When Yuna Lim made the decision to leave her low-paid office job to dive into the world of real estate, she did so out of necessity.
She was 25, mother to two young girls aged 2 and 4, and her family's sole breadwinner. Home was a two-room HDB rental flat, and making ends meet with her meagre paycheck was difficult.
Then, a friend invited her to forge a career in real estate. The risks were clear to her: with no basic pay, it was "either do or die".
"But I was told, there is no limit to the income you can earn in real estate, as long as you work for it. At that time, I just told myself: I need to earn more. Doing sales will allow me to bring home more, as long as I work hard," says Ms Lim.
That equation did not hold, unfortunately. In the eight years she spent under the first real estate firm she joined, despite putting in hard work, she was not spared a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty.
"There were months with closings, there were also months with no closings. Some months you close big deals, many months you don't," she recalls.
For someone whose two young children depended on her income, such volatility was hard to stomach. "There was no consistency, leading me to lose my faith. I almost gave up," says Ms Lim.
In the meantime, separately, another young property agent was honing his own approach towards Singapore's property market. With his vision of a better way for agents to serve sellers and buyers alike, Calvin See founded the Singapore Estate Agency (S.E.A.) in 2009.
But it was only in 2013, while she was still fighting to succeed in the real estate business, that a chance encounter led Ms Lim to Mr See. "I decided to make the switch to join S.E.A., the wisest choice that I have made in my life," she says.
Persevering through tumultuous times
Only upon joining did she realise the importance of having a good mentor in her line of business. "Who you learn from and follow will help shape your future. Strong personal will and ability, without proper guidance is not enough, as this real estate journey is inherently fraught with obstacles," says Ms Lim.
Her mentor was Calvin See himself, who has distilled his property market insights into S.E.A.'s signature "8 Secrets" formula, which he believes helps those he trains to consistently outperform market averages.
But the early days with SEA were trying ones for Ms Lim. Training sessions stretched late into the night, after the usual viewings. Getting by with no more than four hours sleep a day took its toll; there were tears.
After one especially long day ended at 3am, trudging back to the rental flat in Ang Mo Kio that was then home, Ms Lim almost threw it all away. "I had no life outside of work, no time to spend with my kids. I was bone-tired. It was just such a struggle."
Nevertheless, she persisted. A deep desire for success and to turn around the lives of her daughters and her parents, pushed her to carry on.
And this time round, her hard work reaped success.
Now a senior district director at S.E.A., Ms Lim has been its top sales producer for five consecutive years. Her monthly income has broken past the six-figure threshold, and it is not an occasional peak but a strong, consistent showing that she aims for - she continues to close more than 10 sales a month.
"With clear direction, right guidance, high-energy positive vibes and the signature S.E.A. 8 Secrets training, I have learnt valuable lessons that I've applied to both work and life," says Ms Lim, who says she owes much to Mr See and S.E.A.
A fulfilling career
Professional success also turned her personal life around.
She has bought a larger home for her family, and can now afford to take them on annual vacations overseas. "I am able to provide a better lifestyle for my family and take care of my parents so that they do not have to work," she says. Indeed, the joy of being able to care for her family comfortably today, without the anxiety and uncertainty of the past, is what she is most thankful for.
And her job is now no longer just a means of supporting her family. It is a source of personal fulfilment too. "I derive a lot of satisfaction from my job. I am able to assist my clients to sell and upgrade to their next property, or make the right investment," says Ms Lim.
In the fast-paced, often stressful world of real estate, Ms Lim also draws strength from her interactions with sincere clients. "The faith and trust that they place in me make me more motivated to get the best results for them," she says.
While sales figures are what put her at the top of ranking boards, Ms Lim says that money cannot measure the fulfilment she has found in her career as an agent.
"It has come to a point where it is no longer the amount of money that counts. What counts is getting a call from a stranger and realising that a past client wholeheartedly recommended me to his or her friend.I feel very appreciated by them."
The nature of her work is such that it often intersects with major life transitions for her clients. "There have been instances where I am able to help clients going through difficult times. And after the sale is closed, receiving heartfelt thank you messages and invitations to family events… these add meaning to my job," she says.
She is one who would go all out once she has set her mind to accomplish something, and believes that transacting with integrity and honesty pays its own dividends. "People will then view you as a very real person, not the stereotypical salesman."
Growing alongside S.E.A
Fulfilment has also come with taking on leadership roles within S.E.A. Today, as a senior district director, she oversees a team of agents, training and mentoring them, just as she was once trained and mentored. It is a source of pride for Ms Lim, that out of the team she painstakingly coached have arisen other top-ranked producers.
Much of Ms Lim's professional growth has taken place alongside S.E.A.'s own growth. What started as a small operation in a rented office, has since grown into a reputable firm with three branches across Singapore.
Their strategy was to make their agents specialists and arm them with in-depth knowledge of the estates they operate in, so that they would be able to provide accurate and up-to-date information on each property a client attempts to sell or buy. It is with this depth of knowledge that S.E.A.'s agents boast of being able to turn listings over swiftly - property sales handled by them typically spend fewer days on the market than the industry average.
Yet, the most specialised real estate agent is not immune to the winds of change sweeping the property market. For Ms Lim, who handles a wide range of property sales transactions from HDB units to private residential ones, the opportunities social media avails are not to be overlooked.
These days, producing videos walking potential buyers through her client's homes, and getting them out on various social media platforms has become par for the course for Ms Lim. Her NOW HOMES page on Facebook also allows her to tap into the potential of creative digital and social marketing to get her clients' properties sold promptly.
As one who has made something out of nothing, Ms Lim has these words of advice for new entrants to the real estate game: the right mentor is key, make bold decisions if you want a breakthrough, have the will to change.
"Success doesn't come and find you, you have to go and get it."
Questions with Yuna Lim
Q: What properties do you own at the moment?
A: A four-room HDB flat, which I live in with my teenage daughters.
Q: What is your current drive?
A: A Maserati GT
Q: What is your goal?
A: To beat my own sales records and grow my team to help others achieve success in real estate. In doing so, I hope to pay forward what I myself have received from S.E.A.
Q: What is your dream home?
A: A freehold private property, once I've met the minimum occupation period for my existing flat.