents and raising professional standards within the sector. This included a more rigorous certifying process that includes the Real Estate Salesperson (RES) examination and Continuing Professional Development requirements.
MARK-WANG - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Wang: For a career switcher to embark on this type of trade, you need to have a strong mindset and be prepared to leave your ego at the door. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
“I used my SkillsFuture credits to enrol myself into real estate courses to prepare myself for the exams. I studied part-time for about two years and it was a vastly different experience compared to when I first entered the industry in 2003,” says Wang.
This time, he struggled with topics such as real estate law. He attempted the exams three times while studying part-time, but after the third failure he decided to quit his full-time engineering job to focus on clearing the exam.
Wang passed all the necessary requirements in April 2019 in his fourth attempt at the RES examination.

A fresh start

Wang joined PropNex Realty after receiving his certification.
The biggest change he faced upon returning to the industry was the widespread adoption of technology in the real estate transaction process. “It is easier to source new sales listings through property portals, but this means having to fork out the cash to sign up for agent accounts on these online portals. This is a significant expense, especially for new agents,” says Wang.
Unlike his first stint as a property agent, it took him a few months to spread the word among his friends and contacts that he was now a property agent. This was because he was initially reluctant to reach out beyond his regular friends and contacts.
“After I joined PropNex, my leader advised me to reach out to every single person in my contact lists on social media, as well as previous professional contacts, to start marketing myself,” says Wang.
At that time, it was close to the Mid-Autumn Festival in September 2019, which was a good opportunity to reconnect with his contacts, but he sent out only a handful of messages.
“When my leader heard that, he bluntly told me that I should start searching for a regular job and that I wasn’t ready to be an agent. He felt that if I failed to do such a simple thing as reaching out to people, it showed that I wasn’t ready to put in the effort to establish myself as a property agent,” Wang recalls.
These words struck a nerve and Wang rallied himself to send everyone he had ever met a festive message and a quick sales pitch. It took him until 2am in the morning to finish the task. But the work bore some fruit when four acquaintances replied; they asked about the property market and expressed an interest to buy properties.
One was looking to purchase a unit at the then-yet-to be launched executive condominium project Parc Canberra. “I met up with this acquaintance soon after and guided him through the process, and he ended up purchasing a unit in the development when it was launched for sale in February 2020,” says Wang.

Growing clientele

Just as his diligence and hard work helped to pull him out of his financial difficulties previously, Wang has gradually rebuilt his track record as a property agent, growing his clientele.
Currently, he is marketing a three-bedroom unit at Sanctuary Green. The owners are Wang’s long-time friends who had supported and helped him through difficult times in the past.
BLD-SANCTUARY-GREEN - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Wang is marketing a three-bedroom unit (pictured) at Sanctuary Green for lease or sale. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Now he is helping them to market their property, a 1,399 sq ft unit. The unit comes with a master bedroom and a junior master bedroom, and both rooms come with en suite bathrooms. It was renovated in 2020 and the owners are looking to either sell it for $2 million ($1,430 psf), or lease it out for about $4,800 per month, says Wang.
“The asking rent is a little higher than the current market rate for a unit in this development because it comes with new furnishings and a refreshed interior design. Thus, the owner is asking for a slightly higher rent,” says Wang.

Taking the plunge

This year, Wang hopes to start to grow his own team of agents to lead. “I hope that I will be able to find like-minded people to work with me and form a team where I can share my knowledge and skills,” he says.
When he switched careers in 2019, he had to endure back-handed comments from some friends who looked down on his profession. He also encountered comments, while pounding the pavement marketing a new development, that he was taking a big financial risk at his age.
“For a career switcher to embark on this type of trade, you need to have a strong mindset and be prepared to leave your ego at the door. At my age, to cross over into a job with no regular salary was daunting and a big risk. But I hope my story can encourage others to take the plunge and believe in themselves,” says Wang.
Check out the latest listings near Sanctuary Green

Follow Us
Follow our channels to receive property news updates 24/7 round the clock.
EdgeProp Telegram
EdgeProp Facebook
Subscribe to our newsletter