When Nick Tan first started selling property in Singapore he was just one of the crowd, wearing the real estate agent uniform of shirt and tie, doing things the same way everyone else in the industry was. Then, he had an epiphany, maybe he could sell Singapore in a different way.
“It started with a pain point that kept happening over and over when I first started out as a property agent – after putting up a listing, people would call in to ask for a ton of information, and qualifying calls tend to be unnecessarily long,” explains Nick.
“At some point, I realised it would be more efficient to gather these frequently asked questions and present it in a video form, which would also help me establish a more personal connection with these potential buyers or home seekers even before speaking to them for the first time … and it worked.”
Nick moved to set up Selling Singapore in 2019, with the aim to offer a service to “suit the needs of the modern market of buyers and sellers”, something that was new in Singapore.
“When I first entered the scene, I chanced upon this American realtor selling humongous penthouses in New York. I was taken by his charisma and high-quality production, which kept me hooked onto his videos, even as a Singaporean who wasn’t intending to buy those properties. Back then, no one was really doing this in Singapore so I decided to rise up to the challenge and try my hand at it. I basically reverse engineered the media model, localised the language, restructured the information based on what Singaporeans were asking for and voila, we were in business!” explains Nick.
“Our first sale under the Selling Singapore brand was a 1-bedroom unit in Simei and the buyer came to know about the listing through a YouTube advertisement. He wasn’t even shopping for a home at the time, but said this video sparked his interest. It was then that it became clear to me, and validated my hunch, that this disruptive sales strategy had a lot of untapped potential in Singapore.
“It has been an eventful and gratifying process since. When we first launched the channel, Selling Singapore, our early videos saw just about 20 views, but consistency paid off, and our authentic approach with our varied personalities led us to where we are today; with over 10,000 subscribers, totalling more than 6 million video views.”
Being creative in a new industry
With the creation of the videos clearing being the point of difference between what Nick and his team do, and what the other agents do, where the ideas come from are important.
“It really is a team effort. For home tours, it starts with our realtors coming up with the content as they are best equipped to sell the homes. Their ideas are then shared with the producers, videographers and editors who work together to bring their vision and stories to life. For other segments, we also have a team of content writers who analyse and identify trends and ideate around them. I would personally confirm the final direction of the video to ensure that it is on brand,” Nick explains.
“Authenticity is important to us because it helps build trust. We do like to have our team’s authentic personalities shine through, so honestly, a lot of the planning just goes into letting our presenters take the stage. Beyond presenters being true to themselves, we are committed to only portraying what is true and relevant. We want our viewers to know that with Selling Singapore, what you see is what you get; from the presenters you interact with to the homes you view.”
While Nick might be sanguine with the concept of being the ‘face’ of a new idea, he actually says that he was surprised about both the success, and the interest.
“It did surprise me — I never thought that people would enjoy watching or listening to me share my views. Even today, I do get a pleasant surprise when people recognise me on the streets,” he joked.
It was as easy as Nick makes it sound, however, it took him a while to get into the right groove.
“I wish I knew the power of authentic communication and that it was okay to be different — to be myself. I was initially modelling and trying to mimic the voice of others in videos I watched. I started out trying to be someone I wasn’t, which didn’t work,” he admits.
“It was only when I decided to just be myself in front of the camera that I realised, being real actually has an impact on others. It gave me more confidence in my voice and my approach, and likewise empowered others to discover their own authentic selves.”
Also surprising is the idea that creativity is actually an important part of both property sales and running a business.
“On this tiny red dot, we see 32,000 condos and apartments sold in 2021. 3,500 landed homes and 74 thousand HDBs were transacted last year. Take that collective number and triple the number of advertisements that are out there in the market and you will see what you’re competing with,” explains Nick.
“Creativity helps us differentiate ourselves from the rest. Our strength has always been how we see the best in each property and having the means and knowledge to bring that to the buyer whenever and wherever they might be – whether it is in the office on one of their computers or on a toilet seat with their smartphone
Innovation is so crucial for any business. I would say our buying and selling process requires creativity too; it’s highly personal and relies on the right data and assumptions to build. I would suggest learning more about the pros and cons of wholesaling real estate with High Return Real Estate before venturing into this space.
For example, we look at feasibility of function, emotional compatibility, and price range acceptability, which we use to test our assumptions with product recommendations that we feel is right for their family, not just for the present but for the future.
“It might sound a little bit meta, but this gives me the most satisfaction today. I can’t wait to see what the future and the next generation of Selling Singapore holds.”
To discover more interesting and creative people, check out our People Section.