Success in teamwork

We are going for a football match later,” Previndran Singhe, CEO of Zerin Properties, says gleefully when City & Country drops in at his office. Team Zerin is going for a game in the evening. “We’re standing on the lower rungs of the Kuala Lumpur Social Soccer League, but it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the team having fun and working together,” he laughs.

A strong believer in teamwork, Previndran attributes his recent winning the Real Estate Agent of the Year award to the dedication and perseverance of his colleagues. The accolade was bestowed by the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) at  its inaugural National Real Estate Awards.

“Even though this is a personal award, our achievements over the past seven years are the result of the hard work put in by the people I work with. We only have 17 staff, including those in our foreign offices [Singapore, New Delhi and Sydney]. It’s not the volume but the calibre. Finding the right people is not easy, which is why we strive to retain our staff.

“I believe that when you deal with an extraordinary team, you have to let them work on their own without you hovering over them. At the same time, you also need to keep them motivated and provide them with the necessary skills and tools to excel,” says Previndran.
Previndran: Our achievements over the past seven years are the results of the hard work put in by the people I work with. Photo by Patrick Goh
Putting into practice what it preaches, the company provides an in-house training programme for its agents, as well as a staff incentive plan and a mentoring system for junior staff. 

Zerin Properties was formed in early 2002 and its  major deals include the sale of Four Seasons Langkawi (2007), Landmark Office Assets in Cyberjaya (2008), and Intercontinental Hanoi (2008). The company has garnered a string of awards over the years, including RFP Magazine Hong Kong’s Best Transaction 2009 Asia Pacific for the sale of the Intercontinental Hanoi and Real Estate Investment of the Year 2008 for the sale of Four Seasons Langkawi.

Zerin Properties raised eyebrows last December when it projected the property market would not collapse and would remain resilient despite the bleak economic outlook, contradicting the less optimistic views of other property consultants.  “We stuck to our guns and we have been proven right. It’s true that transactions have dropped by 20% to 30% since February but they didn’t affect the property value, this is excluding the properties within the KLCC area, which have seen a decrease of 20% in their property value. Agents can tell you that while sales have not been great, they have been holding steady,” says Previndran.

Of the company’s strategies to sustain and grow the business in the face of global recession, Previdran says, “To weather this global recession, one will have to think out of the box. A company must be able to move ahead with the times and be receptive to change, which is why one of our strategies is to focus on the Internet. Like Warren Buffett famously said, ‘Do not invest in the Internet, use it.’” He cites AirAsia Bhd and Malayan Bank Bhd as the best examples of companies using the Internet to optimise their business.

Previndran believes that the Internet and the social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, will go on to play an important role in the real estate business. The Internet is creating a new group of savvier, informed buyers and investors. Information can now be obtained with just a click of the mouse. It has also changed the working environment of real estate agents, offering a platform for them to market their products with ease. It is also a great source of online training as well as a sales tool. This has allowed agents to be more mobile and focused on doing the footwork necessary to close deals.

With this in mind, Zerin Properties set out to reinvent itself last year and is gradually transforming into a web-based marketing company. Four websites were launched, and since then, Zerin Properties has generated RM29.5 million worth of sales from its combined websites. Its [email protected] website (, recently won the “Best Residential Website” category in the eAsia Pacific Property Awards 2009.

The National Real Estate Awards are designed to recognise outstanding companies and individuals that have contributed to the real estate industry as a whole. There are  seven categories and the awards presentation was held last Friday. The judging panel is led by Fiabci (International Real Estate Federation) Malaysia.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 761, June 29 - July 5, 2009.
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