Real estate consultants Sunita Gill-Karkaria and Kaizar Karkaria

How this power couple built a real estate brand from the ground up

Singapore Luxury Homes was born through the couple’s own experiences in buying a home.

With an impressive record of over 300 real estate transactions surpassing $2b in combined real estate sales over the past decade, the co-founders of Singapore Luxury Homes are considered to be leading luxury real estate agents in Singapore.
Discussing their years of experience and how the company is poised to expand, Singapore Business Review spoke to husband and wife luxury real estate duo, Sunita Gill-Karkaria and Kaizar Karkaria about the booming real estate market.

Tell us a little bit about your background, and how the two of you entered the luxury real estate industry?
My wife Sunita and I have spent almost twenty years in the luxury real estate industry. It started out with the search for own homes to buy and having to deal with all the heavy lifting involved when it came time to renovate and work on construction and interior design. The combination of this kind of exposure has given us an acute understanding of how to address our client needs more comprehensively. 

We have also developed an extensive network throughout Singapore and the region. Our ultra-high net worth clients, in particular, fully appreciate the use of our specialised experience and expertise whether it be to find their dream home, second home, or even expand their property investment portfolio.

Not many people are aware of what exactly luxury realtors do on a daily basis. Could you take us through a typical working day for you?

Every day is a unique experience for us. The only constant in our field would be maintaining contact with our clients on a regular basis. We typically follow up with our international clients, including Family Offices to accommodate time differences, and to ensure that we are always accessible to them. 

We work with many local and international clients for their local or overseas property investments. Some local clients include home developers, investors, and buyers that are building their homes or working towards investing in the property market. 

The latter half of our days are typically spent meeting Family Offices and clients as well as viewing homes, shophouses, and offices since the luxury properties we manage include workspaces. 

Between all the meetings, we have video and photo shoots of properties and work towards gathering and preparing content for our social media team to help market our client’s properties. 

We’ve also been quite lucky and have established some great friendships with our wonderful client base. In the evenings we often attend networking events as you never know who your next client or buyer may be. Overall, our days are dedicated to ensuring that we follow through on our promise of giving our clients’ the best experience possible.

How does SG Luxury homes differentiate itself from the other real estate firms in the market currently?

Singapore Luxury Homes is among the most trusted and respected property consultancies in the market. We maintain this distinction by guaranteeing a quality of experience that is only accessible through a vast and diverse network of connections. 

Our network extends from the property market to partners like law firms, immigration firms, architects, interior designers, and more. When we work with a client, we ensure that our vast network is at their disposal. Hence, when we work with a client, we can ensure that we can act as comprehensive advisors who can guarantee that the client will receive the best value their portfolio permits. 

We are more than a real estate agency; we are a well-connected service provider that can support our clients in all aspects of navigating the luxury real estate market.

How would you describe the Singaporean luxury real estate market today, specifically the different trends and challenges that we are starting to see in a post-pandemic economy?

The Singapore real estate market is set to see a huge take up in the larger-sized properties as many more foreigners are willing to pay the additional buyer stamp duty. With long wait lists in the luxury sectors for cars and watches etc, more people are snapping up what they perceive as valuable.

We have observed a lot of interest from China, Indonesia, and India by individuals with confidence in the Singapore market with the way the pandemic was handled who are rushing to leave where they were and settle in Singapore after facing rough lockdown experiences. Also, we are seeing an increasing trend of taking-up larger spaces as families rush in to prepare themselves for any future pandemic.

With the cooling measures exerting more pressure on the prime city area, or core central region (CCR), the prices of CCR units may remain soft, while the rest of the Core Region, (RCR) projects could see values inch up as unsold stock gets pared down or when new launches come on the market at benchmark prices. This narrowing of the price gap could present buying opportunities in CCR projects.

We see challenges in good quality supply. It is a Landlords & Sellers’ market where offers are beyond valuations, and we’ve even seen price wars on some homes. There is a lot of emotional buying, and many buyers are priced out. Valuations are a thing of the past with sellers moving their prices once offers are in. This makes it difficult for brokers who lose credibility with their prospective clients as typical luxury clients want what is best, and sellers know they can hold their prices high in this market.

The first quarter of Singapore’s real estate sector saw encouraging performance. Do you think this could be sustained for the rest of the year?

Yes, this can be sustained. The Singaporean market has gone through several government interventions so that we do not see large fluctuations in the property market. Volumes have dipped due to recent government changes, but we still see people buying property in view of the possible interest rate hikes. In 2020, Singapore saw a 10% increase in the ultra-high net worth population.

 There will also be many new launches taking place in the Central Business District (CBD) this year as people go back to work. We will see the new work-play balance happening again in the prime districts.

Sales of new mass market homes in the Outside Central Region (OCR) bounced back, with 181 units sold in March – rising by 11% from February. The rapidly depleting unsold stock appears to continue to depress the sales volume in this sub-market as would-be buyers are left with limited choices.

The slight uptick in new home sales in March despite the lack of projects being launched is encouraging, particularly considering the heightened uncertainties brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has added to cost of living pressures in Singapore.

We expect home sales to gain traction from Q2 2022 onwards, as developers roll out more new launches. Some of the new projects are expected to be launched in April and May include LIV@MB and Piccadilly Grand. We expect private home sales in 2022 to include approximately 9,000 to 10,000 homes.

In your opinion, what is the most important character trait in your line of work?

Trustworthiness is the most important trait in our industry. The sense of being able to trust us is integral to our clients feeling supported the way we want them to. Obtaining the ideal home for a client is only possible when they trust us. When a client knows that our advice is unfiltered and unbiased, they trust us with their time, and they trust our ability to give them the right information to make the best possible decisions.

Trust is the foundation of the community that we have built with our clients which led to the development of our thriving client base. Our clients are our friends, and we ensure that they feel as thoroughly supported in their home hunting process to maximise the quality of their experience. 

After the success of “Selling Sunset”, we are seeing an uptake in the number of people wanting to enter real estate. Do you have any advice for these aspiring realtors? 

“Selling Sunset” is based on an entirely different geographical and cultural context. There is a lot of work we do not see behind the glitz and glamour that the show presents. Being a successful realtor entails plenty of intensive hustling that is often invisible to the client base. This said, our most salient advice is to listen to clients and to build a trusting relationship because that trust will multiply the quality and success of your business. 

Secondly, we strongly recommended that aspiring realtors set habits and processes that will allow them to generate and reach goals so that goal setting and accomplishing becomes a part of their lifestyle. Effectively reaching goals had helped boost productivity and success in our experience.

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