About Farrand Hey
Hi there! I’m Farrand Hey. And this blog article is all about me. One of the toughest article to write and almost impossible to hit publish…but here goes.
Most people tend to a quizzical look or do a ‘huh?’ when I introduce myself. Often, they will be wondering about the unusual name and surname. If not that, then it will be my background.
So, in this blog post, let me share the answers to all the very common questions people will ask about me when they get comfortable enough to ask.
Notwithstanding the unusual first and last name, I was born to Hokkien Chinese parents. Well, my late mum is very fond of saying she is a quarter Peranakan. The only Peranakan characteristic that I have has got to do with my love of the Nyonya food (actually, any food in general)!
Although born in Singapore, I was raised in the East Malaysian state of Sabah. Interestingly both of my parents have no ties in Sabah. My dad is from Pontian, Johor, while my mum was Singaporean.
It just so happened that my father was posted for work there and when I was conceived, my mum figured that it was best that I was born a Singaporean.
We were your average middle-class family of four. I had a younger brother. And we had a number of mongrel dogs as pets and anti-theft alarm while growing up.
Out parents were generally busy with their work during the day and volunteer work during the evenings. On occasion when they are free on Sundays, we will do long drives to far out places.
Dad will occasionally drive up to a place called Kundasang, a valley at the base of Mount Kinabalu. On other occasions, he might drive out to some of his project sites that he is working on.
He was a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, one part of the many consultants present in any construction projects. These excursions and frequent talk about this work planted the seed in me for the love of properties.
During some of these trips, he would regal us with tales of his struggles against corruption and politics involving those projects. Drawing on those examples to impart lessons on integrity, responsibility and righteousness.
Being a male Singaporean living overseas is tough. As soon as I turned 12, I had to have a passport of my own. Unfortunately, this passport only has a validity of only 9 months. Thus, every so often, I had to fly back to Singapore and get it extended.
As you may as well have guessed, this is to prevent us from absconding our national service duties. This, including educational reasons, promulgated our decision for me to return to Singapore alone during my mid-teens.
Living away from my family with strangers. In a fast-paced and expensive city. Struggling to cope with a more advance education system. Looking back, I’m reminded of the lonely days being away from my family and having to manage my expenses while juggling my studies.
I was struggling with English in particular and all the other subjects that require a decent command of English, ie the humanities. Fortunately, I had a fantastic teacher and a few wonderful classmates that helped me.
One episode which taught me an invaluable lesson was the resignation of our chemistry teacher and he went on to set up a tuition agency. That caused almost all the students in the class to sign up for tuition!
Tuition class was not an option for me. That incident ignited the fighting spirit from within. I worked extra hard to prove that with determination we don’t have to succumb to injustice.
Things went pretty well and my ‘O’ Levels results got me to Temasek Junior College.
Becoming an adult
National service too had its highlights. Chief among which is the mentality of not giving up. To keep pushing the limits. It was also a time when I got a chance to read more and widely too.
One subject that I was reading a lot on was financial literacy and investing. Although it was popular at that time, I was persuaded by the government and the teachers to apply to an engineering or science course. And thus I did.
After graduating with a Bachelor in Civil Engineering, it was tough finding a job as the economy was still recovering from the dot com bubble burst and SARS. Moreover, there was a slump in the construction industry.
Fortunately, my final year project advisor has some funding and could take me on as a research student. This research position also entails teaching tutorial classes and I was then supplementing the very meagre stipend with part-time private tuition.
After struggling with research for two years, I decided that it wasn’t my cup of tea. One day while browsing an investment exhibition in Suntec, I chance upon a booth that was selling raw land in Canada.
After chatting with the sales consultant, I found out that he used to be a civil engineer with a construction firm and “retired” earlier to take care of his investment.
He managed to convince me to join him as a downline and as an independent contractor in the firm.
From engineering to sales
What made me chose this path (to the horror of my parents and relatives)?
I believe the pros and cons of this choice are pretty familiar to most people, so I won’t talk about it here.
Allow me to share the lesser-known benefits and pitfalls.
Over the years, through dealing with countless people. I feel my interpersonal, communication and character has certainly changed for the better. Granted, they are still a long way off from being where I think they should be.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the people that I have come into contact that help polished me to where I’m today.
In addition, having sales skills like the patience to understand the customers’ needs, persuasion, problem-solving, are all very valuable assets that I treasure dearly. So much so I believe these are life skills everyone should have.
“Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”
– Daniel H. Pink, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Although one in nine Americans are working in sales, according to Pink, so does the other eight! 😄
While promoting land banking, I met a retired property agent that wanted to come out of retirement and motivated me to switch to selling properties instead.
My real estate journey
My journey as a realtor began in 2009. In those days, signing up as a realtor was straight-forward and easy. There is no central body to govern the industry, nor is there any formalised training.
