Backstage with the SREA judges

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Wong, Azmir, Lee, Lim and Lam during the judging session.

Wong, Azmir, Lee, Lim and Lam during the judging session.

High quality of entries posed a tough challenge for judging panel

By YANIKA LIEW

AS the crowd gathered at the StarProperty Awards 2023 Realtor Edition gala night, the spotlight fell on the faces behind the awards. Taking pride in their holistic and equitable process, the judges ensure the event’s success while backing the development of a thriving real estate industry.

The five judges are all industry leaders representing diverse sectors of the real estate landscape. With their expertise and a rigorous selection process, the judges are well-equipped to assess the best of Malaysia's agencies and negotiators.

Each category has been crafted to reflect the real estate landscape of today. Entries have been separated between agencies and negotiators, with 13 main categories for agencies and 14 for negotiators.

Throughout its conception, the StarProperty Awards Realtor Edition has been constantly refined and improved. Owing to participant contribution and feedback, this year StarProperty placed emphasis on commitment to diversity and inclusion, ensuring that every perspective is heard and every achievement celebrated.

The judges are:

  •  Sime Darby Property Bhd group managing director Datuk Azmir Merican
  • RHB Bank Berhad homeowners head Christine Wong
  •  Gamuda Land executive director Lam Sew Chee
  •  Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) Youth president Lee Han Rick
  •  Messrs Gan and Zul Advocates and Solicitors group managing partner Datuk Simon SC Lim

Here’s what they say about this year’s awards:

“Reflecting on this experience, I am filled with optimism for Malaysia's real estate future,” said Lim. The fusion of seasoned professionals enriched by international exposure, with the enthusiasm of the younger generation, promises a bright and progressive trajectory for the industry.”

The competition gathered top estate agencies from across the nation, highlighting their expertise, market acumen, and adaptability to an ever-changing industry.

“This year's competition was particularly notable for the introduction of the Chief Executive of the Year award. This category attracted distinguished executives with vast international experience, making it an extraordinary addition,” Lim noted.

He said the global exposure and diverse experiences of these candidates added a layer of complexity to the judging process. Their expertise, garnered from various international markets, has profoundly influenced their vision and leadership, greatly benefiting our real estate industry.

Lee said: “As a returning judge, I was pleased to see more active participation in the awards by a larger variety of agents from different backgrounds and focus.” The entries encompassed a wide range of disciplines.

He noted that it was encouraging to see the innovation and effort put into new strategies to reach a wider audience and to establish trust among their clients, pushing the industry to provide a higher quality of service.

Wong said: “It is wonderful to meet candidates embracing leadership qualities to build and grow team members collectively to deliver reliable service to customers in the property market. The award provides a positive avenue to recognise the virtues and qualities of leaders and role models.”

Azmir agreed: “I was impressed by how much work all the participants put into their submissions. There’s no denying that this award is a good way for real estate agencies, agents, negotiators and developers to leapfrog their businesses.”

Companies that are shortlisted, affiliated with, and successful at awards such as this might benefit from the status and legitimacy these events provide.

Lim added: “Judging the competition involved a detailed assessment of each agency's performance across criteria like innovation, customer satisfaction, and ethical conduct. The exceptional quality of the submissions presented a formidable but rewarding challenge.”

Communication and customer service

However, Lee noted that he would like to see improved communication skills, industry knowledge and professionalism among the next generation of agents.

Lam expanded on Lee’s point by noting that he would encourage a stronger focus on professionalism by shifting from just pitching to delivering excellent after-sales service. He said this would involve educating clients throughout the process, maintaining proactive communication, and providing personalised assistance even after the deal is done.

“Agents should stay updated on industry trends and ethical standards, and seek feedback to continually improve their services. This client-centred approach goes beyond transactions and builds lasting trust,” Lam pointed out.

“My judging perspective is shaped by my commitment to ensure that I value-add wherever I can, especially when it comes to analysing customer profiles and market trends in this ever-changing landscape.

“It’s vital to lead by example through responsive communication, having deep knowledge of local and global property markets, and unwavering integrity – all traits that are important for property agents,” Lam added.

Azmir noted that among the entries are companies whose innovation, achievements and hard work deserve to be recognised. He hopes to see agents being able to better demonstrate core values and skills including integrity and interpersonal skills during their presentations.

“Winning an industry-level award, especially of this scale, validates a real estate agent's commitment to service excellence and good sales performance,” Azmir said.

“The best agents understand the value of being unique in the field, and how this will inspire their peers to pursue greatness,” he added.

What’s next?

Lee said: “I foresee a lot of disruption in the real estate industry in the future due to increasing construction costs, shortage of labour and over-regulation by the authorities.”

While property prices will continue to rise, Lee pointed out that this could be an opportunity to push the industry to the next level. Stakeholders will look to implementing new technologies in construction, project coordination and property management. 

Lam reckons the real estate industry is moving towards a future marked by a strong commitment to sustainable development.

“The industry is increasingly embracing the concept by adopting green technologies like Industrialised Building Systems (IBS), environment-friendly materials, and buildings rated by the Green Building Index (GBI). This forward trajectory involves a shift towards smart city concepts where technology is leveraged to enhance efficiency, connectivity and resource management,” he said.

“We’re also leveraging virtual reality, drone technology, and 3D visualisation to elevate marketing strategies and provide immersive property-viewing experiences,” Lam said.

Azmir noted that in order to maximise impact, green adoption has to be encouraged across the ecosystem, with incentives for property developers, end financiers, suppliers and utility providers.

Besides emphasising sustainability, the industry is also steering towards digital transformation involving integrating AI into property transactions and search processes, and enhancing customer experiences both pre- and post-sales.

Even so, when it comes to creating a future-forward real estate landscape, the industry must simplify and streamline the selling and buying process for customers, Azmir said.

“The introduction of the electronic Sale and Purchase Agreement function (eSPA) is crucial to this, so the government and private sectors need to support this initiative,” he added.

Initiatives would include a reduction in fees borne by buyers including legal fees associated with loans and SPA and stamping fees, among others. In addition, he noted that buyers should have more protection from errant property developers, including against abandoned project end-financing bailouts and developers who oversell Bumiputra lots.

“Today’s customers are more selective. Hence, enabling customisable designs to suit their unique preferences and popularising smart homes will be a boon,” Azmir said.


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