In this edition of the Samui Phangan Real Estate Magazine we catch up with Mr. Martin Porter. Martin is now taking over the real estate agents Overseas Property Portfolio from Emma Johnson. Emma who has been a long-term resident on Koh Samui is returning to the UK for family reasons.
Martin who is no stranger to our Islands will be the new owner of OPP and Samui Phangan Real Estate wanted to find out just a little more.
1. Hi Martin, welcome to Samui Phangan Real Estate Magazine, could you tell our readers where you are originally from and how long have you been visiting Asia?
I am originally from Bristol in the UK. I first came to Asia (Thailand) in 2007.
2. Asia and Thailand have many beautiful islands and destinations, what made you eventually choose Samui?
I just loved the island’s laid-back vibe. After almost a lifetime of living in Europe and the US it just felt like stepping back in time, but at the same time still had great restaurants and good facilities so you did not have to live like a backpacker!
3. How long have you been visiting Samui?
11 years now
4. What were you doing as a career back home?
I was a freelance IT consultant for 26 years. I have lived and worked in practically every country in Europe with a little time in the US also, so I have experienced a lot of different cultures.
5. What was it about OPP that interested you in taking it over and joining the Samui Real Estate business?
I was introduced to Emma and OPP by mutual friends who have been in the real estate market in Samui for 15 years or more. Emma has built a solid and more importantly trustworthy brand and these factors were important for me in considering taking on the business.
6. Samui has much to offer everyone, but what is special about Samui for you?
Beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets and great dining. It was a sunset that eventually led me to invest in a property here. Actually, that is an interesting story. I came here at the end of 2007 with a friend who was sick a lot of the time, so I hired a car and drove around the island looking at property. I stumbled by complete accident on Plai Laem and at that time there was a solitary villa on the top of the hill. I met a guy there who told me land plots were for sale and next minute I was sat in his villa with him and his wife discussing buying land. The sunset was amazing, and I was hooked. I went back to Europe and then the financial crisis arrived in 2008 and I was unfortunately not able to move forward. Then about 5 years ago I was here on holiday with friends and I got introduced to some property developers and they were building in Plai Laem so I went to take a look. It turned out the very same plot I was considering buying was having some villas built on it and I ended up buying one. So, by pure luck I have a villa now on the exact same plot I was looking at back in 2007. In some ways it was obviously meant to be.
7. OPP has done so well under Emma’s safekeeping, how will you attract new clients to your company?
I think any business needs to evolve as OPP has already done since its inception in 2008. Obviously social media marketing and internet presence play a large role in real estate now more than ever before and it is no longer about just having some land and properties to sell. However even just a simple online presence is not enough. There are already large number of internet agents competing on Samui using Facebook and the various other internet channels. Ultimately however I still believe that an established brand with physical office location and a track record of providing a great service will allow OPP to continue to compete and grow.
8. What resources do you use to stay up-to-date with trends in the real estate market?
Monitoring social media, competitors but also property and lifestyle magazines. Checking latest building techniques and trends and advances in home automation for example. A unique selling point that I do not see implemented too often yet in properties in Samui.
9. In todays every changing world, what are the most effective advertising techniques?
Whilst it is clear that internet or ‘app’ based marketing is an extremely effective channel I still believe targeted print such as this publication are equally as important. People spend a lot of time on their mobile devices, but they also still read magazines, books and print publications. In fact, Apple themselves have even now introduced ‘screen time’ in iOS as its clear people are spending far too much time on phones and tables and it is not healthy. Just as vinyl is making a comeback in a digital music world, I can see the same thing happening with print media over time.
10. Describe your most challenging project so far. How did you deal with it?
Launch of the Orange UK Mobile telecom network in 1994. Employed to write the entire customer relationship and credit validation system with no specifications or documentation. Resulted in reverse engineering a non-functioning multimillion-dollar product in under 5 months. Dates of launch media and TV advertising was fixed for launch day and not changeable. The whole network had to work, and people be able register and be credit checked and subsequently have their mobile phone activated in just a few minutes. Solved by working 7 days a week for 18 hours a day and making quick and sensible decisions with little guidance. Still to date the best project I have ever worked on and it led to moving to Switzerland to do the same thing there for Orange Switzerland. On both of those projects I formed amazing friendships that still last today. In fact, some of those friends have built their own villas on Samui.
11. What qualities do you believe make an excellent real estate agent?
Listening and understanding people.
12. If you could improve something about Samui, what would it be?
The cost of the flights to Samui. It is one of the rare places in the world that is still not serviced by a budget airline, which would be improve tourism and the economy.
13. Where do you see OPP heading in the future?
The last few months have been about learning where OPP is now. I see OPP in the future potentially extending its marketing reach outside Thailand but to a targeted audience. Potential agreements with other partners that can bring specific expertise to the table.
14. Houses do not sell by themselves, what ideas for the clients do you bring to the table.
A coherent advertising and marketing strategy not only encompassing social media but also conventional print. Partnering with selected contacts in the local market to expand the existing client base and connect clients with suitable properties. We are working on some partnerships that will hopefully bring results to the table in 2019.
15. What is your favourite place and restaurant on Samui?
I would have to say at the moment it’s the Sala Chaweng for branch on a Sunday afternoon.
+66 (0)80 535 1725
Overseas Property Portfolio
119/20 Samui Town Center
Moo 1, Bophut
Koh Samui, 84320