Jun 28, 20By Andre Mercado
This Covid-19 crisis has brought at least 200,000 business permanently closed and over 2 million unemployed. The real estate industry is no exception. Without the traditional real estate selling and property viewing, how can a real estate license broker continued thriving and with his team depending on his leadership? Character and mindset that were molded on years of perseverance is what set Raffy Siapco who is the President and CEO of RS Property Manila apart from above the rest. 

SP: Tell us about how you started with your real estate career and who/what influenced you. 
RS: I never dreamed of being in the real estate industry. My background is really advertising. I had my own business in our province and when I went back to Manila to try another career, real estate seems to be the easier option. I started being an in-house real estate agent of a small real estate brokerage firm. When I learned the ins and out of the industry, I decided to become a freelance agent to cover more properties and more areas. I was a one-man show at that time. I want to elevate my expertise and services to the next level so I put up my own real estate brokerage firm – RS Property Manila. 

My main objectives in putting up this brokerage firm are as follows: 
· Be my own boss 
· Help other people by giving them an employment opportunity to be a part of my team 
· Serve more clients I cannot serve more if I am on my own. 
 It has to be a team. After being a one-man show, I grabbed the golden opportunity of real estate to serve more clients. I hired my first staff who also served as my real estate agent, secretary, among other roles. My team then expanded to six (6) with each of them specializing in leasing, sales, property management, documentation, listing and consultancy. I call them my Power Team! 

SP: How difficult it was on your first few years and how did you navigate through it?
RS: Let me classify it to personal and brokerage firm challenges. 

Personal Challenges 
My first few years were really difficult. As a freelance agent, I have to survive through a meagre allowance. I don’t have a car at that time. I have to sell in order to keep my job and in order to survive the high living costs in Metro Manila. This has pushed me to take every sales inquiry seriously. I did not let go of every sales call. I had my share of distributing flyers under the heat of the sun, commuting from one place to another for property viewing, and representing myself well in client meetings no matter what the circumstances are. 

Brokerage Firm Challenges 
Our firm started in a small office efficient enough for us but not comfortable for us to move. Whenever there are clients meeting, we have to rearrange the office to accommodate them. We treated this as both a challenge and opportunity. I told my team that in order for us to move to a bigger and more comfortable office, we have to close more sales and serve more clients. Each one did their best and contributed to the sales of RS Property Manila. We are now located in Ortigas Central Business District – a humble yet efficient and comfortable office for us and for our clients. I have instilled in my team the value of mindset and resiliency. I always told them that we have to have a hunter mentality – to always look for opportunities to serve our clients. “Bawal ang umaasa lang sa iba, Dapat laging naghahanap ng pwedeng mapagsilbihan.” As long as there are client problems that we need to solve, then we will continue to exist and add value to them. It is in adding value to the clients that we earn “kaya dapat customer oriented lagi”. If there are any problems, I told them to be resilient. “Meron at merong solusyon ang bawat problema at malalagpasan naming ito.” 

SP: Tell me about your team and how are you guys adapting with this Covid-19 crisis. 
RS: The real estate industry is badly affected by this pandemic. Our office was closed since March 15 and we are operating from the comforts of our home. We are business as usual but observing the required health protocol of wearing a mask, observing personal hygiene, and observing social distancing during property viewing and sales closing. We embraced digitalization. In terms of sales, most of our leads come from online inquiries. By subscribing to an online platform, I felt I have another staff working with me. While the rest of us are attending to client needs, the online platform continues to provide sales leads. “Nandyan na ang mga inquiries para sa amin. Tatawagan na lang namin to qualify and ask for more details so we can personalize our approach.” This has made our lives easier and has resulted to increased sales. We leverage on our low hanging fruits and that is renewal of lease agreements. We reach out to our previous clients who have inquired with us but have not made any decision yet. We act fast on every online inquiry and we provide professional customer service. 

SP: Can you share us you best practices to stay in the competition and succeed. 
RS: Serve the clients first, sales will follow. I believe that real estate is a service industry. You serve the client first, you solve their problems, and once you solve their problems, sales will follow. Referrals will also follow. Word of mouth will follow. Before you know it, you already have widen your real estate network and sales leads will come to you instead of you chasing them. Embraced digitalization. Whether we are techy or not is irrelevant. Sales is becoming digital so might as well learn the ropes of it, embrace it, and choose an online platform to cater to more clients. 

SP: Message for brokerage owners like you and to brokers who plan to start their own realty. 
RS: Believe in yourself. As the cliché goes, “What you think, you become.”I told myself that one day I will have my own real estate brokerage firm, my own cars, my own condo units, and my other humble investments. All of these were realized because I believe in myself that I can.It was not a walk in the park. I had my share of lowest moments - countless rejections, back out sales, undeserving attitude of some people, among others. But my drive to succeed is bigger than all these challenges combined so I always look at the brighter side of things and proceed to achieve my goals. So believe. 

When all else fails, still believe and take actions to achieve your goals.

Check out Raffy's available properties for sale here