Father-child agent pairs who bridge the generation gap

By Valerie Kor / EdgeProp Singapore | June 19, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - Mark and Jazreel
As Jazreel and Mark Lim live in the same household, they could visit empty properties together to take videos after the circuit breaker period (Photo: Jazreel Lim)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - When 27-year-old Jazreel Lim decided to become a property agent six years ago, she thought that tapping her parents’ experience would give her a head-start. Her father Mark, 61, is a real estate agent with over 40 years of experience and her mother handles real-estate administrative work.
But Jazreel soon realised that working with her father was not a walk in the park. One of the obstacles that she faced at the beginning was that she always under the shadow of the older Lim. “Once any client got to know that my father is Mark Lim, they would want him to do the sale instead of me,” says Jazreel.
After 1½ years of being a full-time realtor, Jazreel decided to work part-time in real estate, and took on a full-time advertising and communications role for an F&B business, where she worked for four years. She subsequently set up a digital agency with her business partner.
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In December 2017, Mark and Jazreel joined ERA Realty Network together. Then, in December last year, when her business partnership fell through, Jazreel decided to focus full-time on real estate again. “The hours were long at the digital agency and I realised that I wasn’t seeing my parents much,” she says.

Learning from each other

Jazreel picked up skills related to videography, digital marketing and running social media campaigns during her time at the F&B business and later at the digital agency. “The skills that I have gained were [also] what my dad needed too,” she says.
Jazreel, who has a diploma in mass communications from Republic Polytechnic, now creates 3D models of the properties she is marketing with her iPhone and even teaches her clients how to do the same to list their homes for sale more effectively. These skills have become essential since the implementation of strict Covid-19 measures where agents were not allowed to conduct physical viewings. They can conduct physical viewings only from Phase Two of the lifting of measures, which starts on June 19.
Over the past two weeks after the circuit breaker ended on June 1, agents were only allowed to enter vacant properties to take videos and pictures. Hence, Jazreel and Mark would visit empty properties together for that purpose. “Another benefit of working with my dad is that we live in the same household,” she says. “So we could go out together during the circuit breaker.”
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The older Lim says that he is thankful that he has Jazreel’s help. “I never believed in social media,” says Mark. “I used to wonder why people shared about their lives or businesses on Facebook and LinkedIn. Surprisingly, these platforms have helped me to reconnect with some previous clients — even those overseas — who own prime properties in Singapore.”
Mark has since come to embrace online practices — from e-payments to e-documents — which “save a lot of time”. He used to focus on the resale market, specialising in the resale of landed properties. The digital tools provided by ERA, such as the iERA app, and other online platforms have made it easier for him to sell new-launch projects as well.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - jazreel and mark ERA family
Mark (middle) and Jazreel Lim (second from right) joined ERA Realty Network in December 2017. Maverick Lim, her brother, also intends to sit the real estate exam this year (Photo: Jazreel Lim)
On her part, Jazreel says that she has benefitted from witnessing how Mark is able to analyse and solve problems quickly. Whenever she comes across difficult clients, she goes to her father, who “welcomes hard-to-sell properties”, she says. These include those with inauspicious house numbers, or assets that need to be divested by couples who are going through a divorce.
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“It’s all about managing human emotions,” says Mark. “I always meet up or reach out with a phone call.” In contrast, his daughter, a typical millennial, prefers texting to speaking on the phone. But she has since embraced sending recorded voice messages.
“Actually, clients from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China have been using voice messages for some time,” says Mark. “It is less intrusive and allows you to collect your thoughts.”
The duo takes advantage of their generation gap. Sometimes, grown-up children of Mark’s clients prefer to deal with someone from their own generation. That is when he takes a step back and lets Jazreel take over the deal. “So we do ‘internal co-broking’ in such situations,” says his daughter.
Jazreel has two younger brothers, Maverick, 24 and Maven, 23. Maverick intends to sit the real estate exam this year.

Following in the footsteps of his son

Another father-child duo comprises Phillip Wu, 65, and Gerald, 35, both agents with ERA.
After working for 33 years in the aviation industry, the older Wu retired from the industry in 2002. He decided to become a property agent and passed his real estate salesperson examination in the middle of last year.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - Phillip Wu and Gerald Wu
Gerald (left) and Phillip Wu have an age gap of 30 years but use it to their advantage (Photo: ERA Realty Network)
Gerald, on the other hand, has been a realtor for the past eight years. Having his father join him has been generally positive. “It’s such a competitive industry that sometimes you cannot trust everyone immediately,” says Gerald. “As he is my father, we trust each other and offer mutual support.”
As a rookie agent, Phillip’s initiation was in marketing a new project launch, namely the 285-unit Royalgreen condo, the third and most premium project in Allgreen Properties’ Bukit Timah Collection. It was offered for sale by placement last October, and 33 units were taken up at an average price of $2,750 psf.
“I was worried for my father as the learning curve for new project launches is very steep,” says Gerald. “Agents have to go for training, conduct showflat viewings, do roadshows, and knock on doors. It’s very fast-paced and tiring.”
His father rose to the challenge. Phillip admitted that he was so nervous that he could not sleep the day before the preview. But his experience in studying technical information for compliance in the aviation industry helped him to learn about the new project quickly, he says.
The older Wu shines when dealing with clients who are older, or Mandarin-speaking, observes Gerald. “My father is proficient in business Chinese,” he says. “When I serve clients from Taiwan or mainland China, I would let him lead the conversation in the initial meeting and provide follow-up.”
Compared to younger agents, Gerald’s father is more patient and can relate better to these potential buyers, some of whom are retired, he says. As Phillip has a better understanding of their financial background and their concerns, as some of them are buying for their children, he can serve them better, Gerald adds.
One thing that Phillip has learned after working with his son is to embrace social media and digital tools. He has also learnt to deliver Zoom presentations and conduct virtual tours via the video-conferencing app.
“Now, my father’s Facebook profile is more ‘happening’ than mine,” says Gerald.
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