My Home, My Story: Caiyi Choo, Top Online REN 2016 Winner

Mangalesri ChandrasekaranOctober 6, 2016

 

Caiyi Choo is the overall winner of Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA)-PropertyGuru Top Online REN 2016.

 

The Northern Start!

 

My life started in the year 1966 at Batu Gajah, a small suburban area located in Perak. I was the youngest child in the family, and I had a lovable elder sister.

We were neither rich nor poor, but we had a decent living!

Even though I was born in Batu Gajah, yet I grew up in Ulu Kinta for many years until my parents moved to Bercham.

Life was good, until one day my mum passed away. Things were difficult but we managed to survive. After a year, my dad remarried again, and then our family got bigger with the addition of my stepmom and a stepbrother.

 

Caiyi 8

 

I had always been a smart kid. I loved studying and had a huge passion for dancing! I managed to get a scholarship during my schooling days when studying SRP (now known as PMR), SPM and STPM. However, I didn’t get the opportunity to further my studies due to financial constraints, even though I passed with flying colours.

Years passed and along the journey, both my dad and stepmom left us as well.

 

Opportunity Knocked on My Door

 

All the while, my family and I were staying in a double storey house in Bercham. We rented the house for many years, as we could not afford to buy our own home at that time.

Right after completing my STPM, I started working as a general clerk. The pay was not high, but I knew I needed the job to get going. At the same time, I enrolled for a LCCI course and attended night classes.

It was another regular day for me when my neighbour approached me. It was in the year 2000 and I was 34 years old at that time.

“Caiyi, I’m planning to move. Are you interested in buying my house? Do let me know if you or any of your friends are interested and do pass the news around,” said my neighbour.

 

Caiyi 6

 

This got me thinking! The house is just next door, so it saved me the time of inspecting the neighbourhood. Besides, I felt comfortable staying in that place, a place where I basically grew up in. And most importantly, I knew the neighbour as well.

I had no intention of buying a house until my neighbour approached me and I knew it was finally time for me to buy my own house.

But my major concern was the funds! I knew I could apply for a mortgage loan, however, I still needed to prepare the 30% deposit – and unfortunately I did not have sufficient funding for that.

Luckily, I managed to convince my neighbour and out of goodwill, he agreed to receive RM3,000 as the deposit, given I withdraw money from my EPF and settle the remaining balance at the soonest.

I was thrilled to finally own my first home, after living in a rented house my whole life!

I bought the property located in Bercham for RM67,000 and made minor repairs which cost about RM5,000. After several years, I renovated the entire house and its current value is approximately about RM160,000.

 

Caiyi 50

 

Taking My First Step

 

I was working in the manufacturing sector during the year 2003, which required me to travel to East Malaysia on and off. Even though I loved the job, yet constant travelling took its toll on me. I was 37 years old that time and I fell terribly sick.

Due to my decreasing health and doctor’s advice, I resigned my job. I was unemployed from the year 2006 onwards and it was quite difficult to survive with zero income. Hence, I took on several freelance jobs just to keep the ball rolling.

That’s when I became a freelance Mortgage Advisor. My job was basically to advise people regarding their mortgage applications and refinancing.

It was quite difficult because most of the people I met were doing commission-based jobs, which was not considered as income by the banks. Thus, their applications were mostly rejected. And for me, I would only receive commission if the loans were approved – otherwise there would be no pay.

 

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I also worked as a freelance insurance agent at the same time. But again, nothing changed as I was struggling to make a living out of it.

In the year 2010, my friend opened a bookstore and I worked as a sales agent for her. It was a freelance job as well and I was required to sell books. I would go visit schools every day to try to sell the books.

In my journey, I made a lot of contacts and acquaintances which suited the real estate industry well. I had a friend who was working in the industry and I conveyed my interest to become a REN to her. Since I already had banking, sales and insurance based experiences, I decided to try my luck in the business as well. This happened in the year 2011 and I was 45 years old at that time.

She introduced me to D Henry Valuer Realtors. I was interviewed and appointed on the spot by my Principal Henry, since I already had slight experience in the field. But things did not go as I expected.

Along that way, I was also employed to do a home-based job in a veterinary firm, where I was trained to sell drugs to farmers. However, my interest remained in the real estate firm.

 

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I Kickstarted My Career

 

The first eight months was the hardest time for me! I managed to get ample listings, but no income. In some instances, I even thought of giving up.

