Rhonda Wong will be on the panel at our upcoming LadyBoss event happening 13th July. Get your tickets here! Please note that LadyBoss events are prone to SELLING OUT! Register early to avoid disappointment.
Rhonda Wong is the co-founder of Ohmyhome and serves as the Chief Executive Officer since its founding in 2015. Rhonda’s know-how in the real estate sector brought to light the various issues home seekers face.
Responsible for the overall management of the startup, Rhonda sets the culture of Ohmyhome revolving around empowering the HDB community to take care of their housing decisions by offering an honest, easy and free platform for HDB leases and resale transaction. Hence, she believes that a love for the local community is key to being part of the Ohmyhome team.
LadyBoss spoke to Rhonda, talking about the challenges she faced and her business philosophy.
Q: Tell us about Ohmyhome. How long you’ve been doing it, who are your users on the platform?
A: Launched in September 2016, Ohmyhome is a real estate platform and a CEA licensed real estate agency which lets users buy, sell or rent HDB flats on their own without any hassle. Ohmyhome connects home-searchers to home-owners directly and for free. All listings are genuine, non-duplicate and easy to browse. Users can ask for free of charge assistance over the Ohmyhome hotline anytime they need. For people who prefer a human touch, affordable additional agent and documentation services are available for a flat-fee of S$2888 and S$1688, regardless of HDB size or price. Our app users are largely 25-40 years old, while our agent services serve 35-50 years old.
Ohmyhome’s vision is to help HDB dwellers simplify their HDB transaction process and enjoy savings through taking control of their own homes, starting from the buying, selling and renting.
Q: Tell us more about your background and how it led you to Ohmyhome?
A: Born in a village in Malaysia, I was raised and educated in Singapore. My first ambitions were to be a musician, a volunteer and a doctor. Eventually I attended the business school at the University of Michigan and after graduating I started my first job as a treasury bonds options trader at Nico Trading in Chicago, where I was the only female trader in the company. After a few years, I decided to go back to Singapore to be with my parents and started a bunch of businesses.
Being serial entrepreneur at heart, I worked on several businesses including retail in Singapore; import and export of equipment from USA and acted as a consultant on other businesses such as children’s education in Suzhou, China, saved up some money and eventually begun investing in real estate.
These personal real estate investments prompted me to join the real estate industry. I started consulting for developers in 2013 and subsequently founded Anthill Realtors, a real estate agency at the age of 29 in 2014. Headquartered in Singapore, Anthill Realtors’ forte in sourcing investment grade properties from within and abroad with a one of a kind concierge service is guided by the one belief that if you take care of your clients, your business will take care of itself.
Ohmyhome eventually emerged with my desire to extend quality service and real estate education a step further to the most important sector of our market. Ohmyhome’s vision is to help HDB dwellers simplify their HDB transaction process and enjoy savings through taking control of their own homes, starting from the buying, selling and renting.
Q: Based on your experience, what are challenges property buyers/sellers facing in Singapore?
The challenges stem from the fact that most of us do not buy, sell or rent frequently and therefore require some help with understanding the latest information such as rules and regulations, where prices are at, where to find buyers, procedures, what documents are required, should one take a bank or HDB loan, financial planning, budget setting, what options are available to them in their buy sell rent process etc.
Q: What are some of the factors that will affect the demand/supply of the housing market?
A: Some of the factors that affects the property market are government grants, rules and regulations and of course the population.
Q: The relationship between the buyers/sellers and agents is crucial. How do you foster trust among your users?
A: Our clients have found it much easier to negotiate directly with one another and are also more open to price discussions as sellers and buyers now do not need to factor in agent fees. You’ll also find that in our user guides, we encourage them to do their homework prior to making a sale or a purchase, in order to facilitate a smoother transacting process.
They (users) also didn’t believe that if they wanted an agent to serve them, we only charge a flat fee of $2,888. Because we are a first in our industry, it took us some time to convince and educate people that we are here to help make lives simpler.
Q: What were the challenges you faced starting Ohmyhome, how did you overcome them?
A: I faced more challenges than I expected. People often have the impression that women can’t work endlessly as compared to men, hence as a woman I have to work even harder to prove that that isn’t the case.
With regards to Ohmyhome, the challenge has been to let the public understand that the DIY platform is really free. No listing fees, advertising fees, success fees or hidden fees. They felt skeptical that this could be true. They also didn’t believe that if they wanted an agent to serve them, we only charge a flat fee of $2,888. Because we are a first in our industry, it took us some time to convince and educate people that we are here to help make lives simpler.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your users, and what works?
A: We do marketing across various mediums from traditional to online. The best marketing is word of mouth and being featured on the news. We are grateful for our users who have left us wonderful testimonials, keeping us motivated and driven to do better every day.
Q: Where do you see the future of Ohmyhome? Any plans in the near future?
A: Our team is really excited as we just launched an updated version of the Ohmyhome application. With new features it becomes even easier for our users to transact on the platform.
The new ‘Journey’ tab provides users with a crystal clear customised guideline of the entire transaction process. Depending on whether the user is a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, the journey is tailored for each type of transaction. Ohmyhome has also added an in-app chat function which make it easier for users to communicate within a safe environment. It has also refreshed its look and fine-tuned its user interface for a hassle-free experience.
The new version is the result of our team that is always working on improving the app and simplifying the process for our users. Eventually, Ohmyhome will be a one stop shop for all your HDB transactions!
My parents are a huge inspiration. They came from very humble beginnings and showed me that hard work and passion can take you a very long way and that while levels of success may be uncertain, the sense of accomplishment of having done it yourself is priceless.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?
A: My parents are a huge inspiration. They came from very humble beginnings and showed me that hard work and passion can take you a very long way and that while levels of success may be uncertain, the sense of accomplishment of having done it yourself is priceless. My parents’ hard work enabled me to be a fortunate individual, grow up in a wonderful country, blessed with a warm home, good education and the opportunity to learn and explore. They always reminds me to be a useful person and now I wake up ready to be the best that I can be.
On a daily basis, I’m inspired by people around me. Hardworking individuals who are trying to make a difference. Underprivileged individuals that I wish never have had to be in those circumstances.
Q: What would be your advice for property buyers and sellers in Singapore?
A: If you are buying as your future home, buy it because you know you will enjoy living in the unit. What works for others may not work for you, so while comments are appreciated, do filter what is truly applicable to making your home ideal.
For sellers, little things make a big difference. If you’ll like to leave a good impression of your home to your viewers, be sure to tidy up, keep the unit cool and well lit. You can even consider giving your flat a fresh coat of paint.
Q: Lastly, what is your business philosophy?
A: I believe that businesses can be very powerful. They have the ability to change the world, change the way people behave and even change the way we think about ourselves and one another. Therefore, I believe that businesses should be meaningful and be built with integrity. So that as the business prosper, at the same time we would be building a responsible world, a better world.
Finally, take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.