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A day in the life of…

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Melvin Koh – Manager, Malaysia office

Our overseas landlords, many of whom are based in South East Asia, find it invaluable to have a local branch (we have offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and India as well as Malaysia) where they can contact experienced staff easily, chat to them in their own language and discuss the management of their London investment properties. But working across so many time zones is a feat of organisation by our staff on both sides of the world.  So how does Melvin Koh, manager of our Malaysia branch, make property management across the miles work so seamlessly?

Q. Melvin, tell us a little about the Malaysia office

A. We set up our Malaysia office in 2013, mainly to assist the increasing numbers of Malaysians investing in London property. It’s one of our largest offices in South-East Asia and has its own furnishing showroom too, to illustrate to investors how their properties can be styled to appeal to London’s sophisticated professional renters.  We now manage over 200 London properties and with a number of new developments completing at the moment, notably Battersea Power Station, this is a very exciting time for us.  We are taking on quite a few new clients, some of whom are investing in London property for the first time although many are seasoned investors with substantial portfolios. One out of every three people I speak to at the moment ask about Battersea Power Station, due to over 400 Malaysians buying there, most for investment. Alongside organising furnishings and lettings, this makes for an extraordinarily busy time!

Q.Tell us about your own career to date

A. I have extensive experience in international property marketing and sales, handling regional sales for a firm which operated throughout South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.  I was a regional sales director for an international project marketing company and also worked in the Gulf and Mumbai in business development for a commercial interiors firm.  So my experience is wide-ranging but very much focused on property.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. I gain huge satisfaction from helping to manage clients’ properties for them, solving day-to-day management issues and helping them to build a profitable property portfolio. I also enjoy meeting investors from different countries across Asia, learning to understand their needs while at the same time sharing my knowledge of the ever-changing and dynamic London property market. But perhaps the most rewarding part of my job is when I find that a client has recommended us to a colleague or friend – it’s really good to know how much they value and appreciate our hard work.

Q. What do you think is your most important skill?

A. I believe in working smart and working fast. If things can be done quickly and thoroughly, then that is how I will do them. My communication skills are also a vital part of establishing a good working relationship with both clients and colleagues.  London is many thousands of miles away so swiftly and accurately communicating with our London colleagues is a challenge, but essential in order to solve sometimes urgent property issues. “Get it right the first time. Every time.”  That’s my motto!

Q. What services do we provide to Malaysian property investors?

A. We provide a complete A – Z of services for London rental properties, from property management and leasing (many of our tenants are from FTSE and Fortune 500 companies) to professional furnishing and interior design services, accounts services and tax advice. We can also help with the acquisition and disposal of properties when investors choose to add to or reduce their portfolios. Many of our Malaysian clients have more than one London property so offering a complete one-stop service means we can take away the hassle of managing properties on the other side of the world.

Q. The Malaysia office is expanding – how are you building the business?

A. We are dedicated to providing an excellent service and we hope that our work speaks for itself – often clients recommend us to friends and colleagues so the business grows very organically. Our directors visit Kuala Lumpur three times a year, meeting existing and potential new clients, presenting property investment seminars and offering a real insight into the latest London property news – new and emerging rental ‘hotspots’, industry news and legal or economic background that they should be aware of.  This really illustrates our commitment to our Malaysian clients.  With over 60 years’ experience in the London property market, we know they really value our expertise and experience and the very personal, hands-on approach we offer.  We also work closely with Malaysian financial institutions, advising their clients.

Q. What do you think Malaysian clients value most about having an office in Kuala Lumpur?

A. Clients are reassured that they can reach me easily at any time of day – there is no time zone confusion or waiting for the office to open on the other side of the world. I take care of those hassles for them.  And they know they can communicate with me in their own language and be honest with me about what they need.  There may be an aspect of property management, maybe a legal issue, they don’t understand and I can explain it to them. Having a local office also shows how much we prioritise our Malaysian clients and are committed to offering a truly local, first class service and one that perhaps they won’t find from a property company which only has London offices.

To contact Melvin and the Malaysia team, click here.


About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.