One Global ‘shaking up’ international property marketing business in Singapore

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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November 24, 2018 2:03 PM SGT
Before he came to Singapore in 2017, James Puddle was based in London, where he spent close to 12 years marketing UK residential property to investors in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He worked at two of the UK’s most well-known real estate firms, Hamptons International and Strutt & Parker. He was with Strutt & Parker for more than six years, where he was last associate partner of residential development and investment, heading the international project marketing team.
In May 2017, about 1½ years ago, Puddle bit the bullet and resigned from Strutt & Parker. He relocated his young family from London to Singapore. “I had always wanted to set up my own company,” says Puddle. “The market was very difficult then, as it was just a year after the Brexit referendum [in June 2016]. All my colleagues in London thought I was crazy.” During his frequent trips to Singapore, he had met Avril Lee, who was running her own real estate brokerage firm. “She understands the Singapore market and, with my experience in international project marketing, we felt there was a lot of synergy, and agreed to [join forces],” says Puddle.
Puddle: I had always wanted to set up my own company. The market was very difficult at that time. All my colleagues in London thought I was crazy. It was almost a year after the Brexit referendum [in June 2016] (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
That led to the creation of One Global Property Services, of which Puddle is founding partner and managing director and Lee is key executive officer (KEO) and director. The duo started out working from a serviced office at One Raffles Place. Within 15 months, the team has expanded to 14 staff, many of whom have international property sales experience and had worked at international property consultancies such as Colliers International, CBRE, Knight Frank and ERA.
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In mid-April this year, the firm moved to a double-storey conservation shophouse at 127 Devonshire Road. Besides Singapore, One Global is opening an office in Hong Kong and exploring the possibility of expanding to Indonesia. “Our ethos is to be a boutique agency business that provides high-quality service to our purchasers and clients,” says Puddle. The aim is to be a “one-stop-shop” not just for handling the marketing of overseas properties but also for leasing and resales. “When we spoke with our Singapore-based clients looking to purchase an overseas property, we found that many of them have a portfolio of properties in Singapore that they would like us to manage,” says Puddle. “That is why we have created a hybrid company that handles both Singapore and overseas properties to provide all-round services.”
James Puddle joined forces with Avril Lee (pictured) to create One Global (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
To provide a comprehensive services platform, One Global shares its office space at Devonshire Road with representatives of other service providers, such as Life Residential, a lettings and management specialist in London property; Capricorn Finance, a UK-based mortgage specialist; and Accouter Group, a UK-based interior design and furnishings company.
While the UK will remain One Global’s primary focus, it has diversified its overseas property offerings to include Bangkok projects by established Thai developer Sansiri such as The Base Sukhumvit 50; and Australia-based Crown Group’s latest project in Sydney, Mastery by Crown Group, which will be marketed in Singapore on the first weekend of December. “In the UK, Brexit went very badly, and we need to depend on other markets for our business,” concedes Puddle.
One West Point in Acton, London, which was jointly marketed by JLL and One Global in Singapore (Photo Credit: One Global)
In March this year, One Global jointly marketed One West Point in Singapore with JLL. One West Point is located in Acton, London and is developed by UK-based City and Docklands. According to Puddle, One Global achieved more than 25 sales over the three months from July to September — “the highest number of sales secured in Singapore for any London project by any agency or developer since 2014”.
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One Global is also the appointed marketing agent in Singapore for the 150-acre Greenwich Peninsula by the River Thames, which, when fully completed, will have 15,000 new homes. Greenwich Peninsula is an £8.4 billion ($14.77 billion) regeneration project by Hong Kong-based Knight Dragon, the private property arm of Henry Cheng, chairman of Hong Kong’s New World Development.
One Global is the marketing agent in Singapore for Timber Yard, a 379-unit residential development in Birmingham’s Southside district by Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital (Photo Credit: One Global)
In Singapore, One Global is also marketing Timber Yard, a 379-unit residential development in Birmingham’s Southside district by Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital. All of Global One’s property exhibitions and consumer seminars are held on its premises at 127 Devonshire Road, which functions as a sales gallery and office. “We have moved away from doing weekend exhibitions at fivestar hotels on Orchard Road unless our clients specifically request for it,” says Puddle. “By holding the exhibition at our premises, we save our clients $15,000, which they would otherwise have to pay for renting an event space in a hotel.”
Over the last few years, more overseas markets, from Australia to Canada and the UK, have increased foreign buyers’ stamp duty. However, Puddle still sees demand for overseas property coming from younger buyers in Singapore. “There are also en bloc millionaires — a phenomenon of the last two years — who are looking to invest overseas, since it has become more expensive to buy homes here,” he notes.
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Apt Living in Brentwood, London is near Kew Bridge Station and Gunnersbury Park is one of the projects marketed by One Global in Singapore (Photo Credit: One Global)
The market has changed. “In the past, the international firms had it easy,” Puddle observes. “They just relied on their brands, ran a lot of advertisements in newspapers, did an email marketing campaign, held an exhibition in a hotel and hoped that people would come. You can’t do that anymore.”
Instead, marketing agents have to be more “proactive”, adds Puddle. “We have to do a lot of research; we hold consumer seminars. We focus on educating our buyers, not hard- sell. We are trying to reach the younger generation, who have not purchased a London property before. They are predominantly our buyers today.”
Many of the international agencies no longer have an international property sales team in Singapore. For instance, Darien Bradshaw, CBRE executive director and head of international project marketing in Asia, now collaborates with One Global when it comes to marketing projects in Australia and the UK. One Global will focus on working with reputable developers in established markets such as Australia, the UK and Thailand. “In the year ahead, I want to continue to grow the Singapore business and further establish our brand as the ‘go-to’ agency here,” Puddle says.