Lynne Geeves – Manager, Singapore office
Good communication – that’s the secret of working effectively with colleagues on the other side of the world. Lynne Geeves manages our Singapore office, part of our network of overseas branches which also includes Hong Kong, Malaysia and India and here she shares with us what a typical day might involve.
Q. Lynne, can you tell us how the Singapore office has expanded over the years?
A. The Singapore office opened in 1998 and was initially run by a friend of mine. I took over from her in 2002 and at that time we had quite a small client base of mainly Expats. Since then we have built up the business and it now accounts for around 19% of Benham and Reeves Lettings’ clients. Most of the clients are Singaporean and many have large property portfolios in London which we manage for them. In 2010, the Council of Estate Agents was formed in Singapore, requiring all estate agencies to be licensed. I completed the salesperson exams and then went on to sit the Real Estate Agency exam which gave me the Key Executive Officer qualification, enabling me to fully register Benham and Reeves Lettings as a Singapore estate agent.
Q. How did you begin your career in lettings?
A. I was initially a client of Benham and Reeves Lettings which was managing my London property for me. As I mentioned earlier, when my friend left the company in 2002 I took over as Manager. Before that I had worked in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East in the airline business and in logistics and administration. I am from London and have always had an interest in property, so the move into lettings was a natural progression for me.
Q. What would a typical day involve?
A. You’ll usually find me meeting clients and helping them with pretty much any aspect of their London property, from assisting during the completion procedure, sourcing furnishings and liaising with London staff finding a tenant for their property. As an overseas landlord myself, I know the frustrations of managing an investment property from a distance and I know how much it helps to have someone who knows all about your property that you can contact easily, in your own time zone. It’s good to be able to help alleviate the stress involved for clients in what can be a complex process.
I also spend a lot of time planing our regular investor seminars and presentations. Our London directors visit Asia three times a year and we take that opportunity to host seminars to discuss what is going on in the London property market with existing clients and also to meet new clients considering investing in London property.
Q. Which skills are most important to your role?
A. I really enjoy working with people and have good organisational skills – even if I say so myself! Everything we do aims to make the investor’s life easier. I have a great team working with me and we all work well together to provide clients with a good service. Many of our clients will ask us to help them make decisions, perhaps whether to accept a particular tenant. We have good working relationships with our clients and they know they can trust us to have their best interests at heart.
Q. What services can Singapore property investors expect from you?
A. We offer a full range of property investment related services – from all under one roof! We have 16 branches across London as well as our overseas offices, together with London-based accounts, property management and marketing departments. Our services range from advice on where to buy, a snagging and handover service, full lettings and property management, furnishing packages, a refurbishment service and tax return and accounting services. We cover the full A-Z of property investment. Our corporate video gives a good overview of our services.
Q. How do you continue to build your client base in Singapore?
A. Our business here has grown mostly through word of mouth – when a client is happy they will recommend their friends. This type of endorsement is the type of marketing that money just can’t buy and we really value it. We also work with local agents and overseas developers and estate agencies who refer their clients to us as they trust our expertise. New clients also attend our regular investor seminars and most become clients as a result. We just had our most recent seminars in July and they were completely over-subscribed, such is the interest in London property investment.
Our Directors are also very hands-on and meet with our clients whenever they are visiting the region. Many clients have been with us since we opened here and building good, long-lasting relationships is at the heart of our company vision.
Q. Why do you think it is important to have a local office for Singapore clients?
A. Clients tell me every day how convenient it is, especially ones who move to us from other agents. They value our local presence and feel safe in the knowledge that they can trust us to do our best for them. It can be stressful owning a property on the other side of the world. There are many unknowns and practices that are different to the local Asian market that they know. As we understand these differences we are able to familiarise clients with all aspects of the London market . We have direct access to the company’s software system and of course are in touch with our London offices every day and so are able to find out any information clients need. Our many years of experience means we have unrivalled knowledge of the London market and can deal with any eventuality.
Ultimately, our success is only when we let and manage property well and we do work hard to give the best possible service.
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