Being a real estate agent is a demanding career — sourcing new clients, managing existing clients with viewings, coordinating offers, inspections, managing listings and much more. All of this often happens at the same time.
As such, we all like to focus on those buyers who are qualified, ready and willing to buy a property. It makes our job more manageable, more rewarding, and we can close the deal more efficiently.
International real estate can be even more stressful, so here are three concrete tips that could help you in closing deals with quality property buyers from China:
1. Obtain qualified leads via referrals from trustworthy partners in China.
One of the most successful ways for a U.S. real estate agent to find a buyer from China is obtaining a referral from a partner in China that you can trust. For example, education firms based in China are some of the best partners.
These education firms deal with Chinese parents who are keen on sending their child to the U.S. for high school or college. Last year, more than 270,000 students from China came to the U.S. to study, and this number is increasing every year.
In order to achieve the dream of having their child go to school in the U.S., parents will engage an education consulting firm. This type of firm helps children with preparation for SAT, TOEFLE and other tests, as well as with applications and essays that are required to apply for schools. Often, the parents will pay between $10,000 and $50,000 (USD) for each child they plan to send to the U.S. These parents are great potential targets for U.S. real estate agents because often these parents will buy a home after their child gains acceptance to a U.S. school.
The conclusion sounds rather simple: Partner with an education firm based in China. Correct indeed, but hard to achieve. You need to build a relationship with the education firm, which will be challenging and admittedly difficult to maintain throughout the years.
Furthermore, there is a range of partners in China that you can work with, so it is hard to choose the right ones. Another — more efficient — solution might be to use an intermediary that does the sourcing of Chinese buyers for you. Here are examples on how U.S. agents are being connected with overseas Chinese buyers on an ongoing basis.
2. Focus on the relationship and not the sale.
Although buyers of U.S. real estate each have unique characteristics and wishes, one common element stands out: the relationship between the agent and the buyer. This relationship is even more common for overseas Chinese buyers. The Chinese culture is all about relationships — often called “guanxi.”
As such, once you have identified a new Chinese prospect who is looking to purchase a home, you will need to go to an extra level of relationship building. For example, during the first meeting, it is crucial to be able to mention the name of the common friend or intermediary who made the connection between you. The prospect and you have to be able to discuss your relationship with this intermediary at length.
This connection will help put the overseas Chinese prospect at ease with you. There is no need to jump immediately into listings and data without having outlined the relationship that you have in common. Once the relationship is established, the prospect will often simply trust you and act quickly to make a decision on a purchase. To prove the point, we even have seen many of our Chinese clients buying a property from one of our agents without even visiting the U.S.
3. Provide information unrelated to real estate.
Being an agent requires you to stay up-to-date on market developments, listings, prices, inventory, etc.
However, overseas Chinese buyers often will be asking questions that are not at all related to real estate. Access to schools, their rankings and application processes, hotel options, recommendations for attorneys, banks — all of this information is often requested by overseas Chinese buyers. Trust will be gained by guiding them in all these aspects quickly.
As usual, having the right contacts who can support you and give you the correct information promptly will be the key to cementing the relationship and closing that deal — and that’s especially true in China.
Sam Van Horebeek is a director at East-West Property Advisors, a U.S. real estate advisory firm based in China.