I struggled and I had a few people saying to me that “If you don’t know how to do it, then don’t do it!” But instead of getting demotivated by such remarks, I worked towards proving them wrong.

Right at that time, PropertyGuru conducted a short briefing at my office. So I decided to give it a try. For a person like me who doesn’t use the internet as I was born during the internet-non-existent-era, I found PropertyGuru to be very user-friendly. It became the place I relied on to get listings, as well to find information and clear my doubts.

I was also assisted well by a PropertyGuru staff who provided efficient after-sales service. They taught me how to use the website and make the most out of it, and was willing to assist me anytime.

Moreover, PropertyGuru keeps on enhancing the services they offer, which eventually made me their loyal user. So I subscribed to their Specialist package which cost me a mere RM650 a year, with the added on featured listing which cost only RM100. The number of leads and listings I received started shooting up.

 

 

It was unbelievable as I only spent less than RM1,000 annually for the package I subscribed. This motivated me to keep using PropertyGuru to a great extent, as I was getting a high return on investment.

Due to this, I also started introducing PropertyGuru to other agents, as I believed it would help them like how it helped me succeed.

In the year 2012, I became a Senior REN. I also took my own initiative to join the REN certification course with Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), as well as attended an interview with them. At this time, getting certified and a REN tag was not compulsory! But I found it beneficial and enrolled to increase my knowledge in the real estate industry.

In addition to that, I also went extra miles for my clients. My client list increased day by day and I also started assisting loaded clients such as Tan Sri and Datos.

Moving forward, I received Top Producer Awards from D Henry Valuers Realtor, for the year 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Besides that, I was also chosen as the overall winner of the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA)-PropertyGuru Top Online REN 2016 Award.

 

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I also owe huge gratitude to my Principal Sr. D.Henrey Arther who put his faith in me and constantly encouraged me to succeed, as well as my colleagues, clients, friends and family, who stood by me.

For now, real estate has become a part of my life. And I’m glad I proved to my haters that, “If I don’t know how to do, I will learn to do it!”

 

Going the Extra Mile

 

During my journey as a negotiator, I have received many compliments from my clients. I always put extra effort in my real estate dealings, turning my clients into loyal customers.

Once I assisted a client named Pollo, who wanted to sell her house. However, her unhappy tenant refused to move out despite the number of times my client approached to negotiate. I felt it was necessary for me to step in and rectify things. Thus, I met the tenant several times and persuaded him to move out. After that, I also helped my client to maintain the house until it was sold later on.

 

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In regards to this, my client wrote an appreciation letter to my Principal Henrey:

 

Dear Sr D.Henrey Arther Mrism,

 

“I would like to let you know that I’m very pleased with the service I received from Ms. Caiyi. She is straightforward with me on the situation (good or bad), as well as keep me updated on the status of looking for a buyer for my property, which is located at Taman Eden, Ipoh.

In addition, she helped to ‘move’ the reluctant tenant (who procrastinated many times) out. Several months after my house was vacant, my neighbours complained of tall grasses/shrubs and branches into their gardens. Caiyi arranged people to clean up the compound. I am very lucky to have had met Caiyi. I know she went beyond of what a typical estate agent does.

She was highly recommended by Jimmy Lau Heng Nam. I think Caiyi sold two houses for him and/or his sister.

Caiyi is professional, efficient, responsible, reliable and takes pride in her work. Like Jimmy, I will not hesitate to recommend Caiyi, if someone is looking for a real estate agent in Ipoh. Thank you.”

 

Sincerely; 

Ms. Pollo Chooi-Poh Chuah

 

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My Incredible Journey

 

I am 50 years old now (most don’t agree with this and say I look young!) and I still reside in my first home. Two years back, I bought my second property in Ipoh, dubbed Permai Lake View Apartment for investment purposes. I acquired the property at the price of RM120,000 in the year 2014.

Frankly, I do not believe in speculating and investing unnecessarily. I just get myself what I need – a roof over my head and one investment property for my later days. But if I come across deals that are too good to resist, then I may consider getting another one or two properties.

As for my career in the property industry, I’m glad that I chose this path! With my profession, I manage to lead a good and quality life. When people my age are busy planning for their retirement, I’m happy that I took the risk, plunged into real estate and shaped my career!

 

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Mangalesri Chandrasekaran, Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories email mangales@propertyguru.com.my

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