After signing up and getting my name cards, we are pretty much a full-fledged property agent. I was left to my own devices. My upline was busy travelling the world.
There was no mentorship from any of the uplines but the agency-level training was abundant. Although being a new (and lack resources), paying for those training is tough on the pocket.
Luckily I was given a listing from my upline’s friend. My very first listing was to sell a jumbo flat in Woodlands. It was a corner 4rm flat combined with an adjoining 3rm flat. The owner had just upgraded to a landed and wanted to sell off this flat.
However, this listing wasn’t going to be an easy sell! The owner had renovated it in a way that it had fewer rooms than the original configuration. One thing I have learned over the years of marketing HDB is that these are regarded as the bread-and-butter type of housing.
People buy them primarily for their utility. The number of rooms is important. So is the practical nature of its renovation.
This particular unit had a master bedroom that is as huge as 60% of the 3rm flat and it comes with a jacuzzi to boot! There is also a bedroom that was converted into an office that had glass walls.
Compounding the fact that the sale took place during the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. It was quite the baptism of fire.
Diligence in ensuing all inquiries never went unanswered. Coupled with an enthusiastic invitation to show the unit. And being attentive during viewing to the buyers’ concerns. Plus a bit of luck saw an offer came in after 8 months of perseverance.
Even as the indication of interest was expressed, the buyer, a seasoned elderly gentleman, drove a hard bargain. My seller too was a tough negotiator being the owner of a successful business.
My luck, however, ran slightly short. Negotiations dragged a little too long and I had to report to camp for reservist training. Because of that, I had to call in my manager’s up line to assist in wrapping up the deal.
Guess what? She asked for a 50% share of the commission and being green, I agreed. I thought it is fine, I will pay to learn. Since HDB transactions are a little more complicated, it is best to have a seasoned hand steering the ship.
Not only I wasn’t taught anything, after switching agency and upline, but I also found out that 50% share was incredibly unfair. Nonetheless, it was a cogent wake-up call to the reality of this world.
Loving what I do
Time flies. It has been more than a decade since I started off in this trade. After that maiden transaction, I got involved in new launches.
It was during this period that I met a lot of clients and started building up the business. Many became good friends and went on to refer their friends.
Because of that, it was also where I got my exposure to the secondary market for private and public residential properties, and also commercial real estate.
“To be rich in friends is to be poor in nothing.”
– Lilian Whiting
Of course, there are many ups and downs during the journey. For those that think that being a realtor is merely just talking, signing a few papers and collecting a fat commission cheque, let’s discuss how you can make a career out of this! 😉
But if you are just interested to hear some of the heart-wrenching tales of betrayal, gut-wrenching moments or exciting cases we face from time to time in our work, ask me about it when we have coffee.
I’m very grateful to all my clients and friends for their trust. And also my fellow colleagues and mentors like Chris, Stuart, Jason, Jackie, Danny for their friendship and guidance throughout the years. (too many to name)
This career path has benefited me tremendously. It has brought to the surface my weakness and exposed me to wonderful things.
It has given me a chance to see all kinds of properties. Meet people from all walks of life. From all corners of the globe. Learn interesting things. And gleaned many valuable life lessons.
Work in progress
There is still so much to learn…and unlearn. Being in sales is really a challenge for me, even after doing it for more than a decade.
Being an introvert by nature. I cringe during networking opportunities. And it is a pain doing roadshows or exhibitions when I have to approach strangers to say hi.
Even the very fundamental act of selling is often an internal struggle. Should I ask for a cheque? What if this is not the best project for the buyer? Or perhaps that other location is better for her? Maybe if we wait, a better unit will come along? Is the buyer overpaying for this?
“To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”
― Daniel H. Pink
The above quote is what guides me when carrying out my work. After I satisfy myself that I have done the best for my clients when it is time to commit, I will remind myself that in making them close on the deal I must leave them better off than before.
A big thank you to all my dear clients and their friends who have supported me throughout the years. To my seniors and colleagues who have helped me along the way. And my parents for their unconditional love.
Although I am still a work in progress, I am thankful that this chosen path has given me an opportunity to develop traits like tenacity, grit, positivity and empathy. And in carrying out my duties, I am able to epitomize the values that my father had taught us: industrious, integrity, honesty, responsibility and loyalty.
Over the years, I have come to see what I do as a form of service. Of course, we do it for a fee. That is only so that we can earn a living. The satisfaction of a job well done is far more rewarding than any commission, cliche as it sounds, it is true for me.
“As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness. “
– Deiter F. Uchtdorf
Thank you for reading this far. 🙏 Hope it was enjoyable and if you’d like to chat, feel free to click on the available dates below. Looking forward to being of service to you!
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