Khalil Adis has indeed come a long way after having started out as a property writer.
Many writers are generalists as they are required to cover many different beats. Some end up specialising in certain beats, such as politics or lifestyle or education. Most will devote their career to covering their specific beat as they will, over time, get well-known for their coverage of that niche.
Only a few will actually be able to carve out a career outside of writing. One writer who has managed to do that though, is Khalil Adis, who besides writing about property, is an in-demand speaker on all things property.
Like many writers, Khalil started off writing about a wide range of topics for magazines such as JUICE, ELLE, CLEO and FHM. Being a lifestyle writer doesn’t pay that well and in time, Khalil realised he had to rise up the journalism ladder and become an editor.
“The only editor position job I could find at the time was with Property Report,” he recalls. “Back then, I had no experience writing about property but I got the job and I can tell you, the learning curve was steep.”
But he quickly gained a sound grasp of the industry and liked the niche he was in. “It’s great covering the property scene, which is very dynamic,” he says. “It’s been one adventure after another,” he says.
Although he still considers himself a writer first and foremost, he has been doing a lot of public speaking about the property scene. This was not by design initially but something he just chanced upon.
“I stumbled onto the speaking circuit unexpectedly,” he says. “In 2008, I began writing about developments in Iskandar Malaysia. By 2010, there suddenly seemed to be a huge interest on this subject matter in Singapore. I was then invited to speak at various property expos.”
To ride on this wave, he wrote a book, “Get It Right Iskandar” which consolidated his reputation as an expert on the topic and propelled him further into the property speakers’ circuit.
Khalil is quick to point out that there’s more to him than Iskandar Malaysia, though. “People associate me with Iskandar but my expertise extends beyond that. I cover the regional property market so there are many other topics I could speak on.”
As a Singaporean, Khalil is based in the island republic but he spends a lot of his time in Malaysia. “There is a stronger demand for my skill sets in Malaysia than in Singapore,” he says, adding that he thinks this could be due to the relative lack of property market information here compared to in Singapore.
“In Singapore, all the information on the property market can be easily found on our government websites, which are very comprehensive,” he says. “As a result, no one is really interested to hear me speak about Singapore’s property market although I am equally strong on this subject matter.”
He doesn’t mind though as he likes doing his speaking engagements here. “Speakers here are like celebrities,” he says, with amusement. “In Singapore, nobody really cares about speakers.
Singaporean developers will either pay a token sum or nothing at all to speakers as they believe their projects will sell themselves. In Malaysia, speakers can command top dollar.”
When asked about his outlook on the Malaysian property market in 2016, he says it will be a tough year ahead with loans being further tightened. He expects the affordable housing market to drive the market as there is strong pent-up demand for these kinds of homes.
He plans to continue to do more speaking engagements in Malaysia next year, especially since he is soon coming out with his second book, a guidebook about property investment for Gen Y. Upon the launch of his book, scheduled for the first quarter of next year, he plans to do a series of property education talks for young people, up and down Malaysia.
“Many young people feel they can’t afford homes and don’t know much about investing in property, so I want to share what I know about that so they can make wiser investment decisions. It’s my way of giving back to society,” he says.
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.