“Being able to provide a high-quality turnkey service in the real estate market rather than having prospective buyers getting lost in the sea of information trying to do everything themselves is the cornerstone of our success,” says James Puddle, CEO and Founder of the One Global Group.
An award-winning boutique real estate agency headquartered in Singapore, One Global offers international investors a wide range of property investments across the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.
Some of the biggest challenges faced by customers interested in investing in international markets are lack of knowledge of both the market to invest in as well as the buying process and, most importantly, trust in the real estate consultancy.
That is where One Global Group comes in. Under the ambit of one of the strictest regulators of the real estate sector in the world, the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA), One Global starts from a position of relative trust. It provides buyers the information and assistance necessary to make smart, well-informed decisions.
James also said that the firm prides itself on being able to offer a ‘turnkey service’ across the real estate market; whether a client wants to retain them for a home search or wants something bespoke and wants One Global to provide options. They also have a range of partners on the financing side as well as the lettings or renting and management aspects of acquiring and managing properties.
Judging from Indians' penchant for property, One Global Group is researching the market and the buying preferences of customers.
“We definitely see India as a big market moving forward in terms of the products that we can offer, which are very wide-ranging. I know from experience that clients from India like to buy into the central London market and we have lots of access and mandates for very good products with respect to how we can help,” said James.
Before founding the One Global Group in Singapore, James worked in the London residential development sector for over a decade; a major part of his role was to expand into new markets.
“I had decided around the time of Brexit that there was a gap in the market for a boutique version of the bigger corporates that provided a high level of service and access to international markets from Singapore so I quit my job in London and in late 2016-early 2017 moved out to Singapore with my family,” he told Connected to India.
James planned to create a platform that gave clients in the UK direct access into Singapore and experience on the ground to be able to help them sell their product into Asia and Singapore and he was also looking to provide investors and buyers with a better quality of service than the bigger corporates were able to achieve.
He started the firm with only two people working out of Singapore in 2017. Five plus years later, One Global has opened six offices across Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Cape Town and Birmingham; they are also set to open a new branch in London.
“Our core markets internationally are the UK and we've expanded over the last six to nine months into the Australian market; so that's selling new construction projects from the UK and Australia into Asia and the Middle East,” James said.
“As a business, we don't just focus on marketing and the sales of overseas property. In Singapore, we have a local sales and leasing business and that was always very important for us to be able to not just sell property overseas but be able to service the local market,” he added.
James realised, early on during the pandemic, that diversification and expansion into different sectors of the global real estate market would be the way to move forward.
“We were highly reliant before the pandemic on events and exhibitions to be able to source consumers and investors to sell our clients’ products in those markets. Obviously, COVID fundamentally changed that so we spent quite a lot of time strengthening the foundations of the business and diversifying into other markets and other sectors so that we're not just reliant on the local and residential market,” he said.
Growth and evolution
James said he was very fortunate with timing when he set up in Singapore as he found that many experienced property professionals from the big corporate agencies were looking for more flexibility in being able to provide a higher level of service for their clients and One Global was able to provide a home for them.
“Our ethos has been to provide superior service within a flexible framework which has contributed to how we've grown. About six months after setting up I managed to persuade a team from Colliers International who had been selling in the Singapore market for over 15 years to come and join One Global. We were a very small organisation and that really enabled us to get traction very quickly in the market and become a market leader,” he said.
It also transpired that many developer clients preferred One Global because of their willingness to do things differently. For example, their head office in Singapore is an old colonial shophouse that served as a gallery space to host events and exhibitions without having to rely on big expensive hotels.
The appeal for developer clients to come and market their projects for half the cost that they would normally incur was a major factor for their success, James said.
“We had a very good couple of first years which enabled us to grow and then in 2018 we decided to expand into the Hong Kong market and set up a small office there. This gave us a foundation to launch into other markets across the region and grow out from there,” he added.
Then COVID hit and the Singapore market, like the rest of the world at that time, froze. Fortunately, two or three months later, the UK market opened up after the first lockdown.
“More importantly for us, the Hong Kong market significantly picked up overnight which was driven in big part by the political situation,” James said. “2020 to the middle of 2021 was a very difficult time period in Singapore and we only achieved probably 10-15 per cent of the transactional business that we were doing in the preceding years but Hong Kong made up significantly so we grew the business and scaled up very quickly there which supported us and helped us grow.”
One Global then set up a strategic partnership venture in the Middle East and have been very successful in growing their brand and selling their products in the region over the last year.
The firm has also been growing their brand and local presence in Singapore’s domestic and commercial markets as well as the Australia sector in an effort to diversify their operations.
Now they've decided to go back to their roots and set up in the UK.
Commenting on changing trends across the globe, James said that real estate markets have experienced shifts and significant price growth over the past few years and the luxury market has performed very well, whether in the UK, Singapore or Australia.
“There is a supply shortage generally of new property being built that's driven up prices over the last few years. We've seen the rental market significantly pick up as well. Other trends that we've seen include people looking to buy outside space,” he added.
He also said that his firm has seen a real drive towards buying near completed or completed units and properties across the market.
Highlighting geographical trends, James said that Australia has traditionally been a very popular market for Asia so they've decided it's the right time to grow the brand there.
One Global has also developed an extensive network of partners across Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“We have partners in China as well and were actually very close to setting up an office in Shanghai just before COVID. In the future that's definitely going to be part of our expansion plan,” James added.
Secrets to success
At the moment, 80-85 per cent of One Global’s client base consists of private individuals looking for mostly residential properties. The developer clients they do have though are a diverse bunch.
“Being based in Asia rather than the UK is an advantage as a lot of developer clients come to us because we're on the ground and we have built a good reputation in Asia. It's definitely one of our USPs that we're on the ground out here and understand the market,” James said.
Another reason for One Global’s success is how they utilise an efficient online system to manage their transactions and properties. The One Global Connect System was conceptualised as a bespoke ecosystem internally on the back end side to link project marketing and finance as a tool for the sales brokers.
Everything is centrally managed which enables sales teams to access all of One Global’s projects, inventory and promotional material to present to prospective buyers and clients. The database is updated centrally so that properties can't be double sold anywhere in the world and it enables full control of transactions.
The sales reservation process is done through the system as well so once a purchaser decides that they want to reserve a property, the team can sit down with them and go through everything electronically.
“Our strategic partners have access to the database and can see all the marketing material on inventory and reserve properties without having to come to our team internally. We were very determined that we wanted to create something that would make everyone's lives easier and use technology to benefit our process,” James said, signing off.
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