Hubert Burda Media

Goh Soo Sing On Building Sustainable Homes

A dark horse rising in the cut-throat business of real estate development, BÖN Estates’ Managing Director Goh Soo Sing speaks about carving a distinctive identity as a boutique developer and building sustainable homes.

When an upscale three-storey property gallery opened at the busy Jalan Maarof junction opposite Bangsar Shopping Centre, many were swept with a wave of curiosity about the entry of a new boutique developer BÖN Estates (formerly known as PPM Realty Sdn Bhd) which is set to change Kuala Lumpur’s landscape. At the helm of BÖN Estates is Managing Director Goh Soo Sing, a bright young developer who is spearheading a RM650 million luxury high-rise development located at the thriving township of Bangsar South. The Estate marks the developer’s debut flagship project and aims to deliver a serene escape in the heart of the city without compromising on state-of-the-art facilities.

Coming from a family of property developers, Penang-born Soo Sing developed an early interest in real estate and architecture but decided to pursue a career in investment banking instead. It was only after an opportunity arose to head two property projects in Penang that Soo Sing heeded his true calling and dived into real estate development.
The Estate will allow him to position the company as a new player in the competitive Klang Valley market. “It wasn’t an easy task because the Klang Valley is controlled by big players with deep pockets and strong connections. Along the way, we experienced failed land bids and other land deals that did not come through. It was a natural choice for us to choose Bangsar South because it allows us to set our brand DNA of building luxury long-lasting properties,” he reveals. He also adds that Bangsar South’s attraction is partly due to the area being surrounded by numerous matured neighbourhoods and there will be positive migration of people entering into the new neighbourhood. “That is how we position ourselves as in the upgraders market and family market,” he explains.

The lack of new larger family units available in the Bangsar area also spurred Soo Sing to position The Estate to be a low-density, freehold development equipped with private lift lobbies. The 100 Year Home concept was also created to encourage homeowners to pass the property down to the future generation. “The homes will be built with long-lasting building materials to complement the 100-Year Home concept. On top of that, the layout has to be a flexible space so we thought of functional, multiple use layouts that will cater to different family functions and dual-key units that will suit multi-generational living. The whole idea is you don’t compromise on your privacy but you get to spend quality time together,” he elaborates. We learn more about his perspective on luxury, the values he upholds and his future plans.

Was it a steep learning curve for you to switch from finance to real estate development?
At a young age, I’ve always visited the construction sites with my dad so it was a natural progression for me. Coming from the finance sector, it’s a very different role, but I do like the fact that I’m able to go outdoors and project manage when it comes to real estate development. Finding a balance between the younger and older staff is also important. We have the older generation in our team who are our technical staff and project managers, while our sales and marketing team are young so, it’s important to keep an open mind. At the end of the day, you need to be relevant to the market and understand consumer trends, so we’re constantly challenging ourselves. Securing a big financier such as Maybank to finance our project allows us to undertake much larger developments and we aim to build on that trust and integrity.

How does a boutique developer like Bön Estates stand out against the big players?
We find market strategic positioning for ourselves. We always do an in-depth study to analyse the demand and supply. This allows us to identify what works in the market and what is overbuilt. We have a competitive advantage because we spend more time on a project and we work with the designers closely in every design process. In terms of positioning, we try to differentiate ourselves in our product offerings and our key milestones are measured by how satisfied we are with each home we have built rather than the quantity. We focus on quality. Hiring people who are in line with your vision and getting the right consultants that will provide you with genuine feedback is also vital.

The Estate was developed to celebrate the art of good living. What does good living and luxury mean to you?
Good living to me means that at the end of the day, how you can live a happier and more fulfilling life. I think ultimately to be fundamentally happy, you should celebrate and enjoy the journey along the way, you should not miss out on the cherished moments with your family. Being able to know that your kids are able to run out of the compound without having to worry about their safety and to know that your elder parents are eating well and sleeping well is also part of the journey. It centres around family, job satisfaction, health and wellbeing, these are what essentially make us a happier person.

As a young developer, what are the principles and values you stand by?
I try to inculcate that within the company with the help of our HR to ensure everyone embraces these values. The most important is integrity. When you say something, you have to make sure you deliver. Secondly, remain humble and adopt a continuous learning attitude as there is always something you can learn from someone. The excellence culture is also important as you are accountable for the result of your work and, at the same time, you help others to meet their objectives.

What can we expect in the future from Bön Estates?
For the next five years, the Klang Valley will be our strong focus because of young population growth. We will still continue to focus on strategic areas with established neighbourhoods to build our branding. Our next project will be in Mont Kiara and another two undisclosed locations. We’re currently trying to build the brand and gain trust from our customers as well as execute and deliver on the quality. Beyond five years, I’m looking to expand into township developments and we may go further out to build our own township and create our own community. We still have land banks in Penang, which we have yet to monetise, and we will perhaps move into hospitality and F&B over there.