Ken Low’s high-stakes move to SRI

By
/ EdgeProp Singapore
|
September 28, 2018 11:36 AM SGT
Until he left Huttons Asia on Sept 3, Ken Low was famous for leading one of the biggest teams of real estate agents at the company. With 3,400 agents, Huttons Asia is the fourth largest in Singapore in terms of sales force. Low created a stir when it was announced on Sept 4 that he was joining SRI, the up-and-coming realtor with 290 agents.
At the point of his exit, the eponymous Ken Low Group (KLG) at Huttons Asia had 430 agents specialising in project marketing. It was thus a high-stakes move for Low, who had been with Huttons Asia for seven years. As the newest managing partner of SRI,
Low is bringing with him his expertise in project marketing. “I resigned to start the planning process at SRI so that everything will be in place for new agents joining the firm,” says the 35-year-old.
ADVERTISEMENT
SRI's managing partners (from left): Ken Low, Tony Koe, Tricia Teo, Benson Koh and Bruce Lye (Picture Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

New business

With Low on board, SRI is estimating that close to 300 new agents will be joining the firm — not just from KLG but other agencies as well. Eight developers with more than 30 projects — both existing and new launches — have signed up SRI as a marketing agency.
“We had a lot of calls since the announcement of Ken’s move,” says Bruce Lye, managing partner of SRI. “While there’s consolidation in the market, there’s also expansion.”
As a niche realtor, SRI thus far has been focusing mainly on the resale market, particularly prime residential property. However, it has also brokered several sizeable transactions at launches of luxury condominium projects. For instance, SRI was the realtor that brokered the sale of the first penthouse at Marina One Residences — a 6,469 sq ft unit that was sold for $18 million ($2,782 psf), according to a caveat lodged in June. Meanwhile, an SRI agent brokered the sale of a 6,728 sq ft, five-bedroom penthouse at South Beach Residences for $26 million ($3,864 psf) in September.
SRI is also marketing the biggest penthouse in Sentosa Cove — an 8,095 sq ft duplex penthouse at The Oceanfront that is on the market for $13 million ($1,606 psf).
ADVERTISEMENT

Follow the hairstylist

Anecdotally, Low’s move to SRI is partly attributed to the relocation of his hairstyylist's salon, The Lawn Hairdressing, which moved from a shophouse on Arab Street to Eng Watt Street in Tiong Bahru sometime last year. “I cut my hair as often as I shave — which is once every fortnight,” says Low, who is equally famous for being well coiffed.
The Lawn Hairdressing happens to be adjacent to SRI’s sales gallery and office on Eng Watt Street. “I bumped into them [the managing partners of SRI] a lot,” says Low. “We had known each other for a long time, and whose we usually talked about the property market when we met. Over the last few months, we realised we were on the same frequency about a lot of things.”
SRI managing partners and controlling shareholders, Lye, 35, and Benson Koh, 36, co-founded their firm, formerly known as SRI5000 in 2010. At the time, SRI5000 was a division of SLP International, and specialised in marketing high-end condos and landed homes.
ADVERTISEMENT
Lye and Koh decided to strike out on their own in 2016, and changed the name of the firm to SRI. Joining SRI then was Tony Koe, former executive director of SLP International, who came on board as managing director and has been heading the agency business.
Another former SLP International senior executive, Tricia Teo, joined SRI in January 2017. She had been with SLP International for over 14 years and specialised in marketing industrial property. Her last position at the firm was deputy managing director. Teo joined SRI as managing director of special projects and since January 2018, she has been director of SRI’s property development business, FiveK Projects.

‘Looking for fresh ideas’

Since the property cooling measures kicked in on July 6, homebuyers are taking longer to decide on a purchase. “As a result, residential transaction volume has dropped,” says Low. The shrinking transaction volume has made the project marketing business more competitive.
“We see a trend where developers sometimes appoint five to six agencies for a single project,” says Low. “Having more agents marketing a project will have a dilutive effect on sales.”
Property players — both developers and agents — are “looking for fresh ideas” when it comes to the marketing of projects, says Low. “We could be a game changer.”

Differentiation

Digital-savvy agents are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from the rest of the pack, says Low. “Equipping agents with strong digital capabilities will allow them to unlock new demand and generate more leads.”
And this is where SRI seeks to make its mark — by equipping its agents with a digital platform that allows them to access their clients’ property portfolios, says Koh. They will then be able to monitor their clients’ portfolios to see if there are any properties with leases that are expiring and follow up with the owner on whether he wishes to renew the lease or sell the property.
“It’s a great platform for agents,” says Low. “We can also leverage this technology to help developers handle the back-end of their project sales. It’s something that I’m looking forward to.”