Straits Times: Sun, Dec 25
Hawkers in the east know property agent Alwyn Chan as the go-to guy when they are retiring and want another hawker to take over their subsidised stalls for a plump fee.
In the past six years, the 27-year-old has helped to broker some 40 takeovers of hawker centre stalls.
He earns a 10 per cent commission on the takeover fee and the deals that he has brokered ranged from $30,000 to $100,000, depending on the popularity of the food centre and the location of the stall.
Hawkers paying subsidised rents who want to quit can return their stalls to the National Environment Agency (NEA) or assign them to someone else.
The new stallholders do not enjoy the same subsidy; their rents are raised from the subsidised level to the market rate over three years. But they can become tenants of coveted stalls in prime locations that have long been occupied by stallholders paying subsidised rents.
The takeover fee, however, is a private transaction between the hawkers and NEA does not keep track of it.
Takeovers are a lucrative, untapped market - something Mr Chan, a senior group director at real estate agency Dennis Wee Group stumbled on by chance.
A few of his early clients were hawkers selling their Housing Board flats who happened to also want to give up their hawker stalls.
Now, he receives calls from aspiring hawkers looking for a prime location to set up stall.
He started out by visiting about three to four food centres every week, seeking out hawkers keen to relocate and take over a stall in a popular location. He made repeated visits to about 20 hawker centres in the east, where he lives.
He would hand out his name card and marketing brochure and chat with stallholders to suss out their interest. He also kept a lookout for prospective customers who wanted to give up their subsidised stalls.
Over time, his network grew and he would get referrals for takeovers through word of mouth.
In the last two years, however, he has stopped spending as much time on matchmaking hawkers in takeover deals and turned his attention to coffee shops instead.
He said: 'Coffee shop takeovers are more lucrative because the changing of hands for a whole coffee shop is in the millions of dollars.'
Source: The Straits Times