LJ Hooker’s Vivien Yap on why it pays to never give up

Vivien Yap used to spend her days helping people get better. Now she spends her days helping people get richer.


As principal of LJ Hooker Claremont in Western Australia, Vivien personally sold over $115 million worth of property last year – not bad for a former pharmacist who found herself in real estate less than five years ago.

For the last three years she has been named WA’s top agent by REB and has also taken the title of REIWA’s top salesperson in 2015 and 2014, this multi-linguist is known for her tireless work ethic.

Vivien tells Domain why dispensing pills prepared her for real estate and why sticking it out is everything.


How has your previous career in pharmaceuticals helped you prepare for selling property?

I  held a Bachelor of Pharmacy and owned two pharmacies before I was unexpectedly approached about selling real estate, which I ended up switching careers to.

In pharmacy it really helps to be methodical, very organised and that’s the same when managing a real estate agency.

In my pharmacies I was writing 200 scripts by midday, I had 45 staff and was managing a business, which has proven great preparation for the work I now do in real estate.

So what led you to selling bricks and mortar?

I always had an interest in real estate, well before it became my career, because my accountant was always advising me to buy properties to negatively gear. During the ’90s – the good old days – I bought properties for my portfolio not only in WA, but also in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Then, in what has ended up being an example of very good timing, my friends needed to sell their property in Woodlands, a suburb of Perth, and trusted me so much they asked me if I would sell it for them.

It was really because of their encouragement that I did my [real estate] course in late 2011, found an agency and by 2012 was officially an agent.

And did you manage to sell that first listing?

It wasn’t in my core area, it was a duplex house, but I did sell it a week after listing it for $925,000.

I then got two other listings in quick succession in the same area – friends talking to neighbours. Then, from another referral, a nice little house in Cottesloe, which sold for $3.2 million.

I sold all those properties in two months and I knew that I could do this.

Do you have any loves outside real estate?

Well I really don’t have any time outside work. Aside from my family, I love food but it is cooking for survival at the moment rather than cooking for enjoyment.

I used to cook a big meal every week for my family when I owned the pharmacies but I tend to only do it for the special occasions now – I just cannot dedicate 10 hours any more.

Is running a business in Perth – as opposed to the east coast – lurk or perk?

As a business person I find it an absolutely blessing. It is not so competitive in Perth, which means you can create your own niche market inside your own comfort zone.

My father studied in Perth after moving here at 16 from Singapore, and today the majority of my relatives are here and we all support each other. That is a big network of people. And while the first two or three years I didn’t see it, this year I’m seeing of lot returning business. It’s all coming back to me.

Already a LJ Hooker Captains Club member, you seem born for this job. Have you ever doubted yourself?

In my first six months, when I first started selling property, I thought ‘oh my God, what have I done!’

It was a tough market, probably tougher now to be honest, but it was tough and I did have times when I questioned my decision.

There was so much to learn and you do make some mistakes but it all comes down to state of mind and not giving up, just refusing to give up, and that really doesn’t matter what industry you are in. The same thing applies.

You have got to stick it out because later you look back and see that was where you learnt the most.

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