Raising the Roof (Ayala Land)

ALI

(This feature was published in the website of Ayala Land last October 25, 2013)

Thirty years ago, housewife Linda Sustiguer was happily managing a large home that includes a brood of 10.

A couple of decades ago, Cathy Chua, a fresh college graduate, was contentedly doing administrative work for a realty firm.

Little did both women know that they would eventually travel the long and winding road to real estate success.

The untimely passing of Linda’s lawyer husband in 1982 instantly made her into the family’s breadwinner and provider. She had to sell many of their belongings until she found other sources of income. This determined mother tried everything—from being a dealer of beauty products to peddling wares on the sidewalks—until she found her calling and became a real estate agent seven years later.

Meanwhile, Cathy’s job as assistant to the vice-president of a real estate firm had suddenly included sales during the economic crisis in 1998, when the company had to undertake measures, like cutting down the number of employees, to survive.

Both were determined to succeed. Linda’s source of inspiration was her children, while Cathy wanted “to retire luxuriously with whatever money I have” by the age of 40.

Like the real estate industry, their road to success was sometimes rough.

Linda recalls her experience with an interested buyer during her first open house. She was just new in the industry and didn’t know a thing about the selling process so she passed on the buyer to a colleague. Seeing that same colleague drive a brand new car the next month became an eye-opener for her.

Without feeling regret or resentment, she pushed herself to attend real estate seminars and learn more about the field. She heeded her elderly neighbor’s advice to explore all the properties and concentrate on the one that she likes best. “Ibig sabihin ng matanda, kung ano’ng gusto mo, ‘yun ang ibebenta mo. Mahalin mo kung ano’ng binebenta mo.” Once Linda focused, she scheduled “trippings” or site visits and asked for referrals, which led to her first sale. With newfound confidence, Linda created a company along with other partners, where they averaged 20 to 25 sales a month.

But when the financial market crashed in 1998, she felt how hard it was to sell even one property. Despite the bleak situation, she never gave up. “Kapag ‘yung time na marami akong pera, iniipon ko ‘yun kasi nasa isip ko umaga ngayon, darating ang gabi. Kapag walang-wala ako, iniisip ko, gabi ngayon eh, darating din ‘yung umaga,” she muses. Linda has managed to put her children through college, and even graduate school, with her earnings in real estate.

Cathy, on the other hand, was encouraged by her former boss to try her hand in sales, as they discovered her skill in relating to people when she was tasked to collect back rentals and overdue accounts. In time, she was earning six figures a month and did it consistently for almost a decade.

As a career move, Cathy left her very comfortable job to move to Ayala Land. Although she knew that she could not bring any of her old clients or inform them about her new job post, she still took the big leap.

At the start, she experienced a kind of culture shock and found it hard to adjust to the new working conditions. From having her own office space, she had to share the limited resources in Alveo, which was barely a year old then. Agents had to take turns in making calls and using the tables and chairs. Even her selling methods have changed. From doing cold calls, she had to sell from the booths at the malls.

Cathy actually thought of leaving after a week but considered her father’s words of wisdom: “Don’t look back. If you keep on looking back at what you have before, you’ll never be successful. [Just] maximize whatever resources you have and make yourself stand out.” She decided to turn challenges into opportunities, staying at the booths until past closing time, for example, to reach potential clients from the cinemas’ last full shows.

The year after she moved to Ayala Land, Cathy was named as one of the Top Three Sellers in Verdana Homes. “Siguro God helped me because I tried to do the best I can,” she shares. In 2010, she was chosen as the Best Seller of the Year for Alveo in the Residential Business Group Awards. She gushes over sitting beside Fernando Zobel de Ayala, and getting a congratulatory hug from him, too.

Linda has also garnered a Top Broker award from BPI in 2009, and is most proud of the Model Broker award from Avida in 2005, which recognizes her company’s excellent production and code of ethics, among others. She was the first to receive that award—and the only one up to now.

Hard work, honesty, and faith in God transformed this homemaker into one of Avida’s top agents and it seems like she will be one until she is old and gray. “Hanggang kaya. Magtratrabaho pa rin,” she declares. But she plans to eventually pass the torch, as seven of her children, all professionals in their own right, are now licensed brokers, and her grandchild is showing interest in real estate as well.

Unwavering belief in the properties they sell has kept the two women working for Ayala Land for decades already. They have even invested in some of the properties on their own. Cathy, who is currently the Regional Sales Director of Alveo’s Gold Dragons Division, says, “If you don’t love [your product], you will not be able to sell [it].” Linda agrees. Her company, Land and Building Sales Specialist, exclusively deals with Avida for 21 years now. “Nu’ng nasimulan namin ang real estate, parang minahal na namin ‘yung career na ‘yun. Basta nandoon ‘yung isip at puso mo sa isang bagay, lahat ng hirap, lahat ng mga mararanasan mo, kaya mong i-sustain.”