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Homefield – The Partner Of Developers

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Located in Tadisma Business Park, Shah Alam, Homefield is not your average real estate agency. Having crafted a name in enbloc sales for developers, Homefield is the favourite of developers when they need to find buyers for their high end products. At the helm of this marketing legend is a couple, Haji Ahmad Zamzuri Kamarudin and Munirah Mohamad.

Munirah, who is the company director of Homefield, first joined a real estate agency in Subang Jaya upon graduating from ITM (now UiTM) Shah Alam with a major in Estate Management. As a rookie, she had a very colourful career and served from the very bottom to the very top. Back in those days when the shops in Taipan (USJ10, Subang Jaya) was priced around RM400,000 per unit, she went to office every morning, picked up the listings and went around trying to sell. She was so diligent in meeting people to promote the products, to the extent that almost everyone in Subang Jaya knew her.

When she became a registered real estate negotiator in the year 1995, she decided to set up her own agency, Homefield. She worked hard and focussed on delivering results, without thinking of the return. For her, it was more important to acquire knowledge and experience, thus she served many developers and helped them to find interested clients.

Integrity and interpersonal skills are highly valued in the real estate business, because without gaining the trust of the customers, negotiators would not be able to close any deals. That is also one of Munirah’s strengths.

ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE FIRST

Recounting one of her experience, Munirah illustrated the importance of maintaining good ties with the customers. “There was a double storey shoplot project where it was first priced at RM500,000. After I found a group of buyers and collected deposit from all of them, the developer suddenly decided to raise the price to RM700,000. However, due to the good relationship I have maintained with the customers, I managed to convince them about the potential of these shoplots, until none of them wanted to call off the deal eventhough they had to pay 40% extra.”

When Homefield was first started, Munirah decided to do all kinds of transactions assigned by clients, and that included land deals. One day, she was approached by a management staff from Shell who was in-charged of sourcing land to set up service stations. Appointed as the Management Agent for all the land matters, Munirah had to secure pieces of land in suitable locations, and to settle all the procedures with the Land Office and all the related parties. It was tedious work but as a resourceful professional, Munirah managed to pull it off.

When Tesco the hypermarket from the United Kingdom first entered the Malaysian market, one of the contact in Shell joined Tesco. Hence, Homefield was also tasked with buying land for them. Back then, Tesco did not run a full-fledged office in Kuala Lumpur, so their staff was based in overseas such as London. Nevertheless, these people were well-versed with the National Land Code of Malaysia when they were not even here.

There were so many things to settle until Munirah had no time for proper meals, and had to park the car by the road side to discuss the contract terms and conditions with them over the phone. Finally, Munirah managed to cut the deal in midnight but that was not all, because she still have to serve the notice to squatters and visit the relevant offices in the state government. It was an amazing experience for Munirah, because the knowledge and experience acquired was priceless. At least now, she can count Tesco Ampang and Tesco Bukit Tinggi as her babies.

MAINTAINING GOOD RAPPORT

As Zamzuri was from Guthrie, one of the top 3 Government-Linked Companies with plantation and housing development business, he knew many decision makers in the country. Throughout his 16 years there, Zamzuri has gained valuable insight into marketing, planning and land administration matters. In fact, he was responsible for transforming a palm oil estate into Bukit Jelutong, one of the most prestigious neighbourhood in Shah Alam.

Due to his overwhelming passion on real estate, he was selected as the Vice President for Strategic Master Development when the government decided to merge Guthrie and Golden Hope into Sime Darby in 2007. Among others, his was tasked to establish the master plan on landbanking for future development.

As Homefield as it was growing and needed help, Zamzuri forgo his corporate career and good money to join his wife in 2011 as the chief executive officer of Homefield. The way he see it, “Whenever we see an opportunity, we must fit in and find ways to contribute if we are truly determined to go for it.”

Recounting the journey, Zamzuri said, “At the time we shifted from Subang Jaya to Shah Alam in the year 2000, the mentality was very different. Investors were few and far between. The biggest challenge we faced was on building rapport with all the stakeholders.”

Zamzuri also had another anecdote to share about the importance of maintaining good relationship with customers. To provide top-notch services, Homefield staffs will always go and collect the rental for units rented through their agents. There was this tenant who rented the first floor, where the son of the landlord operated a café right below him, yet still preferred to pay the rental through Homefield. This shows how close the rapport they have built up with the customers was.

“People out there like us because they see us as professional Muslims. We cannot be complacent in understanding our clients’ needs, targets and KPI (Key Performance Index), because we must deliver! By maintaining personal touch with clients, word of mouth is our best promotion; big clients will trust us with their money, without us hanging up banners everywhere.”

