“Let’s do it!” avowed Brenda Zee to her husband Elson Chia 22 years ago when she stood at the crossroads of her destiny. Today, Brenda Zee seems representative of a doyenne — from emerging as OrangeTee & Tie’s First Runner-Up Top Achiever last year to leading a team of trusted associates alongside her husband, and recently upgrading to a landed property — where the rise to get to her current standing stemmed from one pivotal decision in 2000.
Then a young mother with two children — aged five and seven — Zee was met with the tough decision as a production controller in a sunset industry, whether to wait it out and receive a retrenchment package or to start looking for another job. Zee and her husband cultivated the tension of their shared vision and reality and decided to make the leap in 2000 to join real estate with just their dignity and courage. Their children have always been their number one motivation and one that gave them strength and courage to venture into the unknown. Their children, now in their 20s, are graduates from overseas universities with entrepreneurial jobs inspired by their parents. “Looking back, the decision to set foot into this evergreen industry reignited my passion and changed the trajectory of my destiny”.
Together, Zee and Chia, a senior associate executive director, are real estate’s ‘IT couple’ heading up a team of agents under the branch name Banners (Be A Nominated Noticeable Empowered Realtor Successfully) within the AAG (Apex Achiever Group) of OrangeTee & Tie. Currently, they are project ICs (in-charge) for the sale of premium properties such as St Regis Residences, Boulevard 88, South Beach Residences (fully sold), Nouvel 18 and Corals at Keppel Bay.
Steadfast in her philosophy of ‘taking your future to heart’, Zee feels that making the human connection should always precede the subject matter, believing that helping other families acquire their dream home is part of a significant mission: Facilitating life’s milestones. Her approach threads its way like a golden ribbon, through all elements of a real estate transaction… from the first enthusiastic meeting to the respect given, to the trust that is earned, to the relationships that are established, and ultimately to the success of the transaction. “You are not dealing with just another agent because you are not just another customer to me. Real estate in its true sense is a people business; the property itself is just a by-product,” she says.
Zee has always held the belief that brighter days are always ahead. This unrelenting positivity and zealous spirit are further exemplified by her cheerful disposition, genial warmth and natural flare to make people feel at ease from the first engagement — which is felt and reciprocated by many clients who remain friends till today. “My goal is to turn a contact into a contract. The missing letter is the letter ‘R’, which is relationship”, adds the young-at-heart 54-year-old. Incidentally, a client’s mother became Zee’s godmother and a few of her clients have joined her in Banners. Zee still remains in close contact with most of her clients till today, even serving her clients’ second and third generations.
As a testament to her passion and dedication are the numerous month-on-month accolades to her name. With a high standing in OrangeTee & Tie, Zee remains humble and down-to-earth in her 22 years of real estate business. “I have a dream to be a woman where inspiration follows, not by how you get hold of an idea, but by how an idea gets hold of you, that is, it must start from within and ultimately to make a difference in other people’s lives.” In this interview, she shares her leadership style and how she motivates the women in her team.
What is it that you love so much about property?
I love property because it is an evergreen industry, coupled with the excitement and thrill of meeting new people through the viewing process. As housing is a basic need, and from an investment perspective a significant asset class, I realise that real estate is the driver of a country’s economy and GDP. Real estate is like the connector between many different industries and professions such as lawyers, architects, interior designers, bankers, engineers, and many more. I honestly feel blessed that we are living in Singapore as it is a prosperous nation with constant development. My wish is to be healthy and strong enough to continue serving all of my clients and their second and third generations.
Can you recall some milestones in your career?
When I first started, I was the top rookie in my company in 2000 and it was really significant as it reaffirmed my career switch into this industry. However, I consider higher engagement in terms of exposure or accountability to be a more meaningful milestone for myself. That was when my husband and I decided to embark on recruitment in 2007 and form Banners.
Next, with a group of Banners’ agents, we participated in two overseas conventions — Luxury Properties Showcase (LPS) Shanghai 2018 and Smart Investment and International Property Expo Hong Kong 2019 — which was an amazing experience with great insights.
Another milestone was when we decided to form a business alliance with AAG in 2020 before AAG was amalgamated as a sub-brand of OrangeTee & Tie in 2022. We saw the amazing power of the AAG Instant Pro mobile application which gave access to our Banners’ associates and helped them in their real estate business. I appreciate all the good things that have come my way and there have been so many. However, there are times I do encounter failure with challenging deals. But I believe in just remaining humble and giving it your all.
What is your business motto?
To be the preferred, passionate and professional real estate agent that serves with the heartbeat of excellence. Workplace ethics and credibility form the foundation of my core values which are valued intangible assets. They cannot be bought or sold, owned or copied, but must be lived every day.
I believe in conducting my business in line with Godly principles — in an honest, kind and transparent manner — always going the extra mile and putting my clients’ needs above my own. It’s not always about the dollar, it’s about making a difference in someone’s life.
Banners is a people-driven business unit. We find like-minded agents that share the same beliefs in our culture, core values, ethics and conduct. You are part of something greater than yourself and having this sense of purpose is key. I’m happy to say that some of our associates have been with us for as long as 15 years.
How has your work evolved since the pandemic?
During the “circuit breaker” period, AAG created a business continuity framework for us by offering video services to homeowners looking to sell their properties. Once clients submit the video files, we do the selling of their homes online. We also have special courier services that will help us get their digital signatures for contracts.
Incidentally, our agents brokered more deals during this period than any other time. It was a very interesting experience and brings to mind that actually nothing is impossible. I foresee that this trend of online or virtual leasing and purchasing will be- come more of reality even post-Covid-19. Digitalisation really speeds up the process, especially for the rental market.
How do you motivate the women in your team?
I find that the best way of motivation is to lead by example through my character and values. I believe in the personal touch approach and would follow up with my associates with regular calls and meet-ups to listen to them and give praises, constructive feedback and advice when it is due. This provides recognition and also accountability to my team, which has shown to be a source of motivation for most of them.
I always tell them: Believe in your worth and stay true to yourself. Serve with sincerity and dignity regardless of the outcome of the deal. Always mean what you say and do what you promise; trust and integrity are values that go a long way. Don’t ever stop learning and reinventing yourself — anything is possible if you believe in yourself.