Fancy a house with that coffee?

PHOTO: Fancy a house with that coffee?

CAFE Bricks & Brew, at the lifestyle centre in Serangoon Gardens, may seem like an ordinary eatery.

But look closer.

You will see the name of real estate agency GPS Alliance embossed on the T-shirts of waiters there, who toggle between serving a cuppa and closing a housing deal.

Customers can leaf through folders of properties on sale in the area, get free housing advice and renovation quotations, and even ask for a ride out to view a property they fancy.

To top it off, a cup of coffee there costs as much as you feel like donating. The amount collected from this goes to charity.

Set up in February this year by a husband-and-wife team, both GPS Alliance real estate agents specialising in property in the area, the cafe is staffed by six agents who work under them.

"We want to change the image of an industry known for being pushy and all sell, sell, sell," said co-owner Jasmine Lim, 34, who said that the idea came from a lawyer friend who is now one of the cafe's experts.

"But if customers don't ask us any property questions, we won't approach them to talk about property," she added.

About 60 per cent of the cafe's estimated 1,100 customers a month are regular diners.

The rest are clients, or walk-ins wanting to find out more about buying or renovating a property in the area.

Ms Lim has a few experts - lawyers, architects and bankers - on call.

They have offices in the area and head down to the cafe if someone needs a free quotation, site drawing or advice.

"Customers don't have to be a client of ours to benefit," said the mother of three.

"The experts give free advice and we don't charge them for referral fees. It's up to customers if they eventually want to hire them."

The waiters-cum-real estate agents, she said, are paid $1,800 a month to work at the cafe.

They also earn commission if they close a housing deal.

"They have two identities, they learn to make coffee and bubble tea and also close sales," she said, laughing.