A highly-decorated realtor with over 17 years of experience in commercial and luxury real estate, Sammi Lim at only 38 years of age, is a force to be reckoned with. For one, she never sleeps, well almost. In fact, some clients have endearingly termed her a 7-Eleven claiming that she only sleeps from 5am to 6am daily!
Her motto in life: Whatever you do, do it with passion. “I think when you do anything with heart, you will gain real followers. Always be the optimist; approaching things with a positive mindset always helps turn the tables around,” she advises.
Well-loved and respected by her industry peers, Lim credits her drive, discipline and cheery disposition to her mother, who was the family’s sole breadwinner to her and her older brother and sister. “I saw how hard she worked holding down several jobs to put food on the table. The real motivation for me in doing what I do is so that my mother can enjoy early retirement, and I’ve succeeded in doing that,” she expresses.
From as young as 14, Lim worked all sorts of odd jobs to put herself through school and was even approached by a five-star hotel to drop out and pursue a career in hospitality. But the level-headed teenager chose education in the hopes of something greater. No sooner did she find her true calling in real estate.
Fresh out of university with a business degree from Singapore Management University, Lim joined Colliers International as a rookie agent in 2005. “The learning curve was steep but I really love everything about real estate. Beyond selling the physical property, I am really interested to know more about the technical aspects like materials and construction,” she says.
“I owe it to my clients to do the homework, look at past trends, make comparisons, and predict forward trends. It’s fulfilling to know that the clients truly appreciate this extra mile and knowledge, and I know this helps me be better at my job.”
In 2010, Lim joined the capital markets and investment sales team at CBRE where she carved a niche in the shophouse and strata sector — an untapped gap in the market — which quickly earned her the moniker “Shophouse and Strata Queen”.
“There was no specific agent or agency focussing on shophouses and commercial strata. I spotted a trend coming and so I decided to make my mark there. Banks would literally call me up asking for my advice on the valuation prices of these units because no one else really knew,” she shares.
As far as accolades go, Lim has amassed a nice shelf of them. In her first year at CBRE, she won the First Year of Excellence Award at CBRE Asia Circle of Excellence Award 2010, as well as CBRE’s Excellence in Investment Properties Award continuously in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017. In 2012, she was also a finalist for Young Professional of The Year at British Business Awards 2012. And in 2013, she won the Professional of the Year Award emerging as the highest revenue earner for the year in Asia Pacific, and the youngest winner in CBRE’s awards history.
Lim is also widely recognised as an inspiring female role model in the building industry having been placed as a finalist for Property, Infrastructure and Construction at Women of the Future Awards Southeast Asia 2019, and Women of the Built Environment Award at RICS Awards 2019.
After close to a decade at CBRE, Lim left as the firm’s highest producing professional under 35 — with transactions exceeding $5 billion — and the youngest female director to date. In June 2020, she was ready to take the plunge and start her own one-stop-shop agency called Brilliance Capital with a team of eight multi-talented agents who cover all sectors of the market including sales and leasing.
“Setting up my own agency empowers me to pro- vide a high degree of personalised services with a commitment to deliver success for my clients while echoing my beliefs: ‘never doing the same thing twice’, ‘every property is different, every buyer is different’, and ‘never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself’,” she extols.
“The entrepreneurial spirit in me has been strong and it uplifts me to push forward all the time, as my company tagline suggests ‘Staying Ahead’. The company has grown at a rapid rate in this short span of time which has exceeded my expectations. I am steering harder to accelerate our growth and expand the business further, which in turn will benefit our clients.”
As the firm’s executive director, Lim is dedicated to helping clients buy, sell, lease, their properties, especially for ultra-high net worth individuals, family offices, local and foreign private funds, institutions and public-listed companies, that aim to diversify their real estate investments.
One of her most memorable jobs since starting Brilliance Capital was closing the deal for a listed real estate company to sell a suburban mall to an international fund management company, where she not only got the client $200 million but is now handling leasing for the mall.
Despite the pandemic, business was flourishing and the cherry on top was receiving an invitation by Forbes Global Properties to join them as their only member in Singapore. This exclusive role opens doors for Lim to make connections with overseas clients through fellow members based in those countries.
“Singapore is a magnet for international investors buyers, so being a part of Forbes’ growing global network of real estate specialists will really put us on the map and add more value to my work. I can finally go international with my listings,” she enthuses.
Never letting all this success and attention get to her head, Lim ensures she pays it forward through philanthropic work. She currently serves as a community grassroots leader, as assistant treasurer of LadiesFirst, a non-profit organisation made up of female entrepreneurs and professionals who are committed to making a difference by creating a positive social impact on women and society. She also sits on the board of directors of Industrial and Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS), a government-linked co-operative that actively engages the community to help ex-offenders gain a foothold in society.
Lim is also part of a fundraising campaign to promote breast cancer awareness and celebrate the Breast Cancer Foundation’s 25th anniversary. As part of her role as a “shero”, she held a sale of new and pre-loved clothes including her own. “I lost my godmother who was also my aunt to breast cancer. She dedicated 40 years of her life to grassroots work and I hope to continue her legacy,” shares Lim.
“I also see work as a form of giving back; working to impart knowledge, to share, and see that my team learn and excel. It should never be about myself or achieving things alone. When things are achieved together, the sense of satisfaction is so much more overwhelming.”