Saturday, January 1, 2011

Small firm with big dreams in collective sales

THE collective sale market has rebounded with a vengeance this year and once again, home-grown Credo Real Estate boss Karamjit Singh and his team have led the way.

This year, Credo handled deals of about $524 million - that is nine deals and about 31 per cent of the $1.7 billion in total sales - with second-placed Jones Lang LaSalle well behind at $292 million.

Mr Singh, a property veteran of 17 years, set up his own firm in 2002 but it was only in 2007 with the success of the $1.34 billion sale of former HUDC estate Farrer Court that Credo leapt ahead of the pack.

The sale of Farrer Court - now being launched as d'Leedon - still holds the title for the biggest lump sum ever shelled out for a residential site here.

It was a defining moment for the firm, said Mr Singh. The sale 'certainly helped propel us to a new level in terms of brand recognition and market respect'.

Mr Singh, 39, and a married father of three, hailed from the large property consultancies but decided to strike out on his own in 2002.

The firm's name was chosen to signify that it is the 'credo' or doctrine of the firm to succeed in the highly specialised field of real estate consultancy.

In the early days, he went door to door at old condominiums with collective sale potential to make his pitch.

He and his colleagues had to do everything from analysis, presentations and even canvassing for signatures but the early days were tough because Credo was an unknown in the industry.

What paid off for the firm was its decision to focus on the collective sale market: 'As in any business, it pays to specialise, which is what we did in the investment and en bloc sales market,' said Mr Singh.

He noted that it was crucial to have sound knowledge of land and development planning issues when dealing with collective sales.

'This is important to be able to help the owners not undersell but extract maximum value from the sale.'

The secret is good communication skills and having an eye for detail to help pre-empt and resolve conflicts between different interest groups, Mr Singh added.

Despite being a relatively smaller firm, Credo has one of the largest teams, a dozen or so staff, dedicated to collective sales, which allows the firm to serve clients while maintaining a personal touch, which Mr Singh said is crucial in this business.

'Owners don't mind paying premium fees as long as they know they are getting the best advice that enhances not just the probability of a sale, but also getting the best sale value via a smooth and efficient process,' added Mr Singh.

While Credo also works in asset divestment, valuation and project marketing, collective sales are still its strong point.

It launched the tender of Tulip Garden this month at a reserve price of $650 million. More deals of larger than $100 million are also expected to come onto the market next year, Mr Singh added.

But competition looks set to be stiffer next year with Jones Lang LaSalle appointed marketing agent of the former HUDC estate Pine Grove. This is expected to come on the market next year at an estimated reserve price of $1.7 billion.

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