SINGAPORE — Real estate home tour videos may seem like the standard these days, but it wasn't the case back in 2017 when Melvin Lim and co-founder Adrian Lim established PropertyLimBrothers (PLB) Media. In fact, they were pioneers in the space.
"We started home tour videos with the desire to see how we can position each home differently. We wanted to break the industry culture of marketing homes hastily. A home is the largest investment and asset most people have, and every property needs to be differentiated and positioned differently to maximise its value," said the 42-year-old chief executive officer of PLB.
Despite their shared last name and chosen company name, the two Lims are not related by blood. They first met in 2004 while working at the Ministry of Home Affairs as prison officers. After three years, they went into real estate together, eventually joining Propnex where they spent the last 11 years. The father of four shared that going independent has always been their end goal and with Propnex's blessings, PLB officially went independent on 9 September 2022.
According to Lim, consumers cannot depend on traditional property portals alone as the listing do not tell the full story. "Videos tell a thousand stories and when done well, can be a one-stop solution to answer all of a buyer's questions and objections, and attract them to visit the home physically," he said.
From 2018 to 2022, the company said it has helped sell 985 homes. It has produced over 1,900 home tour videos in the last three years. Based on 2021 and 2022 records, the company achieved an average selling time of two months from the date of launching a home's PLB Marketing Campaign, which includes the home tour videos.
The duo uploaded their very first home tour video in December 2016, and now also have a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Chinese platforms Bilibili and Xiaohongshu.
From being an awkward presenter to being comfortable in front of the camera, perhaps what sets Lim apart is his ability to innovate the way home tours are presented— not just showcasing the interior, but throwing in useful information about the location, price, site area and fun facts about the property.
Lim estimates that 70 per cent of their leads come from their social media and online channels (30 per cent from their own network) although he admitted that it can be hard to ascertain exact numbers as consumers are savvier these days. Hence, a multi-platform approach helps them reach a wider group of audiences across demographics.
Investing in themselves
It was not always smooth sailing for the duo. "In 2017, this media was very new and not many people believed in it. And we had no media background — I studied banking and finance and Adrian was in engineering," Lim said.
He shared that they had to channel their earnings from closing deals back into the business when they first established PLB – something the duo still do. In a nutshell, PLB Holdings comprises PLB PropTech, PLB Realty, and PLB Media and they reinvest their earnings into all departments to grow the team and branch out to other areas such as editorial, tech, and even brands and business collaborations.
They have come a long way since then, with PLB growing from a team of four in 2017 to a 115-strong group in 2023. The company currently has 60 full-time real estate consultants and 55 full-time back-end staff across their insights, strategy, digital marketing, and client support teams. But according to Lim, it is a long-term game and while they are profitable yearly, they are working towards a greater vision of building a 100-year-old company.
"A lot of times, people like to see the glamorous side of real estate agents. My friends ask me where my sports car or Rolex is. I tell them it's all in the business," Lim shared.
Lim shares more insight into his entrepreneurship journey with Yahoo Finance Singapore:
What are some of the common misconceptions that people have about the real estate industry?
A lot of people think that it's a very easy industry to be in, based on what they see on social media. I'd say that it's one of the most stressful and anxious jobs to be in. You're on call 24/7. The most successful or hardworking agents spend a lot of time eating in their cars or rushing around for viewings. If not, they will be prospecting, making calls or meeting people, and making more connections. There are also a lot of people management skills and high EQ required. After all, it is a "people business".
You seem to wear many hats — you're your own boss, you're a husband and dad, you lead and manage a team of 115, and you're also a content creator. How do you juggle and manage your time?
I learned not to procrastinate during my mid-30s, and I think that was one of the turning points of my life. I learned to make quick decisions based on my personal instincts. I am also thankful that the team is always here to support me and offer different perspectives. This has created an environment that supports change and innovation.
On a personal level, I read and consume content, and I work out at home and eat well to keep myself in the best physical and mental state so I can be there for my people and family.
What's in the pipeline?
I love the journey thus far and I believe we are just getting started. Without video home tours, we would not be where we are today. This has opened a lot of doors for us as we start focusing on expanding our capabilities to serve a wider range of clients. We are building an all-in-one tech platform for PLB internal teams to work seamlessly with one another. We are also in the midst of developing our own property indices, consumer sentiment indices, and deep learning projects.