How To Spot Dodgy Agents In Three Seconds Flat

Patricia Loke @GoodPlace

There’s this really funny thing which happens when you’re starting a company which is beginning to get a little traction.

GoodPlace is still at its infancy, but we’ve been getting some serious attention not only from home buyers (our unique visitor count have increased again by +15% in January from last month), agents (we now have 109 agents signed up for the GoodPlace Agents Panel via and investors (ahem). Also, there has also been a flurry of startup founders turning up at the door to talk about “collaboration opportunities” or “just to network“.

While I enjoyed making new acquaintances, most of the time I found that those meetings would come to a naught because many of these people were what Mr Mark Cuban would call as Wantrepreneurs.

It’s perhaps a little hypocritical for me to take a crap on these wantrepreneurs – granted most of us startup founders usually would as one (myself included). However, at this stage I can’t afford to waste time in a circle jerk talking cock about “changing the world” a la Steve Jobs. Truth be told, instead of taking random meetings, I’d rather just lock myself up in the back room, keep my head down and work on another article / write another line of code / answer another home buyer email.

Suresh Thiru

Sir, yes sir!

Still, since I appreciate the importance of making GOOD business contacts, I found it necessary to come up with a way to quickly identify those Wantrepreneur types in order to filter them out. And luckily for me, it’s pretty easy for me to identify those because I can always tell one exclusively by the things that they say to me.

You see, a Wantrepreneur is almost always a fanboy of tech gurus like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. And so when I hear a hero worship quote along the likes of “move fast, break things” (Zuckerberg) or “stay hungry, stay foolish” (Jobs), Godzilla-sized alarm bells go off in my head.

Wait for it... it gonna be good

 Shortcuts Become A Necessity… Because You Don’t Have A Choice

So this is what I am trying to say here. Even if you’re just marginally good at anything, you’ll soon be inundated by agents who are eager to meet you to present you with deals and “opportunities”. And as you will find out, this is particular true if you’re in property.

As any good investor would tell you, there’s a lot of noise in this business, and indeed, it takes crazy hard work to separate the wheat from the chaff. Spotting a good property deal is hard because there’s just so many duds (and scams) out there. You need to kiss a lot of frogs to find that proverbial prince.

Every day I spend at least two hours talking to property agents (yes, I have no life), and I soon found out that just like Wantrepreneurs, dodgy agents have quite similar habits in terms of how they behave and the things that they say. Again, alarm bells go off in my head whenever the agent says these things –

  • “I have a ready buyer.”
  • “Below market price.”
  • “I have a competing offer.”
  • “I don’t remember my REN number.”
  • “I will sell your property in a week.”
  • “You will get an offer in three days, guaranteed.”
  • “I’m a specialist in XXX…”
  • “I’m not an agent now. I used to be one. I am now just a buyer. Can you find me a unit in Panorama KLCC? Only Type 2B or 2C. Thank you!” WTF.
  • “I will introduce you to my lawyer buddy who can give you 60% discount!”
  • “You can pay the deposit to the seller through me in cash.”
  • “I can get you a unit for that new launch, but you need to pay me an introduction fee.”

RELATED: For shortcuts on how to identify guru scams, click here.

Other warning signs include posting ads with incredibly low prices (cough, bait and switch, cough) and the thing that annoys me the most: SMS spam. In fact, I’ve just received this piece of crap from a rather desperate agent who came to knew that I bought a unit in Puchong (which I happen to be renovating right now) –


Wong the spammer

 You Can Afford To “Overlook” A Few Good Opportunities

Caveat emptor: the list above is obviously not 100% fullproof, and you will find that there are some good agents who exhibit the behaviours which I have outlined. This means that you will potentially miss out on some lucrative opportunities if you follow what I do strictly.

However, given that it’s a buyer’s market right now, there’s more opportunities to make money in property out there today than ever. You CAN afford to overlook a few good opportunities – trust me on this. By having these filtering shortcuts (or also known as ‘heuristics‘), you’ll be able to act quickly and decisively without wasting time on crap properties and dodgy agents. And believe me – more people lose out via analysis paralysis than having misjudged an opportunity.

About Khai Yin

When I am not writing for and helping my readers find properties though the DealMatcher service, I spend time doting on my three kids: Wenyi, Qinyi and Eian. My personal stuff, some published essays and contact details can be found at


  1. Move fast, break things? lol

    • That’s the de facto mantra of wantrepreneurs everywhere nowadays. Whenever I hear that I switch off completely like Superman getting zapped by a bolt of kryptonite.

  2. That’s new to me! Never heard that before.

    I prefer Breakfast, Move Things!

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