LPS CHINA TALKS: EPISODE 8: MR. STEVEN TAN – SINGAPORE MARKET
EPISODE 8: Mr. Steven | Managing Director | OrangeTee &Tie
We are meeting today with Mr. Steven Tan, the Managing Director of OrangeTee & Tie to discuss about the specificities of the highly competitive Singapore real estate market, the importance of foreign investors and the global strategy of his company.
LPS：Dear Mr. Steven Tan, thanks for joining this interview. You’re the head of OrangeTee & Tie, one of the Top 3 property companies in Singapore, with over 4,200 staff and property agents. How would you describe your leadership style and the way you manage such a big company?
Mr. Steven Tan: I always believe the speed and magnitude of disruption driven by technological advancement and behavioral change will impact the real estate industry significantly. Hence, the best way to future proof our business is to embrace digital transformation, led by the top management of the company.
OrangeTee started digital transformation as early as 2015 and it is proven that we made the right decision looking at the growth of the company in the last few years. This pandemic reaffirms our vision as during the lockdown period, everyone is being forced to fast-track their technology savviness. Our digital readiness gives us the cutting edge over our competitors during and post pandemic.
LPS：Can you tell us more about the reasons behind your choice of forming a joint venture between OrangeTee and Edmund Tie in 2017?
Mr. Steven Tan: The key reasons to form the joint venture are: First, to improve our market position from 4th largest to become 3rd largest real estate agency in Singapore. Secondly, to gain market power in terms of securing more project marketing appointments. Thirdly, to increase our competitiveness in sales performance. Fourthly, to enjoy the economies of scale.
The other key motivation to collaborate is that both companies share similar cultures and values such as professionalism, trustworthiness and cares.
LPS：With so many property agencies in Singapore, the competition is fierce. Is it becoming harder to think “out of the box” and keep innovating?
Mr. Steven Tan: Yes, the competition is fierce but this is part and parcel of doing business in Singapore. That’s why we must constantly monitor and anticipate the challenges and opportunities ahead, make sure our business model can adapt quickly to the changes, and alway innovate to gain first-mover advantage over our competitors.
To achieve that we must have the right people with a creative thinking mindset. We have a digital transformation team working closely to identify the needed changes, create a vision to guide through inspiration, and execute the changes with the rest of the staff.
LPS：How important is the China market to OrangeTee & Tie?
Mr. Steven Tan: Important but not critical at this moment due to the Government’s cooling measures and the pandemic situation.
However, I believe more Chinese investors will invest in Singapore due to our strong economic fundamentals such as political stability, pro-business environment and low interest rate climate.
We are exploring partnerships with local real estate companies to tap on each other’s platforms, expertise and network so that we can provide better services to our clients.
LPS：Many property investors are interested in investing in the Singapore real estate market for the first time, but some are still hesitant because they feel they lack of knowledge and experience on this market. Which advice would you give to the first-time buyers?
Mr. Steven Tan: The best way is to engage a competent agent who understands your needs and able to provide you the best advice.
One effective way is to visit the agents review platforms such as propertyagentsreview.com to look at the feedback from other customers who have engaged and transacted the property with the agents.
OrangeTee is the first real estate agent in Singapore to provide this review platform in 2016.
Also, I encourage the investor to do their own research before making any commitment. Nowadays there are many useful information or videos the investors can retrieve from the website, Recently, OrangeTee just launched its Market Analytics Suite for the public to use. I encourage investors to make use of it to gain some market intelligence.
LPS：How would you describe the current supply of new real estate developments in Singapore? Is it currently under or over supplied?
Mr. Steven Tan: At this stage the market is at the healthy level but it will turn into an undersupply situation in 2 to 3 years time.
The reason is because most of the lands bought during the peak of collective sales in 2016 and 2017 but the trend stopped immediately after the Government implemented cooling measures in mid 2018.
Also, the government has been controlling the land supply from the government land sales program to stabilize the market since 2015.
Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of sales would be slower so I expect the market will be in a healthy and stable situation from now till 2024.
LPS：You’re also a private investor yourself. What is the best real estate investment you’ve made in your life? And the worst one?
Mr. Steven Tan: My best investment was my investment in the OrangeTee. First, it provides me a job. Secondly, it gave me a good monetary return as well as job satisfaction. Most importantly, it gives a platform to know more people and foster close relationships with them such as our business partners, the developers, our staff and our agents.
The next best investment is property investments. I have been investing in property since 25 years ago and I am now enjoying the capital appreciation and positive recurring income from rental properties.
The worst investment is forex. I invested some money about 20 years ago and I stopped within 2 week because of the chaotic performance of the currency.