How do you know if you are a successful property agent in Hong Kong? Is it measured by objective metrics such as salary, job title, awards and accolades or is it defined in subjective terms such as enjoyment of work, connections with colleagues or meaningful company missions? Although some will answer one way versus another, most will agree that having a balanced mix of both will yield happiness in many ways. For instance, a combination of a high salary with enjoyment of work is the recipe for productivity and overall satisfaction.
On the topic of professional success, we’ve asked some of our agents this question and noticed a reoccurring theme in how they objectively measured success. They defined this as achieving ‘a mastery of sales transactions’. From the budding to the tenured, property agents aspire to get involved with sales for numerous reasons.
We’ve asked 3 of our agents who specialize in sales for their success stories as we were interested in hearing about their achievements, learnings and overall experiences in tackling sales.
With over 21 years’ experience in sales, Belinda Woo explains that closing sales is not always a walk in the park. It requires someone with experience to understand its intricacies and best practices. It also demands a special type of alertness, especially when dealing with unexpected problems.
A perfect example of an unexpected problem for Belinda is one she likes to the refer to as the “almost-lost” sale. In a recent sale transaction, Belinda spent several hours resolving a sudden obstacle after the purchaser signed and issued a cheque.
“After the sale was sealed, agreement signed and cheque issued, the purchasers found out there was an unnatural death in the building decades ago, and wanted out of the deal as they didn’t feel comfortable,” she explains,
“This was never mentioned in the news, and after numerous attempts to contact the bank, mortgage broker, and other agents, I was unable to confirm or deny this incident.”
In those critical hours of exhaustive searching to uncover the full story, Belinda was able to find a 30+ year resident of the building who confirmed that the unnatural death happened in another part of the development with a different lift, lobby and entrance. This put the purchaser’s mind at ease and they agreed to continue with the sale. Both purchaser and seller were grateful for Belinda’s efforts that saved the transaction.
The moral of the story Belinda explains, “is to be resourceful. Exhaust all your options before calling it quits. There’s probably a solution out there if you look hard enough. If it wasn’t for this last attempt, both parties would have missed out on something they really wanted.”
Dealing with enough of these scenarios will make you more confident in your ability to act fast. “It takes patience, consistency and intensity to keep going,” says Belinda.
For those that are just starting out in sales, Belinda explains that giving your clients a full service is key. Simply showing great listings is not enough, “agents need to have both product and market knowledge. They also need to get to know the client beyond property requirements.” This means finding out things that matter to them whether it be family, convenience, recreational pursuits or any other key driving factors. This type of data can help you find the right property in the right surroundings.
For those that have not transacted a sales property before, Belinda recommends partnering up with someone who is experienced. While you may end up sharing a commission with a colleague/mentor, in the short and long-term, you'll learn much faster and significantly increase the likelihood of completing a successful transaction.
The best and hardest part about closing a sale and this industry as a whole is gaining that trust and credibility with your clients explains Janis Tsim who worked with Sotheby’s International Realty prior to joining OKAY.com
Imagine asking your clients to pay an initial deposit without ever viewing the property. “Do you think that’s crazy? I’ve done that,” laughs Janis.
She explains, “I worked on a $12M deal last year which was tenanted and viewings were not accepted. My client was looking to buy for self-use but according to the landlord, another agent’s client was approaching them to purchase the same property as an investment.”
Janis’ client insisted that they view all properties before even considering paying a deposit. Having seen this property before it was tenanted, Janis knew it was the perfect choice for her clients, but convincing them to make a down-payment without viewing was not going to be easy.
“I decided to have a firm yet honest conversation with my clients outlining the reasons why they needed to act quickly on this, explains Janis. “Confident in my view, I even guaranteed them that if they found the apartment to be in poor condition or had any leakages, I would be personally responsible for them.”
Although it was a bold move, Janis’ clients trusted her and ended up paying the initial deposit without a viewing.
Ultimately, they were happy with the condition of the apartment and were thrilled that her advice was genuine and true. They’ve become loyal repeat clients since this transaction.
As an agent, building trust with your clients is everything, but taking responsibility for your claims is an important element in showing just how self-assured you are.
Janis explains, “At the end of the day, you need to have some guts. Within reason, if you truly believe it’s in your client’s best interests, be bold in your approach and you’ll be surprised by the outcome.”
When asked about clients that are buying or selling, Janis explains that they are constantly changing their minds and it is your job to both manage and anticipate their reactions.
“People who are buying require a bit more hand-holding. Often, they want to take their time in finding their dream home, so it is our job to have patience and understand the position they are in,” explains Janis.
When comparing rentals versus sales clients, “Rental clients are a bit more high-maintenance,” laughs Janis, “They tend to follow-up with you repeatedly for landlord-related glitches such as water leaks or plumbing emergencies. “I’m always happy to help, but it can be more challenging to manage when you have multiple clients asking for support at the same time.”
Sale clients are a bit different, “the only time you’ll hear from them is when you are personally checking in on how they are doing or if they need your help in buying or selling another property. The value that we offer is more advisory-focused. For example, “what are recent market trends, or what are comparable sales transactions?” For those that want to get into sales, Janis explains that practicing negotiation skills is extremely important. Often agents use a one-size-fits-all approach rather than tailoring their approach to specific people or situations.
“Get established, build networks, grow and flourish,” explains Janis, “get in the habit of partnering and collaborating with others for help and make use of your company’s support services.”
Ultimately, you want to help sellers to sell quickly while making sure buyers are happy too. Finding that middle ground is easier when you think about both parties involved.
When Joelle Tay, Senior Manager at OKAY.com, started out in the industry, she acquired sales properties and leads through cold calling.
“The best way to source listings is to call people who have not yet put their properties on the market.” Although it takes time, she explains that it is the most effective tactic in accessing listings before anyone else.
On the subject of perfecting the art of sales, she explains that being diverse is key. Starting off by mastering one district and then slowly learning about other areas is beneficial for your career. “Be prepared to show your clients listings in other districts if the one they had in mind turns out not to be what they’re looking for,” says Joelle.
Gaining the respect of your clients also means being on top of your game. One way Joelle accomplishes this is by going on viewings alone before showing her clients anything. This is great for creating a short list and having an open dialogue with your client.
The types of conversations she will have with clients are something along the lines of, “I’ve just viewed this property and although it’s a great listing, it doesn’t have X, Y, & Z. Do you still want to see it? If not, let’s move on,” Joelle explains.
The way to know your client is to spend time with them, so you can understand what they stand for and what they don’t.
A lot of landlords will often ask agents about how their property can sell quicker. Joelle shares with them that an attractive price and location are key determinants. She says, “Location doesn’t necessarily mean geo-location, it could also mean the building surroundings.”
A landlord can’t change the location of their property but they can, however, control the price. A good agent will highlight the attractiveness of the surrounding area and properly advise on the best price to list the property at and where to take the negotiations. Combined, these maximize interest in the property and ultimately lead to a faster sale.
Lastly, Joelle tells other agents to be aware of hurtful tricks and tactics that other agents use against you. “I’ve been victimized a few times throughout my career by co-op agents going directly to my clients offering a ‘better’ deal.” Although it’s hard to predict people’s true intentions, through experience you get better at reading people.
Working in a people centric industry means that you are engaging with multiple personalities, interests and requirements at one time. It’s important to focus your efforts on every client to truly have a successful interaction. As mentioned, it is vital that you maintain curiosity and always ask questions. Partnering with a leader or someone you find inspirational can help you define your career.
Remember, be bold, exhaust all your options and keep a positive mindset.
Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation about how OKAY.com can partner with you