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In Conversation with the Elite: Doris Tan’s Journey from Banking to Becoming a London Real Estate Veteran

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At Berkeley Group, we take immense pride in our Premier Club — an esteemed cohort of our most distinguished agents, celebrated for their unwavering excellence and leadership in the real estate industry.

Today, we are honored to introduce Doris Tan, affectionately known as the "Queen of London Properties" within the Singapore overseas property market. With a distinguished career spanning over three decades, Doris has navigated the realms of banking and real estate, establishing herself as a leading agent in international property expertise.  

Join us as we explore insights on global investments and uncover the motivations driving unparalleled passion for real estate.  

Welcome, Doris and thank you for doing these quick 10 questions with us!    

Doris Tan


Before jumping into the 10 questions, tell us about yourself: 

  • I'm a proud mother of three successful boys who studied in the UK. My career in the real estate industry began in the '70s when I lived and worked in London. After returning to Singapore in the '80s, I joined Lloyds Bank and Hill Samuel. At Hill Samuel, I held the position of director, overseeing the provision of mortgages to high-net-worth individuals purchasing properties in seven countries: New York, London, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.
  • In 1995, I was made head of international property sales at Hill Samuel, a role that allowed me to fully utilize my expertise and passion for international real estate investment. As a banker, I could structure loans and advise on tax matters, which made me a market leader in this area of business, instilling confidence in my clients and colleagues.
  • In 1998, the Asian Financial Crisis hit Asia, and the bank had to refocus on its key business, banking; therefore, the property arm was closed overnight. During this period, I had the opportunity to consider running my own agency, and I gave up private banking to be my own boss.    
  • DST International Property Services was founded in 1999. During this period, I successfully sold many properties, especially in London, and was even referred to by many investors as the “Queen of London Properties.”  

Doris Tan - Queen of London Properties

  •  DST had a good run from 1999 until 2011, when JLL purchased my company. I was retained by JLL for four years, helping them grow the business. In 2016, I left JLL to join another consultancy firm before leaving in 2019.
  • In 2019, I joined Benhams and Reeves Singapore, where I have been leading the international property sales department ever since. 

1. What sparked your interest in international property?  

My interest in international property was sparked during my time in London in the '70s when I provided mortgages for London properties. This experience ignited my curiosity about London properties. Upon my return to Singapore and my role at Hill Samuel, where we provided mortgages to seven countries, my passion for international property was further fueled.

 2. What keeps you motivated after 30 years in the industry?  

International properties allow me to learn about the various taxes involved in buying properties in different countries. My main objectives and motivations are the diversity of clientele and understanding their needs and goals.  

3. Why did you transition from banking to property, and how has it affected your career?  

Banking gave me the basics of learning how to make money for high-net-worth individuals, and property is one of the products for capital gains and preservation of wealth, which is a natural progression from private banking.  

4. What advice do you have for new property investors?  

For new investors, the basic rule is to buy within your means. Understanding that property is the only product the bank can lend against, leveraging at a good age to build your portfolio is key. Another important rule is to buy well, meaning an exit plan must exist.    

5. How does being a part of the Berkeley Premier Club feel?

 I feel very honored and a sense of achievement to be recognized.    

BNR Premier Club
Benham and Reeves team proudly accepts the Berkeley Premier Club Award at the Berkeley Shanghai office, celebrating our collective achievements across all ventures
B&R Team
Benham and Reeves team proudly accepts the Berkeley Premier Club Award at the Berkeley Shanghai office, celebrating our collective achievements across all ventures

6. What are some of your favorite Berkeley Group development, and why?  

Over the years, I have represented Berkeley in many of their projects. The following are my favorites:

a. 375 Kensington High Street
Located along Kensington High Street, although not on the main thoroughfare, this project was among the first to offer state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. During the initial launch, properties included a parking space, making it very attractive to buyers.

b. Chelsea Bridge Wharf
This development features a beautifully designed landscape, close to Battersea Park. It is situated across the River Thames from the heart of Chelsea, adding to its appeal.

c. Corniche
Designed by renowned architect Norman Foster, this development stands out with its creative design, curved units, and balconies offering views of the Houses of Parliament.

d. Riverlight
Another stunning development along the River Thames, Riverlight offers sweeping views of both the East and West riverbanks. Designed by renowned architect Richard Rogers, this project has been both successful and well-priced.

e. White City Living
White City excels in connectivity, being close to three major tube stations and adjacent to Westfield Shopping Mall. The landscaping of the entire gardens and setting creates a sense of space and openness that is second to none.

f. Oval Village
Close to Zone 1 Central London, this site has been transformed into a lively place to live, making it another successful project by Berkeley.

g. Silkstream
This development is priced well for its location and will be stunning once completed. The inclusion of a 24-hour Sainsbury's below the development adds convenience, and its location along Hendon High Street provides easy access to Central London via Edgware Road.

h. Bow Green
With its excellent location and design, Bow Green offers a more accessible alternative to White City in the East. It is an excellent investment opportunity.

7. Can you share a standout success story from your client portfolio?  

In the early days, our clients could sell before completion and assign their contracts, which made hefty gains. Most of the projects from Berkeley Group allowed them to make good profits from their purchases. Riverlight is one good example where my client purchased a two-bed property and sold it at a hefty profit before completion to one of the Saudi princesses.

 8. What factors make London a prime investment destination?  

London remains a world-class city and a haven for investors. It is also known for its education and is one of the world's major financial centers. Additionally, there is no language barrier, and the legal system is similar to that in Singapore, making investment in London easy.  

 9. Why does London remain resilient despite economic challenges?  

London remains resilient because it is a diverse society with inhabitants from all over the world. Whenever there is uncertainty, London benefits as people tend to invest or park their funds in stable investment instruments like property in London, which can give approximately 5% gross rental yield.  

Doris Tan - Quote

10. What opportunities do you see for those seeking to expand their investment horizons, and how can one start?  

For new investors, one should look at some well-priced projects in London. The horizon may be longer based on the current world situation and interest rate hikes. They should consider longer completion projects in good locations, and the amount depends on their risk profile and investible amounts. One objective is to beat inflation in today’s market, and it is always good to stay invested with bank borrowings and leveraging.   .

As we wrap up our conversation, we're left inspired by Doris's wealth of knowledge and passion for international property. Her career and guidance mark her as a leader in the field.  Whether you seek portfolio diversification or international ventures, Doris from B&R Singapore stands ready to assist.  

📌You can reach Benham and Reeves Singapore through their website here.  

Stay  tune for our next conversation with our Berkeley Premier  Club Agent from Thailand.