If, like me, you are someone who enjoys watching home tours of properties in Singapore, be it HDB flats, condominiums, landed properties, luxury penthouses, or even Good Class Bungalows (not that we can afford it), then chances are that you would already be familiar with Melvin Lim and the real estate media technology company he runs – PropertyLimBrothers.
While Melvin and his co-founder Adrian Lim (no, they are not brothers – the real story is here!) have been real estate agents since 2007, the idea behind PropertyLimBrothers only started in 2017. This was when Melvin and Adrian decided to do something different in the industry – introduce video home tour presentations – to change the way homes in Singapore were marketed.
Since then, PropertyLimBrothers have grown in size and now include more agents beyond just Melvin and Adrian. The firm currently has about 70 employees (spread across two offices), which include a large number of media and technology-savvy employees who help produce the numerous home tours, video content and real estate-related articles that are watched and read not just by their potential clients, but just about anyone interested in property matters in Singapore. To date, the PropertyLimBrothers YouTube channel has more than 800 videos and 51,000 subscribers.
Till today, despite his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO of PropertyLimBrothers, Melvin also spends a lot of time presenting home tours, going through every video that is published daily, training the team, and strategising projects for the properties that the team markets for their clients through analysis and marketing angles.
In this edition of 5 Questions With, we caught up with Melvin to find out how his experience with growing PropertyLimBrothers, how he juggles between his responsibilities of being a CEO and a real estate agent, and what are the future plans that PropertyLimBrothers have.
Timothy Ho (Timothy): As the CEO of PropertyLimBrothers, Associate Group District Director at PropNex, and a dad to 4 kids, life is surely hectic for you. Share with us how a regular day is like for you.
Melvin Lim (Melvin): On a regular day, I have about 5-6 appointments and I don’t usually have much spare time. Sometimes, I don’t even know the meetings that I will have the next day until the evening itself when I have time to catch up and prepare for the next day. I try to arrange all my meetings during working hours, from 9am to about 7pm. When I am at the office, I try my best to focus on work and to make it as productive as possible.
My role entails looking after all eight departments in PropertyLimBrothers (PLB). We have Media Production, Digital Marketing, Research, Inside Sales Team and HR/Finance. We are also forming our Tech arm, our Projects & Collaboration team and the Leadership team. I am someone who likes to be on the ground so I conduct training for the Inside Sales Team weekly and still appear in a lot of the home tours. I love to present, analyse market trends and showcase different homes.
Back in the office, most of my week involves meeting with the different teams. We run a total of about 30 marketing and content projects simultaneously across the different teams. We also film about 10-12 rounds of shoots weekly at this point. So I guess I am all over the place most of the time. At the same time, I am very happy with what I am doing and I can get up feeling excited each day. It’s exhausting, but we are still in a growing phase. I am thankful that we have so many good people and trusted teammates that are hustling to grow PLB together. We are excited to see where PLB is going to be in the next 10 years.
To juggle my time between my family and my work, I like to block out time. On Monday, I have date nights with my wife. For Wednesday, I aim to finish work early so that we can bring the kids out for dinner. Friday is always family dinner with my parents coming over to my place. For Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I might work late. I think the blocking out of days helps because everyone knows which day I will be home early, and which day I will be home late.
Editor’s Note: Watch the video below on how a typical week looks like for Melvin.
Timothy: What inspired you to start doing home video tour presentations to market the properties differently? Did you ever think that through home tour presentations, PropertyLimBrothers will grow to the size it is today and that you will end up taking the role of CEO of a startup?
Melvin: We started as a solo real estate agent, on the ground daily, prospecting for clients for us to help them sell and buy properties for a good ten years.
In 2016, I started thinking about the way properties were being marketed in Singapore, and started questioning myself, on why we were always marketing properties the same old way in Singapore – which was just taking photos and posting them on property portals, and then waiting for our phones to ring.
I felt that the way we marketed properties was hasty and in a way that couldn’t bring out the potential of each home. It was also a very passive method. In 2017, we did about ten videos and that kick-started the entire process because we realised that video content works for us through digital marketing and social media. In fact, all the homes that we tried the home tour presentation content got sold successfully through responses from social media and sponsored ads.
At that time, I was focusing on building better content while also juggling the day-to-day work as a real estate agent. Little did I think that we would grow to this scale. But I guess, back then, the vision was to create better content for our home sellers. And we wanted to create content that can successfully showcase all the plus points, solve obstacles, and be entertaining and compelling at the same time to draw attention to the homes.
From that idea, I started to think about how I could scale it to a version that could potentially help more clients. And thus, in 2018, we started our own PLB media production house. The reason for this is that I wanted to be able to direct each shoot and to edit it together with our guys.
I started learning about digital marketing late into the night, production, equipment, shoot together with my team. In fact, I think everything we learned came through trial and error as the team learned about production for real estate content because back then, nobody was shooting real estate content, so there was no one to model after. We needed to try everything to see what the local audience likes, from music, subtitles, angles of shots, type of shoots and the type of production style.