ASSISTING THE DEVELOPERS

Zamzuri believed that to gain the trust of customers, one must manage problems and never run away from issues faced by the customers. With Zamzuri and Munirah’s in-depth knowledge in the industry, Homefield delivers more than just selling to developers. One of the earlier projects handled by Homefield was Mayang Sutera, located in TTDI Jaya, Shah Alam. The project is located at a quiet corner of Shah Alam, but due to its proximity to Sungai Damansara, it was frequently submerged in flood after heavy downpours.

As the agent who had sold 20 units in Mayang Sutera, Munirah worked closely with the developer, Naza TTDI and had frequent meetings with them to provide buyers’ feedback. Ultimately, with various measures taken to tackle the flooding problem, the residents can live joyously with a peace of mind.

Besides working alongside Naza TTDI for the past 10 years, Homefield was also invited to assist in other prominent projects, such as Laman Seri, Laman Seri Business Park, Datum Jelatek and KL Metropolis. “Because of our access to the Bumiputra market, many developers such as Tan & Tan, IGB all partnered with us to sell off their Bumiputra reserved units. OSK also got us onboard for one of their projects, and in the end we managed to settle 70% of the Bumiputra lots for them!”

Instead of just functioning as the executive marketing agent, Munirah actually prefers to offer ideas in the earlier stage of the project development. “For Laman Seri and Laman Seri Business Park, we sat down and had brainstorming together with the developer Naza TTDI when it was still a piece of empty land. Back then, such a product was a pioneer both in terms of concept and pricing in Shah Alam. Besides developing the themes, we also advised on the fee structure and discount packages, it’s like a consultant that provides strategies to succeed because we knew the market so well. Until today, when owners in Laman Seri want to sell, they still look for us because they know we are the area specialist here.”

Zamzuri chipped in at this juncture, sharing that they did not realise that they were involved in so many projects, because they were so busy working on delivering the results. “Looking back one day, we were delighted to find that among the 15 prominent apartment projects in Shah Alam, we were involved in 10!”

Good news travels far and wide. When PKNS (Selangor State Economic Development Corporation) planned for the upcoming high end condominium Datum Jelatek in Ampang, they decided to secure a trustworthy partner for advisory and sales support. As a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) that takes advantage of being located right next to Jelatek LRT Station and comes with a Gross Development Value (GDV) of RM1.3 billion, Datum Jelatek is the litmus test for Datum, a subsidiary assigned for high end products, therefore they cannot afford to fail. Armed with a huge database of buyers, Homefield naturally was the most suitable candidate to deliver the results. More so since Homefield is capable of introducing the project to a lot of cash buyers.

EDUCATING THE MASS

Upon completion of her studies, Zamzuri and Munirah’s daughter, Ainal Maryam Zamzuri returned to Malaysia and stayed with a developer for a year. A graduate of Real Estate from the University of Reading, UK, Ainal has joined Homefield as the Manager for Special Projects, and one of her objective was to widen the customer base by digitalising the sales and marketing process.

Ainal decided to gather like-minded youngsters through Facebook, for example those Malaysians expatriates working in oil and gas (O&G) or construction industries in the Middle East countries. She started sharing basic knowledge about real estate in articles, in order to educate people about investment.

For example, Ainal writes on the meaning of property terms, such as ‘cul-de-sac’. Her writings gained traction and sometimes a post is shared by more than a hundred people. From there onwards, she began to introduce projects to potential customers. “It’s amazing what technology can do for us. I managed to sell properties worth million dollars to people I never knew before, and has since closed many deals through WhatsApp!”

Of course, Ainal’s parents are certainly very happy to see what she has achieved. Zamzuri stressed that, “We fulfill the needs of developer with the knowledge and experience that we have. We know the market well and create value for developer, that’s why we are strong.” Munirah reiterated that, “If you have the knowledge, there’s nothing too challenging; it’s all about how you look into a problem and tackle it; we believe in our products, we reach out to the target market, we deliver, they trust us!”

Munirah was one of the winner for Million Dollar Roof Top (MDRT) in the National Read Estate Awards (NREA) 2016 hosted by Malaysian Institute of Eatate Agents (MIEA). When organizing chairman Eric Lim contacted her for nomination, Munirah was so busy and at first tried to decline it. However, Eric insisted, stressing that the hard work done by Homefield meant a lot to the industry as a whole.

In Homefield, sales personnel concentrate fully on sales as they are supported by staff in the back end.  Just like Zamzuri said, “People claimed that we are the number 1 agency in the Bumiputra sector. I guess we can do it because we really know the target audience. It’s not so much about 10 or 20 branches. It’s more on how much you can deliver. In the end of the day, it is the result that counts.” As a compact agency, Homefield has created such an amazing success story with a total headcount of only about 20. Its vibrancy, efficiency and resourcefulness are certainly the reasons why they are admired by so many in the industry.

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