Fast forward to 2019 till 2021, we have grown our team and we now have eight departments working hand in hand, with the common goal to produce content and to market angles and craft campaigns to help our sellers sell their properties.
We are constantly recruiting like-minded people to our Inside Sales team. Currently, we have 35 full-time real estate salespersons team, who are our Listing specialists and Listing managers, and our team leaders are the people we call our Character coaches. We are thankful to be surrounded by teammates in both our Inside Sales team and Media Backend team who are all long game players. This means we are in for the long game vision together to build a 100-year-old company. And that core focus to make real estate marketing, selling, and investing a better experience and to revolutionise how properties are being marketed keeps our core strong and our fire burning to always work as a team.
2021 is also the year that we set up our PLB Insights research team to come out with research and analysis on a deeper level for our clients. We are currently scaling up data research and building future tech possibilities to make the investing and buying analysis more robust and accurate.
Looking back, we are happy to grow together as a team throughout this entire process 🙂
Timothy Ho: Besides your work and your family, what are three other areas of your life that you strive to find time for?
Melvin: I am a family man. Apart from work, I spend most of my time at home with the kids, reading books and bringing them out.
At this stage of my life, I have two main focuses. That is to grow PLB and the people in PLB and my family and kids. Being focused works for me. I think with 4 kids, 15, 13, 11 and the youngest at 2 years, it’s quite a handful now. We homeschool our kids till PSLE before they head to Secondary school. I am basically their PE teacher. My wife takes care of the academic side. But we are quite chill when it comes to results for studies during their primary years since the core focus of the decision to home school our kids was for us to be the main educator and influence for their values and childhood during this period. It’s not easy at times because there are challenges during homeschooling but we enjoy it as a family. The kids love it as well because they have only 4 hours of study each day and the rest are interactive play and experiential learning like bringing them out to parks.
From the age of 13, I did part-time jobs often during all the school holidays. At 13 years old, I did door-to-door selling with my friends selling packets of Christmas cards. I was a Vitagen delivery boy at age 14 because I wanted to pay for my 1st computer. I also became a 7-eleven store assistant, a waiter at banquets and restaurants, roadshow top sales promoter for bank’s credit card and I was even a mascot for Cheesedale cheese wearing the gigantic mascot! What I realised from all my work experiences was that I love speaking with people, I love studying and reading about human psychology. Books become my main source of education after university, and I read till today. And sales is definitely something that I love.
Thus, I wanted to search for something that fulfills this part of my passion and interest. But I didn’t have a direction or goal in life at that time yet. Basically, I was just a lost kid exploring what to do after university. Thankfully, I found the love of my life early, and we decided to settle down early, get our first property and set up our family. We got married at a young age of 24 and looking back, getting married earlier made me grow up much faster and got me to be more motivated to adopt a more mature mindset from a young adult age.
That got me thinking of what I could do to provide a stable income for my family and started to make me think carefully about having a focus and being the main support for the family that my wife and I wanted to build together. I took a gap year from university at year 2 and signed on as a Prison Officer with the Ministry of Home affairs. Subsequently, I finished my degree while serving my bond. That was how I met Adrian as we were both in the same training camp as prison officers. And 3 years later, both of us resigned together and came into real estate in the year 2007 full time.
Apart from family and work, one area will be my faith. Being a Christian, I think it’s about how we live our life as a Christ believer when we do life and work. So, I would say I will choose to infuse my faith into the workplace rather than seeing it as apart from my work. PLB has a prayer group, we are also into improving lives with our IMproof project which our team started. The vision is to transform homes for the underprivileged where our team gets into action to declutter, repaint, bring in new furniture, and spruce up their homes for the families and kids. We hope that this can be a movement in the marketplace. Because we are in the business of transforming people’s homes every day to help our home sellers position and market their properties attractively on social media. We think we can do this for the underprivileged as well.
We hope to bring have more initiatives next year to bring a positive impact to our society with our work in the marketplace.
A 2nd area will be to be intentional in growing people by growing myself through reading, self-improvement, and meeting people individually for our people’s growth as a mentor.
The 3rd area will be to take time to take care of my health. I love fried food and I need to reduce my intake of carrot cakes and laksa!
Timothy Ho: Besides your own PropertyLimBrothers, what are two of your favorite finance websites that you enjoy reading?
Melvin: I have to name more than 2! Some of my favorite sites are CNBC, Bloomberg, Seedly, Stacked Homes, EdgeProp, 99.co, and of course, DollarsAndSense!
Timothy Ho: One piece of advice that you will give anyone aspiring to join the real estate industry?
Melvin: Speak life and bring along a mindset as someone to breathe life into every property you touch.
Be a value-adding mechanism and constantly bring value and positivity to your clients. Be a solution-centric realtor. Not a problem hoarder.Melvin Lim
Melvin Lim, CEO of PropertyLimBrothers
Editor’s Note: Watch more about Melvin’s philosophy here.
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